I Owned That Sheikh (or "Crabwalking in the Moonlight")

The dentist's office is inside a big hospital on a busy street, my wife tells me. It's my job to locate the big hospital, find the dentist's office, and get my teeth cleaned. And buy toothpaste, preferably a German brand because she bets it tastes like strudel.

The hospital is called GNP hospital. GNP, it turns out, is a guy's initials, and I can't put my finger on exactly why this troubles me. It's like GNP is too chill to spell his whole name out, so he shortens it like a dude. Like a bro. And if GNP is too chill to spell out his whole name, what else is he too chill to do? Make sure your drip bag is filled with morphine and not club soda? I wonder if club soda would taste equally heinous being pumped directly into your blood stream as it does falling down your throat. Probably not unless you had trillions of tiny tongues lining your blood stream. Trillions of Tiny Tongues would be a good band name, and also a good thing with which to threaten germophobes if they won't rub your back.

Rocking the White House like it's 2007.
Inside GNP, I can't find the dentist's office. I can find the OBG/YN but I can't find the dentist's office. Finally, I break down and ask for directions from a panel of blacked out young women behind a counter. I mean to ask where the dentist is (tabeeb al-isnan), but I accidentally get dyslexic and ask where the "doctor of humankind" is (tabeeb al-insan). They laugh at me, and it's kind of like I'm in high school again, getting laughed at by young women. But instead of stomping my feet and shouting "I hate you all!" like in high school, I stomp my feet and yell "Where can I buy good hummus!" because that's the Arabic sentence I'm best at saying.

Finally I find the dental area. It's not like it is in the States. In the States, there's a reception desk, and the offices are usually through a door beside the desk. Here, there are long, sterile hallways lined with doors, and on each door is a rickety name plate that says "Hygienist," followed by a name like "Nancy" or "Wanda" or "Lucy." All the hygienists are Filipino women, apparently. And the hallway is liberally sprinkled with chairs, and guys in white thobes and women in black abayas are sitting in the chairs, waiting for something awesome to happen, like for me to crabwalk down the hallway.

Shirley is my hygienist. She walks out of a door that says "Shirley" on it, which is kind of a cool way to make an entrance, and then she leads me through a maze of identical corridors to a reception desk where she tells me to pay. There's an old Saudi at the counter, but I reach my money out farther than he does, so the receptionist takes mine first instead of his. It's a standard Middle East trick. But the old guy looks at me wearily. "Are you in a hurry?" he says, kind of snippy like.

Wait, what? Is this Saudi chastising me for out Saudi-ing him at the counter? " I'm shamed, because I just basically elbowed an elderly man out of the way. But I'm simultaneously severely annoyed, because this guy's kind of sneering at me for expertly employing his cultural mores. There's tension in the air while the receptionist takes what seems like 45 minutes to count out my change while the old Saudi is boring holes in the side of my head with his eyes. But I refuse to be cowed -- he's just jealous because he got out-native'd by a foreigner. And so I take my change and I strut away. Because I owned that sheikh.