That’s it now, turn the knobs on that magic radio, navigate the squalls and squeals and give yourself a voice, any voice, the first one that comes through free and clear, out of the hanging clouds of scintillating static, the chaff of a hundred anti-aircrafts, the diced tinsel of a million Christmas trees. Here’s one now, one speaker through the speakers, addressing you and only you and everyone else. What’s that disembodied stranger saying? You missed the first few syllables, but yes, it’s definitely a sentence and yes, YES, it definitely could be about you. If only you spoke Portuguese, or even Brazilian Portuguese. One of the Portugueses. She sounds cute, so it only matters half as much. A voice for radio and a face to match, maybe, if you’re lucky. And we know — you’re lucky.
You found that voice all by yourself and now, here it is, speaking to you, giving you vital information, about something vital. She’s a passionate narrator, she is, she believes every word, and you do too. Why wouldn’t you? You just met her and already you don’t trust her? For shame. That’s not likely to improve international diplomacy, now is it? What kind of representative of your homeland are you being, not believing her like that? So believe her, go on, her trilled R’s indicate she’s very trustworthy. That’s a good listener. Now go ahead and take those language classes. She’ll be here when you get back, unless she isn’t, but if she isn’t then there might be another, even cuter voice whispering sweet somethings at your ear-hole when you turn the dial again. And this time, you’ll be ready, and you are! But she’s not talking about you, she’s talking about the class struggle, and you didn’t even know they had one of those in Portugal — sorry, not Portugal, Brazil, you took the other courses — and who knows, given the relativistic nature of things, you may be hearing a broadcast from long ago, in Brazil’s distant past, before the classes were unstruggled, when disparity stalked the land, dragging a barbed club with no particular allegorical meaning. Brazil is very far away, even now, and it was farther before, before the jet engine and the microprocessor, before the death of the author, and the death of the audience, and the death of death at the hands of Superjesus, and then the death of Superjesus at the hands of El Mysterioso, the masked luchador who removed his mask and revealed himself to be none other than the very living father of Superjesus himself! What a twist! Roland Barthes didn’t see it coming and he was the referee! So that all happened very long ago, before the death, reanimation and second, more permanent death of Barthes, whose name was prone to mispronunciation and who was not even a little Brazilian, not even in the bikini area, though who knows? Maybe he tried! He was French, after all. And a literary critic. Based on his criticism alone we can probably say: “natch”. Or “totes.” But you don’t know what those words mean, and those words would require another language course, one you don’t have time for now, because now you can hear and understand the faraway girl on the radio, so you lean in, as if those extra couple inches will make her better heard, as if your inclination will bring you that much closer and more prone to intimacy with the hypothetically adorable girl who at this very moment, or at some other moment, depending on just how far these waves were bent on their way to you and your delicate twitching ears, is hunched over an old-timey microphone, gleaming and ridged like a tiny new radiator, politicizing electrons and sending them away, to collide with your fourth- or fifth-most intimate membrane and be turned into ideas by your greedy scheming brain. And she’s stopped talking about politics now, which is good because you’re apolitical because you’re American, and Americans have no time for politics because they are always in the middle of an election. But enough about voter turnout. Now she’s talking about love and the moon and flowers and possibly an enchanted glade or maybe there’s a homophonic mixup complicated by inflection because you’re still not technically fluent, you can just get by, a bit beyond staring at the phrasebook and stumbling over “Excuse me. Where is the bathroom, please.” but not much beyond, but she’s talking in these lofty words surrounded by clouds as fluffy as cartoon sheep and then she says — apropos of nothing, mind you, and you do mind — “Put on your hat so you can hear me better.” And you know exactly what hat she means, so you retrieve the hat from the closet and shove it down upon your head, and things get a little clearer, and in this case “things” means your understanding of what is either her accent or your ignorance, and also “things” means the realization that this mystery girl from Portugal 2: The Sequel is more than a little creepy for knowing you had a magic hat to go with your magic radio, because frankly, there’s no way she could know that about you, or even that you are listening, so it’s either a coincidence of astronomical peculiarity or the stars have crossed and made a mess of gravity between you and her, and be careful now, because all that lies that way is true love and a poison-drinking contest in a crypt. Faux pas! But all that considered and brushed aside, now you are seriously considering a trip to South America, with a pirate radio detective in tow, and a lonely sax and some rain clouds in your carry-on bag for the proper noir ambience, solely on the enticing vocals of one indeterminately attractive firebrand, whose language you’ve only just learned and whose whereabouts you not only just don’t know, beyond the semi-broadest nationalistic sense, but also only just might not be able to know in a timely and/or affordable fashion, but then, as if not she but you, and not even you but your brain, was on the radio, or was the radio, beaming thoughts willy-nilly across the receptive sky, she says “You’ve got the right idea, you should follow it through.” And you notice the idiomatic eccentricity in that particulate phrasing, but you pay it no mind or attention, because that sort of cost is a tax that your brain can only pay by writing checks it can’t cash, resulting in a metaphor not so much mixed or even blended as pureed or pulverized or rendered into an industrial-grade slurry, complete with drum machines and chrome-plated patent vinyl boots. You have no passport but you can get one, and your shots are up to date. You won’t bring any fruit because you’re pretty sure they have some in Brazil, and you forget to take off your hat until four days after you arrive in Sao Paolo, and then you spend some time and some larger amount of money and your mission succeeds thanks to a combination of blind luck, persistence (with tunnel vision) and indigenous good will (which has no disabilities), and you meet the mysterious miss and her native Portuguese and the gap in her teeth and the shine on her hair in certain lights and the one eyebrow with a scar running through it and a sequence of events occurs which are predictable and unpredicted and for which you will probably never have the proper words, in English or Portuguese A or B or the speech of many-headed angels or machine-language or even the thousand-fold density of pictures, but then, you see, then you come home, where everything is as it was as you left it, except for how you’re looking at it, and that, my friend, is where your story really begins, because you have to tell it. So lean in close, and whisper or yell or something averaged between them, let your lips graze the microphone and tell everyone what happened. Someone is sure to be listening.