2. Notes on James
James (not his real name) is the kind of man who wears his wristwatch backwards so he can tell the time when he’s aiming a rifle, who is going home to California for a palm tree, jello-soaked Christmas with a Mother that has more to say to a chocolate lab than her husband. He is the kind of man who buys Lego Christmas gifts for boys and Barbie coloring books for girls, who goes for the weekend to a displaced persons camp on the Syrian border with a digital camera and a zoom lens, who says there will be a Kurdish state but come on no one can anticipate the future, who is twenty three and uses the word we when referring to the US (you remember what it was like before we went into Iraq, he says). He is the kind of man who speaks eloquent Arabic and passable Turkish, who is more intelligent than I’d like, who after a few drinks writhes flamboyantly through smoke-machine fog, twisting his wrists like two charmed snakes, whose eyes start to water when Turkish pop comes on, who is upset that I am a sore thumb of a tourist.
James is the kind of man who tells me conspiratorially that when he was in Morocco he went to a club where every woman was a 10 but none of them would dance with him -- so, he asked a girl (with a skirt up to here) and she said, not this time I am working. He tells me he saw her the next morning with all her brothers and her father, in a headscarf, climbing up marble stairs for Friday prayer. He is the kind of man who caps off a story like this by saying not all of them are modest, and makes me wonder what the fuck I am doing talking to him in the first place. Who says that after California he’s going to work security for Obama’s inauguration, who says his roommate is in love with him, who gets out of a cab in the middle of a nowhere Istanbul suburb because his friend jokingly tells the driver he’s a spy. He’s irritated, he says, when people say that he’s a spy.