1. The Kid From Dearborn
If we label him as obnoxious, he may sue us for defamation, since suing people his full-time job. Then, he’ll sue the shisha place for not doing it like they do in balad al-Dearborn, or Dearbornistan as the right-wingers call it.
The trouble with the kid from Dearborn is that he/she is never satisfied with anyone else preparing a Hookah for them, unless it is a non-Arab, then it is an opportunity to flaunt their Hookah credentials with a free lecture.
He will tell you about how the hookah places in Dearborn are better, with stadium-style seating, movie projection screens, and live performances by Dearborn’s version of George Wassouf (coke and all).
He’ll ask the servers if they offer carved pineapples or watermelons for the sheesha heads, or if they have the new bab ghanoush-flavored tobacco. Then, he’ll roll his eyes when they ask “what?”
Starbuzz is his brand of choice, bro. And he thinks self-starting charcoal is for chumps (he’s right).
2. The Curious White Chick
“Is that, like, a bong from India?” These girls are eager to experience new things and taste different cultures, which is why Arab men go for them, if you know what I mean. She does not have interest in the Middle East, but rather there are a lot of Arab guys where she grew up or went to school, so it is natural to develop a curiosity. Plus she thinks it will help her feel “ethnic.”
“Is this illegal?” and “Am I going to regret this?” are signature questions. She bugs you by insisting on using her own plastic protector tube, thereby messing up the flow. Get it over with and hand her the “double apple” flavor so she can go experiment with Thai food, kabbalah and lesbianism.
The presence of white chicks gives many Arab men a temporary feeling of having a safety net and false indication that we are the new blacks, the forbidden fruit white chicks use for revenge against daddy.
Giveaway sign: when Amr Diab starts playing, they get up and dance dirty with their girlfriends.
Just as Latino labor is key to the service sector, in places where Arab immigration is scant, Latinos run the local hookah lounge. They took over preparing the sheesha and bringing you fresh coal to keep it like going like an Egyptian train.
While some might find interesting forms of cultural hybridity here, especially as the workers learn Arabic from the management, there are some negatives. First, they are probably poorly compensated since their status is likely not legal. And Arabs care less.
Second, tension comes with the few Arab customers who are out of things to be proud of. On more than one occasion, Arabs, like the Dearborn kid, lecture the underpaid employees on how to make a better hookah. Thus the employee develops a passive-aggressive approach that makes him/her debate between punching your face or smiling at it.
4. The Redneck
Although he feels a bit gay puffing on a phallic pipe, he’s thrilled to be behind enemy lines. He met Al, his one Arabic buddy, in world history class and now he is joining his new friend for a taste of the Orient.
Growing up in small town in the south comes with a lot of liabilities, like not knowing much about the world.
On 9-18, he was throwing eggs at a muhajibah, so he’s a bit shocked he ended up in the lounge. he should have listened to his uncle Todd who warned him about the liberal professors from his community college brainwashing him. Uncle Todd later mocks him for smoking the “hubbly bubbily.”
Surrounded by 10 other Arab men, it would be hard to decline the offer to smoke. This is a one-time experience, it won’t likely be repeated as Al makes less weird friends.
5. The FBI Informant
He’s the coolest, slickest guy in the lounge, the smoothest operator, and very outgoing. He’s also an FBI informant who gets a nice check from the government for the intel he picks up from the cafe — which is like none, except that he is great at telling the Feds what they want to hear. They think the “Oasis Hookah Palace” is the Tora Bora of Southern California.
He is commissioned to eavesdrop on all conversations and screen all patrons for possible threats, instead he just picks up names and details from the Hollywood terrorism flicks like ‘The Siege,’ ‘Body of Lies’ and ‘Syriana.’ He occasionally takes a picture of a few patrons with his cell phone as he pretends to be text messaging.
While the government’s money is decent, he is doing it in exchange for a reduced sentence on a tax fraud scheme he was into with his cousin.
You’ll know when you meet him because he’ll add you as a friend on Facebook within minutes of meeting you.
6. The Student Who Spent a Semester Morocco
Nearly every sentence begins, “In Morocco…” It could be set off
by the most trivial reminder. The waiter’s named “Mohammad,” and this type tells you about the King of Morocco.
Sure, he or she misses kicking back and doing nothing all day except talking while sipping mint tea and smoking grape-flavored argeelah. And they are comforted by the fact that they won’t wake up with the runs this time.
