Months before the events inked here, here, here, and here, I found myself in Paris (actually two Paris’s—One Texan—One French). Confus’d yet? Stand by: it grows worse(r)
Let’s back up a mite (mites are hard to back up by the way, militarily that is: damn small and damn slippery, them mites… and they tend to mite-bite one, usually on one’s ass)
We call that “Green on Blue” and if you are following the recent news cycle, you will surely know that, that is inappropriate. But that is just how I roll. Fuck Afghanistan and their pretended bullshit “We gonna take over security of our country…” Won’t happen. But after ten plus years there (and some several months there by me, after Iraq–got ‘liberated’–now there is yet another joke, I can speak to the idiocy that is ‘our’ foreign fallacy.
I was in Sinai, 1978 (if memory serves), and I received a letter from my step-sis. This was not unusual back in those days, as we were still ‘speaking’. She sent me a rather long and boring letter regarding Honey Grove and all the ‘Happenings’ thereabouts. The letter was indeed ‘boring’ until I got to her ‘PS’. It read and I quote (loosely), “By the way, R is marrying J. Jesus-Beezus!”
This was, to me, devastation by way of bad, unspeakable news!
‘How could she?! She was MINE. Mine to mine and to have and to hold… just as soon as I finished with my wanderlust. How dare she?!” How DARE she?!
What to do?
Well, I had some R&R time ‘on the books’ so I hopped on a freighter (airplane), and flew back to Texas, ostensibly to break up the marriage, just like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Problem was, was that I screwed up the dates and the logistics, and arrived not in time to bust up the wedding, but just in time to see the happy couple speeding off fast to Waco and their honeymoon…
Never having been more depressed at missing a rendezvous, what to do? Rebound Son! Rebound!
So, I sought out Janet. Let’s call it a ‘bank shot rebound.’ I knew she was working at the Hopkins Lamar (See? To this day, I never know which county I am in) County Courthouse as a probation officer, so I timed (this time, my timing was spot on) my entrance during her lunch break: Intercepted her coming down the stairs of the courthouse.
“C’est moi! How’s Trix?”
“You are supposed to be in Egypt,” she said.
“I escaped,” I said. “Wanna have lunch?”
“Uh… Sure. Why not?” (Why not indeed)
We went to lunch. Then she took the rest of the day. We went to her apartment and drank gin. Later that eve, after I had regaled her with fantastical tales of the Middle of the East, she took a drag from her Virginia Slim and asked, “So are you gonna fuck me tonight, or what?”
I said, “No Ma’am; I am gonna make love to you—something I should have done five years ago.”
So we did—I did—make love to her.
The problem now became that I had a plane to catch to that other Paris: that one in France. The other part of the problem was that my plane was waiting in Houston. I was about five hours at seventy miles per hour away from my Air France plane at Houston Intercontinental. I had to go. Now.
I hit the road to Houston, not really wanting to go, but I had promised my buddy, Bart, Black Bart, that I would meet him in Paris on such and such a day. Naturally, I ended up missing my flight and arrived Paree a day late. On the taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle airport, we drove under a bridge and the taxi car lost its windshield to a lone rifle shot. (my theory) “Terrorist?” I asked the cabby? (en français).
“Merde!” Was all he said, as he dodged the flying glass. (true story). I did not care anyhow, but this rather happenstance occurrence did not bode well for my first day in Gay Paree…
“There’s my hotel!” I exclaimed as he had managed to (somehow) keep driving.
I paid him off, got out of his now mangled, windshield-less cab and made my way into the cheap hotel lobby. Went up to my room, dropped my shit; then went looking for my buddy. Found him at last sitting on his rack, rather sullen in mood. I checked out his room. It had a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.
“So Bart,” I asked finally, “What have you done here in The City of Light for twenty-four hours?”
“You see that tower there?” he asked, pointing to the window.
“Yep,” I said. “That would be the Eiffel Tower.”
“Well, since you didn’t show, I went out on my own… and hey! Ya know, they don’t speak English here? I went out on my own. (You mentioned that) Walked over to that tower, looked up at it—kicked it—and said to myself, ‘Yep. That there Bartamus, that there is the Eiffel Tower. Then I came back here and took a nap. And would you please tell that France Maid that I do not want no fuckin’ breakfast? She wakes me up in the fucking morning with her biscuits (‘croissants’ Asshole) and lousy coffee.”
“Sure Bart,” I said. “I will post a note, en français on yer door.”
“You speak France?”
“Well Hot Damn then! You be Bogey. I’ll be Bacall.” (of course)
“I weren’t able to bust up the wedding.”
“Oh you mean between R and J?”
“Yep. That one, you moron.”
“Yer better off,” he said.
