Sunday, November 4, 2007

Called By a Higher Power

I have been called to be on a jury pool. I'm supposed to call in the weekend before (it will be in December) to see if I'm needed. The timing isn't great (when would you have two weeks where nothing else needed to get done?) but I am excited about the very possibility of being on a jury. In true fruitfemme fashion, I am exactly who I think should be on a jury!

On that note, let me retell my best "worst juror" story ever. I was with a woman in the courtroom and we were waiting for her hearing (she had been charged with assaulting an officer--she spat on him.) And this woman is in front of the judge (who shall not be named but who I think is heinous) we'll call her judge martin (wink, wink.)

So the woman before judge martin had been on a jury in judge martin's courtroom. The trial was 3 days along when the woman stood up and stomped out of the room, disgusted with the whole thing. Judge martin sent a bailiff after the woman. She took off, got in her car and went home. So they sent a sheriff deputy to her house to bring her back. And she HIT HIM. So now she was in front of this same judge for contempt and assaulting an officer.

At least I know not to try anything like that. I hope they pick me. (I hope I don't regret hoping they pick me.)

On another note: The Spanish Story Hour at the Library mentioned in a previous post.
So Khubz & I get there about 15 minutes early. There's one woman (her name is Berta) with her 5 month old who says something to me in Spanish. I freeze. All my spanish flees from my mind as suddenly, I am 5 years old and trying desperately to talk to my uncle in Arabic. She was saying things like, "My baby is 5 months old." I've said this sentence in Spanish when Khubz was 5 months old. Nothing, nothing, nothing--"uh, que?" So there was this nervous tension anyway, coupled with the strange energy anytime you interact with other adults as parent at these kinds of things.

So we get over that and her English waay outshines my Spanish and we exchange pleasantries about problems sleeping, joys of babbling and talking etc. etc. So at some point we trade names of the kiddos and hearing that my daughter's name is distinctly Mexican she asks, "are you teaching her Spanish?" this was said with some level of fear, surely, as she was currently experiencing my finesse with the language.

But it leads us to that moment. I'm not here with Scully. There's nothing obviously queer about me & Khubz here at the library. I'm clearly not ashamed of my family and yet it is hard, hard, hard to come out to Mexicans and I simply won't come out to Arabs. And it's not that homophobia is more present in one patriarchy than another. It's that I need something different from Arabs than other folks and this seems to have spilled over into Mexicans when it comes to Khubz.

So that's going on. This is also my opportunity to prove to Khubz that there's nothing wrong with her family. And frankly, this is my opportunity to practice so by the time she picks up more on nuance I'll be more smooth.

With that thought, I forged ahead. It was not smooth.

Me: Um, su mama es Mexicana, es de Tejas.
Her (deeply puzzled expression): Su mama?
Me (looking right at Khubz): si. Su mama.
Her: Su mama?
Me: Si. Es mi compaƱera.
Her: Tu compaƱera??
Me: Mi novia.
Her: Tu. Novia.
Me: Si.
Her (in Spanish & English): Oh, I thought, you're not her mama?
Me: Oh, si. Si. I'm her mommy.

Pause. (actually, there were lots of pauses all through.)

Me: Tiene dos mamas.

Stunned silence. A long moment later,
Her: She no have a dad?
Me: Nope. No dad. (sing-songy, looking only at Khubz.)

More silence.

Well, this is about over, isn't it? I think. When will the story time actually start? So it can end! Storytime starts with me, Khubz, this woman & her son and random kids who were already at the library. The facilitator does a great job reading the story in spanish and talking the story through in english.

Five minutes into the first story, Berta jumps up. She thrusts her son into my arms while quickly saying something "I've got to go! I've got to go!! You hold my son?!" Sure, I take her son all the while glad that I didn't have incontinence anywhere near that dramatic after giving birth. The facilitator tells us all that she had forgotten her cell phone on the bus on the way here. The bus is back so this is her only opportunity to get her phone. Okay.

So it was all good for about 2 minutes.
After that, her son (5 months old, remember) noticed that he didn't see his mom, he didn't see anyone he recognized, and this person (me) now clearly identified as a stranger was holding him. He begins to wail. WAIL. To the point that every librarian in the children's section comes over at one point or another to check on this clearly overwhelmed mom. Khubz, for her part, was not about to let me hold some newcomer while she was on the ground. We eventually found a compromise where I held the boy and she held my pinky. We walked back & forth, we looked out the window, we rocked--nothing.

5 minutes pass.

5 more minutes pass.

Is she coming back? I begin to wonder. Of course, as soon as that thought occurs to me I follow it out to it's il/logical conclusion. The frantic nonsensical musings included, "there's no WAY I'd turn this little boy over to the state!" and "what do you supposed Scully would say if I came home with a 5 month old?" and finally, "that's one way to get out of more fertility drugs"

This is all funny because, of course, she did come back. To her red faced boy gasping for air between wails. Pobracito. Poor little thing.

So we finished out the story hour and she thanked me again and said she hopes we come next time so it's not just her and her son.

Doing my best I try to tell her "see you later" which would have been 'hasta luego' but it comes out like this: "Hasta manana--ah, well, probably not tomorrow, but, you know, hopefully, next time."


So the long & short of this (long) story is sometimes there's just an element of surprise, a need for an awkward moment to understand because the world doesn't teach people to expect an arab lesbian with really pitiful Spanish and her Saudi/Mexican/American daughter at the Spanish Story Hour in KANSAS. And, sometimes, once you get through that moment, that surprise you can carry on with the business of getting to know someone.

Stay tuned. We'll be back at storytime next week.


dawn224 said...

yes, in KANSAS. man oh man. er.. I guess that would mama oh mama, given the context of the story.

I adore your telling of this story.

Veronica said...

I agree with Dawn, you told this so well!

Hey I hope they pick you for the jury as well.

Anonymous said...

So now guess who has to go to story hour in spanish with her?