Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It May Be All My Fault


  In June, 1979, my ship, the USS America, made a port call to Alexandria, Egypt.  Even though tensions in the Middle East were starting to simmer, the powers that be (or should that be "the powers that were?")  nonetheless felt it was safe to inflict several 
It's fallen on hard times since.
It's like you're in Detroit now.
thousand sailors on one of the great capitals of antiquity.  Despite an incipient anti-Western feeling, things had yet to start rolling downhill.  Of course, the Shah of Iran was ultimately deposed and Islamic militants overran the U.S. Embassy later that year, thus souring U.S.-Iranian relations and giving Ben Affleck an idea for a movie.  Things have pretty much been in the crapper since.
"Huh.  Says here that, if I can pull off this Argo thing,
they'll let me play Batman.  Sweet."

    But, that June, it was still okay for hordes of goofy Americans dressed in blue jeans, tee shirts, and cowboy boots to crawl around the city streets looking for a good time.  Or hepatitis.

    Hoping to get away from the typical sailor entertainments, I
Egypt, not Missouri.
Try and keep up.
bought a ticket for a two-day tour to Cairo.  We would take a bus south along the Nile, stopping at several points along the way to view local culture (which primarily involved slapping laundry against rocks) and pay bribes to some Nazis left over from an Indiana Jones movie.

"Sting like a butterfly.
Float like a bee.
That dead Ali
ain't pretty like me." 

    Once in the city of Cairo, we toured the Muhammed Ali Mosque (I was disappointed it had nothing to do with boxing), visited the National Museum (which had more mummies in it than I thought possible), and, of course, walked around the pyramids.

    It was a fascinating trip and one I'm so very thankful to have made.  Especially since there's no way I'll ever go back there again.  If I wanted to hang around crazy people, I could go to an Eagles game and save the air fare. 

    However, one of the more relaxing things we did was take a
Velour shirt, corduroy pants.
In Egypt.  In June.
I clearly didn't think this through.
guided boat ride on the Nile.  From the deck of the boat, we saw the mighty Cairo skyline (and even more slapping of underwear on rocks).  Hoping to snap a picture with a real authentic Egyptian in it (besides mummies), I asked the boat boy if I could take one of him.


    In sign language and the bits of English that he knew, he told me that I could take his picture if I gave him some money.  I'm sure he would have been very happy if I gave him only a dollar.  But, being the cheap slack-ass that I was (I hope it's not "cheap slack-ass that I am"), I refused.  Shrugging his shoulders, he turned and directed his attention to the front (NOTE: The "bow."  You're welcome).

    Figuring I was going to take his picture anyway, I took one of his back.  Screw him, the greedy little money grubber, I figured.
Death to America started in Iran.  
Or did it?
    As the years have passed, I wonder if this boy ever knew that he got stiffed.  This may have grown into resentment which sparked an anti-American rage.  Now a man in his 40s, he may, in fact, have joined the Muslim Brotherhood.  Not only is he hacked off that 50 Shades of Gray has no pictures, but he burns with hate at the cheap slack-ass American who was too good to give him a buck that day long ago.

    Is it any wonder why I'll never go back?    

42 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. They were all the rage back then. In fact (no kidding) I bought a set in Alexandria. Very comfy jammies.

      Delete
  2. I always like your twisted humor but like these stories too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The funny thing is...it's completely true. Except the Nazi thing.

      Delete
  3. Gee thanks a lot for starting the war on terror dude :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I loved the Indiana Jones reference lol

      Delete
    2. I know. My bad.
      I was hoping somebody would get that Indiana Jones reference.

      Delete
  4. Seeing all the chaos in the middle east and Africa, my vacations will take place far away.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice going, you cheap #@#%%#~!

    Peace out! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe I could have blamed it on my Islamic cousin, Mahmoud Al-Penwasser.

      Delete
  6. Mrs. C. and I were scheduled to go to Egypt two years ago but the State Department cancelled our trip. We'd already paid for our Egyptian visas. Missing out on seeing Egypt is one of my greatest disappointments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I seriously am glad I had the chance. It's a shame that the place is nuts and will be nuts for our lifetime.

      Delete
  7. No wonder the nazi's stayed there, it was better than starring in Indiana Jones 4. So it all stems back to you? Figures, you couldn't have even just gave him some monoply money?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. They wanted the Soviets to have that gig.

      Delete
  8. Put the blame on Mayme. She started the Chicago fire.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, it's definitely all your fault. The only way of atoning is to let an Egyptian guy take a picture of your ass. And remember to tip him this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as it's just a picture, I'd be cool with that.

      Delete
  10. Any worldwide action that spurs Affleck to write a movie is a bad idea.
    I kinda always wanted to go to Egypt, though I'd fear for my life if I traveled alone. Plus, I don't want to have to pay $1 plus inflation for a picture.

    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our port visit to Alexandria was exceptional because, after two days in Cairo, I was looking forward to getting back on board my ship. It was clean, it wasn't hot as a bundt cake in my skivvies, it was relatively disease free, and, though unappetizing, I felt safe about eating the food. It was the ONLY place in the Mediterranean where I felt so.

      Delete
  11. i really doubt that your act would have changed him so much. true, the butterfly effect exists, but i don't think to that extent

    ReplyDelete
  12. Checking out the wonders of an ancient country and the best you can do is stiff a kid. Tell anyone about the golden cat-god statuette you got hid in your bedroom closet yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, there was a belly dance show that night. It was pretty good, but she would be in her 60's now. YEESH!!!!!

      Delete
  13. How can you look in the mirror knowing that that boy grew up with such hatred that he opened a McDonald's franchise and donated the profits to an arms dealer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is he the one who came up with the McFalafel with hummus? I never forget a fez.

      Delete
  14. Hopefully, the boy got over it. Although it's a good thing that you have a secret identity, because he's probably reading this right now in Russia!

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. Al Penwasser wasn't "born" until 1987. So, I'm good.

      Delete
  15. Aw man I have really been developing a bit of a dislike for Ben Afleck since that Argo film, heck the job he did as Daredevil was what started it really. Love this post though, love hearing all your stories about back then buddy.

    ReplyDelete
  16. When we lived in Germany, the Air Force put out memos to remind us not to dress like an "American" while traveling around Europe. Um, I think we stand out regardless of what we wear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my later years, we were urged to always collared shirts and no blue jeans when ashore in an Islamic country. No, we didn't blend.

      Delete
  17. You're a very cultured man, Al. Opting for a tour of the sights of Cairo rather than the usual sailor haunts. Were you a solitary service-man??

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love the photo of the boat boy even if you had to take it in secrecy so that you didn't have to shell out a dollar! I can relate to your frugalness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even though I was a cheapskate, it IS kind of a neat shot, huh?

      Delete
  19. I see you writing travel books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually would like that. What I don't know, I'd just make up.

      Delete
  20. You should've just stuck to visiting Portsmouth, you know us Pompey girls would've let you have a picture (and probably other things as well) for free.

    ReplyDelete