“OK. Then why am I so depressed?”
“Dunno. Did you have any other adventures while you were back In-The-World?”
“Matter of fact, I did. I hooked up with Janet.”
“Nope. No bullshit. Why I missed my flight, in fact.”
“Well, I was just about pissed off at you, but now I unnerstand.”
“Thanks for that,” I said.
“Hey!” he said. “Let’s smoke a bowl and you can tell me all about it while we go and kick this town in the ass.”
“Light her up,” I said. We smoked and drank and then off we went stoned and semi-drunk and in Paris (France) Just two more ugly Americans (Texans)
I hesitated while choosing the vid to represent this post. Then I swerved onto this one below. It is somewhat depressing, yeah. But, but… This is how I see my life ending up. I hope you will take the time to watch, listen, and comment.
(Oh! And One Last THING: If you do not follow the links, well, do not come back to me crying: “Lance! I don’t get it!”–Please don’t force me to be an asshole–I really hate that.)
I’ve been around the world (twice). Seen two white whales fuck. Seen the sun come up over many exotic venues. Been drunk at sunup looking at Kilimanjaro. Been sober at sunset watching Jews at the Wailing Wall, mostly wailing, them Jew (sic). Seen monkeys steal golf balls off the course at Subic Bay Naval Base. (A “gimme-drop” or a ‘mulligan’ in the local rule book) Heard the call-to-prayer while on my early a.m. runs in many Arab lands. Seen incomprehensible acts of bravery and also of coward-ness. Seen inspiring acts of kindness. Seen unbelievable acts of selfishness and cruelty. Seen some things that oh so briefly, made me want to believe in (a) God (those passed—quickly—trust me on this one folks).
Seen men die.
And seen men live.
Have made countless great friends. Friended them. Been friended. Been De-Friended. Cannot say I can even know where any one of them are today, or if they are even still alive. Such has been my way in life… Suppose a selfish life (my take). Most who really know me would never say that. I have been called ‘Generous to a fault.’ I have also been called ‘conceited’ ‘arrogant’ ‘self-important’, ‘pompous’, ‘asshole’ et cetera, but one thing I have never been called is ‘cheap.’
I am proud of that.
In brief: “I have heard the chimes at midnight” with many good friends, however much I always seemed to cast them away, sorely by neglect. Friendship, I now know, requires tending, not unlike an aquarium or a garden. Next life… maybe.
I need not go on. Hell, most of us who attain some bit of longevity can attest to these experiences, or at least, reasonable facsimiles. Nothing unique about me here, but I have traveled a bit more than most and generally, I have taken some good mental notes.
Which kind of brings me to my point:
Jobs I Have Had: Weird Version (not in any particularly chronological order)
Walmart: I took a job at Walmart long after I had quit my regular job of almost ten years. My money had run out and I was living (by the good graces of my landlady—a friend) rent-free in Commerce, Amerika. My intent was to attain gainful employment in Iraq, so I had quit my regular job, just SOOO certain, given my previous ‘Overseas War-Zone Experience’ that I would be beating the HeadHunter’s offers away with a very large stick. Alas. No one seemed interested in hiring me to go to Iraq and risk my neck, (Even though I had made it abundantly clear in my cover letters that, ‘Beheading’ to me, is just a ‘scare word.’ No dice. No sale. No Job.
Strangest Aspect of working at Walmart:
Pajama Day. Yes Friends: on Pajama Day (Fridays as I do recall) a Walmart Associate could, if so desirous, wear pj’s work. Many did.
I did not.
UPS: I currently work (seasonal) for UPS. As far as I know, there are no pajama days, but there seem to be ‘incoherent days.’ I have been showing up for now two weeks and I am as clueless today as I was on day one. If I were kind, I’d call it ‘organized chaos.’ Most of you who read me know I am not really one to spout euphemisms. No. Just ‘chaos’ will do for now. And gee! I really do hope all y’all get your parcels on-time. I truly do. Merry Christmas
I sped off still heading south. I observed her fade fast in my rearview mirror, but not before I saw her mouth hanging open in wide disbelief (As if I were actually calling her bluff). After about a half-mile and her no longer in sight, I stopped, opened a beer, popped in a Joni Mitchell–Hejira–cranked it up, lit a Marlboro and waited.
Presently I could make out her petite form marching through the sandy haze, her skinny arms flailing back and forth, not unlike a power-walker. As I watched her approach I snuffed out my second cigarette, tossed the empty beer bottle onto the back floorboard, turned down the volume on Joni’s Black Crow, and waited to see if she was getting back in the car.
She opened the door, threw herself in and off we drove, not saying a word until we got within about five clicks of Sharm el Sheikh. Her face was dirty with trails of sweat running down, making small rivers of mud, her hair windblown and looking to have absorbed quite some substantial part of the Sinai.
