Confiance (Sunday, 2012 March 4)

March 4, 2012

You may have a hard time believing that her parents really named her Bulimia, but most Zhenae don’t believe that your parents really named you a word that translates as "cloaca", so it’s perfectly plausible that she be a volunteer here, in this same village as me. We are drinking for the whole usual litany of reasons and I am noting the prevalence of those armbands. We are splitting our sixth beer, which makes it something like three per person, but I think I have been drinking a little more than Bulimia on each of those six beers so maybe it is more like three and a half versus two and a half. It appears that beer affects me more sincerely than wine or sachets because I am seething with incoherent drunken rage. Bulimia has been telling me stories upon stories and I no longer trust anyone in this village or even on this planet. I am explaining that I do not think it is their fault but that culturally I do not think Zhenae are equipped to feel love. They can’t, they just can’t the same way that we do. They don’t trust each other. Earther love is based on trust. How can you be in love with someone when you can’t even give them the truth or trust that they are giving the truth to you?

Bulimia is a little older than me and she is looking at me with eyes that say that she is about to give me the full benefit of those years of wisdom. She says, "Don’t forget about Sally," who is two villages over and marrying a Zhenae, "or her fiancé Road. I think this is one of those racial tension things. Equatorial Zhenae aren’t the same as the plateau Zhenae we have here. I think Road is capable of love in a way that David isn’t." (David being the name of a particularly notorious villager.)

"I just hope Road is…" and I fumble for a moment, trying to decide what I want to wish about him. He’s a good guy and at best he seems to love Sally. "I just hope Road is exactly as he seems."

"I’ll drink to that," Bulimia says, and so we do. Night is falling, and we have to decide whether to order the seventh beer or what. Bulimia suggests we move to one of our houses, not in a seductive way but in the sisterly way that develops when you share a village with someone. Even Zhenae friends of mine have commented on how isolated I am and how stressed I seem to be, and I would like to continue this little Earther bitchfest but I have class in the morning so if I am going to continue drinking, I should do it at home and alone. So we part ways.

Hiring transport on this planet is always an adventure. The trick is to be liberal about calling out your destination. "College Intersection," I shout, and on the fourth time a grav-drop slows long enough for me to board, and after I promise him less money than I spent on beer, we are heading uphill. He is wearing an armband, and by way of support I tell him, "Hey, nice armband". He snorts something like amusement. That’s basically as much as I can do in one night, so I just enjoy the ride and figure I’ll cope with this planet better in the morning.

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