I have been putting off watching Hotel Rwanda for a long time. I wanted to wait until a period in my life where I felt like I could deal with the atrocities documented in the film. The beauty of not being displaced by war or living in a place where I rarely have to fear rebel forces or step over bodies on the way to my mailbox is that I can decide when I am ready deal with genocide. Until Sunday, I didn't feel ready.
Movies like this should be prefaced not by the reminder that pirating DVDs is criminal, but rather with warnings about the legalities of committing war crimes. I knew it wasn't a comedy or created by the people who brought me any of my animated favorites and I didn't expect any steamy love scenes or anything, but still, not wearing mascara was not enough preparation for this movie.
I don't want to spoil what happened in Rwanda for anyone who doesn't remember 1994, but sometime around when women and children start getting chopped up by people with machetes, I started to feel a little suicidal. I was deeply ashamed of myself for my failure to join the Peace Corps or adopt any Rwandan orphans.
Rather than compose my suicide note apologizing for my complacency, I decided to call Dad. I got his answering machine. I left a cryptic message asking just where in the hell was G*d in 1994.
Then, I climbed up on the roof. I looked down and wished that I had chosen better shoes for jumping off the roof. Something with an ankle strap would have been a better option to make sure that it didn't come of my foot mid-fall and come down on top of my head. I decided to call Mom. She can always talk me down off the roof.
Mom said, "You think you're upset? Just imagine if you had been there. You think the Tutsi's got to think about the shoes they were going to die in? Well, they didn't and it's not too late to join the Peace Corps." I thought she'd add something about what a wonderful mother I'd be to a displaced child if only they hadn't all been adopted by celebrities, but she didn't.
Instead, she lowered her voice and said, "I have to keep it down. I'm in the library. There's this new program where you can sign up to read a book to a service dog. People are trying to get my spot in line."
I asked her what she was going to read to the dog. She hadn't decided yet. She wanted to know if there were any parameters. No one had told her if there was any prohibited subject matter. She had selected a few books as she wasn't sure of the dog's reading level and she didn't want to choose anything that another library patron had already read to the dog. "He looks pretty bored," she said.
"If he wasn't off-duty, I'd put the dog on the phone with you. He'd talk you off that roof; that's what these kind of dogs do, you know. They are miracle workers." This is where I stopped listening. I think I'd like to have a service dog. I have lots of uses for a highly trained dog. It could find the remote in the couch cushions, uncork a bottle of wine, drive me places, and most importantly prevent me from watching depressing, although deeply important movies.
I would just like to mention here that while I have been using those handy address labels that Amnesty International sends me a few times a year, this year, I am going to pay for them. I swear.