“Before I finish, let me say this: My previous master was a very just man. When we set out at night to thieve, we’d cooperate…”
-Orhan Pamuk “My Name is Red
I have a story to tell.
Last night a large group of American students attended a concert. I was among them. We saw a piano-trumpet duo in the lobby of a swanky downtown hotel. The musicians were clearly brothers; just a couple of young French men who were very vain about their hair.
The event started at 8, our group, 13 strong, arrived around 8:30. By the time we got there, not only were the seats all full, but there was a thick wall of standing room only attendees. I am a pretty tall guy (the guys call me shajer. “tree”) so I had no problem, but some of the lady-folk were not happy standing shoulder-to-shoulder with shaabs (negative slang for young, unemployed Jordanians). Jazz is already pretty inaccessible, but when you add in the discomfort of standing in a crowd it can be very unpleasant.
Halfway through the show, after a beautiful number about “that time when you are still together, but have fallen out of love”, I was grabbed by the shoulder. This was not an unfriendly touch, and any unsettling feelings left immediately when I recognized the face of my boss. Well, my boss’s boss really. This guy is the big dog around the office. He founded and owns Al Jidara, where I work. We had spoken a few times, mostly pleasantries, so I was that much more surprised when he invited me to join him at his table.
The faces of my friends fell like Arab dictators faced with masses clamoring for change. My boss led me to his table and introduced me to his friend and his wife. I enjoyed French Jazz last night with the true upper crust of the Ammanian social structure. Also, he bought me a beer. I’m not going to generalize about Arab hospitality, but this specific guy is a credit to his people and his family.
As quickly as the pianist skipped a beat, I realized that I was now in one of the worst social situations possible. There is no dread in this world that can equal the feeling of having to introduce a friend to a professional superior whose name you’ve forgotten. I’m not that familiar with the works of Edgar Allen Poe, but I bet he would the guy to qualify the all-encompassing fear of public embarrassment that was my evening.
Thankfully my friends did not approach. Count my fears assuaged, for now.
I still don’t know his name.