19.7.06

The Libyan

16.VII.06



We have important visitors. One of them sits in the editing lab with Everett and me. I was in the middle of writing a blog entry. The screensaver goes on. I’m looking at Everett, talking, and the visitor is between us, facing my computer. Suddenly I’m terrified. Among the photos available to my screensaver are a few of me kissing my wife.
What.
I’m not allowed to kiss my wife?
Shut up.
Anyways, as luck would have it, one of these photos comes up. What do I do? I turn red, but have to keep talking, noting out of the corner of my eye how excruciatingly long the screensaver holds on the photograph. Slowly, as I finish my sentence, I reach over and gently nudge the mouse. I’ve never been so relieved to see my desktop.

In the cab, Robert tells us that his hotel room is a double.
“I just have one big bed,” I say.
“I have two. One for me, one for my goat.”

Nidal is producing Sharif’s movie. Nidal meets with us about his own film, then as he leaves, makes an observation about his duties as producer.
“All I did was stand around. I don’t know why there’s a producer for a crew of three.”
Everett tires to explain to him what he should be doing. Nidal shakes his head.
“We have a saying in Arabic,” he says, “erdain ou hares.”
“What does that mean?”
“A soldier and two monkeys.”



Firas is explaining how in Egypt, at any given time, fifty percent of the population is stoned.
“It’s legal there,” he says.
Samer pipes up. “Not like here.”
“No,” Firas continues, “here in Jordan if they catch you one time, they put you in jail for a month. If they catch you two times, they put you in jail for 3 months. If they catch you a third time, they put you in jail for a year and a half.”
“And they beat you,” adds Motaz, seriously.
Firas goes on to tell us that when they catch you smoking pot, they try to get the name of your dealer out of you. They basically harass you until you squeal.
“Actually, I have a funny story about that,” he says.
Firas was born in Libya, so some of his friends call him “Firas the Libyan” instead of using his actual last name. So one day, a bunch of them get caught smoking pot and are brought in by the Jordanian police. Under coercion, they give up the name of their dealer: Firas the Libyan.
“They told me about it later, and I was OK because I know how the police are,” says Firas. “But then, every time one of my friends got caught, they would reveal their source as ‘Firas the Libyan.’”
Eventually, the name was used so many times, that Firas began to get worried. When the fifth or sixth group of friends were caught, Firas couldn’t sleep that night, scared to death of a police raid.
The next day he decides to be a good citizen and go to the police station to give himself up.
He arrives and asks for his friend who is in jail. The policeman looks at him, then pulls out his list of known offenders.
“What’s your name?” asks the officer.
“Firas…”
“Mm hm.”
The officer flips a page and scans.
“Do you know ‘Firas the Libyan’?”
A pause.
“No.”
“Hm.”
After a moment, the officer says, “Ok, you can go in.”
Firas, relieved, went in to visit his friend.
Firas the Libyan, however, remains an at-large Jordanian drug dealer, most likely armed and dangerous.

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