One of the more disorienting things for us as children, was to watch our parents have a humongous marital spat on this side of the front door and then, the moment that door opened, turn into these Stepford characters who were so harmoniously put together, they might as well have plastic genitalia and be called Barbie and Ken. Nor were they content to participate in this strange drama for an unknown public’s benefit by themselves: they insisted we learn how to duplicate their success too.
The first day of kindergarten, for example, I felt just as bad as all the other little children screaming their angry, frightened, red-faced heads off. But I don’t remember making a single peep all day. I just stood there in the middle of this new, terrifying world of strange, yelly toddlers with snot running down their faces and waited for the world to end without uttering a sound.
People can hardly believe it when I tell them this. “You must have cried a little?” is the usual response.
Of course I did. A lot, in fact. In private. With my ayah. A couple of weeks later when I’d finally settled in and gotten comfortable with the idea of school. It felt really good. In retrospect, I wish I’d joined the mass hysteria in kindergarten and let it all out – I might have liked school better.
So it always touches a chord when I come across someone like Azeb Mesfin – controversial and award-winning AIDS and women’s rights activist, businesswoman, Member of Parliament, knockout, mother of three and wife to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. From the pool report of the arrivals at the G20 dinner hosted by the Obamas:
Next arrives Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, who clearly did something in the car to anger his wife because she glares at him, Mr. Obama, Mrs. Obama, and anyone unfortunate enough to cross her line of vision.
The Obama’s both look slightly taken aback by her. Wonder what happened in the car? The Ethiopian First Couple are quickly dispatched inside.
Clearly, she doesn’t have my mother’s voice echoing in her head. I’m all for this new model of political wife who lets it all out.