Street stains

Posted on December 9, 2013


For Sarah Carr, birthday girl, supportive friend and the biggest fan of this juvenile drivel. Yes, “no one has writer’s block for four years.”

About six months ago I was walking on the street in Zamalek when a buxom, short-haired girl in her early twenties sitting on the sidewalk said to me in middle-class tones, “shwayet fakka?” I was pretty startled because this (in English) is what Hippies say to Upstanding Citizens in American 70s movies and books, and I assume this is where she got the idea since no beggar would ever say that here, normally. I can’t imagine this works, and all it elicited from me is mild curiosity and a ruling of ghalbanna.

A few weeks ago I was clopping painfully down Ahmed Sabry Street when I spotted the girl leaning against a car, in a long denim skirt, with legs strangely akimbo for a woman. I was just recognizing her when my eyes moved down to a large wet stain spreading across the bottom of her skirt, and then further to where yellow liquid was tinkling merrily onto her feet and the street. I looked around at everyone (of course, as ever, there were many men loitering around looking at us) and raised my eyebrows at them.  The closest nodded, as if to say “uh-huh, you got it right, tartara”.

I locked eyes with the girl. She waved politely. I quickly ransacked my mental personal experience, and found something: I’ve been to New York, where I’ve seen way nuttier displays, and I have a face for it, which I quickly slapped on. It’s the opposite of my Egypt face – which is “MOTHERFUCK YOU!” – in that it’s “motherfuck nothing.”

But truthfully, I admired her balls/nuttjobbery. I myself am no stranger to Egyptian street urination, as it happens. About a year ago I went to a friend’s birthday and – long story short – my friends unwisely accepted my assertions that I was jusss fiiinnee and poured me into a taxi at 3 am. I don’t remember much about that trip, except the following: on the October Bridge I said to the driver, “bos, inta lazem terken awel ma nenzel, 3ashan lazem a3mil pipi.” Yes. These words were said. He obligingly pulled over as soon as we got off the Bridge and under the bright orange floodlights of Saleh Salem (they still properly lit the streets then) I leaned against the rear right wheel and pulled down my jeans and just whizzed down the side of the car. Then I pulled up my jeans and got back into the cab and thanked the driver. In my memory there was no one on the street, but the fact remains it is largely possible that numerous residents of Heliopolis saw my hooha. And my funbits certainly saw well more than they ought to have. Low moment. Friends still feel bad.

I got home OK though.

*By the way, this post beat out one that was literally about our respective brassieres.

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