INGULFED

(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

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دمّ و عرق و دموع و بيتسا — Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Pizza

I had lost sweat and (metaphorical) tears to settle in Abu Dhabi. Today, I gave the blood.

Every visa-carrying visitor/resident of the UAE must get a relatively unintrusive medical check-up in order to stay in the country. A positive AIDS or TB test will send you back where you came from.

Trying not to concentrate on the needle, I stared at my Arabic entry permit and tried to think of puns using the word “Sheikh”. Sheikh down. Sheikhspeare.

Afterwards, I was called into an x-ray room to have my chest examined. She asked me to fold my collar upwards, she said to get it out of the way. I still think they take pictures at the same time — every American with a popped collar — as a bargaining chip in case of strained relations. “We have pictures of all of your citizens looking like guidos. Now let’s negotiate.”

On the digital screen above the machine I saw my name, and beneath it “W CHEST PA”. I’m sure that means something to a doctor, but to me it was eerie. My small hometown in Pennsylvania neighbored the town West Chester — W. Chest., PA. How much can they tell from my ribs? Read the rest of this entry »

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