Sunset mirage
Too many dates and donkey rides don't mix

March 17, 2003
The Iranian

"You made my day." Wow, what is that like? How can a few taps on the keyboard make someone's day? I didn't compliment her, didn't say how beautiful she was or how great her hair smelled. Didn't send any cards or flowers or say happy birthday when everyone else forgot. Didn't tell a sad story with a happy ending. I actually made Banafshe's day out of thin air.

That freaking blows my mind. Can they simply say "Listen, with only $15 a month you can help one child with everything she needs from clean drinking water to school supplies." It's easy enough! Rather they show me little kids in torn Nike t-shirts playing in dirt with flies all over their face. Must I have my gut twisted into a pretzel to react and respond? Indeed I do. I'm only human! I am happy to report progress. There is hope for this world after all.

Osama is still roaming the beaches of Tora Bora but my spacious, comfy, safe, dokhtar kosh (in case of a head on collision with a Yugo), high on life SUV is gone in exchange for an energy efficient alternative. It's a diesel and before you go peef peef let me say it's not your daddy's smelly cranker. I got moonroof and heated seats! This little camel gives 42 miles per gallon producing the same power I would get from a gasoline engine.

The Nitrogen Oxide and MP, which were the biggest pollutants from diesel engines, are also mostly taken care of through engineering and my only concern now is finding blood banks (I know its extreme but I couldn't resist) that carry diesel fuel, and that is actually not very difficult once you start looking for them.

I hereby kneel before the queen and proudly earn and receive my title as a Camel Jockey. I must sound like a jerk to someone in Nigeria saying "you poor guy, big sacrifice you made with a car that keeps the climate and your butt at a steady 73 degrees!"

Let me just say that you have no idea how hard it is getting a date without a fine automobile in California. This is my angle now for good or bad. "Baby, I got rid of my luxury ride, but by driving this car I'm reducing the demand for energy and maybe, just maybe making a difference. I'm saving the lives of Iraqi children (wink, wink). Come on liver, let me drive you to the anti war demonstration and let us mean it when we say no more blood for oil."

And yet the good news continues. A friend came along on the test drives and opted for a hybrid. One friend! Between us, as far as fuel consumption goes, there is one less car on the road. Big deal you say? That's 672 less gallons per year needing to be imported on my account. Another 999 people and its 672,000 gallons. How is that for a preventive strike! How many are we in US? 500,000 to 700,000 Iranians strong in southern California only? How many Middle Easterners? I'm not saying to take arms, or starve, just use less.

Pause. Scrap that last paragraph. That was true a month ago when I was actively rationalizing with friends trying not to foot rub their liberty and pursuit of happiness. I also had to actually purchase a car before I could make such a claim. Although after much searching I finally found what I was looking for, my friend changed her mind and went with a not so energy efficient and rather a gas hog luxury car instead.

Which brings me to the point that if I can't make the argument stick well enough with the people I'm in daily contact with, what hope is there for a billboard quietly gathering dust on side of the super highway?

Needless to say I was not a happy camper until one day I picked up a chat in the day's chatter. "Movements do not start with any one person," it said. "You just have to anticipate and prepare for its arrival and simply be a part of it." It makes sense and there is more to that than meets the eye but regardless, tahdig was crisp again. As for my friend, I don't think any less of her, the bitch.

All I heard from the critics after 9/11 was that Muslims or Middle Easterners, or whoever else they thought they were trying to address, should take responsibility for their culture and values. If our values result in such mindless horror then it should be re-evaluated.

Granted, my refusal to place my mother in a retirement home when she is no longer able to care for herself has a small contribution towards terrorism, but what else can I do? I say it now: Terrorism is bad. Killing people is bad. Bad people are bad. Saddam is a bad man. Osama is a bad man.

"Dear Mr. President, I'm an immigrant living in your country and I don't like evil doers (is that one word or two?), especially people who hate me because of my way of life. I came to your great nation with a full bank account to be able to do whatever I want without being questioned by anyone. Except you of course."

And don't bring Islam into it. People were burnt at the stake not so long ago based on fundamentalist ideas. "Fundamentalist" doesn't sound quite right within a Western context though. I should look it up in the dictionary again, maybe the meaning has changed. I'll make my point by looking at the other side of the coin.

I do live in a capitalist democratic society and benefit from all it has to offer. Praise to the founding fathers of this country and their genius on putting together such a timeless document as the Constitution, encapsulating all that is required to implement a fair and open system -- as fair and open as it gets.

What others have done, or trying to do with it, is beside the point. I can't vote -- took me five years to get my Green Card and I'm pretty damn close to giving it back. But I do have the freedom to make conscious, educated decisions that reflect my views and act on them. Not doing so is to surrender the very freedom I so whole heartedly pursue, and do I dare say, left my native land for. Not doing so is not an option and that does not make me any less free, if not more.

Leave it where it lays I say. Let it bubble for the Sheiks. God knows Iran doesn't need it and the people never benefit from it anyway. But that's another argument all together.

I remember a story from grade school about a kid who was eating too many dates. His mother took him to see Mohammad (The Prophet, not the 7-11 cashier) and asked him to give the boy some advice. Mohammad politely asked them to come back the next day. The mother pleaded; the day-long journey on the moody donkey had been most unpleasant. But Mohammad insisted they come back the following day. After much complaining the woman finally complied.

The following day Mohammad turned to the boy and advised him on the harms of over-consumption. The puzzled woman asked why they had to make the same trip twice for this simple advice? The Prophet answered "I also had too many dates yesterday and couldn't possibly preach against something I was guilty of."

So cut down on dates, grab your honey, get on your camel and slowly rock your way over the dune toward the sunset mirage.

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