Saturday, standing in the audience taking in African drummers backing up a Mexican guitarist (how’s that for multiculturalism), I noticed a wasp perched on the protruding shoulder-blade of a young woman, a dancer attached to the African musicians.
Dave and I glanced at each other wondering what to do. We looked at other bystanders, hoping someone owning a broader linguistic catalogue than ourselves, would intervene, but no one did. The wasp’s legs splayed minutely as though it had found its sting point, so I waved my hand a few inches above it, not touching the blithely unaware dancer.
My hand’s small shadow chased the wasp away, but the girl – she did seem a girl hovering somewhere in that 16-to-18-year-old niche – sensed something had occurred. She spun her head around, searching the audience, and when her nervous eyes landed on me, I gave a small smile and said “wasp.”
For all I know, “wasp” translates phonetically into “I am a psycho freak about to embark on a 40-year career of stalking you.” As the Mexican singer strained to throw his voice over the crowd, the dancer’s ponytail flickered as she guardedly monitored me for further encroachments on her personal space.
It was a new sensation to be looked upon with some suspicion, and even though the musical show was engaging, I whispered to Dave and we left. Language is what makes the difference: She was reasonable to be suspicious, because pickpockets do work crowds that are distracted by street performers. And I was reasonable to leave, given that I could not be sure that this little thing might not escalate into something big, like an awkward conversation with a police officer, if indeed we could converse, what with the aforementioned language issues.