Long time readers of the blog know that my coffee shop buddy Joel is a world traveler, and when he goes to exotic places, I write envious posts about unlikely outcomes for him. I do combine just a pinch of truth in these exposes. Like the nude spa in Switzerland where he pretended to be Ray Charles; that was partly true. And he did go to Iceland and the River boat cruise in Prague. I took a few liberties with the details of these trips. Then there was the infamous Grand Canyon journey to Phantom Ranch on his beloved mule Sheila. Some things you just can’t make up. There was Hawaii and Bermuda where he recruited gorgeous young girls to come back to central Pennsylvania with him and enroll in the local university. Parts of those stories were true, just not the salacious parts. I inserted them for comic relief and to juice up the narrative. [I will be compiling the best of Joel for a blog book spin off this fall. Stay tuned.]
But I’ve never lost one minute of sleep worrying about the way things might have been, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on a river. However, he is now venturing to Morocco for the Humphrey Bogart look alike contest in Casablanca and I’m justifiably concerned.
You see there has been civil unrest in Morocco recently. Now this may seem a redundant statement when you consider the Arab world since the Arab Spring. But there, I said it. The Middle East seems to never have been at rest, so how can it now be in unrest? Don’t the double negatives cancel each other out?
I’ve cautioned Joel to disguise himself like Obi Wan Kenobi as he travels through Morocco. Having extra batteries for his K-Mart light saber is just due diligence. Wearing a native hoodie robe will help as well. If he is approached by Al Quaida or ISIS dudes, he can do the Jedi mind trick and tell them, “I am not the anthropoid you are looking for.” It’s not going to be as easy as getting off the pirated cruise ship or out of the nude sauna in one piece. No. And he can’t very well be frozen in a block of ice and FedExed home. Moroccans are famous for… uh, well, marauding, no, actually they are known for mint tea and carpets.
Joel has my phone number. He knows if he should be kidnapped, or eldernapped in this case, we at Coffee Nation cannot pay more than $6.00 in ransom money, plus some local coupons for 10% off of vacuum cleaners. However, we can mount a Liam Neeson or Rambo style rescue mission. Let’s say Joel gets in a kerfuffle in Marakesh over the price of a rug while sipping mint tea and eating falafel balls. In a hot Moroccan second he gets whisked away by two masked men with curved scimitars, which is further redundancy since all scimitars are curved.
Once these desert thieves realize that Joel has no money on his person and had wisely locked up his valuables in the room safe at the Marakesh Motel 6, then the tension firms up like liquid butter on a chilly night.
“Meesah Joel. Money. Get money or we cut your head off like infidel.”
“But, but I’ve told you. I never carry cash or credit cards. I spent my last Traveler’s Check in the bazaar where you kidnapped me.”
“Meesah Joel. You no kid. You old guy. You got money. We want it.”
“Habib is it?”
“Haboob. I was named for sand storm in desert.”
“Tell my twin sister that.”
“What’s her name?”
“Haboobs, is the feminine form of Haboob. Many, many jokes follow us like biting camel flies.”
“I’m so sorry, my good man. Have you ever considered a name change? I am a lawyer back in my country, and it would be a real honor for me to help you change your monikers to something more suitable, like Steve or Bob, you know, like those Indian phone jockeys you get when you call Comcast?”
“Do not mistake me, Haboob, for a fool, Messah Joel. How much you charge?”
“I could probably get it done for, let’s see, do you have a calculator?”
“Do you see calculator, Meesah Joel?”
“Haboob, no need to be testy, my good man. Pressure grooms a gentleman and unhinges a thug, and I tell you that with all due respect.”
“Thank you, Meesah Joel. I am gentleman of thieves. Now, how much?”
“Five hundred American dollars.”
“Five hundred dollars to make Haboob into Steve and Haboobs into Bob?”
“Actually, that’s per person. I could do both Haboobs and you for $750.”
“Messah Joel, I must think on this before I keel you.”
“Haboob, you are a kind desert gentleman, it’s obvious to me that you are not the type to shed blood. Besides, I’ll have to be alive to file the paperwork for the name changes.”
“Then I keel you?”
“Yes, once we are all back in Pennsylvania in the district court house, then you can keel me.”
“Oh, very, very good, Meesah Joel.”
“I only have one last wish.”
“You want cigarette?”
“No, I’d like to step across the square to say goodbye to my coffee nation brothers, maybe introduce you and Haboobs to the boys.”
“We will be Bob and Steve by then, Meesah Joel.”
“Precisely, my good man. I’m sure they’d love to meet you and maybe assist in the beheading.”
“Your friends are very honorable, Meesah Joel.”
“Yes, I believe Doug will film it. And brother Steve who wants to be tazed may want to be beheaded also. Perhaps he could go first to test the sharpness of your scimitar.”
“Oh, Meesah Joel, what friends you have!! A man can live whole life in desert and never find camels like these men. What others?”
“Well, there’s Josh. He’ll probably want to shoot you. It’s just a habit he’s trying not to kick. He goes overboard for politics and religion. You know, Haboob, zealots?”
“Yes, like Iranians. How I hate them! Perhaps I start with Josh to behead?”
“Now there’s a thought…but no, I couldn’t entertain that a moment longer. Come on, fellas, let me show you my light saber.”
“When I say Morocco, you say Polo. Morocco….”