25 years ago today, a bunch of us were sitting on the floor in the living room of a barren apartment in Madrid. We had beer, wine, cheese, and probably some Spanish tortilla, which is a potato, egg and onion sort of pie that bears no resemblance whatsoever to a Mexican tortilla. The only furniture in the room was a TV, and we were watching in uncomprehending horror as tanks rolled into a very distant Tiananmen Square.
The lack of comprehension was greater for some than for others. One American girl, a red headed fashion model, very patriotic, was upset to learn that Spain was in Europe. “Sociedad Anónima” - the Spanish equivalent of incorporated - meant that the initials S.A. followed many business names, just as Inc follows many business names in the USA. She thought S.A. meant South America, and she had been giving all her friends a South American return address. It didn’t occur to her that taking the train from Paris, Europe to Madrid, South America and getting there in just a few hours without crossing the Atlantic Ocean was impossible. That sort of thinking was too sophisticated for her. The fact that they speak Mexican in Spain and in South America left her unsure what to believe, and this was causing panic.
An American Marine had been arrested for rape in Japan. Maybe it was in Okinawa. One thing the red headed model was sure about was that this was not possible. Americans don’t commit rape, she declared, outraged that anyone would be so unpatriotic as to think it even possible. The Japs were trying to frame him.
We tried to argue with her, but she wasn’t having any of it, so we returned to our beer and tortillas and watched the tanks roll over more students far, far away in Tiananmen Square.
This is not that girl. This is my wife, or rather was, since it was a long time ago, and we haven’t been married in almost 20 years. She was also a model, and this was in Mexico.