Friday, March 28, 2008

Them's Fighting Words

On my way to the tram this morning (yes, I realize that this is entirely inconsistent with my swearing off of public transportation in yesterday's post, but, the reality is that my pro-bono job does not afford me the luxury of taking a cab to and from the office every day!), this rather large, clean-cut, and relatively nicely-dressed man approached me from the opposite direction and stopped directly in front of me. He then started talking to me in French.

A little irritated that he was blocking my forward progression, but still well within the realms of good global citizen, I threw out my best "Je suis desolee. Je ne parle pas Francais. Sorry." I then tried to sidestep him to the left. He grabbed my right arm and asked, "English?" Since my purse was on the other arm, I didn’t figure him for a robber. Great, that left me with rapist! Of course, internally, I'm freaking out, but, on the outside, I’m the picture of cool, calm and collected. I yanked my arm back and replied, “yes,” while still trying to get around him.

He then asked, in English, if I knew where Place de Kambi (sp?) was. I told him no, I had never heard of it. Again, I tried to skirt past him. Again, he blocked my path. He said that he really needed to find Place Kambi. I told him that if he could give me a restaurant or a hotel near the Place, maybe I could help him, but, otherwise, I really had no idea where Place de Kambi was.

He then asked me if I was from England. “No,” I said. At this point, I had managed to get past him, but, to my chagrin, he started walking backwards next to me. With a death-grip on my purse, I tried to put as much distance – both forwardly and laterally – from the man as possible. Right about then, I started thinking that maybe the guy was never looking for Place de Kambi and that, perhaps, he was just looking for a reason to approach me. I started to get a little weirded out.

Not to be deterred by my curt response and fancy side-stepping, he then asked me if I was an American. “Yes,” I said, “I’m from the States.” This is where what would have otherwise been just another uncomfortable encounter on a Brussels street for Cindy turned into a bloggable event. He started pointing at me and yelling, “You are the daughter of George W. Bush! You are the daughter of George W. Bush!” Needless to say, it caught people's attention.

Now, I’ve purposely tried to keep this blog non-political, as I’m sure that there are plenty who don’t share my views, nor would they care to read my rants (except, for maybe my Daddy and my Aunt Pat who most certainly share my rant-slant), but, c’mon, them’s fighting words! The way I figured it, W's approval rating in the States is hovering around 30%, give or take a few evangelicals. All things being equal, I think it is fair to say that public opinion of him in Europe is much, much, much, much lower. And this lunatic (the guy on the street, in case you are confused as to which one I'm referring) is accusing me of being related to him (the other lunatic, in case you are confused as to which one I'm referring)!

Granted, I was tempted to stop and defend my honor, but, if anything, I'm learning not to engage the crazies. So, I just kept walking. I did, however, do that little waving motion next to my head that the French do that looks like you are screwing in a light bulb (for the longest time I thought it was just nice people waving at me until someone clued me in that it was actually French hand signals for "that beyatch be crazy!") Apparently, this particular hand signal is gender-neutral. Good to know, good to know.


Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Good thing you didn't mention you were from Texas...

Of course, then he might have assumed you were armed and STEPPED BACK!!!!

3:19 AM  
Anonymous javacurls said...

When I first started to read your story I thought, "Wow those Belgian men really have a way of coming on to a girl don't they." lol!

Look on the bright side though if he thought you were GW's daughter he must have thought you were in your early 20's. What a great compliment!

2:17 PM  
Blogger Michael Speer said...

Well I know you can drink like a Bush girl at the very least :)

10:05 PM  

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