The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: Cuba, our long-lost middle school acquaintance

Remember that kid from middle school, the one who annoyed the crap out of you all the time? I don’t mean to sound like an ass, but I knew one of those kids back in middle school. He would always come up to my locker after fifth period, wanting to borrow some gum, or tell me about his new calculator (yeah, right) and all the “dope!” things he could do with it. I mean, I wasn’t exactly the coolest kid in the world back then, but I knew enough to know that being seen with this kid—let’s call him Josh—and his calculator would not bode well for my chances of hanging out with any of the in-crowd.

I never did see Josh much after avoiding him like the plague in middle school. We went to the same high school, which, small as it was, was just large enough that we could exist in different social circles and never see each other in four years. I was fine with not seeing him. He
didn’t really change much at all in high school, except to graduate from a calculator to a Palm Pilot and a PowerBook laptop.

But this past winter break, I ran into Josh in a really surprising way. I got lost trying to find a friend’s house, and when I stopped to ask for directions at a Bertucci’s, I found Josh sitting in a booth across from a gorgeous woman. I was a little shocked, but he recognized me, and even ended up driving me over to my friend’s house (whom he also knew, coincidentally). Made me feel bad that I had ignored him all those years, and not given him the time of day when I should have.

Surprisingly enough, America has a Josh. He’s called Cuba, and he’s a lovely little island nation off the coast of Florida. America and Cuba, like Josh and I, haven’t talked for a long time—Josh’s acne was red and gross, Cuba’s government was red and rather aggressive. We just got lost, and now we’re realizing that a little bit of a guide in the area wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

I’m talking, of course, about President Obama’s recent overtures towards Cuba—loosening travel restrictions by allowing Cuban Americans to visit their relatives in Cuba, and allowing for some US investment in Cuban telecommunications companies, if the Cubans allow it. It’s not a massive change— Cuba is still communist, after all, and while good ‘ol Fidel might no longer be in charge, his brother Raul isn’t exactly a role model—but it’s a step in the right direction. The ultimate goal, at the end of the day, in the eyes of many US and Cuban politicians, is to finally officially recognize Cuba and end the all sanctions and embargoes against the country.

It’s not going to happen soon. It’s like Josh and me. I don’t think we’ll be hanging out all the time over the summer, but catching up on elementary school craziness from time to time is definitely on the agenda. Who knows, maybe Raul and Barack will have a game of basketball and start acting like they were best buds. Anything’s possible!

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