Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt on My Mind

I feel like I ought to send a “Congratulations and Best Wishes” card to Egypt. I’m just not sure who to address it to (to whom to address it?) “To Random Person On the Streets of Cairo” doesn’t seem like it would make it there. Clearly, it would be rude to send a sympathy card to Mubarak, especially since the US did so much to support him. Maybe I should go out into the streets of my hometown and try to meet some Egyptian person so I can express my felicitations. But, while I’m sure there must be someone from Egypt living in the greater Metro area, it might take a long time to find that one person. And there may well be only one person. I know there was an Egyptian professor for awhile, but I heard he joined the demonstrations in Egypt and I’m not sure if the postal service could find him.

While I love my town, it’s not the most diverse of cities. Well, I mean, it’s diverse: you can drink Chai or latte or fat free organic free-range milk. You can have your hair in dreads or braids. You can wear Columbia or North Face. There are choices all over the place. I’m just sayin’ it isn’t a mecca for folks from the mid-east, Africa or super-far-south America. In fact, it isn’t even a mecca for folks from below the Mason-Dixon line unless they’re working on farms, and that’s a post for another day.

Back to Egypt. Don’t you have images in your head of people demonstrating outside of the pyramids, with sand blowing in their faces and camels hanging out in the background? I’ve looked at the pictures of Cairo and the celebrations, and I still think, “Aw, I wonder if the camels are scared. I hope no one falls off the Sphinx.” When someone says they’re going to Paris, I immediately form an image of the Eiffel Tower and a man with a baguette on a bicycle. As if there’s nothing to Paris but that one idea. Same thing happens when someone says Mississippi. No, I don’t think of the Eiffel Tower and bread. I think of a dirty river and a woman in a cane rocking chair with no teeth. The woman has no teeth. Well, the rocking chair doesn’t have teeth, either, but you know what I mean.

When people say California, I think of a boy with bleached hair and a surf board.

When people say Guatemala, I think of a friend I had, and how she and I would walk together, only she’d wear high heels and have makeup and nice clothes on, and I’d be in my two-day-old sweats with my hair in a pony tail. So, to me, Guatemala means women who “dar un paseo” looking like they mean to be seen.

When someone says England I feel cold and look for an umbrella. I also think of fat men in bowler hats. Do men still wear bowler hats in England?

When someone says Germany, I think of austere concrete buildings and schnitzel. I love schnitzel. I also think of cuckoo clocks and Julie Andrews and no matter how many times I tell myself that Austria is not Germany, I can’t really convince myself of that.

What other images come to mind? Australia: koalas and dry, dry, dry. I’m sorry, Australia, by the way. I’ve been thinking of Queensland and how it should be enough to have just one natural disaster at a time. You shouldn’t be threatened with typhoons, too. I also think of Crocodile Dundee, and I’m sorry about that, too. He isn’t the hottest thing to come out of the outback, but he’s the one that got “Australia” tattooed in my mind, so there you are.

1 comment:

murrburr said...

I love you for this. It makes me feel as if my racism is acceptable.