My mother took me to Ecuador with her once. We rode a dirty bus, along narrow roads that cut through hills, and drove alarmingly close to the edge. I heard dogs barking, and chickens clucking — from behind me. I saw dirty, tired faces all around.
There was this smell. This thick, terrible smell that couldn’t be coaxed out the window. It clung to the insides of my nostrils, and radiated from the bodies of the natives. It hung heavy in the air, this sad, and oppressive scent. I realized, it was the smell of real poverty. Not the type of poverty that the average American is exposed to… like when you’re in college, and you’re fishing through other people’s couch cushions for lost change. This was something else.
I saw the look of disgust on my mother’s face, and for the first time, I understood her obsession with money. Her insatiable drive for financial security, and monetary success. Why she would use anyone, or do anything, to get as far away from the humiliation and hardship of her childhood. When shoes were a luxury to be bought once a year, so the bottoms of her feet had bled on more than one occasion… and food was a privilege, something that your stomach had to fight for; tooth and nail.
We got off in this small little village, I don’t think it could be realistically described as a town. We walked down the street, and I remember seeing this man. As he approached, to pass us, I couldn’t help but stare at him. There was something about the men here. They carried themselves in a way that I had never seen before. These men who worked so hard, for so little… and yet, they carried themselves like nobility. Shoulders back, chest out, head up. I couldn’t help but gawk at him. This was not the modern world, and he was not a modern man. He caught my gaze, for just a second, and looked back without flinching.
My mother, who must have noticed that I was staring, grabbed me by the shoulder. “Put your head down.” She scolded me. Then she added, and she smirked just a little, so I couldn’t tell if she was being totally serious, or not.
“Don’t ever look an Ecuadorian man in the eyes like that. They’re not like timid American men. If you look an Ecuadorian man in the eyes for too long, he might just throw you over his shoulder, and have his way with you!”
I had no idea what she meant by, have his way with you. But I could feel a small chill spread from the base of my neck, and tiny goosebumps covering my arms — the humidity be damned…
To this day, when I pass a man on the street… even though they’re American men, and my mother assured me, they were too civilized to be threatening — as long as I was in a “good” part of town — I tend to keep my eyes to myself.
I pretend that my eyes are a Samurai’s sword. I don’t pull them from the hilt, unless I’m prepared for a fight, intent on the kill.
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- rippedfishnets said: this is fascinating — so many different layers.
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- twohousesoftheholy said: We so need to have a staring contest!!
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- roggyscanvas said: Oh. Interesting.
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- clintirwin said: Fuckin great stuff
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- loqui said: Awesome!
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