(This is a reprint of a travel story I wrote a few years ago)
Two weeks ago at Cinequest (San Jose Film Festival), I saw a cute guy standing on the street. He called out to me as I drank my latte. “Hi, I noticed you looking at my chest.” And I was indeed looking at his chest, but only because he had little dangly things on it, and I love jewlery… especially dangly chains and earrings. At this distance I realized that what dangled from his neck were many little bottles with something white inside them, and though I’d never seen any in person, I would have to say the little bottles looked like Crack!
The cute guy was handing out little fliers so I took one. “Our film is being screened at 2 O’clock. It’s called Cocaine”, he said to me. Duh! The little bottles were a marketing ploy, and I’d been suckered by it. “They’re just TicTacs”, he added. Well… shows you how innocent I am… can’t tell the difference between Crack and TicTacs! The good part of it is that I can eat them, and I won’t explode or go to jail. It’s a win-win situation really.
Funny thing is, the Crack that comes in little bottles isn’t the only kind that can land you in jail, at least depending on the country… why just 2 weeks before I’d been in Egypt, where I saved two stupid tourists from prison and public ridicule. I was touring the Citadel, an old fortress built 400-500 years ago. My mind kept spinning with imagery of eras gone by, and more than once I had to laugh when I was reminded that the largest mosque inside the Citadel was built by Mohammed Ali (can you imagine it… a boxer building a mosque?!!). OK, Mohammed Ali and Mohammed Ali are two different people, but my brain is weird and I can’t help make the connection.
Taking a walk down the road from Mohammed Ali’s mosque, you will come to… another mosque! This one is mostly in ruins, the roof is missing, but the Muslims still like to honor it. For this I give them credit. We took off our shoes and I covered my head, as is the custom of respect inside all mosques. Then I walked around and snapped a few pictures. Walking back towards the exit, my heart nearly stopped. Sitting on the steps inside the mosque were a man and a teenage girl. In a country where women are covered neck-to-wrist-to-ankle, and even men don’t show their arms, were two people in t-shirts way too small for them. And why was this so shocking? Well guess what happens when your t-shirt is two small, your pants are too loose, and you sit down while bending forward… bingo! Your shirt rides up, your pants ride down, and you expose the world to something that comes in little bottles…. YOUR CRACK!!!
Hashish will get you many years in Turkish prison (seen Midnight Express?), but showing crack in a mosque would most likely get you stoned on the spot… and not the kind of stoning you’d enjoy either. I crept up to them quietly, trying not to attract the guard’s attention, and whispered the words I hoped they’d understand. “Be careful when you sit. Your backsides are showing”, I said. The man’s face turned red and his teenager looked blankly. “Thank you”, he said, pulling down his shirt.
There would be no stoning in Egypt that day. No public protest of outrage besides the ones about the Danish cartoons of the Prophet. An international incident had been averted. All because of me!
The moral of our story? It is to take care to keep the innocent, well, innocent. Do not expose your Crack to young children or mosque-goers in Egypt. And if you must carry a little bottle around your neck… fill it with TicTacs.
A public service announcement by,