She did not look happy.
“Are you sorry?” she finally blurted out.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?”
“Sorry for being an asshole,” she said.
“Oh, that… What!?” I was genuinely confused.
“For refusing to have sex with me this morning after that Israeli dude left.”
Now I am laughing. She wasn’t.
“Are you fucking serious Janet?” I asked after I had regained some composure. “You heard the man. We had tovacate. Did you think I was in the mood for love? With the IDF watching us? Shit Woman! It was time to go.”
“There was time enough… in the tent,” she said somewhat between clenched teeth and somewhat subdued—at the same time—a talent she had perfected over some years. (Ed. Note: Janet had five years on me)
“You are unbelievable. Okay, ‘I’m sorry for not fucking you’. Gimme another go? Right here. Right now. In this fuckin’ heat and in this fuckin’ sardine can of a car? Or would you prefer it on the burning sand with the scorpions and spiders?! For Chrissake Janet!”
“There was a time when you’d never refuse me, no matter where or what,” she said and then clammed up, starring out the window.
Fine! I thought as I gave the volume back up to Joni.
Just on the outskirts of Sharm (The whole Sinai Pennisula was ‘Outskirts’) we came upon a Bedioun ‘roadside do drop in’ sort of place.
“Hey Janet! Let’s check this out.”
“Can’t we just go in to Sharm?”
“No. I wanna talk to these folks. Besides they may have some stuff we need.”
“Fine.” (And then someday too soon, this woman would be my wife…)
I parked the car and got out. Janet cleaned her sunglasses and remained behind. I walked up to the ramshackle place and was greeted by an old grizzled Bedouin.
“Salaam alaikum,” I said.
“Salaam alaikum,” he said back. Then, “Amer-ca?”
“Yes,” said. “English? Speak?”
(I spoke just enough Arabic (and Hebrew) to get me into trouble back then.)
“Sodas? Coke-a-cola?” I asked.
I gave him a pack of Marlboros. He gave me two cokes. Apparently inflation had set in here. I smiled though and shook his hand, happy to have made some cultural advancement. Jimmy Carter shoulda seen me that day. Got back in the car. Janet, still incogneto, remarked,
“Was that worth it?”
“Yes. It was. Thank you. We are reps of the State Department. WE are suppose to be ambassadors. Don’t you git it?’
“Yeah. I ‘git’ it. I get that I want this trip to end soon. I am tired and hot and sweaty and thirsty and hungry and horny. And I see no end in sight for me.”
We drove on into Sharm.
As I have reported, Sharm back then was not much. There was one hotel, but who had money (or desire) for that? It had a tentative look about it anyhow. This was ‘Israeli-Occupied Egypt’ after all and finding investors to pump money into a region, however beautiful, must have been difficult, given the volatility of the times and the probability that Israel would eventually give the desert back to Egypt (even though Israel had ‘held’ the Sinai for more than ten years at this point)
Past the hotel was a small ‘camping ground’ of sorts. There were ‘bird houses’ for rent: ten bucks per night and a communal shower/latrine area. I say ‘bird houses’, because that is exactly what they resembled: Thatched roof, two wooden ‘bunks’ side-by-side, and too small for a six-foot-one cowboy to sleep on. I lay down and test-drove one. I discovered that by leaving the door open I could be fine with the sleeping arrangements, letting my feet hang out, though if Janet and I were to have some privacy for any ‘Woo-Hoo’ / ‘Whoopee’, we would have to pretend we were in the back seat of a compact car and make due. (Unless we opted to keep the door open: an option my shyness would never allow me to consider)
At this point I must admit Janet was always a trooper during such times. She was of course a soldier, albeit a weekend one, and had previous experience with less-than-pristine habiliments. After we had decided to spend the night at this place, taken our showers, had some drink and sandwiches, her mood (and mine) improved as the sun went down and the heat subsided. Behind us were the mountains. In front of us, the sea, and ahead of us, our future.
We were after all, two lovebirds deep in love and in our own private birdhouse.
We made love in that birdhouse after sundown.
And with the door open.
And why not?
We were young.
