I've been traveling way too much lately. I come back from cool places, and I remember the silliest details. What the cab driver said. Or what the stranger who ate lunch at the same airport deli was saying to his wife about the meaning of life. Take the cab driver in Providence. He was young, maybe in his twenties, from South Africa. He said he grew up in Paris and was writing a memoir about his life. He was going to tell about all the countries he lived in. He also wanted to tell the world how limited Americans are. How they don't travel, for example. They don't even go to Europe. They only speak English. What do you know about Africa? he asked. I admitted I didn't know very much, but that I had recently watched a film about Swaziland. I said that the king of Swaziland took a new wife every year.
What's wrong with that? the cab driver asked me. Africans do that in many countries, not just Swaziland. And why not? At least king is honest. At least his wives know where he is and with whom. In your country men take lovers. Think about Bill Clinton. He could have married Monica and his other women too. But Americans don't accept that. It's very silly.
How many wives do you think you will take? I asked. Oh, he laughed. It all depends of course. I'm not a king.
AWP in Minneapolis, and recommended reading
3 weeks ago