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By S. A. Barton
Copyright 2012 S. A. Barton
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No interview has made me feel more awkwardly American than the capuchin monkey seated across the small stone table from me. He sits casually on the tabletop, almost reclining and tail hanging bushy and luxurious over the edge, tearing shreds from a flaky breakfast pastry. He dips them into a cup of strong milk-tempered coffee the size of his head. His head is not at all large, but I wonder what would happen to such a tiny creature if he were to drink all of that caffeine.
He chatters to the proprietor, a large-bellied man in a scrupulously clean but worn T-shirt advertising Wisconsin Dells. I can’t imagine the man is aware of what either ‘Wisconsin’ or ‘Dells’ are. The monkey’s Portuguese is excellent—or I suppose it is; he’s speaking too quickly for me to do more than catch every fifth word with my four week tourist language course fluency.
Luckily, his English is excellent also. And his Spanish, and his French. Awkward American, I wait for him to return to the only language I speak worth a damn, and I do my waiting in poor grace. I slurp my coffee rudely and rattle the saucer putting the cup down. I tap my toes in my damp leather sandals and I sigh.