Celebrity! Woo woo!

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Stuff

The fat doc is a frikkin’ celebrity! I’m serious.

I visited a school today where the organization I ‘work’ for has implemented a mediation program. As soon as we were through the school gates, I was surrounded by a crowd of excited teenagers. They were all shouting at once and everyone wanted to shake my hand.

Try telling that to the teachers and juvie officers who used to say to me, ‘Shusinski, you dumb piece of shit, you’re just going to end up a drunk and a smack addict and a petri dish for venereal disease!’

Yeah? Well today, here in Gaza City, I’m a goddam CELEBRITY!

The irony is that I’m probably the only person left in the world who thinks that being a celebrity is total fucking bullshit. But still, now I can think that and actually be one at the same time. That gives it more weight, and weight is a good thing.

So why am I celebrity here? I guess it’s because I’m the only non-Palestinian that anyone ever gets to see. There’s plenty of UN and NGO people in the city – in fact, Gaza couldn’t operate without them – but, like my friend B, the foreigners are not allowed outside¬† their offices and their apartments and their bullet proof vehicles. So no one ever actually sees them. In fact, since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen a single other Westerner in the streets.

So what were the kids shouting?

Welcome welcome welcome welcome welcome welcome Manchester United Chelsea welcome welcome welcome!

My God he’s fat!

He must eat babies for breakfast!

Imagine the size of his balls!

Achmed, don’t say things like that or I’ll never hold your hand again in our charming non-gay Arab way.

Something like that, I imagine.

Then I was invited to join the discussion with the school counselor and the therapist who was responsible for training the mediators. The mediators are kids who are chosen to be trained in conflict resolution techniques in order to reduce aggression and violence among students. They get to wear vests with lots of pockets which look a bit like fishing jackets.

The school counselor turned to me:

Doctor Shusinski, do you have school mediators in America?

Um, yes, we do, but we don’t call them ‘mediators’.

What do you call them?

Ummm, Snitches. Collaborators. Cock-sucking teachers’ pets!

???

Don’t worry, they’re very technical terms.

Actually, on the subject of technical terms, I’m worried. I’m hearing a lot of them over here. HERE?! Like yesterday, I went to a meeting. Well, it wasn’t really a meeting, but rather a meeting to discuss having a meeting. And in that other meeting, the one we were meeting to discuss, the psycho-social mental health cluster would come up with a plan as to how to plan a new evidence-based intervention protocol, to replace the old intervention manual, which was insufficiently standardized across service providers, thereby protecting against human rights violations while also working to improve gender equality.

They love to pack in the buzzwords.

Can you blame the fat doc if he has started to wonder how much of this is genuine, and how much of it is prostitution for the UN dollar?

I had a long powwow with an embittered old Palestinian street vendor yesterday. He’d lived in Cleveland, Ohio, for twenty-five years.

I came back to Gaza two years ago, and it makes me sad. The young guys here, they have their tight t-shirts and their spiky hair and their trousers around their butts.

At that moment, 5 youths who precisely fitted that description walked past.

And they spend their time on facebook and in chat rooms. None of them know what Palestine is, what it stands for. I wouldn’t call any of them a man. When I was their age, I was living by myself in Ohio. In my area, the police wouldn’t come. There were black people dealing drugs in front of my store. One day I go out and I kick the shit out of the biggest of them, and I make sure everyone sees. From that day on, I never had any trouble.

Young Palestinians today, they’re like black people in America. They don’t want to work, they prefer to live off handouts. In America, they live off handouts from the government. Here, it’s from aid agencies and the UN.

I thought about pointing out that it’s not just black people in America who prefer to live off handouts. I’m white and have avoided work all my life. But when two angry old men come together, it’s best not to ruin the vibe.

And Hamas, they want to keep the war going because it benefits them. They stay in power and get rich. I’ve seen warehouses here full of medical aid that arrived after the war. They’re just waiting to sell it at the best price. Gaza is not what it used to be, I tell you.

Well, I walked home after that, but I was thoughtful. It’s disconcerting, and novel, to meet someone more cynical than I am.

Then I rounded the corner onto my street and saw the fat kid on the quad bike who lives a couple of blocks down. He’s constantly showing off on his damn quad bike. This evening he was cupping a bag of sweets in his hand, as if he needed them. You might think that I would show some solidarity to a fat kid, but you’d be wrong. There’s a big difference.

1. My fat is hard-earned and comes from years of heavy drinking.

2. I’m from the richest country in the world.

In fact, I don’t think I could ever fully trust a thin American, they’re either vain or mean, probably both.

But an obese kid on a quad bike, in one of the poorest places in the world… it makes you wonder.

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