I had an entirely wrong idea about Anne Frank, dictated to me by my old, bored history teacher who had a twisted sense of humor. He marched into class one day and said with an air of authority that the Holocaust wasn’t in our curriculum, but that he’d be willing to answer any annoying questions about it. In response to my question about Anne, he said: “Anne was a little Nazi child, who kept a diary and wrote ‘Please, don’t read this’ on it, but they published it anyway. She’s rolling in her grave, I tell you!”

After actually reading her diary, “the little Nazi child” (I should really stop calling her that), came to me in a dream. At first I was startled, what is a Jew roaming around an Arab’s mind for?

She told me to stop making insensitive jokes about her, disown my holocaust-denying friends (they’re plentiful on this side of the planet) and write a diary. She also said I was zeer aantrekkelijke (Dutch for very attractive).

Since I’m laziness personified, I decided to use my diary entries as this week’s column. Enjoy.

- - -

Salam Alykum Abdul-Jabar,

(I needed an appropriate ethnic male name. Arab women like to gossip, trusting a female diary would be most unwise)

Guess what, brother? By some shit stroke of luck a water pipe in the neighborhood got “clogged.” The fact that there are objects (which aren’t supposed to be there), objects which are big enough to clog the pipes, worries me deeply.

But it is a third world country, so I suppose this experience has long been overdue.

I’ve been ignoring nature’s call all day, but I had some curry shit for lunch, bad idea. Toilet paper is a poor, poor substitute for water. It was a traumatic experience for both the toilet and me. I don’t see how my butt cheeks will ever be able to share a pair of underwear together again.

I even had to wash my face via water-filled coffee mug. Resentment swelled in me later, when I watched Neutrogena’s commercials with a model who probably has never seen a zit up close, splashing precious water all over the place just to wash her silly face.

Respectfully, without any display of affection,

- - -

Salam Alykum Abdul-Jabar,

Every time a family member lays eyes on me, they ask me for something. What the hell do they have to drink so much fucking tea for? Do they think they’re English? They drink it before, after, and during every meal.

Every time I make someone a cup of tea, I die a little inside.

I have developed a strategy for revenge. I am messing with their sugar (adding and decreasing as I please), using different tea flavors and, depending on my mood, I may or may not spit in their cups. It brings me great joy.

Never ask me to make tea, I mean it,

- - -

Salam Alykum Abdul-Jabaar,

For some silly reason today I felt the need for some human interaction. The first human in sight was Mom. Naturally, in order to talk to her, I had to pay the Arab tax of conversation, which is a cup of fucking tea. “Before we sit down, how about you make us a cup of tea?” Grrr.

Anyway, I asked her if she ever heard of Anne Frank. “Oh, yes, yes, I know all about him.”


Ah, the day Arabs admit to not knowing someone is the day they stop drinking tea. (Never going to happen.)

Their refusal to say, “I don’t know” is exactly why an Arab will always, always get lost in a new town. Because the only thing passersby love more than being stopped for a question, is giving wrong directions. They would actually fight with each other to decide which of them would have the great honor of misleading the newcomer. One time, a man told us where he would like to go.

If given the chance, they’ll offer to guide you there themselves, they’ll either kidnap you and bury you in a shallow grave, or drive all over town, forget you were tailing them and drive home, taking you with them.

Rightfully-suppressed care,

- - -

Salam Alykum Abdul-Jabar,

I’m going to learn how to drive.

I don’t want to die young.


- - -

Salam Alykum Abdul-Jabar,

In case my previous letter didn’t worry you enough, this one should. Here’s how my second driving class with my sister went:

I should note that I still haven’t gotten over the feeling that I’m in the wrong seat… the driver’s seat.

ME: “I don’t see the point of this, I’ll either be stuck in traffic, in which case I’ll be in a still car in a still queue of cars, or I’ll be speeding and undoubtedly crashing on the highway, either way no driving knowledge required!”

I receive my third blow on the head for breaking the no-talking deal I have been coerced into.

At this point, my palms are so sweaty that I can barely hold on to the steering wheel. My pores seemed to have conspired against me. Did you know that your ass can sweat? Well, mine can. Unlike my skin however, my throat and tongue are so dry, they’re like… er… the weather?

My sister is going over the basics again, she’s mad at me, something about not listening to her. I would listen if her lips moved slower, or if she could speak louder than my thoughts. My thoughts keep drifting to the big trucks waiting for me on the highway. The drivers seem to like to try out every lane on the road, which would be perfectly okay if they weren’t already occupied with cars.

She finally snatched me out of my thoughts and yelled, “Stop stepping on the goddamn petals!”

She read my facial expression and realized that I misheard “pedals” for “petals.” Before she knew it, I was already scanning the car for flowers.

She went on scolding me for being a brat, and then the cunning witch turned on the radio to Arabic music because she knows I’d rather listen to her than it.

The only thing I did right was keeping my eyes on my mirrors, but she disagrees. According to her, my eyes darted from one mirror to the next without ever glancing ahead, but what does she know?

After much persistence, nagging and yelling, I saw a sparkle in her eyes, or were those tears? Or was she just about to burst in rage? I decided not to find out, gave up and turned the car on.

Legitimate wishes,

- - -

Hey you Abdul-Jabar,

What a shit day! I lost my McSweeney’s article three fucking times and had to rewrite three fucking times. I stare there staring at my computer, clutching my head grieving the loss of my work, calming down, then remembering it and starting all over again.

I also forgot to buy white chocolate. I thought keeping a diary would enhance my memory, since I’d be writing all the notable things down, thereby saving room for things like buying chocolate. You’re useless, I hate you.

I’m so sorry, I take it all back.

Grudgingly, yet peacefully,

P.S: The author was PMSing at the time.