We were sitting on the one piece of furniture in the whole house. It was an old, dilapidated couch and looked to have been home to cats and an all male college dormitory before being left on the curb for pick-up. It was a treasure and a rare find considering its location upon the Mexico-U.S. border. (People are poor here. In case you didn't know.) I can remember sinking into its spring-less depths and feeling the cool tile beneath my feet in the empty house. It was a beautiful thing -that couch- after sitting on concrete floors, standing and squatting in the dusty climate just south of San Luis, Arizona. My fellow travelers and I had just spent the day playing with street kids which meant playing soccer which meant we got our butts handed to us. Our high school education served us poorly as we attempted to communicate via Spanish. We must have looked like aliens, we were so white, waving our hands and making odd sounds but we were cool. All the kids wanted to give us hugs, take pictures with us, and show us their American things.
As a way to express appreciation for the time we spent in their little town, some of the local women made us an American dinner. These lovely women thought that we would love some American food after eating burritos, rice, beans and potatoes for a week.
This is where the couch comes in. As I am sitting in its depths, I am holding a delicious looking hot dog that even came with a hot dog bun. How awesome was that? I took a big hungry bite and suddenly I wanted to gag. Along with my hot dog was a whole lot of warm mayonnaise that my hostesses had so nicely prepared for me. (Apparently, hot dogs with mayonnaise must be American.) Never in my life have I ever seen a hot dog served with mayonnaise. Do I need to stress this point more? I wanted to spit it out right then and there. Hot mayonnaise and hot dogs do not mix well with hot, dusty days spent playing soccer with street kids on the border. I ended up eating the whole thing. I am proud of this moment. Did I mention that I was surrounded by six white American girls who gagged, complained and did not eat their carefully and thoughtfully prepared hot dogs with mayonnaise? I learned something that day about myself, about white girls, and about earnest hostesses.
(This was my first international experience. I was fifteen at the time. I went with a group of high schoolers from a local church. We stayed in Mezquital, Mexico.)