Friday, July 20, 2012
The Homunculus of Desire (2000)
Anna had conceived of an artistic gala to launch her marketing campaign of her father Enrique’s book. Her classmates in the dance conservatory at BUAP worked with her to develop a dance to portray the main theme of developing a prospect at retail, wholesale, service, or employment as impregnating the prospect with a desire that takes over his mind and possesses his soul, owning him so that there is no inhibition to emptying his wallet in pursuit of fulfilling this desire. Anna was a poor singer, but she knew a band of progressive rockers who could cover Pink Floyd or provide original symphonic rock, heavy on the bass, for the introduction and key passages. She also was friends with Dario Montez, a singer/songwriter who could put lighter music behind the dancers. And speaking of lights, Anna managed to call in some favors from the stage crew at school to port a truck full of gear over – the run of Christmas Carol went well, but “’sin costo’ es un precio mas bajo,” after all.
In order to promote the event, Anna and some of the dancers had risked jail by performing solos from the developing choreography in public – in costume, or nearly the absence of one. The solos depicted desire in all its forms – hunger, loneliness, sexual longing, and of course in Anna’s case, fulfillment. Anna performed with Gabriel strapped to her breasts in a sling. Anna wore skin-tone leotards with a lace cape. Sandrina wore tights and a tube top with a beige silk cape and cowl. Two male dancers from the school performed in nude tights and bare chests with a rack of capes, the colors of which corresponded to the mood of the section of the pas de deux that they were performing. When they were acting out a friendship dance, they wore batik scarves. In a sales situation, one wore blue, the other orange. They might have been arrested for indecency in other parts of the city when they went off script and improvised an athletic rock routine with homosexual overtones, modeled after an Aerosmith routine that had scandalized the rock world. In all cases, passersby received a flyer that simply read in red and lavender letters, “Desire. April 21, 2003.8va and 5 Norte. Puerta roja. 8:30 pm. Para comprar boletos, llame…” No questions were answered. Dancers simply formed an “O” with their lips and pointed to the word, “llame.”
Now she was entering the offices of Jose Lopez SA, a retail consulting firm that had developed a niche market after the passage of the North American Free Trade Act in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Leave the manufacturing and logistics to the maquiladoras. Lopez was looking to help US firms market their products to Mexico’s vast poor and working-class population. She had met Sr. Lopez in skin-tone leotards and bare feet. She had broken the dancers’ code of silence on a hunch, and had followed up with Lopez by sending him a copy of the book. Now she was in a grey pinstriped suit, a cream-colored shirt, and a navy ascot. Gabriel was not dressed in a suit, but Sandrina had found a grey cotton fabric and hemmed it into a sling.
Sr. Lopez greeted Anna with a polite hug, making slightly too much fuss over Gabriel.
Anna had been at the corporate headquarters building earlier at Lopez’s invitation, but in that interaction, she was thinking that she was mounting a charm offensive for her father. In her mind, it was only natural that he would make the presentation and that he would get the client. She was there to create the vision that would sell the account, but Enrique would do the consulting. That, Enrique had told her, was not going to happen.
“Mi nina. Que pasa?”
“I have made an amazing contact for you! Today I sat in the office of Jose Lopez.”
“Si? Que sucedio?”
“I had met him while I was promoting the presentation. I gave him the book, and scheduled a follow-up. He wants a presentation for his top executives on your principles, and then maybe a management consulting contract to help his company put your system into effect!” Anna was nearly breathless.
She continued. “I just have to get back to him with dates that you can come and what you want for the presentation.”
“No, chica, you are doing the presentation, not me. You are going to plan it and deliver it, and you will charge no less than 20,000 pesos.”
“But Papi, you are the management expert, not me! They don’t want to hear from me.”
“You are developing the business, not me. You will be managing the account, not me. You have to handle this. Grow up, chica; no mames.”
That stung. Anna couldn’t respond for the feeling of mosquitos in her ear.)
“But I told them that the author would speak,” Anna offered weakly.
“Then write them a proposal for the meeting. Plan a seminar series. Offer the seminar in three classes. Then you will be seen as the expert, and me, just the sage on the side. I’ll review it before you send it. But you are an adult now. You’re married and unmarried. You’re a mother. You run a theater, and you are paying for it with a consulting contract. You are a professional, chica, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will have my respect.”
Again Enrique tossed a little zinger at his daughter. It worked.
“You are right, mi padre. I will do this myself. And you’ll be shocked.”
“Maybe I will. Maybe I will be proud.”