I Love Being a HostageCommentary • Opinion • ISSUE 30•11 • Oct 22, 1996 By Katherine Halberd, Via private diplomatic channels Katherine Halberd Via private diplomatic channels Do you know what I love? I'll give you a hint: I can't speak to my loved ones, I eat irregularly at best and I am miles away from the land I call home. Oops, that's three hints! Oh well. Give up? I love being a hostage, that's what I love! Now, I know what you must be thinking: "She's off her feed! No one could possibly love being a hostage!" Well, I'm proof that there's more to being a hostage than just midnight beatings and terse videotaped confessions. There's perks the likes of which you wouldn't believe! For example, I have learned another language while I have been detained (or "lovingly retained," as I like to say). I can say "yes" and "no," and renounce my imperialist upbringing—all in Arabic! Also, thanks to a daily diet of gruel, bread and sour milk, I've finally lost those extra 15 pounds I've been trying for years to shed. I came to this fascinating country just for a visit. Goodness, I must have looked like Sally Tourist, what with all the luggage and cameras and such. We were taking a bus tour, when all of a sudden we were attacked by angry-looking men waving big guns over their heads. Oh, it was a fright. My husband, Dale, tried to stop them, but they shot him in the gut. Dale always was a hasty fool. Anyway, they threw a bag over my head, bound my wrists with nylon cord, and dragged me to their van. It was all so exciting. I started giggling like a schoolgirl, but they punched me in the nose and barked at me in broken English to shut up. Other than that, I couldn't understand a word they were saying, but my! It certainly seemed terribly important. This may all seem terrible, but let me tell you that you haven't lived until you've traveled the back roads of Patzookistan in the trunk of a car. I thought Valley Fair was exciting, but this ride took the cake! In the U.S., I was an overlooked mid-level bureaucrat. People would take me for granted as I filled out the forms that kept the machinery of county government oiled and running smoothly. Now, I am an international bargaining chip. The fate of countless lives depends on my health, well-being and continued confinement. I'm no longer merely Katherine Halberd, interdepartmental claims adjudicator. I'm Katherine Halberd, hostage! As I understand it, my hosts are holding me until the U.S. releases some prisoners. Well, I certainly hope those prisoners are having as much fun as I am. Would you believe I even got a chance to appear on television? With all the cue cards, cameras and lights, I felt just like Kathie Lee Gifford. I was so excited, it took nine takes before I was beaten to a point where I didn't look happy. But even though my nose was spurting buckets of acrid blood and my knees were visibly cracked to bend the wrong way, I was smiling on the inside as I read off a list of atrocities committed by American infidels. Land sakes, they almost have me believing all their angry talk! Sadly, I understand there are negotiations afoot to try and free me. I warn you, President Bush (or whoever is president now): Should you make me return to the U.S., I will only turn around and travel to some other international hot-spot, where I will flaunt my American traits until I am recaptured.