Living with the Southern vernacular has been hilarious to say the least. Language down here is definitely unique, and being a writer from somewhere’s else, well, you’ll have to read on. Or should I say: Sat down-yonder in that rockin’ chair for a spell.
The following is my comedy routine which I’ll perform at the Stardom on Friday the 22nd of June at 7:30, I hope to see you there.
So my real name is Jihad, but I had to change that rather quickly. I would introduce myself saying, “Hi, I’m Jihad,” and pooof! They were gone. So I go by Karim now.
I travel a lot, and every once in a while someone will say: “What are you?” And I’ll say, “I’m an Arab.” They’ll continues, “Where do you live?” That’s when I drop the bomb, “Alabama.” I know . . . I shouldn’t have said ‘bomb’. No need to worry, any FBI agents reading?
I do love being an Arab in Alabama. Southerners are so sweet they’re as happy as a dead pig in sunshine. But the things y’all do and say, have y’all heard yourselves? I can’t believe I just said ‘y’all’.
Instead of, “I’m going to use the remote to change those channels.” You say, “I’m fixin’ to use the clicker to change them there channels.”
Instead of, “That guy thinks too much of himself and is unintelligent, I feel anxious around him.” You say, “That guy is too big for his britches and is dumber than a sack of rocks. Around him I feel like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”
Instead of, “Her pants are too tight they’re inappropriate.” You say, “Her pants are too tight I can see her religion.”
I do love being in the South. Lots of Arabs live in Arizona where it doesn’t get below ninety. Although there are a million Arabs in Dearborn Michigan. What the hell happened there? The first guy got there in August and called his buddies, “You must come, you will love it, it’s warm.” Needless to say, that guys is under ice somewhere. With the million Arabs in Dearborn, there are a hundred-thousand Homeland Security Officers.
Ever once in a while, I get the “Are you a terrorist?” Yeah, like I would say if I were, “Sure, I’m starting a local ISIS chapter in Birmingham, would you like to join? We meet every Thursday night at the furnace. You should see them shedding those Burqa’s.”
When I first came here to Knoxville – Tennessee, friendly Americans would say, “How do you like it so far?” My reply would be, “Yes, it’s very far.” Those responses were dubbed “Karimisms” by family and friends. Here are a couple of examples.
We were eating an Italian restaurant when we ran out of Gnocchi, so I yelled at the waiter, “Hey Chris, can we have some more ‘nooky’ please? Without hesitation he said, “Let me see if we have that tonight.”
On the way to Chicago one year, I looked at the map and said to my friend driving, “When are we getting to Indiana – Polis?
Down in LA, that’s Lower Alabama. They have their own language down there, I mean ‘them there’. The guy behind the counter at a gas station asked me, “Where’ya from Boy?” I said, “Well for one thing, I’m not a boy.” He got red in the face and said, “Them’sis fie’en words.” I looked at him not understanding what he said. My friend pulled me outside and said, “That idiot said: The words you have just uttered might lead us to a duel at high noon, but first I must acquire my mint julep on the veranda. Oh my stars, is that daddy I spy on the meadows?”
We have issues in Arabic also. I grew up hearing this playful curse my father used to say to us all the time, “Yel’an abook, Yefdah areemak shoo ghaleez.” So I said it all the time to my kids. One day my son Zade asked, “What does that mean daddy?” I thought and thought and thought, then said, “Well son, the first part says ‘Damn your father,’ then it says, ‘you’re being such a pest, may God make all your women available to other men.’” He was in first grade.
We smoke hookahs in the Arab world, on the street with regular tobacco. So when I first came here to the United States, I had a little one I proudly put on the shelf in my dorm room. When the RA came in for an inspection, his eyes got big and he said, “Did you mean to hide this?” I said, “Not at all, why don’t you come back later and we can smoke it? I have some good stuff.”
Arab men kiss their buddies on the cheeks, and I have trained my American friends to expect being kissed by me. Sometimes I meat someone new and without thinking I lean over to kiss them on the cheek. They back up with big eyes saying, “Wooow big fellow!” It’s awesome when I meat a pretty woman, I plop a couple of kisses on her cheeks and then one on the mouth saying, “I ain’t from around d’ees parts. That’s what we do in my country!”
We don’t have the letter ‘P’ in Arabic, which results in sayings like, ‘Beoble from Bittsburg, and Beanut Butter’. Egyptians particularly have a hard time with the ‘P’. While I was married, an Egyptian friend stayed with us. That night he turned to my ex and said, “Can you give me a BJ?” My ex looked at me with horror in her eyes. I just said, “Toss him some Pajama’s.”
Thanks for reading. I am Arab in Alabama and my name is Jihad . . . I mean . . . Karim.