American in Arabia: Brett and Barack's Hashemite Adventures

Published March 21st, 2013 - 12:16 GMT
Obama is looking for a little R and R in Jordan and our American in Arabia has just the thing.
Obama is looking for a little R and R in Jordan and our American in Arabia has just the thing.

Remember when Ringmaster Ghadafi’s circus would roll into town with his massive tents, female bodyguards and fleet of cars? Oh, how we mocked such excess and pomp.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten my dear Mr. President ? Or maybe you’re trying to one up him! Seriously, Muammar packed a canvas shanty. You and your sideshow packed out an entire hotel!

Granted, it is a bit daunting coming to the Holy Land turned holey when most of its inhabitants place the bullet-riddled blame on the mantle you have chosen to carry for four more years. I suppose I might have brought my snazzy Tanko-sine as well if I bore the POTUS seal.

Come Friday though, you’ve got nothing to worry about; Jordan is a whole different scene and Ol' Brett is your guide.

Here’s my idea: Leave your entourage back in Jerusalem with Bibi and come 'bach it' here in the Hashemite Kingdom with me!  

I’ve already got our whole day planned so you can get a real taste of Arab hospitality. First, a couple of ground rules.

- Bring the Stretch-Limousine- we might go off-roading in Wadi Rum.

- Don’t talk, religion, politics or Arab Idol—it’ll save us a lot of trouble.

- Bring your kicks- we’re gonna ball if we got time.

Oh, and if anyone asks, you’re my dad’s brother, Barack, and you've come to see Petra.


Here's the game plan:

The gas-can truck (think ice-cream van music on a gas cannister delivery vehicle) will wake us up at 6 in the blessed AM.  We’ll get coffee from my apartment’s Egyptian janitor and, though he’s going to try to get you to convert, the sit-down is always worth it – he makes a mean Cup A Joe.  It’s rude to leave too early but after an hour, I’ll throw a smoke bomb and we can crawl out.

On our way to see Jarash, my Jordanian neighbors will invite us to have breakfast with them- and we WILL eat. I’ve tried refusing in the past and nearly got a black eye.

After two hours of pleasant chatter and copius amounts of pitta bread, I’ll create a distraction with some parlor tricks. We’ll then sneak away to go see my barber, who’s in the hospital getting his tonsils out- it’s a big deal to visit friends (barbers included) here when they’re laid up.

His entire family clan will be there and, after we break up a fight between his uncle and the doctor, they’re going to stuff us with grape leaves, figs and 18 other fantastic dishes.

- Conveniently, the medical center is right beside a Turkish bath. After I pull the smoke alarm in the ER, we’ll hit the spa to sweat out the AM java and you can sneak in a cigarette or two.  And for the good of humanity-- pack some swim trunks. I learned the hard way that Arabs don’t appreciate it when we go commando under those spa towels.

- Our taxi driver, on the way home from the baths, will insist we go to his house for dinner where his wife will serve up a feast, featuring 'mansaf' (the national dish par excellence). Our kind cabbie will spend half of his month’s paycheck to ensure that my “uncle” from America and I feel welcome.

After 4 hours, we’ll have to leave ‘early’ and I’ll manage to sneak us out, playing the “My Appendix Burst” card. 

Back on the road, we’ll power up at a Starbucks and then hang out until 2 AM with my co-workers as we smoke hookah and arm wrestle over who “gets” to pay the bill.

This will be a great vacation for you, my President Obama. Petra, Wadi Rum and Jerash can wait, but getting bathed in Jordanian hospitality is a much better time.  Speaking of time, you wanna get in a game of hoop? It's too late at night?  My watch reads 3 am -- that's early by Arab standard time!

By Brett Weer


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