ECRETARY OF STATE Condoleezza Rice last night performed to an appreciative and largely blindfolded audience of suspected terrorists at the U.S. Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Her repertoire, which reportedly included selections by Chopin, Schumann, and Gershwin, was witnessed to have caused some inmates to smile and others to tap their feet. Several other detainees fainted dead away, a reaction attributed less to Dr. Rice's inspired fingering than to the sweltering heat rising in the makeshift recital hall, normally used for interrogations.
Dr. Rice kept her cool with the aid of a portable air-conditioning unit humming next to her on the small stage. She continued playing during the intermittent commotions occasioned by unconscious inmates being spirited away on military stretchers. After the concert, Dr. Rice credited her unflappable performance to "my very first piano teacher, Miss Eloise Klinkle" who, Dr. Rice said, "instilled in all her students the art of concentration, even when faced with those inevitable recital distractions, such as a crying baby or a dropped stun gun."
Over lunch following Dr. Rice's recital, a reporter embedded with the surprise concert operation asked the Secretary of State, "Wasn't it a bit punitive to have the detainees handcuffed and blindfolded during your performance?"
"Guantanamo," replied Dr. Rice, making use of a parental-discipline simile, "is like being sent to your room. Handcuffs are like the room being locked, and the blindfolds are -- well, they're like a piñata party without bats and piñatas, cake, or ice cream. Well, maybe the bats are there, and maybe you're the piñata. But, anyway, you've been really bad, and the U.S. Government is like a mommy and daddy who are very disappointed in you."
As Dr. Rice rose to leave the mess hall, she was asked whether she would consider returning for a repeat surprise performance.
"I just might do that," winked Dr. Rice. "I can always use the practice, and as far as I know, this audience isn’t going anywhere."
© 2006 Kate Heidel