Calgary II

Posted on May 2, 2006


So it turns out that golf is a sport. I know this because for four days after D and I played, we were immensely sore and hobbled around town creaking and moaning and trying to trick each other into carrying things. And guess what? I liked it a lot. And even more astonishingly…I don’t suck at it. In fact, both D and I took very well to it. Although I expected this of her, since she’s all athletic and has mighty calves and shit, it is well established that I have absolutely no control over my muscles in excess of the rigours of walking. Thus, D was greatly discomfited and kept rushing over to view my progress, exhorting me not to do any better than her. It’s this hypercompetitive nature of hers that lead to the Great Pool Tournament of Christmas 2003. I still vividly recall being in her basement at 4 a.m. while she, on the brink of violence, screeched, “Best out of five!” and then “Best out of Six!” and so on. Anyway, so I will graciously consent to go golfing from now on. You know you can drink out there?
I’m back in Toronto now, and know I will miss the wildly complimentary Calgarians. Not being single, it’s been a while since I was out and about at bars and such, and so I was curious to see whether I still “had it”. Well, I do, in Calgary at least. Forgive me for a spot of boasting, but I got four uninvited “beautifuls”, one mystifying “pouty lips” and one avowal of love and request to remain in Calgary etc. Also, girls randomly, and soberly, compliment other girls in the street in Calgary.
In a fit of amiability, I decided to meet with T, an ex-boyfriend of both mine and D’s (not, unfortunately, the only man to answer to this description). Together, we diminished this guy’s quality of life significantly, and it had been years since either of us had seen him or communicated with him. In fact, we knew him at different times and we’d never all hung out together.
Anyway, we met and had drinks and food. T and I both ordered drinks in glasses the size of bowling balls, in an attempt to ease the potential awkwardness of the situation. D and I both put our law-school acquired abilities to converse under any conditions to service, but we had run out of perky things to say and questions to ask. I fortuitously recalled T’s affinity for dares and suggested that I should go over to the table of two guys who had been eyeing D and I and casually drop a napkin with our numbers on it. Some guys once did that to my sister and I in Cairo. D handed me an eyeliner pencil and I wrote her number on a napkin. The rest of the evening was happily spent in planning and the like. In the end, of course, I chickened out but it served to lighten the occasion.
Afterwards D and I went to a club, where to our amazement we saw the same two guys. One totally ignored us, but the other came over and bought us drinks, and then graciously requested that D save a dance for him. D has been telling me that in Calgary guys buy drinks for girls for no remuneration whatsoever. In years of living attractively in Toronto, I have never been bought a drink by a stranger, so I was glad I got to see this first hand. He told us he was Italian, and I heard D have a mental aneurism of pleasure. He was a little on the teeny and spindly side for my taste, though. Then for no apparent reason he left us and went to stand some metres away. But what can you expect from a guy who wears a pink shirt in Calgary?

On Saturday night we went to the Egyptian Canadian Association Gala, an event which I was sure would display extreme bloggability. I was so excited that I actually requested a sheet of paper from a waitress to actually take notes. I’m referring to them right now. It’s a new low.
As we entered we were given the Canadian-Egyptian unity pins depicted in the photo. I actually intend to wear it. They were given to us by a young girl in a black cocktail dress with….flip flops. And I don’t mean just backless sandals, I mean beach flip-flops. I shut my eyes in pain. It became apparent that D and I were way over (or more accurately under) dressed. I was wearing a strapless dress, and felt that in all of history no one had ever exposed more of her torso. At least D was the MC and had a duty to raise the sartorial tone. Everyone else apparently had not received the memo about it being a formal event, and I actually perceived one of those fashion atrocities which mark the Egyptian – a woman in full sparkly goldy spangled dress, but with her hair in a dowdy knot surmounted by multicoloured plastic flowers. It had all the appearance of a woman who rushed out of the shower forgetting to style her hair, but alas, I knew only too well that this was intentional. One dude was also in a golf shirt. You can always put any amount of money on Egyptians dressing inappropriately.
To my astonishment, said fobs at the neighbouring table actually talked about the hockey, in Arabic. Later on in the evening, I would hear discussions about hiking, canoeing and real estate prices from people who had clearly gotten off the plane mere moments before. You’d never catch Toronto Egyptians Canadian-ing out like this. The organizer had gathered all the remotely young people onto our table, and I soon found myself seated next to M, a girl who I liked very much. I’ve noticed that it’s only Egyptian girls that I take to right away. I pointed to one of the ladies and asked her if she wasn’t giving off the most Coptic vibes ever. M confirmed that she was indeed a member of her church. I knew that 16-odd years of going to church four times a week would confer some sort of skill eventually.
The festivities opened with the playing of the Canadian and Egyptian national anthems. The words to these were distributed on each table. I took the liberty of securing a copy of the disturbing translation of the Egyptian national anthem:
My homeland, my homeland, my hallowed land,
Only to you is my due hearty love at command,
My homeland, my homeland, my hallowed land,
Only to you is my due hearty love at command,
Mother of the great ancient land,
My sacred wish and holy demand,
All should love, awe and cherish thee,
Gracious is thy Nile to humanity,
No evil hand can harm or do you wrong,
So long as your free sons are strong,
My homeland, my homeland, my hallowed land,
Only to you is my due hearty love at command.
Needless to say, much of this is distantly removed from the meaning of the actual lyrics. Countless adjectives and sentiments were added. And don’t you hate it when people try to rhyme translated poetry, thus distorting the meaning and giving it a wannabe air? Also, what’s this due hearty love bullshit?
The best was yet to come, however. For entertainment, the organizers had arranged for a traditional Egyptian stick dance known as Tahteeb. This involves guys in Upper Egyptian garb twirling staffs around their heads, and doing choreographed dance fighting. The two men came out, and they were firmly Caucasian. One was pretty cute, and the other was distinctly too old to be engaging in any such activity. I cannot even begin to speculate on how they got into this in this cowboy town. Off they went, doing all the feints etc, although the twirling was a little laboured. In one glorious move, they raised their sticks high in the air, where one smashed into the chandelier shattering several lower prisms and showering glass shards everywhere. They hastily backed off and concluded the dance, whereupon a staff person came out and swept up all the glass in resignation. Undeterred by this mishap, they did another dance with swords. This however, seemed to involve a lot of standing around with the sword held at either end in front of them, nodding at people gravely and slowly; then all of a sudden they would lunge at audience members. It was all very worrying.
I was most astonished, however, by the dancing. Hordes of middle-aged Egyptians descended on the dance floor and shook things I didn’t know could be shaken in directions I wasn’t aware of. People who were one foot in the grave were doing all kinds of manoeuvres involving floor crouching, which I consider myself to be well past the age of doing. They actually line danced as well….I seriously feared for the Egyptian National Character. Who were these people? What were they doing shattering centuries of comedic tradition by being open-minded and shit? It’s just not right.