29 September 2009

Family History

He was sturdy, stocky, trustworthy: a dentist. A man you would immediately trust with  your molars, canines, and even your wallet. He spoke in lightly accented English, the Spanish still present. He felt uncomfortable not wearing a tie, he said, because he’d worn one to school every day, and he looked natty – perhaps the best- dressed man in the room.

The medical profession runs in his family, he said. His great-great-grandfather was a doctor. On a visit, he delivered a baby girl. He looked at the baby (and the dentist mimed it, tenderly, rocking his hands back and forth). The good doctor said, “What a beautiful baby. You know, I think I’m going to marry her one day.”  Everyone in the room laughed. But the doctor kept up with the girl, giving her toys, visiting her, making sure she entered the right schools. When the time came, after she had had her quinceanaria, he proposed. She accepted, and became the storyteller’s great-great-grandmother.

After he ended the story, an awkward pause met his beaming smile, a silence that was soon filled with the usual reactions of: oh, how interesting.

image: the triumph of galatea by raphael, via

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