Sunday, December 30, 2012

Unpacking the Suitcase: Leftovers from ...Sunrise


Eventually, one must begin the process of unpacking the suitcase.  You know the one, the brown zipper bag that slipped underneath the bed and disappeared into the dust balls, the one you moved to and fro when vacuuming up the dust mites for the first two years.

Inside that valise are stored various items one thought she left behind in the last relationship, the ones reflected in tone of voice and body language.

The 'hands on hips stance' one useferocously as a high school English teacher when Albert came in late and interrupted twenty-nine classmates as he stumbled to his seat in the front of the room, when Alex fell off his seat in the midst of one of those heart rending confessions from Patricia about her latest scoop on the school newspaper. 

Deep inside the suitcase remained “the hands on hip” move of the American school teacher and the tone of voice that said, ‘Calm  down, pay attention, be quiet, aren't you ashamed,’ all in one. That intimidation honed after forty years in the classroom does not belong in any adult-adult relationship. It particularly does not belong in a trans Pacific relationship between an Australian male whose primary school teachers were at least five degrees lower in intelligence than he. When would such a behaviour sneak out of the tightly zippered bag?

Only when the topic is of major importance and the Aussie bloke is at his most vulnerable: in discussions in front of his children about the 'red Indians' of North America.  Who are the 'red Indians'?  They are ostensibly not residents of the sub continent, India.  When discussing America, one must at some time speak of the indigenous folks of that land whilst reprimanding Australians for their history of treatment of the indigenous residents of their homeland.  And of course, this loaded topic leaves neither side of the discussion with much high ground on which to stand.

So, what's with the hands on hips?  ‘No one calls American Indians red Indians.  What a denigrating adjective. ‘ Hands on hips stance combined with laughter. 

The teacher is on, full of herself, sure she is right in her intimidation.

It doesn't take long before tempers flare as partners are embarrassed at the sniggerly laughter.  And of course, shortly thereafter appearing on one's lap top is an email with fifty references to 'red indians'. The fact that all refererences are to material written before 1910 does not mitigate the sense of antipathy.
 
Stuff it back in the suitcase and shove it under the bed, way under the bed.