In 2001 I used to have a black winter hat with the Arabic script for “Allah” on the front.Â I wore this everywhere I went throughout the winter because Michigan winters get very cold.Â I also thought it looked cool although the hat was eventually stolen from me but that is neither here nor there.
There was this gas station around the corner from me where I used to go to buy cigarettes (yes I smoke but pretty much only when I’m drinking which means I only smoke when I shoot pool.Â I’ve met two people in real life who I only knew from the blog and they both commented that they didn’t think I was the type to smoke).Â Anyway, this gas station was owned and operated by these people from India and since Indians and Muslims don’t get along, the lady behind the bulletproof counter was a little taken aback by my Arabic scripted hat.Â
Upon selling me the cigarettes, she asked “What does your hat say?” I smiled and replied “It says God in Arabic.”Â She says “No.Â I think it says Bin Laden.Â Does it say Bin Laden?” I laughed and said “No, it says God.”Â She smiled and said “Hmmm.Â I think it says Taliban.Â Here are your cigarettes Mr. Taliban man.”Â Every time I came back to buy cigarettes she would always smile and call me Taliban Man.Â Sometimes she would ask how Bin Laden was doing and I’d tell her he’s doing ok, I just have to take him these cigarettes.Â All in all the situation was friendly and I thought it was funny.
THEN one day Monique (who shall not be named.Â Â Wait. . . .Â damn!) prevailed upon me to take us to Leroy’s because the people at our usual bar (The Point After) were becoming too gossipy and so it was her idea that we should go someplace where nobody knew us.Â So we went to Leroy’s and, as I wanted to get in on a pool game, I was told that I had to write my name on the chalkboard.Â I did not want to write my actual name because it was my policy then to try and be incognito (perhaps this was the beginning of my paranoia) so instead of writing my name I instead went up to the chalkboard and wrote “Taliban.”Â I went back to Monique and we both had a good laugh at this although she was of the opinion that I might be stirring up trouble with the unkosher moniker.Â I thought her trepidation was overblown and thoroughly unwarranted but I was soon getting an earful from one of the guys playing pool.Â
“What did you write that on the board for? Do you support the Taliban? Do you agree with what they’re doing???”
Laughing, I tried to calm the guy down by telling him the story of the gas station lady and how she had jokingly applied bestowed me with the unfortunate sobriquet (although I’m quite certain I didn’t actually say “sobriquet” because I was in thug bar).Â This guy would have none of it, however, and he continued with his tirade.Â His body language led me to believe that the whole thing was going to result in fisticuffs although I felt no ill-will towards the guy and I simply desired to smoothe things out.
“Well I’m a patriot and a former military person and that being on the board offends me.Â The Taliban is our enemy and I don’t think you should use that nickname.”
Not wanting to prolong the outrage, I reluctantly went up and erased the offending word, replacing it either with my actual initials or with the Bat-Sign.Â I say reluctantly because I still thought it was funny but I didn’t want funny at the cost of inciting a public brawl.Â Everything was chill for about the next fifteen minutes.Â The guy in question left the bar and after I lost and had to put my name up again, since the guy was gone, I went back up and again wrote “Taliban” to mark my place.Â Just then he came back in and I was like oh damn.Â Presumably he must have seen it but he said nothing.Â Oh the humanity.
Within a few months this dude and I were playing a race to 100 series in 8-ball (which took many weeks to complete).Â That guy is now one of my best friends.Â It’s funny how it began with first impressions.
I don’t have time to edit this so I ask that you mentally pretend any typos aren’t there.Â