Monday, December 22, 2008

A Little Diplomacy

For those following the blog regularly, you know well the constant efforts by a certain FS gentleman to sabotage and undermine our work here.

Well, just yesterday, another effort was made to somehow subvert us, and I was extremely proud of my methods of handling it!

Two gentlemen came by the house, high placed in the local circles as was evident not only by their clothing but their comportment! They did not ask, but demanded to see Polycarpe and I asked them what the reason for their visit was. Not only does Polycarpe protect us, but I see it fine and good to do the same for him!“

”Ooohh,“ cooed the fatter gentleman slimily, oozing cologne, ”but we are friends of [FS].“

Knowing that trouble, it was a-brewin’, I went inside and fetched Polycarpe, letting him know exactly what he was in for.

Returning to the patio, I bade the men come in and brought them our ”good chairs“ and asked them just to wait a few minutes, letting them know that Polycarpe was on his way.

He went out to the patio to discuss with them, and we agreed in hushed tones that I would wait inside until he called out for me.

Neither Adam nor I have been able, after all this time in DRC, to distinguish between a normal conversation among Congolese men and a heated, near-brawl argument. I kid you not -- they sound the same.

This occasion was no different, and we sat inside, baited, pretending to do other things but really just listening and wondering what in the world was going on!

Finally, Polycarpe called me out and I sat down, ready for the worst. And it did, in fact, start off quite harshly with flying accusations (all originating from FS) that an employee had stolen the money to buy our new motorbike, among other things.

I denied them all, as they were all ridiculous, but did it with a smile and a Girl Laugh™, a light titter that masked the discomfort I felt at even being obliged to speak to these men at all.

At the end of all of the accusations, the bigger of the two men leaned far back, causing our white plastic chair to squeak and creak, and said, ”You know, you are very very nice!“ as though it were the biggest surprise in the world.

I can only imagine what FS told them about me after all our encounters telephonically where I refused to just do what he said because he’s a man and I’m a woman.

But what happened next can only be seen (or heard) to be believed!

The smaller of the two men said to me very tentatively, ”I has been studying English and would like very very muches to speak more with you!“ And after helping this gent with his English, the larger of the two men started asking me countless questions about America, and what there was there, and then about my relationship with Adam.

Some of his questions were HILARIOUS, like, ”If Barack Obama came to my house and said, ‘You should be my wife!’ what would be my response?“

Or, if I caught Adam with another woman, would I buy a gun and shoot the other woman? Seriously, you had to be there.

I continued to make jokes and placate him -- jokes like ”I hope you filed with the [government agency] for your research permit before coming here to ask me all these questions!“ (Ha I’m so funny!)

But in the end, what could have turned out to be the most unpleasant defense of our dignities and honor ended up being sort of a funny afternoon answering this guy’s questions!

My mother did thankfully call me for our weekly Sunday phonecall when we were nearing 2 hours of questioning answering and even my bubbly Hostess Spirit was waning and I was ready for the guys to leave.

The great result, of course, was not only did they come away realizing FS is a liar, but we might have even made some friends!

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