Too Close for Comfort

To Yaser with love.

Alamoodi: Well, my name is on a list. But for an FBI agent, he didn't know much about me. He knew my name and where I lived, but he didn't know whether I was at ASU or whether I had graduated; what my major was.

NT: But your name is on some kind of official list now: People to Watch Because They're Arab or Muslim. Sounds like racial profiling to me.

Alamoodi: You think I ought to be more cautious? I hate it. I mean, I think it's stupid, but at the same time I have no problem with waiting hours in the airport, and being searched, as long as you admit that the American dream is not for everybody. It's tailored for certain groups at certain times and places, and I'm a victim of that kind of tailoring.

NT: It's kind of like the Carpenters Union dropping in unannounced on a Mexican to ask if he knows the names of any illegal aliens on their way to Phoenix without a green card.

Alamoodi: Or like, at ASU, people say, "Oh, you're Arab! Do you know my friend Muhammad?" But I do the same thing. I still have trouble remembering white people's names.

NT: Try Mike. Usually white guys are named Mike.

Alamoodi: Or if it's a girl, it's Brittany. Or Ashley.

NT: So you're being hassled because you're an Arab.

Alamoodi: After 9/11, nobody paid me any attention, nobody knocked on my door.

NT: What took them so long? It's been three years.

Alamoodi: It's probably the presidential debate and the proximity of my house to it. They're taking no chances.

NT: If they do come back, just ask them to take you out to dinner that night. You'll have the perfect alibi: "I couldn't have bombed the presidential debates; I was out to dinner with the FBI."

Alamoodi: I'm all dangerous now. Man, I haven't gotten laid so much in my life as I did after 9/11.

NT: So all at once you were hot with white chicks after September 11?

Alamoodi: Girls always confuse sympathy with sex. And guys are always up for it. And I'm not gonna say no.

NT: I have an idea. I'll pretend to be an FBI agent, and you pretend to be Yaser Alamoodi.

Alamoodi: Okay.

NT: Okay, pal. Where's yer turban?

Alamoodi: I left it back at my harem.

NT: Uh-huh. And when's the last time you went to the mosque?

Alamoodi: The last time they served free food.

NT: Do you know of any dark-skinned people who might be planning to blow up any buildings?

Alamoodi: Unfortunately, I do not.

NT: Where is Osama bin Laden hiding?

Alamoodi: In the last place you'd expect to find him.

NT: Do you have a really good recipe for baba ghanouj?

Alamoodi: I don't cook. But I work in an Arab restaurant, and they have the best baba ghanouj in town. It's just down the street from here.

NT: Let's go.

E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com

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