Juanita and the President by
Maggie Van Ostrand
may be time to add one more famous face to the posters hanging on my wall, the
ones of Brando, Depp and Jim Morrison. Someone new may be exciting enough to be
placed among them. I know because I heard all about it from Juanita, the Mexican
cashier right after she snatched the special Obama issue of Rolling Stone right
out of my market basket and pressed it gently to her lips so she could kiss his
picture on the cover.
It all started when Rolling Stone, the always-hip
magazine that endorsed Obama long before he even got the nomination, published
a special Commemorative Edition, including a bonus fold-out of a huge poster of
Obama's face, up close and personal. I'm glad Juanita just went for the cover
because if she'd gone for a big kiss on the giant poster inside, the pages might
not have come unstuck until Obama's second term. Where was I? Oh yes, Juanita
was kissing the President.
Juanita, newly arrived from Mexico,
and who has no reason in the world to make things up, admitted to being in love
with the new American President. With a loving sigh, she held the magazine up
cheek to cheek with Obama, then rolled it slightly over to her mouth and kissed
his image smack on the lips, explaining that she simply could not resist a one-way
lip lock. She said she would never have been so bold, had it been my husband or
boyfriend, or anyone standing there in the flesh. Juanita informed me that Obama
was for all people, and that she didn't think she had to become a U.S. citizen
to kiss the President's photograph. I could hardly argue with that and, then and
there, I understood fully his appeal, not only to American women, but women worldwide.
Had Obama been there in person, Juanita might have tried for a top position in
When I asked why she was so passionate about him, she
replied enthusiastically, "Because of his Mexican connection!!!" "What connection
is that?" I asked. "It is through his father," she said, and looked at me as though
she could not believe I didn't know that.
"Would you mind explaining this
connection between Obama and Mexico?" I asked, expressing no small amount of curiosity
about her surprising remark. "Certainly," she went on, "President Obama's father,
he is from Kenya, no?" "Yes, he is," I said, both thinking that she was correct
so far, and wondering what she would say next.
"And Kenya is in Africa,
no?" she asked. "Well, yes, it is," I said, more curious than ever. Inquiring
minds want to know.
"Many years ago, in the time of the Aztecs, Spanish
soldiers they brought African slaves to Mexico
for work in fields and mines, more Africans than United States had. So one of
them could have been ancestor of the Kenya father of President Obama, no?"
"Uh, maybe, I don't know," I said uncertainly, scratching my head in wonder at
"Who can say that this is or is not so?" she asked. I had
to agree and said, "No one."
"See?" she said, "No one knows. That means
it could be so and if it could be so, it is so. It is like heaven. We cannot see
heaven, but we know it is there."
The very thought that President Obama
could be part Mexican (and part heavenly) was so intriguing that I bought her
a copy of the magazine in gratitude for her creative logic. I decided that indeed
it was possible for the U.S. to have an American, African president, raised in
Kansas and Indonesia, who is basically Mexican.
That's reason enough to
hang Barack Obama's picture with the other hunks on my wall.
Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In
8, 2009 column