Dubai Catchphrases I: "Psyche" and "Son"

Posted on June 10, 2007


I don’t think I have ever asked for permission to blog about anyone as many times as I asked International Playboy. This is a friend of E and I’s who lives in Dubai – for now. In summary, he is cool enough to have actually partied – and been photographed with – Steven Tyler, but too cool to actually go to the Aerosmith concert. Ostensibly, he is completing a degree in Dubai, an undergraduate degree that has been derailed by years in the pursuit of fun and fanny. He bears with equanimity E’s relentless mocking of his lack of achievement, amusing me by relating his carefully thought-out technique for avoiding having to admit this to new acquaintances: he says “I’m taking a course” and leaves it at that, leading people to think he’s doing some kind of diploma instead of repeating a course that he has bribed the professor to pass him in…this time.

I.P. currently lives with some equally jet-setting friends of his. Having been assigned by E to take care of me while she was at work, I.P. conveyed me to his residence to swim at his pool. This residence was the textbook bachelor pad – I correctly guessed that the fridge would contain nothing but condiments and beer. Broken glass littered the floor from last night’s party waiting for the maid to clean, and there were assorted flat screens and leather couches. What distinguished it from others of its ilk was that on one entire wall hung a full set of polo mallets and whips. POLO. There was also a set of Grey’s Anatomy DVDs, but that was neither here nor there compared to implements needed to play a game I associate with Dodi Al Fayed. Who was doubtless known to I.P., actually.
We went down to the pool. This was the sort of apartment building pool that involved waiters brining you drinks, a pool bar (I want to live at a pool bar. Who came up with this outstanding idea of drinking while seated half submerged! I also smoked shisha on a different pool bar a few days later. Shisha. In water.) The pool also had bridges and fountains and other accoutrements that apartment building pools traditionally don’t have. In my preparatory zeal for such quality pool lounging, I found I had neglected to shave my left leg. I.P. was very gentlemanly about it, saying he couldn’t see anyway, but it quite ruined my perceived self-image.
We also went to the mall together, where his gentility extended to carrying my bags, but not the one that said “sale”. No, really, he refused to carry it. I trailed him around the posh end of the mall, where E joined us. “The designers at Prada must have really run out of ideas this year!” he would say petulantly, while E and I were giving ourselves hernias laughing at yellow and blue patchwork jeans, delicately tooled white leather sandals with smiley faces on the instep, or a picture of man striding with a briefcase wearing pinstriped shorts and jacket and tie. Compressing his lips, he pushed us out of Cavalli before we made his good name dirt in Dubai.
In fact, it was a puzzle to me as to why he hung out with E and me so frequently. Together we were the least shiny girls in Dubai: suffice it to say that when E lost her makeup kit a few months ago (it fell out of her sack bag – all E and W’s bags resemble biblical waterskins) she simply stopped wearing make up. Just like that. When I found this out I tried to press one of my eyeliners on her but she refused it. Also, neither of us owns skinny jeans, leggings, or tunics of any kind. I routinely neglect manicures, pedicures, and eyebrows. So it must be our conversation – but in my case this consists of asking random questions of varying levels of impropriety, and in her case persistent ridicule. It’s a puzzle – and was made even more so when I viewed the rest of his female friends. We had joined his playboy/girl group at a club where they had the VIP booth, and of course bottle service and the works. Every single one of the other females there was wearing a mini-dress with gold peep-toe slingback platforms, and had bottle blonde hair and an orange tan. E and I were just about to commence cattiness about these ladies (“she looks 35!“) when the coolness of the setting was abruptly destroyed by one of I.P.’s associates vomiting fish and vodka in close proximity to us.
In discussing the evening later I.P. smoothly assured us that even this had taken place chicly – witnesses reported that the vomiting action was discreet, did not affect anyone’s clothing or footwear, and that the perpetrator had calmly walked off to the bathroom afterwards. This did not prevent head-tipped-back snorting laughter on our parts, based mainly on the fact that none of us have ever thrown up in any non-bathroom areas of a club, despite our lack of trendiness. We also discussed the social impacts of the evening: apparently two of the leathery girls had been hissing at each other in competition for I.P. charms. Running our hands over his hair-free, decidedly unfirm arm we had no idea why this was the case – both of us liking them rugged rather than refined – but sure enough he managed to bed one of these gold-shod females (the other one, he informed us, was “not a target” based on her relationship with his hosts). It speaks volumes for the decline of my mental tone in his company that when he and his crew joked about how he could make a pornographic movie based on that conquest entitled “One Night in Jordan” I laughed for a good half an hour. Come on, that’s a sweet joke!

Despite the leatheriness of the females and the presence of Alice bands on the men, all of his friends that I spoke to were extremely polite and displayed signs of gainful employment and higher education (perhaps except for the vomiter, who later asked me “So, you’re done school, really done? You’re actually working as a lawyer?” and it wasn’t because of me being relatively young for a Canadian law school graduate). Any communication with the global jet-setting community also involved the use of the words “psyche” and “son”. What, particularly, the word “psyche” signified I could not determine. I.P. and friends used it where, I think, Kelso from “That 70s show” would say “Burn!” but I can’t be sure. I was far more amused by the fact that they all called each other “son”. As in, “I’m God’s extra effort, son!”. I’d be interested to know which linguistic tradition this usage originated from, as none of these persons seemed influenced by the similar Egyptian use of the word. But I found it curiously charming, so do not be alarmed if I begin calling people many years my senior “son”.

I.P. really is sweet. Maybe I’m fond of him, though, because he looks and is exactly like the first guy I was ever really into.

Posted in: friends, travel