Of Crowns, Kidneys, and My Alternative Lifestyle.

Christy and I end up "auditioning" on an almost daily basis.

Yesterday, I came as close as I hope I ever do to auditioning for Miss America.

Honestly, it wasn’t an entirely atypical day in Senegal for me. I walked into a crowded dorm room full of Senegalese English students, and was immediately peppered by all of the usual queries. It’s a laughably predictable string of questions that I get every time that I meet someone new-and thus, I have had ample time to rehearse and perfect my careful answers. With flawless posture that can only be attributed to countless years of my parents chastising me to “sit up like a lady”, I demurely [Yes, I can be demure!] smile, cross my ankles, and offer the most non-offensive, vague renditions of my thoughts on politics.

Student: What do you think of Obama?

Moi: He is a very intelligent man, and his election was an important moment in American history.

Student: What do you think of Bush?

Moi: He was also a very intelligent man, and he was president during a very difficult time during American history. I do not agree with all of his decisions, nor do I agree with all of Obama’s decisions.

Student: What of the war in Iraq?

Moi: I wish it would end. [I mean really, I just want world peace.]

[That conversation has been vastly abbreviated.]

Thus ends the politics portion of our Q&A. And then we are on to something of infinitely more interest to my girls than the “War on Terror” or our crumbling healthcare system: my love life.

Student: Are you married?

Moi: [steeling myself for the mine field ahead] No.

Student: [confidently] But you are engaged?

Moi: No.

Student: [quizzically] …you have a boyfriend.

Moi: No, I don’t have a boyfriend. Je suis celebataire. [I am single.]

Student: [baffled and aghast] You don’t have ANY boyfriends?! Why not!?

The confused horror that a Senegalese woman displays upon understanding that I am single would be much more appropriate, say, if she had just had a vital organ ripped out of her body. I can understand that kind of shock and revulsion when you are rudely awakened at four AM in a bathtub full of ice cubes sans a kidney-but no, they reserve that particular emotion for my relationship status.

After insisting that being single is not, in fact, an “alternative lifestyle”, politely declining offers of Senegalese husbands and reassuring the eight or so troubled faces in that room that I am not a feminazi seeking to singlehandedly destroy the institution of marriage, we migrated to the talent portion of our afternoon.

Student: You are a missionary. My boyfriend used to sing for me “American Grace”. You will sing?

Moi: …you mean Amazing Grace?

Student: Yes! Amazing Grace.

Moi: [wondering what on earth that Muslim girl’s boyfriend was doing singing hymns to her.] …I’ll make you a deal. Next week you will come to my apartment where I have a piano, and I will sing Amazing Grace with music.

Student: [after careful consideration.] Okay. …but right now you will sing.

Moi: [cricket.]

And so I did, with Dayton and Christy belting along beside me, choking back laughter and trying desperately the whole time to keep a straight face. [Impossible.]

I think I need a raise.


  1. haha…i love, love, LOVE it! you just can’t make up these things.

  2. Kristin says:

    Of course you need a raise!

Speak Your Mind