You can safely deduce from the name of my column that I am Arab, and with that comes two things: the first being the urge to throw my shoes at people who annoy me; and second being the incessant need to discuss the Arab Spring, a series of uprisings Egypt started, where each country tries to prove itself the most bad ass. So here is me getting the obligatory revolution talk out of the way, enjoy… Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar! (God is great, a common chant whenever Arab gather in protests.)
This is the head of the Couch Party speaking, naturally we feel very passionately about our beloved couches, upon which we shall sit until the end of time. I represent those who don’t want to be represented, those who thought Mubarak and his regime were a monument of world-class douchebaggery, but couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it. But like the whole world, I witnessed Egyptians make history… well, other Egyptians.
I didn’t go to Tahrir square and I wasn’t making any history. Surprisingly enough, camping out in a tent with little food, much less toilet paper, while it rains Molotov cocktails and rocks didn’t appeal to me. Also, traffic was REALLY bad. Although all I did was complain about the loss of my internet connection and the scarcity of pizzas, like some of our celebrities, neither the party nor I mind getting credit and bad-ass glory for Mubarak’s toppling. We like to think that some people did the actual toppling and we did… well, we tried to trip him.
Granted, I felt about Mubarak the same way I feel about the monkey at the zoo who threw the peanuts I gave him back at me after rubbing them against his armpits; I just chose to spend the 18 days of the strike doing something with a little less flare.
I read the newspapers while listening to an old Shaggy song, “It Wasn’t Me,” and I found the resemblance between this song, where Shaggy advises an unfaithful boyfriend to deny the sexual encounter his girlfriend actually bore witness to, and the political ordeal, where government’s metaphorical hands carried two things, a shelf to hit you over the head with and a microphone to deny ever purchasing a shelf, nothing short of hilarious.
As you would expect, I was stationed on my couch in front of the television, munching down chocolate (counteracting my err-political distress!) with the rest of my party. (Yes, potato chips were featured as well.) We didn’t just sit there and eat; we also mocked every moving, living thing—mainly because they were moving.
During the day we would go to convenience stores to restock filling our carts with food, because if the country is going down, you want to have all the Oreos you can get your hands on. People shopped in groups of three, one to push and defend the cart; another to tackle other shoppers and yell empty threats at the elderly while simultaneously flexing their muscles to appear larger to scare off competition; and the final and most important member who takes obscene amounts of products off the shelves—and out of other people’s carts. (You can never have too much toilet paper.)
I must admit, the party feared for its couches when we heard about furniture lootings. That’s when we quickly formed neighborhood patrols (also for the children’s safety… but mostly the couches). Luckily, the party sustained minimal damages to our couch wealth, but we were all devastated by the loss of several veteran antique chairs.
Revolutions, by design, make for great TV. While the whole world was watching CNN and other serious global news agencies, I was watching state TV and Egyptian channels that put the Egyptian film industry to shame. Had one of them bothered googling propaganda first, they would have saved themselves a lot of ridicule. They featured fake phone calls from alleged ex-protesters, along with theories suggesting that Tahrir Square is the unfortunate by-product of Photoshop made by a French-born Iranian Mossad agent who went to Harvard Law named Ezra.
Also, he went by the elusive street name “Ezra Jeremiah, the enigmatic triple agent.” According to the theory, Ezra, the devious little thing, tweeted his way into young, vulnerable Egyptian minds and filled it with mischievous lies and absurdities about freedom and whatnots. Then he met up with Al-Qaida’s PR guy at the movies to raise funds to buy the necessary Photoshop software off the Internet, along with a decent amount fried chickens to lure working-class into the square.
Although the Ezra theory was compelling and certainly imaginative, I, unlike many Egyptians, didn’t fall for it.
If that wasn’t enough reason to support the revolution, the one month vacation for all tipped the balance to the rebels’ favor. Some of the fellow Couch Party members also appreciated the patriotic music that came out.
I, for one, plead guilty to doubting the rebels’ identity. Only because based on past experience, Egyptians only gather in crowds on two occasions, first one being Sham El Naseem, first day of Spring. Sham El Naseem translates literally into :smelling the breeze,” but if there is a breeze, you won’t smell it because it’s overpowered by the smell of that godforsaken stinky fish, Ringa, (discussed in my first column) which is also the traditional celebratory dish for this day.
The second occasion is soccer, if Ahly (the most popular local team) or the national team win a league, a match, or so much as tie with the opposing team, this constitutes a good enough reason to take to the streets, take your shirt off, sexually assault female passersby, set something on fire and bang on your chest like any self-respecting Tarzan enthusiast.
Another great source of comedy was our celebrities. For years I have boycotted Egyptian music and movies, primarily because I suffer from decent taste and an IQ of above 70, so I am automatically excluded from the target audience. However, during the revolution, I finally understood why the entertainment business sucked more than Turkish dramas dubbed into Arabic (which are a big thing in the Arab world). It’s because its members collective IQ points total no more than 1000 (that’s about 50 per talentless head). Two dozen or so celebs were hot-headed diehard Mubarak supporters, who, along with the several hundred equally intelligent Egyptians, actually protested against the very act of protesting, all the while missing the great irony.
Rumor has it that after Mubarak abdicated power; Ezra held a celebratory meeting in a cave in Southern France, with a Swiss agent and a high ranking Salafi leader (the Islamic extremists’ movement in Egypt) to decide what to get Tunisia (Fellow Arab nation which sparked the Arab Spring) as a thank-you gift. The Salafi leader wanted to send anthrax, but it went 2 to 1 for a gift basket instead. It turns out that the Salafi leader didn’t understand what a gift meant and his experience with mail was limited to explosives.
A little further down the map, Egyptians went out by the millions to celebrate, and on the Egyptian Scale of celebration, this was the equivalent of the national team winning the world cup on Sham El Naseem Day with a double rainbow. Now I see why they were pleased by the change in events, but I didn’t understand why anyone thought that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which took over afterwards, would be any better, since Mubarak was the head of that too. (He was also the head of my book club!)
That’s all in the past, now. Nine months later, the revolution, and politics at large, have been recently featured in our daily conversations. Mubarak, formerly being our Lord Voldermot has now been demoted to sidekick status as Wormtail. We badmouth him and all his entourage and we damn well enjoy it. Some even refer to him as a traitor and a “foreign agent” who worked for western countries, but I know better. He is Egyptian through and through; you don’t import that kind of thick-headedness. That’s a rare breed, only found in the Egyptian countryside.
Sadly, the revolution has lost its mojo. It had a good run, but we’re not known for our patience nor our hard work, although the pyramids beg to argue with that, but we didn’t build them, our ancestors had help, you know. So we assumed things will work themselves out and we’ll be forever glorious, but then Libya happened. You might not know this, but Libya has it in for us, so typical of them to try to steal our thunder. As far as uprisings go, they outperformed us, but in our defense, they had Gadhafi’s sense of style and we pale by comparison.
But we put Mubarak on trial, so suck on that, Libya!1
1 This column was written before the brutal murder of Gadhafi. So I suppose they win again. Oh, for fuck’s sake!