Sunday, February 15, 2009
Today we were invited for a meal at the home of some of our former neighbors. It was a very typical setting, and I wished that I had a video camera to record the sounds as well as the sights. Here are some of the things that made it different from eating with friends in the US: We ate in the living room; our hostess and the children didn’t eat with us; the television and a radio were blaring in the background; people kept coming in and going out (at one point I counted twenty people in the house, mostly children, but many others had come and gone).
We were still eating when a young relative with a handicap entered the house on crutches. He said that he liked to entertain guests by dancing along with the television. They cranked the volume to ear-splitting levels, and he danced for a long time. The dance was mildly pornographic, and we didn’t know where to look. Our hostess (who had sat down with us by then) asked me if I dance. I said, “Not like that!” She laughed and said, “No, not like that.” She then asked me to give her a prayer book. (They are Catholic.) I told her that I don’t have a prayer book, but that she can talk to God without a book. She thought about that then said that she likes to read. I promised to bring her a French Bible. As we left, the young man was waiting for us by the door with his hand out, and Paul gave him some money. The most bizarre part of the afternoon was the show that was playing on the TV: My Sweet Sixteen (dubbed in French). The contrast between the spoiled families depicted on the show and my surroundings was too much to absorb and, by no means for the first time, I had the strange sense of having fallen through the looking glass.