Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 Arab Sidekicks

Comic book fans tell you that both the good guys and the bad guys have very little in common, but the one thing they always agree on is the importance of sidekicks. If Arabs were superheros (one power they ain’t gonna have is flying), they naturally have have sidekicks. Strangely enough, life is just like that: we all have sidekicks or even play sidekicks for those who we like to kick A with, or just be seen next to in tights. Moreover, like many Arabs who live in the States, I have friends from all races, creeds, interests and walks of life. Lately though, in an attempt to nail down a “buddy list,” I decided to go undercover and to study the types of people who roll with Arabs. Characters on this list can often be found as the sole “Affirmative Action” token, the only non-Arab among a pack of them.

1- “My-Ex-Boyfriend-Is-Palestinian” Amy
We can’t forget about the white girl who dated an Arab guy in college, and seems to have never got enough of Mahmoud after he went backhome abruptly after graduation and got married. Dating the Palestinian kid makes the symptom even more pronounced, the suffering must be seductive and spices up the relationship. The “something” is missing feeling drives Amy into the laps of Middle Eastern restaurants and hookah lounges. Of course it does not help that Palestine is always on the news which only makes the shadows of the past relationship more real. Amy has dated many guys none live to controlling Mahmoud; white kids do not want families; Hispanic kids are too flashy; Asians are too quite and too obsessed with gadgets. Thus making Amy a solid fan of Taylor Swift and her songs.

Deal Breakers: Sorry, the deal is already broken

2- The other “Brown” Fella
He or she probably saw you in class or at the local cafeteria and went up to you and started speaking to you in a language they obviously thought you spoke. Face it my friends: you’re on a one way ticket south the borders. Since misery loves company, you instantly hit it off and become new BFF’s. Extra credit if that person is attractive and of the opposite sex (or the same). Sometimes you run into “the other brown person” in a Middle East Studies college class, where he or she realizes that their last name begins with “Al” and serves as definitive proof of their Arab connection, to which you say “Of course, Spanish has a lot of Arab words.” Latin Americans look so much like us that whenever the needs arises, we can say “No hablo Ingles . . . Soy De Mexico” and get away with it. Becoming a regular at the Hispanic restaurants sure takes a toll on your digestive system, but they sure get you extra amounts of guacamole. Looking like the rest of the people on the streets also helps you land a better haircut with a discount at the local Spanish barber shop. Congratulations! You are now an honorary member of the Hispanic community. Make sure you carry your papers with you at all times.

Deal Breakers: Superior Salsa dance moves, amazing soccer tactics and confusing kissing customs; they are all bound to create some serious jealousy.

3- The Die Hard Libertarian
Since much of Libertarian philosophy is founded on conspiracy theories and since most Arabs don’t trust their media or their governments, for an Arab it makes since to have a Libertarian friend to commiserate with on the latest theories of “secret wars” and the causes behind the “financial meltdown.” Unlike many wimpy urbanites, Arabs also do not get intimidated by guns. Obviously, both of you have high paying jobs and fail to see why you get compensated the amounts you do get compensated with. Arabs feel that Republicans screw up their home countries that Democrats screw up American taxes and agree with whatever Libertarians say on civil liberties, but still vote for Nader. Careful though: to avoid a Jerry Springer moment, avoid questioning their theories, no matter how crazy they might sound. Obviously, the West is the heartland of the Libertarian movement with Las Vegas as its capital and thus Libertarians do not enjoy paying taxes. They prefer to gamble their money away.

Deal Breakers: working for a Federal Bank, paying your taxes in full and not owning the entire collection of Oliver Stone motion pictures.

4- The Free Rider
This person comes from all races, religions and nationalities, flocking with whoever picks up the tab. You’ve heard of Arab hospitality, right? Well people in this group thrive and leech on exactly that. Those who grace this group usually tell good stories and have a great sense of humor, but when it comes to cash, they fall way short—a problem you discreetly resolve. Yes, it’s your college roommate who every time he saw you cooking, said something like: “Wow, that smells good!” anticipating to be invited. These are also the people who let you use their Costco membership, if you buy him (or her) a c polish hot dogs, a drink and a churro. Back at college, you asked this person to run some of your errands and to do your English writing homework from time to time, which they gladly accept. But this relationship is doomed to fail on the first disagreement on who gets to pay the utilities or who gets to go out with that girl you both met at the night club. But it might not take that long. The free loader drank all your chocolate milk with no prior notice! For an Arab, the need for this friend is like the need for Ramadan friendly porn, the one where the girl in the black niqab lifts up her skirt and reveals her ankle just a little to arouse the senses and engage the mind. For the record, many Arabs play that role to their peers from the rich Gulf who can spare the dimes in pursuit of good times to be had by all.

