I was really active in the local Soroptimist International organization for a number of years. Despite the large number of prominent old goats in my former city, despite their thinking they run the community, it really is a matriarchy. The women rule in Soroptimist, Friends of the Library, Kiwanis and Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and Concerts in the Park.
My friend Janne and I crossed paths many times a day in these different pursuits and at Soroptimist we were kind of the go-to girls. We were the up-and-comers, as a lot of the Soroptimists were 70+ and slowing down. That was OK with us. We were in our 40s, feeling strong, creative and brilliant.
This was a time during which Amber was closely watching me - watching how I do things. Learning to be a woman, an adult, a do-er. She came to a lot of events other people did not bring their children to, but Amber went where I took her. She didn't cause anyone any grief and she's a well-rounded, successful, accomplishing person today because she was taken out into the world and shown how people do things.
Our Soroptimist group had a sister club in Osaka, Japan, and we interacted with those good women often. It happened that the president of their club was coming to the San Diego, so our group organized a fancy tea and reception. It was decided that Janne and I would then give the lady a San Diego tour, take her out to eat, and show our hospitality. Amber quickly joined in the mix - there was room for one more in the car. And, by the way, the lady spoke no English.
The day arrived. Janne, Amber and I had actually rehearsed our tour stops, scripts and how we'd pantomime to the lady what we were showing her. We'd printed things off the 'net and bought postcards and mementoes to present to her. The three of us would take turns presenting so the lady didn't have to hear the same person speaking a language she didn't understand.
At the tea, everyone was bright and chirpy. Gifts were exchanged from club to club. Photos were taken. Lots of smiles and blushes as everyone attempted to communicate. Amber's eyes were saucers as she took it all in.
We toured for about 4 hours, ending up at Old Town, because where the else would you take a visitor from Japan to dine on authentic Mexican cuisine? Here is where the original settlement of San Diego was established in 1769. There are wonderful cantinas and shops filled with colorful wares, as well as historic buildings, mariachi music and dancers. We waited a long time and were finally seated at a sunny table. Janne ordered margaritas and Amber had her first virgin margarita. Clearly our Japanese friend enjoyed the margaritas. She tentatively tried the chips and salsa - she didn't turn cartwheels, but she ate more than one.I ordered her a combo plate that feature a little bit of everything to be offered. When the food arrived, this good woman gave it the old college try. However, guacamole, sour cream and refried beans put her to the test - OH, the faces she made! I'm sure in other circumstances she may have spat into the bushes, but she managed to choke it down and put her fork on the table. The rest of the meal she focused on the margaritas.
That night when we got home, I asked Amber to tell Ex about the day. I wanted to hear her impressions. She gave a really credible rendition of events - she told it much the way I would have. She shared a few Japanese words she had learned from our visitor and did a pretty decent job with the inflection, to my American ears. She told her dad she enjoyed her virgin margarita and then said, in her delicate 12-year-old voice, "Dad, you should have seen the lady pack away the maragaritas!"
In my ears right now: What do you think? Mariachi music. Sort of. Part of a Dwight Yoakam tune.
Something that charmed me: The 99-Cent Store cactus in it's 99-cent pot is throwing yet another glorious flower. I'm going to see if I can get the Badger to photograph it!