Although the Jerusalem Post kindly deigned to run my last piece (for the usual fee of precisely zero), they were utterly silent regarding my implicit plea to be employed there as a headline writer for articles about my personal blogmuse, President Ahmadinejad of Iran. I had thought my qualifications were most impressive, but the good folks at the Post are evidently unimpressed. Their loss, I say, squaring my jaw and suppressing my sobs.
I am, of course, gainfully employed in a profession at which I am rather competent – which is why I am able to write for the supposed (and so far, completely imaginary) fun of it instead of earning fees and facing (ugh!) deadlines. Nonetheless, I am approaching (or perhaps have already approached and am just a bit slow) that age at which men frequently feel a vague sense of discontent, abandon their careers (successful or otherwise), and strike out in directions new and – one must concede – usually rather foolish. I am no less a man, no less a man approaching middle age, than any other forty-six-year-old male human; and after all, what have twenty-five years of striving for success got me? A massive overdraft, ten cats living in my house (plus one large dog who, thank heaven, likes cats), and residence in a country that tolerates weeks of Hezbollah’s Katyusha attacks with fortitude and equanimity, mostly because we fully expect to be incinerated when Iran nukes us on 22 August, just two weeks from now and nine days before this year’s start-of-school-year teachers’ strike.
Thus a new career is definitely in order – especially one in which I can make a good and fulfilling start within the next fortnight. And if I can’t be an Ahmadinejad-specialist headline writer (sob), I’ll be… I’ll be… I’ve got it! I’ll be a failure!
A failure? – you say. What good is being a failure?
Normally, I’d agree with you: being a professional failure is not something that is looked up to back where I come from. But you forget – and you really should feel embarrassed about this, considering the title of my blog – I live in the Middle East. Where I come from now, failure is not merely looked up to – it’s idolized.
Don’t believe me? Listen to the Associated Press, then, in this Jerusalem Post article:
Fierce anti-US protests have erupted in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait – all top American allies. At the same time, the demonstrators have vented their anger at their Arab rulers, praising their new hero: Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah… Meanwhile, Nasrallah has emerged as a hero, even among some secular Sunnis in Egypt and Jordan. In Egypt, protestors and opposition newspapers compare him with the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the old Arab nationalist champion against Israel.
You see? To be a success here – and if having adoring crowds chanting your name and begging you to bomb Tel Aviv isn’t success, I don’t know what is – you don’t have to improve your country’s literacy rates, end unemployment, control inflation, raise living standards, or even get a computer program working properly. All you have to do is get a bunch of weapons from somewhere else, fire them off at Israel, hide in a deep bunker somewhere when the Jews counterattack, and then claim that your personal survival represents a great Arab victory. If you’re halfway decent at the failure business, you won’t even have to pay for your weapons – I mean, is this a great career or what?
I’m still not entirely sure how to get my start in the Mideast failure business; I’ll have to do some research, maybe take an online correspondence course. But don’t worry: I’ll be up there soon with the big boys, bringing ruin on my country and a smile to “the street”. Yessir, it’ll be Nasser, Arafat, Saddam, Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad… and Radlauer!
I’ll probably still have too many cats, though – there are some problems that even being a failure can’t solve.