Which makes me happier at this moment? I have a garden full of the most delicious melons ever, or I am on my way to spend ten days in London? It’s so tough! I mean really, the hugest melons ever. Watermelons so red and juicy that sweet slime drips down your arms with every mouthful, and honeydew so subtle that each velveteen bite unite the perfect mélange of rich and mellow. And then, on the other hand, It’s London, Baby!
Not that I would actually cancel my trip, it’s mostly business after all, but to be gone for a whole ten days from my latest addiction isn’t the easiest thing either, even to do it for London. I love great cities and there are depressingly few in the world, most of them not in the U.S. I guess that’s why my oldest friends think it’s odd that I’m way out here, not weird-odd I’m sure, because they knew me as the chick-who-moves-every- year-odd, who joins-the-Peace-Corps-odd, who tries-curing-her-own-olives-odd. Is that really so far from let’s-try-homesteading-odd? I don’t think it is such a far cry from she’s-living-in-Paris-this-year-odd, no-it’s-Corsica-this-summer-odd, or rather Guadeloupe-again-no-,that’s-Prague-now-odd, which I guess they see as somehow not equating with this year’s rural-East-Texas-odd. I really don’t know why. They are all so obviously similar.
Our dearest Professor Coyne made me laugh when his early-riser email informed me he’d just google-mapped our little Texas village. After he saw the porta-potty sized “jail” he quipped, “I think you’re in the Peace Corps NOW.” For some peculiar reason I wanted to squeeze him right then and squeal, “Yes Thank You!”
I don’t know why that is exactly. Maybe because I was not in the “real” Peace Corps. I was not in the Peace Corps we all envision, of mud African huts or swampy Asian villages. I was in the Paris of the Peace Corps, which is how any assignment anywhere in or near Prague or Budapest was called. I was a stone’s throw away from the western German border and so of course, great shopping. I was living in the Gymnazium administrator’s old flat complete with guest bedroom, telephone, and satellite television, and teaching in a brand new school with an observatory and computer lab and private office. It was certainly far better than I’d lived as a graduate student either before or after, and better than nearly everyone else in the training group. Of course, there were those in the Business Sector who were even more lucky.
I felt over-privileged, yes. Balanced of course, by a notorious sense of entitlement. But was it really luck? After all, my most charismatic ex-hubby called daily to the Peace Corps DC office, flirting his arse off to any staff who would listen, begging for us to be offered those precious slots in the Czech Republic, rather than Armenia. Afterward he charmed his way into his language teacher’s best graces, with his natural linguistic aptitude of course, and was always selected for the choicest of any event, whether it was eating lunch with some official, or getting the cream of assignments. I as his wife, on several occasions, was actually left behind, because while I can be cute and charming when required, I was just too critical to be seated at the same table with VIP visitors from Washington. I actually had the gall to write my true beliefs on the Peace Corps’ indefatigable surveys! Only for me then was our prime locale thanks to luck. For him, it was something else.
Which brings me to the reason for the London trip. Master Kevin Hogan promises to teach me some all-persuasive techniques; how to do everything from Getting a Yes Within 8 Minutes, to Uncovering the Secrets of Personal Magnetism, to, as the London seminar is titled, learning “The Psychological Triggers of Hypnotic Persuasion.“ And I am so on board! I’m registered in the course, signed up for the seminar, and bought three of his dozen-odd books. Why the hell not? This guy is the most prolific contemporary world’s marketing genius conceivable, so I just know he is brilliant enough to illuminate for me the illogical inconsistencies in my ridiculous simultaneous striving for great melons and lingering visits to London.