There are some Arabian cultural experiences that I'll just never get to have. I may get to party with the muhajibaat (veiled ladies) when they've let their hair down, literally, at a girls-only pre-wedding party, sure. But sitting in the front seat of a taxi? Chatting it up with the bowab? Not so much. Also not so much: watching the USA vs. Algeria soccer game in a ghetto street cafe with a bunch of Egyptian men.
But Jeremy gets to do that, and he did, yesterday. He was downtown for an Arabic class and when it was over, he found the nearest venue that was showing the game. It just happened to be a hole-in-the-wall cafe filled with Egyptian men. It was the kind of place that is so shabby that women don't go there, and Sprite is served, but only in those murky glass bottles.
Sprite is what Jeremy drank, and he mostly kept to himself, at least at first. But word eventually got out that he was American, and pretty soon everyone knew there was an authentic USA fan in the house. The good thing is that the Egyptians were cheering for USA, too. How can this be, you ask? Well, Egypt kind of hates Algeria right now, especially in a World Cup context, so it wasn't so much that they really wanted the US to win as they really wanted Algeria to lose.
Whatever, right? The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or something.
When Donovan scored that crucial goal, the crowd of Egyptian men jumped up from their seats and erupted into enthusiastic cheers. Jeremy was cheering, too, right along with them. There was back-slapping and clapping and arm-pumping all around. Some of the men made a point of making eye contact with Jeremy to acknowledge the resident American and include him in the festivities.
When the game was over, everyone cleared out of the cafe and everything was back to normal. Not that the US and Egypt are enemies or anything, but I can't imagine they'll be cheering for us in a soccer game again anytime soon. It was a singular experience for Jeremy and I'm kind of jealous that door is forever closed to me. At least I have my bridal parties, though I wish they could involve soccer somehow...