Friday, June 3, 2011

Being Kidnapped (1)


   We began receiving calls about the kidnapping as soon as we arrived home from Cabo San Lucas.  Our travel agent, an old schoolmate who had arranged our early departure from Mexico City on December 30th 1996, aborting our enticing and exciting "New Year’s Eve in the capitol" plans, had alerted other mutual friends to the news.  We had also contacted my mother and our respective assistants at work, who needed to be aware of our correct itineraries in case professional emergencies arose during our vacation.

        What they learned was we had been abducted in a taxi cab outside a restaurant in the Polanco section of Mexico City on the evening of December 29th, held blindfolded overnight in a house at gun, knife and icepick point, and badly beaten.


        Everyone was shocked, of course, and we were still in shock, although the 8 or 9 days we then spent in Baja (at Caroline's wise insistence) were very helpful and restorative.  We had been guests at Twin Dolphin several times previously and, having been apprised of our situation, the hotel took excellent and sensitive care of us.  The governor of Baja had also recently been kidnapped and very badly injured in Mexico City and our situation, while highly regrettable (I had cartoonish lumps on my skull where I had been struck with the blackjack and black-and-blue marks covering my body, which were as close as I’ve ever come to wearing tattoo motifs), wasn’t unique or, sadly, even uncommon.  

        Our New York City and Los Angeles friends (our work and personal conversations revolved around these two cities) were also naturally inquisitive and we tried to oblige each of them by providing as detailed a narrative of events as possible upon request, which was sometimes painful and difficult to do.  

        On the one hand, we felt so lucky and blessed to be alive, to have survived the assault and imprisonment.  During the many long hours we were held, we both felt that we were pretty certain to die.  

        On the other hand, however, various everyday New York City experiences (such as even seeing, let alone riding in, taxi cabs) often reduced me to shakes, shudders and tears.  (Fifteen years later, I still have vivid dreams about icepicks, blackjacks and blindfolds, as well as visions of the last image I captured in our camera earlier that afternoon, which was of a pretty, but prematurely old-looking Mexican/Indian woman selling colorful wares in a street off the Zocalo.)  

        Still, there was no escaping the questioning and I was also asking myself questions.


  1. I remember sitting in the Freelance Cafe five years ago, seeing you again after 35 years and meeting Caroline & Jane for the first time. At one point you told us about the kidnapping and I sat there, transfixed, my mouth open and my stomach twisting as the horror that you and Caroline were subjected to triggered a seemingly autonomic response that still overtakes me every time I think about it. Indeed, even as I read your blog and try to comment, my vision is blurred by welling tears (particularly embarassing at my desk at work ;-). The fact that you're writing about this in your blog adds credibility to Nietzsche's adage: "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger."
    Irregardless of PTSD studies to the contrary, in your case too damn real to feel good about either way.
    Bless you All.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. Now just wait for . . . Parts 2 and, possibly, 3. Curtis

  3. i still think about your being kidnapped, and even though i never knew more than the very broad strokes, it has always haunted me. thanks for writing about it. it's like that terrible quake in LA all those years ago -- even though i live 1500 miles away, i still imagine the ground moving every once in a while. - lewis

  4. Thanks, Lewis. I've been thinking of you. Curtis

  5. True, we draw our strength from coming to terms with tragedies-however in this case it was a nightmare and no tragedy. I often hear tales-not nearly so horrifying and wonder how someone coped-
    when We are in that scene you just do, and get through it somehow. I await the other episodes.

  6. Thanks so much for your note, Gaye. You're exactly right -- it was a nightmare and no tragedy. Ultimately (although I don't suggest anyone get their education this way), some important learning came from it. My wife is a very good person to be kidnapped with, by the way. I've got some more to say about this episode. It's difficult to find the time to write it, but I will. Curtis