I must have "supported terrorism" because I visited a Palestinian-owned restaurant the other day, meaning that perhaps I’m not “with them” (the Bushites), so I’m necessarily “against them.”
Saturday, I spent all day downtown at the Detroit Festival of the Arts and Eastern Market center, and I had lunch at a terrific, little Arab restaurant. One of my best friends is an Iraqi, so I long ago got hooked on Middle Eastern food – of all kinds. When I worked on the West Side, I even liked going to the splendid, Kosher delicatessens for lunch. It’s all healthy, great-tasting stuff, and a good change of pace from the standard American fare. Detroit has huge Jewish and Arab populations, therefore giving us first-class restaurants, for starters.
Nevertheless, I have an amusing story about this young Palestinian man at the restaurant. A friend and I went to this Arabic restaurant near the Cass Corridor section of Detroit, and we were on our bikes, and the Corridor is no place to leave a bike — even if you have five locks and chains. We were winding down an early morning ride about town. Before heading to the festivals and fairs, we wanted a huge plate of hummous and pita bread for dippin’. So we pull up on the sidewalk with our bikes, and motioned to the waiter near the window that we wanted to bring our bikes inside. He came out, grabbed my friend’s bike, and said he’d take them inside for safe storage.
He took both bikes to the back hallway, treating them rather roughly, as one would a Toys ‘R’ Us, $100 special. My friend, who knew the restaurant-owning family, said, “Oh hey, can you treat them a little more gentle…..now those aren’t your regular cheap bikes, and, I mean, we worry about chipping paint and that sort of thing. You know how it is.”
The waiter who was tossing around the bikes was this young, great-looking, always-smiling Palestinian kid of about twenty, with very good English, though a heavy accent. We found out later that he had been here in America only six months. He put the bikes away, came back to our table, and looked at my friend and said, “What is the matter? What do you mean be careful? In my country, them bikes be only $10. Everybody has one for $10.
“My friend’s face crinkled quite nicely: “Uh, no, you see, those bikes there, that you are looking at, are very expensive. Not like the kind in your country for $10. No, no, no. You see, things are different here.” The waiter said, “No $10? How much here?” Now this kid had a good grasp on American dollar value, which became obvious after a while. He looked at me and I pointed to my bike and said, “That one, about $2,000.” His eyes grew like saucers and he looked across the table and my friend said, “Mine, almost $4,000.” He said, “No, no, how can it cost $2,000 or $4,000?! I buy car for that here. No, no.”
So we took the time to explain to him our passion for riding and racing, and tried to explain that our bikes had all the best equipment available, and that they were bought as frames, and built with hand-picked components. It’s a bike geek thing. He then asked me if he could “ride my $2,000 bike.” I guess he figured for that price, the thing would fly. I said I’d be happy to let him, but I couldn’t because I had special pedals that require special shoes that lock you into the pedals, so anyone couldn’t just get on my bike and pedal it without the compatible shoes. He looked at my shoes, and I showed him the cleats in the bottom, and he said, “How much for those things?” I told him $200. He said “Oh no, I just can’t believe this,” and left.
We ended up in some interesting conversations with the young man. He was getting married soon, as he explained — “sorta.” Well, we asked, what does that mean — sorta? Do you have a fiancée or not? His parents and her parents were in the midst of arranging the marriage, and he didn’t know what the heck a fiancée was. It was the first new word he learned from us. He kept repeating it over and over — “Is it fiancée? I like that word.” Then we went on asking him about his arranged, Muslim marriage, the ceremonial attributes, and so on. We taught him another word: “chaperone.” He, of course, had never been alone with his fiancée to this point, but he liked that word too.
He even went into details about the rituals of his upcoming wedding night, and it was interesting to note that both his and her parents were allowing the couple to make all the choices in regards to accepting or moving past certain Muslim traditions. Both families were very moderate, Muslim families, and not stringent at all. And he was happy about that as he appeared to have a lot of regular, red-blooded boy in him.
So, we wished him well, and we went on our way to a day full of downtown people watching, art fairs, and market shopping. I still, even after moving out of the city, six miles north into the suburbs, love to spend weekend days down there, taking in all the sights and sounds of urban living.
All photos taken in Detroit, Michigan by Karen De Coster.
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is a libertarian freelance writer, graduate student in Austrian Economics, and a business professional from Michigan. Her first book is still in the works. See her Mises Institute archive for more online articles, and check out her website, along with her blog.