Deal Breakers: getting a declined credit card and going on a diet.

5- The Born-Again Hippie
Since hippies can’t recall their last accomplishment since the 60’s, the new hippies are the guys and gals you met canvassing for Obama in your town. The new hippies are empowered by the Obama miracle trek to the White House and love to take credit for his success, but yet fail to see anything good he’s done so far. The fun in being an Arab with a hippie friend is their open appetite to try new things and rebel against the system—something Arabs apparently love. Here is the proof at any labor, environmental, anti-war, political rally: you will always find an Arab flag. The Arabs gave the gift of Humus, Tabouli, Baba Ghanooj, tea, herbs and spices, and Ralph Nader and the hippies took all these things and ran with them. The hippie likes the company of Arabs, the newcomers if you will, because frankly, everybody is tired of the expired hippie bullshit stories and how they can blow pickles from their arse every time they fart.

Deal Breakers: being too harsh on weed smokers, singing praises to red meat, telling the hippie you do not believe in monogamy. Not Recycling!

6- The Apologetic Reformed Republican
Frustrated with the “Dubyah” legacy, this extreme Whitey recently left the Republican Party out to dry. He or she feels obligated to correct the wrongs of the past and to break the ice with his/her Arab co-worker in the accounting department. But old cultural habits die hard. You can take an extreme prep out of the GOP but you can’t take the GOP out of the extreme prep. So they mean well and really want to understand the people that Fox News just loves to hate. But they stick out like the Lawrence of Arabia at a Bedouin dinner.

The Apologetic Reformed Republican (or A Double R) often work in either the legal, financial or engineering fields. They latch on to a group of Arabs through work or a random Arab roommate whose overly kind invitations to go out were not supposed to be taken literally. The RRs fail to de-code Arab etiquette for the posturing it is and always agree to attend Arab weddings, funerals and Ramadan iftaars.

Please be kind to them. After suffering years of cognitive damage through listening to the likes of Ann Coulter, they still say ignorant things. Do however; remind this person that you have a Fantasy Football team and a March Madness basketball bracket. Another tip: avoid quoting historical facts. Your peer has a very short-term memory if not a major case of historical amnesia and begins every sentence with “in accordance with the prophecy.”

Deal Breakers: applying for a job with an agency of the Federal government, or speaking ill of Reagan.

7- Feeling Dangerous Bored Girl
There was something about Mary, but this time she’s gone all righteous on all of us. Almost all Arabs in the States have experienced this girl: all of them, at one point of their lives, befriended a white person who thought they were members of a gang once they became friends. I am sorry I actually went to Dearborn and I saw those Arab kids dressed like rappers and speaking tough. Some white people (especially some girls) feel like they are doing the ultimate act of disobedience by becoming friends with “the enemy.” Since both Arabs and white kids are well off, they go to the same school district and have to convince the others to give them some “Respect”. Love for fast cars, video games, flashy sneakers and “bling bling” brings this odd union into solid stages. However, as those people grow up and have professions of their own, they still find a mysterious prestige for a white person to say: “we are going to ‘the Muslamics’ for some mint tea and hookah.” Its when an Arab would say, “the ‘Smiths’ are coming over gives us a warm fuzzy feeling.”

Deal Breakers: Wearing a suit, speaking proper English, and confessing that you actually live in your mom’s basement.

8- The ‘I love your people’ Lad
As a kid, this person’s father hired some Arab person to do a job and while observing those “different” people, the youngster realizes how hard working those people were, even though they had been fasting all day. Moreover, ever since then, they insist on meeting every Arab in their life—if they only knew. This person believes that America is a nation of immigrants and as his own forbearer came to this land, he or she respects all those who come here. Arabs are always looking for new friends and people who will listen to them and see them as regular folks and not just what Glenn Beck promotes. Members of this group are self-appointed defenders of Arabs—they pick fights with their teachers for saying the wrong things about Arabs and they raise hell when their classmates insult Ahmad. This behavior drives them to be isolated and frustrated idealists, who will eventually buy a pink fridge and raise a bunch of cats in a small hut overlooking one of Minnesota’s lakes.

