Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Major General Antonio Taguba + Adventures on the 38L

Late Monday afternoon I dropped the girls off at my parent's place and then, in what can only be described as an intrepid leap of faith, quickstepped it over to Geary & Park Presidio, where I just barely caught the 38 Limited. I gifted the bus driver with quite the dazzling Nesting Ground Mistress smile, but alas received only a grunt in response. It's okay, Mr. Bus Driver! thought I. Driving a MUNI bus is its own special kind of hell, and I will not begrudge you your gloomy state of mind.

Once seated, I had every intention of observing life through the dirty bus windows and eavesdropping on various conversations in the name of literary art. Unfortunately, within two stops so many people had boarded the bus that my view consisted of three crotches, one filthy messenger bag, and one profile of a woman overenthusiastically sucking on a plum. A sort of melancholy nostalgia washed over me as I...ha! I'm kidding! I was awash in no such nostalgia! I was just grateful that I am no longer a regular patron of San Francisco public transportation.

Arrived at 1st & Market with plenty of time left to browse at Stacey's where, I'm elated to report, I was able to purchase a copy of Noel's new novel, Talking to the Moon. Skipped out of Stacey's and next door to the Commonwealth Club where my eyes were immediately drawn to a handsome man. I thought Ooooooh, who's that? and it turned out to be...my husband. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Good thing: the Taguba event was sold out.

Bad thing: senses assaulted by the super stinky cheese being served in the lobby.

Good thing: the General entered to a standing ovation.

Bad thing: a very tall man was sitting in front of me, partially obstructing my view.

Good thing: by employing my astounding powers of concentration, I silently willed the tall man to shift ever-so-slightly to his left.

Bad thing: he was then partially obstructing the view of a woman who was shorter than I.

Since General Taguba's presentation and subsequent q & a offered the same information as the New Yorker article (in his opening statements, he joked that maybe he should just pass out copies of the article and call it a day), I spent my time simply observing the man.

Everyone talks about integrity and honesty and claims to live their lives accordingly without bothering to acknowledge the corners we cut, the exceptions we make for ourselves, the selective memory we employ. But I got the feeling that there are no cut corners with this man. He is deeply principled and has a moral center so freaking indestructible that he's still standing after the treatment he received from Rumsfeld & Company for simply reporting the disgusting truth of what happened at Abu Ghraib. He became emotional towards the end of his talk, emotion that manifested in excruciating gaps of ten, fifteen, twenty seconds of silence. He somehow still harbors great love for his profession, and I submit that anyone who wasn't moved when his voice broke while he expressed gratitude for having been a part of our "magnificent Army," may not, in fact, have a heartbeat.

As we were leaving, I heard a woman behind us say to her companion, "Definitely one of the good guys." She was right, of course, and it's just so frustrating and disheartening to know that while good people do exist, it doesn't appear that any are presently employed in leadership positions at the White House.


barbara jane said...

awesome, ver. thanks for posting this.

ver said...

My pleasure, ms. bj. I'm glad we went, although the only thing that could halfway cheer me up afterwards was a Gordo's burrito...

Okir said...

I really wish I could've been there. Was this video or audio taped? I listened for it on KQED but didn't hear it come on. Thanks for posting on it.

ver said...

Hi Jean! They said that it was being broadcast on the radio, and even repeated certain sections of the intro for just that reason...