Monday, December 05, 2005

Learn Arabic in One Easy Lesson!

Fitful night of sleep, unfortunately, kept waking up, head pounding, found my boy next to me at one point, which only made sleep all the more impossible because I was in constant fear that he'd roll over and fall to the floor headfirst (my bed is like the princess' in The Princess and the Pea -- my husband needs a step ladder, it's so tall), so when CNN announced the continuation of Saddam Hussein's trial at, what? -- four this morning? -- I perked up like a Dumpster diver who discovered an unopened box of day old doughnuts amid the banana peels and dirty diapers.

Lookit that, will you? Alliteration and bad analogy in one sentence! I rock!

So I watched a bit of the trial while my boy snored beside me, and while doing so, was hit with the realization that I do not in fact speak Arabic. I know, what a shock. Obviously, someone forgot to tell CNN that most Americans do not speak Arabic, which is why the courtroom action was broadcast in all its confusing, loud, Iraqi glory, the interpreter's voice but a tiny intrusive whisper compared to the booming melodic symphonies of the judge, attorneys and "defendant announcer" (yes, they have an announcer, just like Jay Leno's and Conan O'Brien's, who shrieks the names of the defendants as they enter the courtroom, and when I say shrieks, I mean shrieks). It got to the point where I wished the interpreter would just shut up already, as he was no help whatsoever to this sadly unilingual American dork. I strained my ears, hiked the volume, squinted (because I also hear with my eyes), anything in order to understand the proceedings, but all I heard was the booming Arabic with a faint, underlying tickle of heavily accented English. So frustrating!

After thirty minutes of gritting my teeth and cursing CNN's maddening ignorance, I swear to Allah that I actually began to understand some of what was going on by studying body language, noting the various inflections, paying mind to Saddam's fetching new beard-do (long and straggly means happy, short and sassy means mourning -- he's sporting the short and sassy, and it looks mighty dashing!). Finally, just when I was beginning to tire of pretending I understood Arabic, someone at CNN got the damn memo and turned up the interpreter to a listenable level, toned down the Arabic symphony, and I was delighted to hear the exchange between Saddam Hussein’s attorneys, the judge, Saddam himself, and his brother. Apparently, the defense attorneys, one of which is former U.S. attorney general, Ramsey Clark, were upset that the judge's dilly-dally detector was working overtime, and wouldn't allow them to interrupt the trial yet again with things such as challenging the validity of the tribunal, which they contend is a big fat crapfest due to American occupation. They have every reason to challenge the validity, of course, but isn't that something that should have been worked through before the trials started back in October?

Anyway. Everyone was shouting, the attorneys got pissed and took a hike, the judge cautioned them about the door hitting their asses, Hussein yelled "Long live Iraq! Long live the Arab nation! Long live Iraq!" and his irritating copycat brother yelled "Long live Iraq" over and over again until a guard punched him square in the 'nads, and he fell to his knees with a little squeak.

Okay, the last part didn't happen, but still. Interesting stuff.


At 1:46 PM, Blogger Alexis said...

That was awesome - I really wished I had been fitfully sleeping instead of dodging liquid death last night. The square kick to the 'nads was comic gold! xxx

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Thanks, Alexis! :-)


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