Monday, August 06, 2007

The Meaning Fetishist

Sitting at a slightly sticky table in Terminal H of the Miami International Airport, I take large bites of a Quiznos veggie sub sandwich. I'm exhausted.

A cancerously tanned woman with an ugly, unidentifiable accent passes by with her son, a pale long-haired kid in a NASCAR t-shirt, in tow. "They need to give Britney another chance," she says. "I mean, jeeeez." The boy doesn't appear to be listening.

Having just returned from Brazil, I hear snippets of conversation as I would an unfamiliar language; I focus more on tone and stress than specific meaning. Had I still been in Sao Paulo, I would have assumed that the mother was talking of something more significant. This habit probably explains why, at almost thirty-years of age, I hold on to the generally ridiculous assumption that people not American are better informed and more thoughtful.

A young black boy approaches. He's wearing a Miami Heat jersey. He throws a glance my way as I take too big a bite of the greasy mess Quiznos calls an Italian Caprese.

A fan of cliches, I assign a hunger to his eyes and, in doing so, recall my observations of Shawn Marion, small forward for the Phoenix Suns, who shared my flight from Sao Paulo to Miami. A muscular 6' 7", Marion nevertheless had a traveling companion, a small man with a tidy mustache, retrieve all of his luggage from the baggage carousel. As each bag appeared, Marion grunted and gestured in acknowledgment. In response, his companion, at least twenty years Marion's senior, removed the bags, neatly stacking them on an extra long cart. Five tall, teenage Brazilians milled about in gold chains and cock-eyed caps, speaking Portuguese and laughing. Marion kept his eyes on the carousel.

I take another bite of the Caprese.

A hugely obese white woman seated with an average sized fellow to my right holds up a nacho dripping with cheese. "Human beings," she says as she contemplates the loaded tortilla chip. Then she eats it.

I stare at her. What could that remark mean?, I wonder. What sort of profundity is she up to?

Then I realize that she actually said "Leave some beans."

I'm exhausted.

5 comments:

Sunil said...

Classic HH.
Welcome back!!

jason said...

Ha, great stories. While you were rummaging around in South America, I was in the equally exotic Upper Peninsula of Michigan, doing the family thaang. What's my favorite sound byte from one of my northern rednecked relatives, you ask? Well, little did I know it, but apparently the Christian God actually requires you to eat meat, otherwise you're going to "pay for it in Hell." At least, that's what my wife was told by one of my uncles when he learned of our vegan diet. Go figure, it's nearly impossible to unpack the logic. Of course, I also learned that a woman's main task is to please her husband, because the Bible says that she is to remain "in subjection to him." Fun, fun, fun.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Sunil:

Thank you.

Jason:

Wow. They must love the two of you up there! I'll see you in Hell, I suppose...or maybe I'll just be stuck in limbo, what with my particular dietary restrictions.

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