Saturday, March 20, 2010

Taxicab Confessions Pt. 2

The night before we left for Egypt, I met a guy who has to be, hands-down, the weirdest taxi driver ever. Zack picked me up at my house in the cab the night before we went to Egypt so we could go spend some quality time in my host dad’s café. As soon as I got in, I could tell I was in for an interesting ride because the guy’s gelled hair was shaved into tiger stripes and on the back of his head he had also shaved a giant M inside a circle (think of the anarchy A but with an M, and you get the idea. I think his name was Muhammad). He had a matching pencil-thin chinstrap beard and a massive potbelly barely held in check by a shiny button-down shirt. Zack gave him directions to my dad’s café and he responded by saying, in heavily accented Borat English, “I will kill you both!” We both laughed because taxi drivers have a weird sense of humor and I assumed he was quoting a Steven Seagal movie he thought we would like. Zack tried to give him directions again but Muhammad cut him off and said, “No, no, no, I will take you to the French quarter, it is very fun!” [Footnote: Later, after talking to Zack, I found out that this guy had been offering to take Zack to the French quarter for a while during the cab ride to my place. First, he had asked if Zack had a girlfriend, and when Zack truthfully replied that his girlfriend was in America, Muhammad asked if he wanted a girlfriend in Amman too. Muhammad followed up by listing the many different ethnicities of prostitute that he could find for Zack, all of which Zack politely declined. Then, according to Zack, the cabbie reached over and put his hand on Zack’s leg and just declared simply, “I am faggot.” And if Zack wasn’t sufficiently weirded out at that point, right before Muhammad pulled up to my house he asked him this gem: “What do you have between your legs?” Zack replied, “Uh... what every guy has between his legs,” a statement which Muhammad answered by saying, “Oh, I have gun!” We agree that, given Muhammad’s joking nature, this was a metaphor for his manhood, but his word choice still must have made Zack more than a little uncomfortable.]

Anyway, back in the cab, we finally convinced Muhammad that we did not, in fact, want to go party in the French quarter with him. As we were waiting at a light to turn onto Garden Street, Muhammad starts to blast techno music from his speakers. Muhammad had installed aftermarket speakers in the back of the taxi (where I was sitting) and he would dance in his seat to absurdly loud techno/club music for about ten seconds and then just turn the music off. Since everyone drives with their windows rolled down, this would attract the attention of all the other drivers, who would then turn away and ponder the absurdity of the situation: two white kids sitting awkwardly in a cab with a very fat, very gay, and very strangely groomed Arab techno fan dancing his oversized ass off. He ran through this routine—music on, ten-second dance party, music off—three or four times during the ride, usually after he said something that provoked an awkward silence, which he did more often than Michael Scott.

But wait, things get better. Once we got onto the shopping section of Garden Street, Zack and I noticed a couple of girls walking along the side of the road without hijabs, which is pretty rare and pretty haram (at least in Jordan; in Egypt they’re everywhere). Muhammad noticed too, so he just stopped in traffic and started to heckle them. He encouraged Zack and me to do the same, but we just kind of hung our heads in shame as he said things like “My love, won’t you marry me?” in Arabic. They ignored him, and after the cars behind us started honking Muhammad drove off. So right now, we’re not sure if Muhammad was actually gay and was hitting on the girls to keep up appearances (unfortunately, that kind of thing happens a lot here) or if he was actually straight and was just using the gay overtones to mess with us. Also, at some point during the ride he offered to sell us khasheesh (weed). So if I ever find a more interesting cab driver than a fat, tiger-striped, techno-loving, (possibly) gay (possible) drug dealer/pimp, I’ll let you know. But this story was by far the best thing to come out of that night and we’ve enjoyed retelling and laughing about it many times since.

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