Yesterday, I was at work when the intercom rang. I picked up the phone with my normal greeting of "how-dee."
(I know it is terribly Southern cliche-ish to say "howdy", but from my first day here, they have been terribly disappointed by my light Southern accent and lack of typical Southern aphorisms...so to appease them, and to make the secretary laugh, I always answer the phone with a gutsy "howdy!")
It was the secretary calling me, and she asked if I could come down to the office for a minute. So, I got up from my desk, and jumped down the stairs and casually sauntered into her office, expecting a question about the schedule or the bulletin since that is our normal Monday afternoon routine. Instead, I walked right into the lion's den.
She had kind of a nervous look on her face and it took me a second to realize there was someone else in the office. She cleared her throat and said, "Tori, I'd like you to meet Juan (actually, I don't remember his name, but we'll stick with Juan for now)." So, I smiled at this guy who looked to be in his early to mid 30's and shook his hand. He didn't go in for the Guate greeting with the kiss and such, in what is normally an attempt to look American.
And then it got quiet.
He was just looking at me with this wide grin, and I was looking at the secretary waiting for her to tell me what she needed, and she just sat there reading the newspaper, not looking at either of us.
It took me a second to realize that I had been paged downstairs to talk to this guy, but I eventually figured it out, and so I turned my attention to him and tried to figure out what he wanted with me.
After the questions about how I liked Guate and about my home in the States, I began to get suspicious. It only took him a few more questions to proclaim that we both had a lot of things in common. Obviously a lot in common, you know, because we both liked dogs, and he used to own a horse and I went to school in Kentucky--where they have a lot of horses, and because he learned English in Michigan and I've been to the airport in Michigan. I started getting really nervous then. The secretary was giving me no help, and was staying out of the conversation almost entirely, except for when Juan needed help translating a word. I had no clue how to get myself out of this situation that was steadily becoming more and more obvious. I tried to be nice and just answer his questions as honestly and as succinctly as possible, without giving away that I was totally at a loss as to how to handle this situation in a culturally correct way.
It was when he started asking about my schedule and what was my least busy day that I knew I needed to get out of there and fast. But before I figured out how to make that happen, he told me that he wanted to give me a tour of Guatemala and that he wanted me to meet his parents.
I swear my mouth hit the floor at the point. I may not know a lot about Guatemalan culture, but I knew that this kid was jumping light years ahead of asking for a date. !!Meet his parents!! I just looked at the secretary and even she had stopped pretending to read the paper and was staring at the guy. I don't rightly remember what I said at the point, but I'm pretty sure it involved a lot of fast mumbling. I then shook his hand and told him I needed to get back to work, said mucho gusto, and then proceeded to bolt back up the stairs to the yenta-free zone that is my office.
Later on that afternoon, when I was sure Juan had left the building, I went back downstairs and demanded to know who he was and what in the world had just happened. The secretary just sat there and laughed at me. She said she had no idea what he had wanted from me. Apparently, he'd seen me once before and asked her who I was. She told him and he asked for an introduction. She then apparently forgot about it, but when he came in today to get something, he asked again. So, she paged me to come down, and that was that. So, I can't blame her for trying to be a matchmaker, but I told her she had to set up some kind of code so that I'll know what I'm walking in to next time.
Maybe something along the lines of "There is a creepy, desperate 35 yr old man in the building and he wants to check out your birthing hips. Can you come down to my office for a few minutes?"
I'm thinking that may be a little too obvious, but I'm working on it.