Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The invitation to Saturday's fête requested that guests come in the traditional garb of their home country, Chinese clothing or informal dress. The latter only seemed like an option for the profoundly uncreative. But what would the traditional clothing of the citizen of the USA be? Native American would be the most accurate, but probably politically incorrect, as I have no Indian ancestry whatsoever. Plus I would look like an idiot. But that leaves what? A sunbonnet and a calico dress? Levi’s and a t-shirt with a snarky remark printed across the chest? I had no clue. But then, a miracle occurred! I went to the Rec Center jumble sale and there was an American woman selling a red silk oriental-style outfit. In my size and very cheap! Amazing!

Ok, I had clothes. Which was very good. But what about my hair? That would require professional help, I knew. As I sat there in the swivel chair at the salon, I had an epiphany: My hair is evil. Not difficult, unruly or untameable. It’s evil. It took two people three and a half hours to make me look decent. No wonder I can't manage to make it look even marginally ok. The avaerage mortal has no chance against it. The primary obstacle to any degree of coolness is the front lock that swoops down into a sort of question mark over my forehead. It’s a look that worked for Ruby Keeler in 1937 (see photo above right), but is considerably less attractive in 2007. It’s a bit sad to have hair that would have been a hit 70 years ago- seems like a waste, really. But here I am in the 21st century, trying to no avail to make it attractive. But at least now I know why I never succeed in this task. Just defeating the dreaded wayward front lock alone took two trained professionals a quarter of hour: one had to tug at it mercilessly with a huge brush while blowing super-heated air onto it , while the other simultaneously applied copious amounts of hairspray.
After the Herculean task of fixing my hair, I let the makeup specialist have a go. She did a nice job, very natural. And at about eight dollars, it was a good investment, considering that I don’t own any makeup, except for a tube of mascara and some lipstick.

JP and I got to the party at about 8pm. It was at the home of a Taiwanese businessman here in Ouaga. Why not at the Embassy? Well, lots of the guests wouldn’t be allowed to come if it was held at an official site, such as the embassy itself. The US Ambasador, for example, is forbidden by our government to even visit the home of any Taiwanese government employees.
It was a very impressive home in Ouaga 2000. Four stories, two pools, lovely landscaping and plenty of room for a stage outdoors plus tables for 300 people.

The first part of the evening involved standing around with a drink in hand, not knowing anyone. God, I hate parties. But then the US Ambassador and her husband showed up. We ended up sitting together and it made the evening much nicer. Despite the fact that the ambassadorial spouse kept asking JP about various digs and his opinion of the new archaeological museum at Oursi. He didn’t seem to understand the difference between an archaeologist (like me) and a cultural anthropologist (like JP). His wife was excruciatingly embarrassed and kept trying to clue him in, but it didn’t do much good.
The food was very depressing. No amazing Chinese cuisine in sight. Not a single bean sprout or mushroom. There was couscous, roast mutton, fried potatoes and fish in tomato sauce. Typical Burkina party fare. The only nice thing was the asparagus from the Taiwanese experimental farm, which was a treat. We don't get a wide variety of vegetable in Burkina.

Coming tomorrow: The end of the story. Really.

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