Thursday, November 18, 2010

Navajo Shortcuts

My husband Alex is Navajo.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Indian Reservation in the United States. It is also a very beautiful place. Alex has about 200 relatives who live there and we go to visit some of them at least every couple of years.

We usually make Gallup, New Mexico our "base" for the Rez trips. There is a hotel in Gallup that we love called the "El Rancho". It was built during the time that Hollywood was making a string of Westerns and it has a lot of history. We usually get the "Presidential Suite" (named that because Ronald Reagan stayed there when he was acting in Westerns). The hotel's lobby is gorgeous, but the rooms are a little run down. It's owned and run by Navajos.

The El Rancho is a pet friendly hotel. The Navajo hotel manager did comment "Those aren't dogs, those are wolves!" when we walked in with Harry and Honey. It's especially nice because we can eat our meals at a big wooden table in the lobby and let the dogs curl under our chairs while we have dinner. Or we can enjoy cocktails in front of a big fireplace while the dogs snooze.

We always rent a big Hummer because Alex insists we need an off-road vehicle for the Reservation. (And we like to show off; Navajos love Hummers!) Sometimes we pick up a bunch of Navajos going back to the Rez after a night in town and pile them in back with the dogs. These guys are funny and appreciate not having to take the long, long hike back home. They are all very amused at the Navajo guy with the blond wife.

Every time we go, Alex wants to take the unpaved "Indian Roads" and we always get hopelessly lost. It's a very big area and one can get very lost when one insists on taking "Navajo shortcuts". We've run out of road, been stuck in the mud, nearly turned our vehicle over, and pretty much abandoned all thought of ever getting back to civilization while we are visiting the Rez. It's all high adventure!

Sometimes we find Alex's aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes we don't. This trip is never really about the destination but about the journey. When we are somewhere else, I am much more inclined to be nervous when Alex starts talking about a "Navajo shortcut". God knows where we might end up. When we are on the Rez, I feel like we can never truly be lost.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is That A Gun In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

This is what shows on a TSA screening x-ray.

I don't think I want an x-ray like that. Oh, I think it's probably not that intrusive, but I still don't like being exposed to any radiation as I doubt it's good for me.

I don't like being hijacked or killed either, so I'm not knocking the use of extreme measures. Still, I'd rather be patted down.

I've been patted down by a female police officer while assuming "the position" on the hood of a car. It really wasn't that traumatic in itself. The part that was a little traumatic was being on the side of the freeway when it happened.

Short story. Guy I was carpooling with was black. We were in an area where Driving While Black is suspect. Got pulled over for expired tags. The car was impounded. We were both searched for contraband and weapons, but the Highway Patrolman who pulled us over had to call for a female cop to pat me down. It was a queer experience actually.

My husband had been deployed for a year to the Middle East at the start of the Iraq War. I was not in the mood to put up with this kind of nonsense. Eventually, after filing a formal complaint, I got an apology. Well, no harm, no foul.

Still, being patted down in private would be okay with me, particularly if she's cute. But, on the side of the road, not so much.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Walk On The Wild Side

When I was nineteen, I was married and living in an apartment complex in Mountain View, California. I met a girl at the swimming pool one day, and we became friends. Cathy wasn’t married, but she and I had a lot in common. We were the same age and we both loved to read. We both worked in sales, and were both from San Francisco.

Cathy told me she was going up to the City to see a friend the next day and asked me if I wanted to come along. It was about an hour’s drive from Mountain View to San Francisco, and she said she’d love to have company for the ride. I quickly agreed to go along. My husband worked long hours and I was usually bored if I was home alone. Cathy told me her friend was a girl she knew from high school who was now working as a prostitute. I absorbed that information slowly and then thought, “Wow! How cool is this?”

I decided that I wouldn’t mention the details to my husband John. I was fascinated and intrigued and really looking forward to meeting this amazing person. My only ideas of prostitutes were from movies—Belle De Jour with Catherine Deneuve, or Irma LaDouce with Shirley Maclain came to mind. I really wasn’t sure exactly what prostitutes did exactly. I mean, yeah, they had sex for money, but was it just normal sex like my husband and I had? Or for that matter, did we have normal sex? There was just so much information that could come from this nineteen-year-old girl named Melissa who was working in the absurdly adult field of prostitution!

I dressed very carefully the next morning and applied my make up with an expert hand. I wanted to look my best! I wanted to make a good impression on the mysterious and glamorous Melissa. On the ride to the City, Cathy told me that Melissa had a black pimp named Joe. (Oh my God! This just gets better and better!) I was buzzing with anticipation over the whole escapade!

We pulled up in front of a run-down looking apartment building in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. This was not a nice neighborhood. When we went up to the front door, it was open and various people were loitering in the lobby. They were not people I wanted for neighbors. As I followed Cathy up the two flights of stairs, I began to wonder if coming here was the best idea I ever had! The place was so run down and dirty and the people all looked like the dregs of society. What in the hell were we doing here looking a little like a team of Jehovahs Witnesses?

Cathy knocked at the door of Melissa’s apartment. A fairly heavy-set blond girl in a dirty babydoll nightgown opened the door to us and said to come on in. She had apparently been sleeping when we arrived and had smeared mascara around her eyes, and her face was puffy with sleep. I was having trouble getting my mind around the fact that she was nineteen. She looked a bruised forty, literally and figuratively. Her arm was badly bruised as was her leg. Cathy asked her what happened to her and Melissa told us that a cop had raped her and beat her up the night before. I was looking at her dirty feet with the chipped polish and thought that no cop in his right mind would touch this girl. (Yeah, I was naive all right.)

We stayed about an hour and then Cathy asked Melissa to get dressed and we’d take her out to lunch. I am embarrassed to admit how much I did not want to be seen in public with this person. I was so relieved when Melissa declined and said she just wanted to get back in bed. I was somewhat taken aback when she said to me, “If Joe saw you, he’d snatch you up in a minute!” Oh God! Get me out of here! I no longer wanted to meet Joe the pimp. I didn’t want to be “snatched up”. I wanted to go home!

What I expected to be a fascinating adventure was nothing but a terribly depressing and sad situation. It’s nothing like the movies.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Playing Dress Up - Part 1

Honestly, is anything more fun?

A couple of years ago, my sister and I dressed up like hookers to go over to a drug dealer park and look for the drug "Oww".

(Yes, it's a made up drug. And yes, it is a made up park.)

We donned fishnet tights, stiletto heels, and hot pants along with a pink wig for me and a green wig for her. I had completely forgotten that we were having a furniture delivery that day. The delivery men with the couch might remember us.

I have kimono's and sari's for different occasions. But I also have police (don't ask) and military uniforms, nurses uniforms, as well as a nun's habit. I also have a maternity top and a foam rubber pregnant belly complete with the protruding navel.

I used to play dress up when my kids were small. They would join in the fun too. Then grandkids care along. My grandson Cyrus was fixated on Batman when he was little. I would dress Cyrus up as Batman when he was about 3.

I of course accompanied him as Cat Woman. (We went out that way too, much to the horror of my daughter.) I would tie a pillowcase to serve as Cyrus's cape and let him wear a watch cap of my husband's. Cyrus was very pleased to be seen as Batman by all of our neighbors! And I made a darned good Cat Woman if I do say so myself.

I have always loved dressing up. I probably will not stop doing it either.