Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 28 (Part II) - Prejudice is squeezed lemon on paper cut

Key West, Florida:

I just thought this is important to jot down so I'll never forget it. I went to Hemingway's Florida house because I admire his work. I avidly advocate American literature as a cut above the rest. For the relatively short amount of time literature has been produced in our country, an array of the most simple to the most complex styles and subject matter blows the cannon countries away. I've been called on this before, but I'm sticking to my guns. Yes, I love fill-in-the-blank-country literature but I loooooove American literature.

Anyway, I'm not writing anymore about that subject. At the veranda of Hemingway's house, twelve of us (all white except for me), including a guide, were discussing some of his books when a couple and their child who was about four took a tour of their own. The three were Vietnamese - I know this since I heard the man utter "du ma" which is "f-you" as far as I've been told. The husband and wife were futsin' around with the camera and loudly talking in their language, disrupting our tour.

Then the little girl skipped into Hemingway's bedroom unsupervised, and the guide castigated the mother. "Can't let your kid run around by herself," the man with a heavy New York accent said meanly. At this point I was having breathing problems from stress. The couple got the child but kept on talking loudly and taking pictures copiously. Our guide said, "Some people who don't know English talk too loud." A few snickered.

I reddened, choking at my cowardice for not speaking up and for the runaway thoughts that got the best of me. For one, the image of my mom screaming it up on her cell phone assailed my thoughts, and immediately my gut hurt. This is painful to admit, but I've always been somewhat ashamed when she speaks Tagalog like she's singing soaring opera arias in public.

When the snickering ended, I heard someone say, "Do they even know who Hemingway is?" That's when my mouth was unsewn. "Don't you know? His books are translated in all sorts of languages. I'm sure they wouldn't have paid 12 bucks just for a veranda picture."

I honestly don't know how my voice came out, but no matter, I was able to breathe again. No tip for the guide.

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