Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lesson #1: Racism exists

Our lesson on racism takes place in the lovely city of Lisbon. The Portuguese capital is chock full of delicious food, beautiful sunsets, and a fancy bridge that isn't quite the Golden Gate. Apparently, these are pretty big draws for tourists - regardless of their cultural beliefs. I imagine this is true in many (quite possibly all) of the cities you'd like to visit.

It was around midnight and I was having a drink and chatting in the common room of a hostel with two American girls, Caitlin and Casey, and an Australian whose name I can't remember. For now, I'll refer to him as Rebeca because that is the only other Australian I know. Also: to make the story more interesting for female readers lets assume that Rebeca is super hot. Because he is super hot. Possibly even sexy. Because he is Australian. I was also pretty hot in this story but I'm not from Australia so, honestly, who gives a fuck.

G'day ladies

I was having a lovely time talking to everyone. I'd known Caitlin and Casey for a couple days already so we were pretty much bestest travel buddies ever. Rebeca was just incredibly attractive - you don't even know. So chatting with him was good too. I had also been travelling with a friend from Canada, Meghan, but she decided to call it an early night because apparently she is too lame for racism and thinly veiled threats.

So, the four of us were having a grand ol'time just relaxing and talking in the common room when these two Arabic guys came into the common room and sat down. Arab #1 (Who henceforth shall be known as Racey Bin Allah Racism or just Arab #1 for short) sat down next to Caitlin while Arab #2 (Quiet McRacistpants) was beside me.

They weren't wearing traditional clothes or anything; just two normal guys hanging out in the common room. For the most part they listened in on our conversations but talked amongst themselves a little bit in Arabic. After about 20 minutes of them sitting there half listening to us Arab #1 spoke up. Arab #2 sat and listened, never talking.

"Are you guys from America", Arab #1 asked; a perfectly reasonable and normal question to be asked in a hostel full of people from all over the world. Caitlin was all over answering it,

"We're American", she said pointing to herself and Casey, "He's from Australia (and is just a total heartthrob) and he's from Canada (he's pretty cool too I-I guess?)"

"Oh" Arab #1 nodded and then briefly paused to consider all the logical and socially acceptable things he could say to follow up his question. Then he decided 'FUCK THAT IDEA' and said this instead,

"You know, in my country, we kill Americans"

Pretty much my reaction too

My initial thought was that he was taking the piss. I laughed a little. It might have been a nervous laugh. It seemed like he was joking, but he also seemed pretty serious about it. Dry humour maybe? Who knows. There were nervous glances going around the room. We were trying as a group to, without words, decide if Arab #1 was joking or if he was a crazy racist. He broke the silence before we could reach a decision.

"Yeah, if there is an American tourist or reporter", he paused and then, because he didn't want to discriminate, added, "or Canadian or Australian. We kill them".

More nervous glances. Caitlin asked the question we were all thinking. No, not "What the hell is with this guy?". She asked that other question we were all thinking.

"Where are you from?"

"It doesn't matter."

"Actually, it does. I'd like to not go there if you kill Americans."

"It's okay, we're in Portugal now."

"Okay. Portugal. Neutral territory, right", Caitlin asked hopefully. Instead it just upset Arab #1. He snapped back

"NO! It's not about territory. It's about bloodlines"

Genocide: The other thing that Tiggers do best

At this point, nervous glances were starting to become a pretty big part of my life. However, Arab #1 must not have filled his 'nervous glance' quota for the evening because he just plowed straight ahead on the Racist Train to Crazy Towne.

" I think that in ten years there will be yourobia"

His accent made that last word hard to understand.

"Yourobia?", we asked for clarification.




"Oh, Eurabia!", I was excited that I understood. Then I realized what he meant by 'Eurabia'.

"I - really, all of Europe?"

"Yes", he nodded, "And I don't know, maybe America too. Definitely in twenty years America will be Arabia. You know, we have nukes; America has nukes. I think we will probably fight soon. Americans don't have god anymore. They just get drunk and have parties".

Casey, who has never been drunk and never plans to be drunk, took objection to this,

"I think that maybe you have a stereotyped view of Americans. Most of us aren't like that".

Arab #1 simply shrugged and ignored her objection. Probably because she was a woman. I, however, being a man decided to see if he would answer a question I was curious about.

"What about Canada? Will it be Arabic?"

He considered the question carefully before giving his answer,

"Hmmm... No. But they will be poor".

Here is where my breaking point was met and I finally let out a proper laugh. Everything was too fucked up and scary and weird not too.

Arab #1 wasn't quite finished yet though. He decided he was going to bring Rebeca into the conversation (who, I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, is a pretty good looking guy).

Pointing at Casey and Caitlin, Arab #1 asked Rebeca, "Does it bother you that they aren't wearing burqas?"

Rebeca laughed. My heart swooned (because he is so rugged and sexy).

"No. I like this better".

"You know, Australians and British, they have depressive blood. It is in their genes. They are depressed".

"Uh, okay". Rebeca smiled. I'll never forget that smile.

Finally, Caitlin had had enough, "I'm going to bed". The rest of us jumped on this opportunity and decided to go to bed too.

At this point, it is important for me to tell you about the layout of the hostel. It consisted of two buildings. The one we were currently in was the main building. The room I was sleeping in was in the other building a block away. The common room was on the second floor so I went down the stairs to go outside. Halfway down, I hear footsteps behind me and, oh goodness, the crazy racist Arabs are right there, following me outside. Luckily, there was a bathroom right beside the exit so I darted in there.

After waiting for a few minutes I went back up to the common room. Caitlin, Casey and Rebeca (the pretty one) were all still there. Apparently they stopped being tired after the Arabs left. Or maybe after I left? Those bastards. Everyone had a different reaction to my return

"Oh good! You're alive!", said Casey.

"Where are they sleeping", asked Caitlin

"I'd like not to be dead in the morning", said Rebeca.

It turned out that Casey, Caitlin and Rebeca were all staying in the same room in the main building. I told them that they'd be fine, that the Arabs were staying in my building. Then a thought came to me,

"I hope Meghan's not dead", I shrugged.

A bit more chit-chat and then we decided to go to bed for realsies this time. I went back downstairs and outside, dreading the walk to my bed. All the tiny alleyways and doors were hiding spots concealing knife-weilding-freedom-hating-Arabs. Luckily though, I lived in Glasgow, and was fully used to the idea of being stabbed at any moment. In fact, it was almost comforting.

Pictured: Business as usual in Glasgow

I made it back to the hostel alive. However, odds were pretty good that the Arabs were in the building . I snuck quietly into my room. No Arabs there. Meg was sound asleep and also still breathing. Both good things. All the bunks in my room were occupied. Since the door locked, sleep seemed like a safe thing to do.

Next morning I got up early for free breakfast and adventures. There were no signs of racist Arabs or of murder anywhere. None of us ever saw them again. They just disappeared into thin air. I am of the opinion that they were ghost crazy racist Arabs.