In Part 1, I wrote about how my faith in America, The Great Satan, was shaken by my travels to Washington DC and Toronto, and the rampaging herds of half-crazed water buffaloes in jeans and Uggs therein. Today I will share how this experience led me to the glory of Islam.
One day, in my first year at the American University in Washington, the outdoorsman’s club had planned a weekend camping excursion. I was sent to a local Wal-Mart to procure a tarp.
While the University campus was replete with rotund, saggy American women, it was a relative bastion of feminine beauty compared to the harsh outside world—the freshman 15 is unfortunate, but the ‘first-year out of undergrad 50″ is a tragedy. I did my best to hide the exposed cellulite and spare tires from my eyes, but the onslaught was too much. Everywhere I looked, some new theological and geometrical offense to my very being, proffered itself over tops of the belts of the stampeding American women.
I walked, then ran as fast as I could, navigating the aisles upon aisles of circus sideshow physiques.
Finally in the female-free outdoor equipment section, I had a chance to catch my breath. I found a sturdy tarp that would serve our camping trip well, and tucked it under my arm, steeling myself for the visual and psychological obstacle course that still laid ahead of me. Before fear had a chance to take hold of me, I ran!
Past pet food and accessories!
Into the pharmacy! I was almost out! I could even see the door.
But then she appeared in front of me. It appeared in front of me. A great biblical beast, the evil unslain 13th labor that even Hercules himself could not bring himself to finish. I heard the clapping of its flip flops and the sandy friction of its thighs before I saw her, its top half clad in an XXL tank top, two sizes too small. Tidal waves of fat spilt out of its waistline like water out of an overflowing sink. This 300lb beast had reared up on its hind legs, and clutched in its front hoof a tube of fire-engine red lipstick. I can still hear the bleats when I’m alone at night:
“NOO, I will not calm down! I found this under a sign that one dollar and ninety nine cents. I will not pay three dollars for it. You are lying, and you are deceiving me with advertising, and that is against the law.”
The beast’s prey was a helpless 17-year old in a blue vest:
“I’m sorry ma’am, it must have been placed there incorrectly. I have to charge what my register says, and it’s two-ninety-nine.”
“YOU LIITLE PRICK! Are you calling me cheap? I want to talk to your manager, I’m SICK of getting RIPPED OFF by…”
In that moment, I felt as if my body was possessed by a spirit. I would later come to understand that it was in fact the great and merciful Allah, lending me his strength and righteousness. I unfurled the tarp, flapped it in the air to give it full size, and lunged at the great beast in front of me. Before it finished its sentence, I had the tarp over her head, and wrangled her to the ground. Though her body was cruel, it was not capable of much leverage at all, composed as it was of dunkin donuts and after-bar gyros, decomposed and stored in an emergency energy reserve insuring against a famine that had evidently never come. I quickly had her subdued and wrapped, though she continued to thrash and quail weakly underneath.
The shoppers and staff around me had fallen quiet. I realized that the store was silent, save for the rustling of the beast’s muted struggle, and her weak brays of protest. Once I determined her struggle to be over, I gently led the tarp’d beast to her feet. To the shocked eyes and open mouths of my audience, I yelled, “Is this not an improvement? Have we not just made the world a better place?”
The stares continued, until one man began a slow clap. Others joined. Soon, all of Wal-Mart was joyously applauding my work. Before setting the tarp’d beast free (the store manager provided me with another, free of charge) we agreed to poke some small eye slits to prevent her from crushing children beneath her gait, or lumbering onto a train yard and derailing a freighter.
As I left the store, I felt an unfamiliar sense of purpose and righteousness. Before I could walk across the parking lot though, a bearded man approached me. “Salaam aleikum,” he said.
To be continued…