American in Arabia Catches Some of that Arab Passion!

Published February 6th, 2012 - 10:18 GMT
A regular Arab dining out affair turns into a paying tussle. (Image source: "Sinan Hallak" from "Bet You Didn't Know This About Beirut")
A regular Arab dining out affair turns into a paying tussle. (Image source: "Sinan Hallak" from "Bet You Didn't Know This About Beirut")

I respect passion and if they're worth their weight in salt as Arabs, they’ve got this passion. It’s a pulsing zeal that infects almost everything they touch: driving, shopping, ordering a schawerma- all with gusto! I’ve had more than a taste of that Arab desire and now, I might be infected too.

My second day in the Middle East, I played the tourist card and went to a hookah lounge. Not five minutes into my double apple, shouting filled the air -- two locals were about to start swinging. Bearded-man One was pushing Bearded-man Two’s hands and insisting, ”La! La! La!”. That's 'No way Jose!' in Arabic

At first I thought One was busted stealing some cash, but it soon looked like Two was actually trying to give him money, not take it back. Next, they started knocking over chairs and, while I can’t remember exactly, I’m fairly certain there was a headlock and a flying kick involved. In fact, their moves were almost better than the WWE wrestling they had blaring on the café TV.

Just as I thought Two was going to come off the top rope, he lowered his shoulder (Two was holding off One with the other arm), put the money on the table and bam! It was done. Paid. They all put on smiles and walked out as if nothing had happened.

In an all too common scenario in these parts, these two were not simply trying to pay the bill. The honor of blessing a friend gets combined with that very Arab passion, and what normally results is a ‘best of three falls' cage match to see who has the privilege to pick up the tab. I was, and still am, impressed.

Making fun of zealous Arabs is a quick cheap laugh; “You might be an Arab if you’ve ever broken a table playing a card game.” etc. But do you know how important I felt when people wouldn’t let me leave their house… after a four-hour visit?!

Or when they slaughtered a goat to celebrate my daughter getting potty trained. Or when I was greeted by almost 100 people at the airport-- and they were all from the same clan! That’s Arab passion served hot, baby!

So now I’ve got the bug: I drive with Semitic zeal (only difference is that when I’m weaving in and out of traffic, I still use the turn signal); when we go out to eat, I WILL pay (you're on your own for dessert); and as for the four-hour visits.. well, I’m still not there yet. After two hours, I’m pretty much done. But I’m getting there... their passion for relationships has taught me to be a better husband, friend and person.

Like sugar, or a beautiful woman, Arab passion turns an ordinary situation into something extraordinary. Instead of a hello, you get a poem. Instead of a handshake, you get a kiss. Instead of a card, you get a gift. Instead of directions to the park, they drive you there. And instead of a friend, you get a brother.

Now, we just need to tone down some of the conflicts in the Arab region. It seems they may have put a little too much sugar in their morning coffee.

By Brett Weer 

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