Saturday, May 30, 2009

America and Her Magical Powers

"Sir, I'm sorry, but we can't frame that."

"What?! Isn't this the US Frame Shop? Didn't you see my US passport?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"But what?! Just what are my tax dollars going towards, anyways? Do I need to write my congressman just to get you to fill a simple request?"

"But Sir, it's... jello."

"So?"

"You really can't frame jello."

"Why not? Don't tell me you've never had this request before. What good are you people, anyway? I want to speak to the consul! You're telling me the US government can't handle jello?"

"Well, it's not exactly standard. I mean... I'm not really sure how you'd attach it to the mat. And then there's the problem of leakage. Jello is awfully runny. Oh, and I am the consul."

"Look, you know how the frame shops are in this country: no respect for framing laws and practices; no appreciation of basic framing standards. That's why I came here -- I thought the US Frame Shop could help me. But now you're telling me you can't help me. What am I supposed to do with this jello? Just leave it unframed? Do you know what a bind that puts me and my family in? Are you really sure you can't just do something?"

"Well. I suppose, maybe, we could build a custom box from plexi-glass. We could design the box to be shallow, to go against the wall, then build the frame around it. We'd have to order the plexi pre-cut since we don't have any in stock, but we could put it together with caulking to make it watertight. Of course, we'd have to order the caulking, too, and buy a caulking gun. If we ran the airvac non-stop for a week it would clear the dust out of the warehouse enough that the caulking and plexi should stay clean while they were drying. We'd probably have to build some special vice grips as well, to hold it square without scratching it while it dried. Then, once that was all done, if you put the jello in the plexi-glass box, theoretically, I suppose, you might be able to frame it..."

"Great. I need it an an hour. Oh, and I don't want to pay for it. That's not a problem, is it?"

"Sorry, Sir, I just noticed -- is the person in line behind you carrying a human head?"

"Yeah, but he's just a greencard holder. I don't think he'll want it framed with conservation glass or anything."

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tea in the صحراء

Having made my first (of I'm sure many) trips to Petra and Wadi Rum, I now feel highly confident that I could live completely unassisted in the desert -- surviving on merely my wits and instincts -- for two, maybe even three hours. One and a half without chapstick.


It was beautiful, though; the closest thing I can imagine to walking on the bottom of the ocean. Everything was suspended and still and lulling. I didn't expect the desert to feel so maternal.

At one point, our Bedouin guide turned back and asked "انت مبسوطة؟": Are you happy?

"Yes," I told him. "Very much."