Monday, June 23, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Came for the Sand

Our family vacationed in Egypt this year. The kids were excited for the Sphinx and the Nile up until they realized “bazaar” is foreign for “elaborate gift shop,” at which point it was a pain to get them to go anywhere but the souvenir stands.

Such is the way of children, but Uncle Frank was even worse. Some men stare into the eyes of the Sphinx, but he glared. He wouldn’t climb the pyramids with us, even after I explained how much this spiritual privilege was costing. He wouldn’t even look at them. Just sulked and trudged around the outskirts, mostly in the shade.

“Did you really fly all this way to look away from one of the wonders of the world?” I asked.

He spat, “It’s not a wonder of the world. It’s a testament to slavery. I didn’t come to see what thousands of servants died to build. I came to see some of the sand they walked on, is all.”

I’m not sure who was angrier, the grandparents or the tour guide. Neither minded when the local water gave him violent diarrhea and forced him to miss a museum trip. He probably would have complained about the mummies on display.

We returned to the hotel to find him chugging electrolyte drinks and claiming that this visit had kindled a love of his heritage, which apparently ran through every oppressed North African people known to human history.

He’s the most militant minority I know. And Uncle Frank’s white.

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