Sunday, April 11, 2010

Waleed's World



My host brother Waleed is a total baller. Picture a chubby eight-year old Arab kid with nappy red hair and a moon face. This is pretty funny to begin with—fat people and gingers are staples of comedy across the globe—but it gets better. You know how there are some people that you can enjoy watching or hanging out with no matter what they’re doing? For example, take Christopher Walken. I would pay full price to see a feature-length film of just him doing everyday things like driving in traffic, picking up dry cleaning, eating a cheeseburger, or doing whatever it is that Christopher Walken does on a daily basis. He’s just a guy who has a uniquely funny way of saying things and doing things. Well, Waleed is the same way. His whole life is wrestling, soccer, videogames (Pro Evolution Soccer and WWE Smackdown), TV (WWE Raw), and eating. He loves it this way and his main goal when he wakes up every day is to do as many of these things for as long as possible. This is Waleed’s World, and most everything that occurs in it is hilarious. Let me give you a few examples:

When I wake up on the weekends and walk into the living room, there is a good chance that first thing I hear will be Waleed saying, “Nick, play Ninja Turtles?” Ninja Turtles is a game that we started in about the third week of my homestay where Waleed and Muhammad do their best to tackle, kick, punch, smack, or pin me, and I occasionally pick them up and throw them onto their bed. Needless to say, they love this and Waleed constantly tries to get me to play with him—sometimes, he skips the formalities of asking the question and just punches me in the stomach or jumps on me, hoping that I will pick him up and escalate things to the point where a full-on game of Ninja Turtles can break out (this strategy usually works because not reacting to a sucker punch and/or a chubby eight-year old dangling from your neck requires a kind of Gandhi-like patience which I just don’t have). Lately, Ninja Turtles has evolved into WWE, which is basically the same thing only we spend a lot of time making speeches and talking trash before we actually wrestle. Waleed doesn’t even know colors in English, but he can name the entire WWE lineup from memory and does this all the time when we play. So picture the absurdity of most of my Fridays and Saturdays: before I go out at night, the only English I hear is, “Nick, play WWE?” and some variant of, “Nick, man anta? [Who are you?] John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Seamus, Big Show, The Miz, Mr. McMahon, Batista, The Undertaker, Kofi Kingston...” But the best part is when Waleed talks smack in English. During the course of a “match” he’ll slip in gems like (if I’m lying on the ground) “Come on, baby, stand up!”

Waleed’s other favorite activity (besides beating me up) is going to Gamebox, which is kind of like an internet cafĂ© only with PS3s where you pay JD1/hr to play either PES 2010 or WWE Smackdown (I’m 90% certain those are the only two games people ever play; also, in PES almost everyone plays as Barcelona or Real Madrid, so it’s not uncommon to see 4-5 games of Barca-Real being played simultaneously). And as long as I’m dropping statistics, I would say that roughly half of Waleed’s requests to his mother are for money to go to Gamebox, while the other half are for money to go to the supermarket and buy ice cream. Now that I think about it, Waleed is kind of like Garfield in that he always wants food and is totally predictable (the difference is that Waleed is funny). Anyway, when we went to Gamebox a few weeks back he just started singing in English, in a room full of people playing as either Barcelona or Real Madrid, “Barca, Barca, Barcelona, Real Madrid are donkey and monkey, Real Madrid are donkey and monkey, Barcelona, Barcelona!” I think he sang more, but I didn’t catch it because at that point everyone in Gamebox was cracking up.

On the way back from Gamebox, we saw a stray dog on the sidewalk. Waleed was eating a candy bar at the time (Waleed has the energy for all of these activities because he’s constantly sugar-high. It’s kind of like how Lil’ Wayne is perpetually blazed so he can come up with ridiculous metaphors—for Waleed, sugar-high is the normal state of being), but he stopped in his tracks and exclaimed, “Nick! Kelb! [Dog!]” He grabbed me by the sleeve and started to walk toward it because he wanted to feed it the candy bar. Let me repeat that: I had to stop Waleed from feeding a candy bar to a stray dog. Only in Waleed’s World.

Finally, last weekend I decided to cook my family some French toast because they didn’t have anything to eat with the maple syrup I had given them as a gift. I invited Zack over to hang out while I did a poor man’s impersonation of Iron Chef. When I finally served everything on a big platter, Waleed sat down to eat. He took a piece of French toast (I used pita bread because that’s all we had) and set it down on his plate. He then proceeded to pour out half of the bottle maple syrup onto his plate—the French toast was literally floating in a lake of syrup. After eating the pita-French toast with his hands, burrito-style, he stood up and announced (with both hands drenched in syrup) “Khalas! [I’m done!]” When I asked him if he liked it, he said that he did, but he was full because he ate ice cream before dinner. He went into the courtyard and almost immediately came back to the dinner table with a soccer ball in hand.

“Zack, play qur’a al-qadm? [soccer]”
“Waleed, ana akul [I’m eating].”
“Oh, OK.”

Waleed waited two seconds and then turned to me.

“Nick, play qur’a al-qadm?”

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