Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bad Night In Cairo

[As the sun sets over Cairo's Presidential Palace, Hosni Mubarak returns home after a fruitless three day visit to Jordan, where he has failed in his effort to persuade King Abdullah to lower the tariff on cotton. First Lady Suzanne greets him at the palace door with the traditional Egyptian homecoming drink, a cold Amstel Light with a wedge of Pomegranate.]

Hosni: A million thank yous, my dear Suzanne, although I can not help but notice the glaring absence of a frosty mug... And where is the Presidential Doorman with my hookah and slippers?

Suzanne: A thousand pardons, my husband, but the doorman called in sick, as did the Presidential Masseuse, the chamber-maid, the upstairs maid, the third-floor maid, the downstairs maid, the lobby maid, the Presidential Projectionist, the Presidential Chef and three of his assistants, both butlers, and the chauffer.

Hosni: What the blazes? What damnable plague has so decimated our domestic staff?

Suzanne: That would be the plague that you so aptly described as the Scourge of Filth, or as it is known among the people, the Swine Flu.

Hosni: Curses! I thought I had taken adequate steps to prevent the spread of that awful disease in my land. You know, it has already pretty much run it’s course in the rest of the world.

Suzanne: Well, you know how Egypt is always the last place on the planet to get a lot of things... 'Slumdog Millionaire' is just now getting ready to premiere in Cairo this weekend.

Hosni: Mohammadamn! I thought I had ordered a copy to be shown here before it played before the Egyptian people.

Suzanne: Indeed you did, the reels await you even now in the Presidential Theater. But like I said about the Presidential Projectionist...

Hosni: Unbelievable. Do we have any staff at all that have not been stricken?

Suzanne: Let me think... The second floor maid is still here...

Hosni: Useless Betty?

Suzanne: That is so mean of you, Hosni. True, though... The Presidential Pedicurist is as healthy as ever. I do not suppose you want a pedicure, do you?

Hosni: Not on your life. That is the only thing I had to do for fun in Jordan the entire weekend, what with Queen Noor out of town. Pedicure, manicure, negotiate a little, pedicure, manicure, bowl a few frames with the King... My feet are veritable works of art and should be exhibited in the national museum. What about dinner, Suzanne? I have not had anything but goat, goat and goat for three days. Is there anyone left in the kitchen?

Suzanne: I still know how to scramble an egg, if you wish. But the only one left from the regular staff is Paula the Pastry Chef.

Hosni: Then summon her immediately. And tell her that I need something stronger to drink than this swill from Denmark. A Jack and Coke would be nice…

Paula: You rang?

Hosni: I must have, since other than Suzanne and myself the palace is pretty much deserted. I need a Jack and Coke, and a wine spritzer for the First Lady.

Paula: I am so sorry, Your Excellency, but the Presidential Bartender is out sick with the Swine Flu, and my faith precludes me from the mixing of spirits. I could whip you up a nice date ├ęclair, though.

Suzanne: As I recall from your employment application, Paula, you are a Presbyterian. Shame on you, you lazy girl.

Paula: I’m telling my sister Betty what you said.

Suzanne: And I am going to fire your…

Hosni: Wait, Suzanne, wait… Paula… Miss Paula… Do you have the talent, or even the ability, to prepare anything other than pastries?

Paula: Not on a pastry girl’s wages I do not. Perhaps if I was paid the same as a Presidential Chef I might have a somewhat more promising response.

Hosni: Field promotion! This is your lucky day, Paula, and if you can make me that Jack and Coke, I’ll double your salary.

Paula: You will have to triple it in order to get me up to Presidential Chef level.

Suzanne: I remember the good old days when flogging was all the vogue…

Hosni: I am making you Assistant Presidential Chef until such time as you can prove a certain amount of competence in the kitchen. Now make me that drink!

Paula: Very well. Jack and Coke coming up. How do you make one, Your Excellency?

Hosni: It is quite simple. Just take a seven ounce glass, fill it up with ice…

Paula: Crushed or cubed?

Hosni: I prefer cubed, as it does not melt as quickly. Now after you fill the glass with ice, you take the bottle of Jack Daniels and…

Paula: Hold on, I need to get a pencil.

Hosni: Okay, okay. You win. I’ll triple your salary. So you take the bottle of Jack…

Paula: Say no more. For triple the salary, I would be more than happy to even make you a mango margarita. What would you like for dinner?

Hosni: Now you are talking. Can you make anything that does not involve pastry? And nothing that contains goat, if you please.

Paula: Ah, my specialty is the rack of ribs. I learned to prepare this exotic dish in a faraway place known as Memphis.

Suzanne: Not to put too fine a point on it, Chef Paula, but Cairo and Memphis, they’re pretty much the same…

Paula: No, no, Madame Mubarak. Aside from ‘Omar’s House of Porcine Delights’, Egypt is hardly a Mecca for ribs. And no one wants to go to Mersa Matruh anyway.

Hosni: Not if they can help it, they assuredly do not.

Paula: I learned to make my recipe, which I call ‘Paula’s Pharaoh Favorites’, in the Memphis of the Southern United States. My ribs cling to the bone for dear life, afraid to stay, and yet afraid to fall off. I use both a delectable rub of the finest American spices such as salt and pepper, as well as a mouthwatering Jack Daniels sauce which is both tangy and sweet, a unique sort of American exotica. You see, I do know more about the spirits than I was willing to initially admit. I tell you, my rack of ribs will make your hair curl.

Hosni: Say no more, woman. I now want ribs more than the Jews wanted freedom back during the Age of Unpleasantness. To the kitchen, woman, my belly awaits your wares.

Paula: I am so sorry, Your Excellency, but I was merely telling you of my specialty. As you may recall, there was that unfortunate incident with the pigs of Egypt a few days ago…

Suzanne: What? Are you referring to the Great National Swine Slaughter?

Paula: I am afraid this is so, Madame Mubarak. A great many pigs came to a fiery end over the weekend. You probably smelled it.

Hosni: But… But what does that have to do with my rack of ribs?

Paula: Well, you see, Your Excellency, the rack of ribs is an integral part of the pig, and the pigs, alas, they are no more.

Suzanne: You are certainly not inferring that a rack of ribs comes from that filthy disease-ridden animal, are you?

Paula: I regret this is so. Pork chops too. There is not a single pork chop left in the land. And you know the Knackwurst that the president is so fond of?

Hosni: Oh no, what have I done? Mohammeddamnit, I was only trying to bedevil the Christians with all their incessantly oinking swine, and I… I didn’t know that… I screwed up, didn’t I?

Paula: No ribs for you, if that is what you mean. But I can whip up a little goat stew if you still are hungry.

Hosni: Suzanne, go crack those eggs…

1 comment:

  1. Mark, you should be writing plays.
    "Bad Night In Cairo" would kill!