Deal Breakers: calling out this person’s bluffs and telling them that the U.S. education system is so great that you left your home country to come here.

9- The Culture Vulture/Surfer
His/her first name is unique and they grew up in a metropolitan environment where it was rare to see people who look or talk the same. People on this list are strategic on their friendships; they realize that time is limited and only mingle with those relevant folks. When the civil rights were at swing in the 60s, they kept close to African Americans. When Reagan was screwing up Central America, they befriended Salvadorian, Panamenian and Nicaraguan immigrants. 9/11 was no different: they went out and got them some Arab friends to better understand the issues. A trademark of theirs is to have a different name in every culture they explore. Abdul something seems to be popular with the culture surfers. Usually spiritual and often church going who believe in world peace, they understand the messy nature of things. Such friendship is wonderful, if both live in the same neighborhood. Maintaining the relationship becomes difficult if there was distance—just ask your high school girlfriend.

Deal Breakers: saying politically incorrect things about others or confessing to owning a gun.

10- The Aspiring Spook
Poor souls . . . they are great listeners who enroll in Arabic 1010 and go out of their way to be in touch with the Arab scene in an effort to stay current on world events. Believing in America and the importance of its security makes this person learn more about Arabs and Muslims. The aspiring spy does not really hate Arabs or their culture per se, but rather chose to be pragmatic and learn a marketable skill—hunting Arabs is that skill. They will ask you to take them to the local mosque when you go or introduce them to the local imam. When they meet the imam who speaks perfect English and drives a Hummer to take his kids to their soccer game, only then do they realize how boring their career would be. The only winners in this situation are the local Arab restaurant where this person will insist to take their dates to eat at his or her “favorite” Arabic restaurant. Telling their date that they know Ahmad, the restaurant server, gives them a chilling sensation yet their date is not amused. A minority within this group takes pride in telling people who find that America does wrong, “If you do not like America, French women do not shave.”

Deal Breakers: developing a sudden allergy to Arabic food or making this person feel bad for all the deaths and destruction in Iraq.

11- The “Third-World” Intellectual
Everyone knows who I’m talking about…the guy wearing a red or black hatta on his neck who also sports those nice thick square glasses and the scruffy look. If they are guys, they usually make friends with Arab girls on campus and try to brag to their roommates about how they got a date with a Muslim girl. Go figure, right? They often major in philosophy, political science or some international bullshit. Did I also say that they usually have a cool haircut and a stellar collection of scarves that gives them that certain European flavor? They are often lean, wear those tights jeans, collect comic books and have a poster of either Brave Heart, Gladiator or go all out and hang a poster of the latest indie sensations. And the bag, you cannot forget the assortment of stickers and banners they feature on their school bag. These guys love to pick fights with the college Republicans and piss in their cheerios by calling them either Racists, War Mongers or let it all go to hell by calling them Fascists. The Arabs often love to see those guys (and let’s not forget the ladies) make an argument against the Occupation or take them along for the international cinema where the latest Iranian flick is playing.

Deal Breakers: admitting to not liking European anti-immigrants laws or liking romantic comedies—to the intellectuals, the romantic comedies are like the sun to a cube of ice.

12- The ? Jew
Unapologetically anti-Zionist, this person served in the Israeli army and somehow his brigade pulled some crazy stunts and he never felt invested in the Israeli government and its policies. The? Jew has double citizenship so we can afford to tell Israel to “Kiss It” Once the tour is over with, this person left Israel and never looked back again. Now in the States, he/she is popular in the speaking circles where he/she is often invited to tell their stories and how they came to realize that peace is the way. Facing hostility from the clowns of the Zionist Organization of America on his/her campus this person is by default an Arabist and it helps they few styling Arab chicks on his/her campus makes good friends who make way better hummus than the shit they call hummus in Israel. Of course he/she ends up being a staffer in the US Congress for a left leaning congressman where they can give some credibility when Israeli right wingers accuse the Congressman of being a man of reason when it comes to the Middle East.

Deal Breakers: mixing a Judaism with Zionisms, being a big fan of Mel Gibson, not accepting their facebook friend invitations.

[Tarboush Tip: KABOBfest Team]




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