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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mouse Parties and Tiaras : Language and Love

My husband, Jose, is Brazilian. He is well-educated, a brilliant engineer and inventor, and kind to animals, but I think I fell in love with him because of his charming way of speaking English. After our first date, for example, he sent me an email that said, 
"I want to apologize for being so impatient to hold you. I should have conversed more, so I could explore your curious mind. But I was too anxious, like a dog with a cracker!" 
The image is overwhelming. Who could resist that? Not I! 
Another time I was speculating about what I might do when I got profit-sharing from the company I worked for at the time. He said, "Better be careful, sweetie-pie. Do not count with the egg in the ass of the chicken." How could you not treasure that up in your heart?

In the early days of our marriage, Jose travelled a lot and was often gone for weeks at a time as he bounced from Munich to Singapore to Maryland. One time when he was out of town he called when my friends Jan and Jenny were over. 
"What is this noise? " he asked.  "A mouse party?"  
I asked him what he meant.
"When the cat's away, the mouse will have a party."
Don't you love translation? 
The interesting thing about language is that it so often creates our reality. Ever since, anytime we three convened it was a mouse party. What had been just friends getting together for the evening became an exclusive club. Jenny bought us tiaras and we wore them as we drank champagne, made "visioning" collages, and watched chick flicks. At this time of year we'd always watch "Love Actually" again. The film starts with a memorable voice over from Hugh Grant who plays England's Prime Minister:
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around.
Love springs from the strangest places -- English passed through Portuguese,  friends embraced princesshood, death reminded us that our job on this earth is not survival. Jenny and I and many others lost our friend Jan last night.  Jan was the sweetest and least demanding of souls, but also sassy and wise and brave. Brave enough to wear a tiara, speak the truth and travel the cancer road without becoming a victim. Even as the end came rushing toward her, we could raise a sparkle in her eyes and see the place our love for her sprang from.

Jan never wanted a fuss made over her, so there will be no funeral, just a gathering of friends in a few days. Jenny and I will drive together from my house. And we will be wearing tiaras.


  1. That was a lovely post and tribute. I am sorry for your loss, but it sounds like you have also gained much from Jan's courage. Take good care.

  2. Very touching writing. I'm sorry to hear your friend has wandered on. Yet you have crafted a fitting tribute to to Jan without us knowing ahead of time. Bravo!

  3. Thanks, Linda -- I wish you had known Jan. You two would have gotten along famously :)