To show off his hookah skills, he brings his date there, thinking this is America, the same creepy taboos overseas won’t apply. To his surprise, for every woman, including his date, there is probably more than 10 horny dudes leering at her through the clouds of smoke.
7. The Bored and Boring Middle-Aged Guy
This is the older Arab man who was married in the old country and is now divorced with not much to do but smoke his Hookah and fly solo. Or he may be married, but no one has ever seen the wife as proof. And apparently he only eats hummous.
This guy has his own official corner. It’s like Mustafa’s freaking office. He sits there all day every day. He checks out everyone walking into the lounge and stares at them, only taking occasional breaks to pee, talk really loudly on his cell phone, get charcoal himself, or play tarneeb or backgammon with other regulars.
He is not nostalgic for the bad old days, but the present really sucks. The only thing going for him is that he has as much authority as the hookah preparers do in his smoky little kingdom.
8. The Sheesha Tyrant
He is the cousin of the owner. It’s like being the son of the President/King/Col. Qaddafi in the Arab world. In other words, his familial link entitles him to act like he owns the place, so he bosses the staff and picks fights with the guys from the Gulf who treat the place like they could buy it (they could).
His cousin who owns the place hates this guy, but cannot kick him out because he owes his Dad money and may be interested in marrying his sister. He, of course, recognizes the power imbalance. So after he closes up the gas station, he brings all his loser buddies to smoke their favorite Hookah flavor and, if feeling naughty, have a non-alcoholic beer, play a round of obnoxious tarneeb, and get into a fight with other customers.
He is the Latino Hookah Preparer’s worst nightmare (behind immigration raids and Lou Dobbs).
So when a Hookah comrade hands you the wrong end of the hookah you get offended and insist that they hand it to you the proper way so as not to make it look your comrade is telling you to screw yourself. I am sorry, I do not get this one, I am a Palestinian, and we are used to getting screwed by our friends.
Warning: If the sheesha is dirty, not airtight, there are too many holes in the tin foil, or the tobacco is packed too tight, a psychodrama ensues, followed by the single greatest Lebanese contribution to the Arab world: a rich sequence of highly decorative and colorful cursing (at and about the sheesha, the preparer, and his family, particularly his female relatives).
You can spot this guy easily. He’s the one who removes the head and blows the dust and smoke through the holes in the tin foil after it has been burning a while. They also blow the most perfect rings, sometimes followed by a smoke arrow through the middle then their name in Arabic.
10. The African American Who Likes Them Pillows
“I gotta get me one of these.” Like African-Americans, Arabs can be ghettofabulous with our furniture and decor. So the sheesha lounge can feel like home.
Many African-Americans don’t know that most Arabs live in Africa (most Arabs don’t know that either). Most don’t care. What they do care about is if you can smoke marijuana through the sheesha. You can. But it is less efficient than the traditional ways. Non-blacks, sharing that tidbit can win you street cred.
I hear so many African-Americans mention Egypt and Morocco as key places they want to travel. You never meet a black guy who wants to visit Syria for some reason, and definitely not Iraq.
The non-ratty hookah lounges provide a nice relaxing environment—the Arabic pillows at these lounges prove it. Puffing on a water pipe may be relaxing, but to my black friends, do not rest your feet on the soft cushion. It is a sign of disrespect. It’s the Arab equivalent of messing with a black guy’s radio (I learned so much from ‘Rush Hour’).
Another word of advice: Drop couple of non-offensive Arabic words, you will probably get a complimentary tea.
11. The Overdressed Gulfie Kids
The waiters love them for their generous tips, but unfortunately this sentiment is not shared with the rest of the lounge’s patrons. They hit on anything that moves, whether or not they are there with someone else.
They are dressed in the best brands, but that does not mean they necessarily have style. And they show off the Beamer in the parking lot, often sitting around the car waiting for girls to walk by.
No matter how old they get, they always act like teenagers on a prom date, or better yet, the ones who go without a date.
They cannot outsmoke the Dearborn kid, but are pretty hard core smokers. The upside? They always know what they want. The downside? They always fight over who gets to flip the bill.
[Tarboush Tip: Yousef, Will, Lyndsay]Filed Under Arabic culture, arabic food, Hanitizer, humor, satire