Monday, March 17, 2008

I have gotten a couple of emails that read something like this :

Dear Beth.

I read in your blog that you aren’t happy with your car. If I sign a statement agreeing that your car is the Spawn of Satan On Earth, Working Evil Upon You and Your Family, will you PLEASE write about something else? What did you do all weekend anyway? You live in Africa and all you did was sit around and gripe about your car? Nothing more exciting going on? Really?



Puzzled Friend

Well, actually the emails were way more polite than that, but I think that’s what they meant. At any rate, since they asked so nicely, I will tell everyone about my weekend.

Friday night, Valentine and I went with a friend (who has a working car!!!) and went to go see a band in a maquis/nightclub. It was a group made up of teachers from Saint Exupery School. There were seven people in it, all in the 30 to 50 year old age range, just out to have fun. Alexa’s teacher was the lead singer, Mallory’s geography teacher was the lead guitarist and her 2nd grade teacher was the backup vocalist.

I wouldn’t say they were a garage band. They were more of a “garden shed at the back edge of the property, well away from the house” band.

Saturday morning found us at the US Ambassador’s home for the annual American community Easter Egg hunt. Everyone had to bring a dish for the brunch, so I had made a pecan pie with some precious pecans from my freezer and a bit of that rarest of all fluids: corn syrup. ( I don’t think any nation on earth uses the stuff except for Americans. Nobody else knows what to do with it..) I managed to give myself a nasty round burn on my wrist with bubbling hot syrup and sugar.

Somebody at the party remarked “So, burning ourselves with cigarettes again are we?”

“I just wanted the voices in my head to stop!” I answered, a little too loudly, earning me a few inquisitive looks.

If the Ouaga Rumour Mill starts humming with news that I have a major mental disorder, I won’t be too surprised.

The afternoon passed quickly after we got back home. We invited over a few friend to watch the first tape of American Idol.

Yes, we’re just getting started over here!

I have to be very careful when I’m at the gym watching the television, because people often put on an entertainment/celebrity show while I’m there (it’s on right after Dr. Phil). The show often mentions what’s going on on Idol. Once again today I saw the AI logo come up on the screen and had to avert my eyes, plug my ears and drone “la la la la ” until it was over, so I wouldn’t get even a hint of what the news was. This behaviour might also be contributing to any reputation for mental instability that I may be developing here in Ouaga.

That evening, we went to Mass. No chance of missing it, because from 4 pm onwards, Mallory was asking every ten minutes “Is it time to go yet? We need to go early you know. Is it time to get ready yet?” You have never seen a child in such a hurry to go to church. You’d think they were giving away free Barbie dolls.

But no, Mallory wanted to get there early so that she’d be assured a place as one of the four altar servers that would assist the priest during the mass.

Now, the twins have served at the altar several times and enjoy doing it, but this time they both seemed especially adamant that they would get the coveted white albs with red crosses over the heart. I kind of wondered about it.
A sudden religious fervour, perhaps? Future twin nuns?!

In the car on the way over, I was quickly disabused of any notion that an elevated spirituality was behind this sudden overwhelming desire to get to church early and help our kindly Burkinabé priest, the Abbé Anicet.

“Charlene is EVIL” Mallory announced.

“Uh…she seems like a perfectly nice girl.” I ventured.

But no, it seems like the Anti-Christ is alive and well and going to Sunday school with my daughters.

“It’s all an act” Alexa informed me. “She pretends to be all nice around the parents, but she’s really MEAN and HORRIBLE!”

“And she’d do ANYTHING to be an altar server!” Mallory added

“Yes! I bet she’s already there! I bet she got there an hour ago!” Alexa said indignantly.

By this time, the older kids and I were starting to really laugh.

Valentine said “Actually, I heard that Charlene took her tent and CAMPED out in front of the church last night so she’d be sure to be the first!”

I couldn’t resist, either.

“Well” I said. “I heard that ANOTHER little girl had had the same idea and camped there first, but Charlene killed her! Then she burned the body and the tent and buried the ashes so her horrible crime would be hidden. Yup. She’d do ANYTHING to be an altar girl!”

So, we definitely all had a severe case of the giggles by the time we pulled up to the church. (Valentine remarked just the other night as we sat around laughing: “I’d sure hate to be in a normal family”. -which made us all laugh harder, but I think this is the kind of thing she thinks she’d miss by being “normal”)

The twins scrambled out of the car as fast as they could. There were already a few vehicles there. Competition!

We saw no evidence of camping, thank goodness.

The twins quickly claimed two of the coveted positions in a distinctly un-Christian spirit of complete victory and went off to get suited up. Two other kids were chosen (neither of them was the “evil” Charlene)

I sat down with my older kids, near the front -which I came to regret..

As it was our Palm Sunday service, everyone was given a cross made from a palm frond. But in the hands of my son, a palm frond is a dangerous thing.

As the choir sang “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” I looked over and saw Severin lip-synching, using his cross as a microphone. I wanted to look severe, but it was all I could do not to laugh.

“Dude! If the priest sees you doing Jesus Karaoke you are SO busted!” Valentine whispered to him in mock outrage, which about did me in totally.

I figure it’s all my fault. I let them watch way too many Monty Python dvds.

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