It was 10:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night. My bedtime. I’d turned out the light, put in my earplugs and was in bed with Mr. Kindle, reading by the light of my headlamp.
Music was blasting from the house ten feet away where my brothers and their friends have been drinking for the last several hours. I was surprised to hear a knock at my door.
I yelled out “What?”
“Are you asleep?” asked one of my brothers.
“Yes.” I lied.
“Oh. Sorry to bother you. Can we talk to you?”
I pulled on a robe and opened the door. There was my oldest brother. He just looked at me. I looked back and asked what he wanted. He mumbled. Then silence. Then he said something in Samoan to someone standing to one side of the door. If my host parents and other, sober family members hadn’t been within hollering distance I would have been totally creeped out. As it was, I was just annoyed.
For several minutes we went through a “What do you want?” “No, nothing, sorry.” exchange, but they weren’t moving. Finally my brother explained that his friend wanted to talk to me. He liked me. Dear God, it was a drunken guy in his 20’s. Ready to date the palagi in her 60’s. They finally decided that now was perhaps not the best time for a first date. Ya think?
Earlier this evening, I’d heard the guys talking about “the palagi”. Annoying but I’m used to having people talk about me even when they know I can hear and understand them. I didn’t pay much attention to them.
Now, I can hear them talking loudly, drunkenly again about me. I’m getting the gist that my brother is trying to convince his buddy that tomorrow is the better time to approach me again. Yeah, he’ll have a much better shot then.
After reading for awhile, I put on a sleep mask, tucked my earplugs in more firmly and turned out my headlamp. I eventually dozed off.
I was having a wonderful dream that involved eating cheese while taking a hot shower when I heard something. There was something scratching at the screen of my window. I just laid in the dark, watching and listening. The music was gone although the lights were still on. I watched a large shadow move from the window on the side of my house to the window in the front. More scratching. Then a soft knock at the door.
I called out “What?”
A man’s voice asked in Samoan for me to open the door. This may be how dating happens in Samoa, but you’re dealing with a palagi now, bucko. The door is not opening. He slurred a few more things in Samoan and then, in perfect English, asked if he could come in so we could “be together.”
I could have said no thank you but I was too sleepy and freaked out for that. Instead, in Samoan I told him to stop it and go away. Much like I would if he’d been a cheeky school boy. Thankfully, he left.
I don’t think I totally ruined his evening because after I checked my watch (it was 12:30 a.m.) I heard voices and commotion. Seems the partiers were hungry. Since pizza delivery isn’t an option here, they were building a fire to boil some taro. Better than boiling up some palagi.
I was wide awake and pissed. All of this was happening with my family present. The same family who’d promised to protect me and had warned everyone in the village to stay away from my house.
I finally fell back to sleep. In the morning I considered making a lot of noise to get even with the partiers but didn’t. Just quietly hung my laundry and swept my house. My host mother came by and I asked if she knew about the men coming to my house. She didn’t know. She was really unhappy and hadn’t gone ten steps back toward her house when she was yelling for the son who’d brought his buddy to my door in the first place. She assured me that it won’t happen again. I believe her.
The really odd thing is that my wanna-be-beau is 21, according to someone in my family. He knows I’m 61.
I like to think I’m a fairly smart, adventurous, funny and sensitive woman, with a lot to offer to a man. I’m not delusional, though. I’m no MILF. It is rare that I’m alone with a man here that I’m not propositioned. Sometimes very directly and more graphically than is at all appealing. Age and marital status do not seem to be a consideration. I’ve been hit on by men who have just introduced me to their wives. I was hit on by a cab driver who was taking me to a hotel because the PC doctor determined I was too sick to go back to Savaii. The hacking, coughing, fever and phlegm were not a turn off to that would-be Romeo.
After the incident, I was chatting with one of my Samoan friends, a married woman. I asked if she got hit on all the time or if it was just because I’m a palagi. She explained that it was just the way many men here are. They take a shot. Sometimes they get lucky.