(And we had all that ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ bullshit to boot)
My very first morning at the Tel Aviv Sheraton. I had a ‘raw fish’ breakfast buffet at zero five hundred. (And there were cucumbers, cheese, olives an’ shit too! Outrageous!) I had never had raw fish for breakfast until then. Cost me five bucks (a lot of money for breakfast in 1977 for a twenty-year-old-kid). I only gagged once and I drank a lot of orange juice, which was the only thing remotely resembling ‘breakfast’ to me. Well, “When in Rome…” I later discovered I could have had scrambled eggs and bacon down the street at the U.S. Embassy for a buck and a half…
My first R&R in November, 1977. I went to Tel Aviv for one week. This just also happened to be the same week Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Israel and most important, to speak to the Knesset in Jerusalem. The Israelis actually fell in love with Sadat. I did too. Peace was in the air! Sadat was front page news every day in the Jerusalem Post. The atmosphere in downtown Tel Aviv every night was ‘Party Down!’ (Sadly, this could not last)
First Israeli Love. Her name was Gladys Lehani and she spoke French, English, Hebrew, and Lies. I was instantly enamored. She worked nights at the Tel Aviv Sheraton in the ‘Kum Kum’ Lounge, a bar. During the afternoons she was a cashier in the little lobby area of the hotel. A place where one could look out the huge windows at the Mediterranean, have a cocktail, read a book, and flirt with her. I spent many hours there doing all four.
Driving through Gaza. After I had been with SFM for some months, I was ‘promoted’ to driver (see this story). The most expeditious way to get to Tel Aviv was to drive straight through the Gaza Strip, so of course we did just that. Never felt any wisp of danger. Not once. Then one day someone threw a brick into the windshield of one of our vehicles. This prompted management (And S. State: Our ‘Client.’) to suspend all travel through Gaza.
Now let me tell you, this was bullshit. At that point in time we had been travelling through Gaza for many, many months. This was surely an isolated incident—“Just kids havin’ fun,”–to quote Croc Dundee. Hell! I had friends in Gaza. One in particular comes to mind. His name was Mohammad (go figure) and he ran the gas station where I would always fill up my vehicles when I passed through. We often shared gifts. I gave him American cigarettes and T-Shirts from Texas and he gave me various little Arabic statuettes and such. Once (on his request) I brought him a fifth of Jonnie Walker Red. I thought he was gonna adopt me over that!
The new route we were instructed to take took us through Beersheba and added two and a half hours to our travel time. This was unacceptable, so we (we drivers), ignored it, unless there were ‘uncool’, read, “USG” people riding along as passengers. Most of the rest were in a frantic rush to get to TA and did not want to waste one minute of their well-earned R&R over some State Department Bullshit, so I always conducted a poll before taking the turn off to Gaza: “Any of y’all got a problem with getting to TA in an hour via Gaza? Or do y’all wanna go through Beer’Sheba and get to TA four hours after yer girlfriends done give up on you?”
The usual response was something like this: “Marcom, I will risk Gaza, not ‘cause I am afraid my girlfriend will give up on me, but because I just can’t stan’ one extra minute of listening to your music!” (I had a boom box on the dash and ‘treated’ my passengers to four or five hours of continuous Bob Marley on my trips. I was famous for this. Sometimes I would throw in a little Joni Mitchell, if I were feeling benevolent on that day.)
The Orphan Benjamin. One night, I think it was in late ’78, I was staggering back to my hooch from our little bar. My walk took me through our game room: Two pool tables, a jukebox, shuffle board, ping pong… etc. Anyway, just by the exit door there was a table. On this table was a carton of Marlboro’s, a case of Heineken, a ‘doggie bag’ from the galley, and a one hundred dollar bill. Thinking nothing of it, I just kept on tacking toward my hooch, some fifty meters down the way… I woke up the next morning and instantly thought of all that unclaimed booty and for just an instant hoped that no one had stolen it.
We had a brother/sisterhood there in Sinai. I managed to drag my hung-over ass out of my rack and head in to breakfast in our galley. My trip took me past the table in question. Everything was just as it was the night before; waiting for the rightful owner to sober up and claim. If I had not already been in love with my Co-SFM’ers till then, I certainly was now. Two hundred folks at SFM, and nary a thief amongst us. I will never forget that minor little memory. It touched me deep.
And then I just went into breakfast. You see? This was not… ‘different’ then! Shit! Can’t explain. Won’t try.
You see? We had love. And respect.
I am thinking of continuing this series in light of the recent news from Israel and Gaza. Not saying that my experiences are relevant today, but I do feel the need to write them. Please let me know if you are interested to read of my times spent in the region.
Q&A: Have you ever been to The Middle East? Do you live there? Do you care? Have you ever had a desire to visit the ‘Holy Land’? (ahem). Do you find me abrasive? 😉
“Some Big Tech Asshole Deleted This Video from my “Five Random Memories of the Middle East” Post (Link Found In The Comments) Big Tech Will NEVER Silence ME—I will ALWAYS Find a ‘Work-Around.’ Fuk You FaceDork. Fuk You Word-Depressed. Fuk You YouTubular.“
And Double-Fuck You WordPress.
Your Editing Program is NOT Worth A Cup of Warm Spit