Double Fantasy in Gouna

Gouuna Egypt
El Gouna – the Blue Lagoon

In Egypt, a long time ago, I once saw a B&W movie called the Americanization of Emily. It featured James Garner, Julie Andrews, and the incomparable Melvyn Douglas. It was this movie, coupled with The Great Escape, which came out at roughly the same time, that turned me into a lifelong fan of Garner’s sketchy but charming screen persona.

Twenty years later, on the UPW of Manhattan, I found myself sharing with Erin (we were not yet married) a miniscule apartment on the last floor of a 5-storey walk-up on 103rd Street and West End Avenue.

Somebody had been shot on the roof across the street around the time I moved in with her, but I was again broke, and jobless, and such things didn’t phase me. This was, after all, the 80s.

The city was a different place in the mid 80s; much of what made it a fantastic place to live in during the 70s was still around, the residual bohemian space dust of the explosion of creativity in all the arts that typified the late 60s and much of the notorious “Ford to NY: Drop Dead” era.

Those were the days

If ever there was a time when I felt most alive, when you did not know who you would meet in some LES dive bar in the afternoon, and how an evening might later unfold, it was then.

But let’s get back to James Garner.

My girlfriend (who would later become my wife) and I shared this hole-in-the-wall apartment (there was literally a hole in the ceiling, and water occasionally dripped in from the roof after it rained or snowed); she worked at Columbia University doing PR, I worked hard at being the writer boyfriend.

It was not easy playing the role of a failed NYC writer, especially with all the heroic drinking that it involved.

A typical day would start around 8am when I would come to.  

Erin would shower and get ready for work, while I groused on the bed or the armchair, waiting for her to leave. The bed and the armchair were in fact the only two pieces of furniture that one could sit on, as the rest of the apartment was barely big enough to make room for a small TV and bookcase with a record player.

I would gather some money, whatever I could find on the carpet, under the armchair pillow, or in my jeans pocket, and give it to Erin, but it was rarely enough to cover the cost of her upcoming errand.

Erin would then leave for work, but not before stopping at a bodega on Broadway and 107th, buy some remedials with whatever money I had given her, plus money of her own, and return to the apartment with the beer.

She was in her 20s, mind you; to this day I wonder what the Spanish guys who ran the bodega thought of this prim, very pretty young woman, who came in every morning to buy four or six cans of Bud or Miller for breakfast every day of the working week.

And of course she would get all sweaty from having to climb back up the 5 stories, as the building had no elevator.

But I did not think about that.

Instead, I was more concerned with getting into right frame of mind to pen my long-awaited opus.

But one cannot simply get down to the business of writing an opus, just like that. You have to work up to such a thing, with due deliberation and pace.

For me, this entailed taking a long first sip of beer just before 9am, turning on the TV, and settling down to watch Bonanza, which I also watched on Egyptian TV in the mid 60s.

Hoss, little Joe, the good episodes with Adam, Hop Sing, all were old friends, a warm-up act to Rockford reruns, which came on at 10am.

By then I had usually consumed 2 or 3 16z cans of Bud (Tall Boys had not yet been invented), so was already in the right frame of mind to truly appreciate the clever banter between my antihero, James Rockford, and his shifty sidekick Angel Martin, played by the extremely funny Stuart Margolin.

I write about this now because Erin, yes, the very same one who used to get me those morning remedial beers in the mid 80s, is leaving Gouna on Saturday.

Yesterday, I booked a return flight to CAIR, as I will be seeing her off, then coming back the same day to Gouna via Hurghada.

And with Erin’s looming departure, I have started to think about my return to the States in mid April, which is still a comfortable two months away.

Unfortunately, my rental agreement in this villa ends in mid March. So last night, I put out email feelers to several real estate agents about renting a small villa in North Golf, a slightly more upscale neighborhood than where I am now.

What is obvious to me is that I am in no hurry to return to America, and I have even started to wonder if it is possible to de-Americanize oneself after living most of one’s life in a foreign country.  Remember the neo-con so-called “de-bathification” program in Iraq? And speaking of Norwegian immigrants, how about this?

All that is sort of what I am talking about, but without Abu Greib in the picture; in other words, a concerted effort to rid oneself of every last bit of American bullshit that has crept into my soul.

This is of course an impossibility.  It’s not only that there so much bullshit, but in fact that there is much bullshit that I look on with a sense of nostalgic affection, such as the years Erin and I spent in that sordid apartment, where, nevertheless, we used to on some days have constant sex, when not painting the nights a particularly deep hue of red, 10025-style.

How can you de-Americanize that? How can you mend a broken heart?

And why would you even want to?

What all this boils down is a sort of waiting game.

Inevitably, the political tides will shift back home, and it was home, that long stretch time we spent in Manhattan, home in a way that El Gouna and Egypt can only approximate.

But until then… what?

Whatever happens, it comforts me to know that Erin and I are still together, despite everything, like those two Red Sea birds huddled together on that precarious slip of beach, managing to survive, come what may.

leaving america


Why I’m Totally in with Trump

There are those who read this expat blog, and no doubt  think, hey, that Gouna Man, he really hates The Donald.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I admire Donald Trump and his rascal ways for many many incredibly beautiful reasons.

Take his empathy for the common American, even as he makes every attempt to destroy the ability of ordinary citizens to access affordable health care and shred the social safety net so many of America’s poor rely on to survive.


Or his boldness of vision with respect to Jerusalem, as Jared self deals with Israelis who invest in his company.


His magnificent courage in ensuring that America destroys what’s left of its once pristine landscape.


His inspiringly bellicose willingness to make sure America takes a back seat to no one on the global stage by antagonizing Europe and other bastions of Liberal Democracy and while picking nuclear fights with third world small fry — all done in the space of half a day’s work, which he spends mostly on the phone or watching cable TV.


His glorious contempt of people of color, and loathing of Arab-Americans.


His shameless pursuit of the Almighty Buck and kowtowing to the rich with his tax plan.


No, great as all these things are, they are not the reason why I’m all in with Trump.

I am with Trump because he made me feel super intelligent for the first time in my life.

In fact, Donald Trump has made us all geniuses.

I don’t know about you, but all my life, I have read or heard about the cucks who could accomplish things I could only dream about, usually in the field of pure mathematics, art, or the Sciences. Einstein, Da Vinci, the guy Matt Damon played in Good Will Hunting.

It made me feel, like, terrible inside that I was just an ordinary man, with no special talent for anything.

That was why beautiful women did not throw themselves at my feet.  

That is why I have never had a big house on the water.

That is why I was never promoted to the top of the IT corporate ladder in my long career as a PC jock.

That is why I never wrote extraordinary novels, or made scientific discoveries that changed the world for the better. I was just an ordinary Joe Schmo, doomed to a life of small time irrelevance, and a grave which no one but my long-suffering wife would ever visit.

All that stinkin’ thinkin’ is so 2017.

For yesterday I learned that The Donald was a genius.  A stable genius. True this genius was self-proclaimed via a tweet, but soon Stephen Miller was on CNN, and confirmed that our genius president was in fact a political genius, and that’s just for starters.

My heart sang with joy at these words.

For Donald Trump had in one tweet democratized this elitist word, making schlubs like me feel good about themselves again, by separating the word genius from it’s actual meaning.

Solving gnarly, intractable equations?  Screw that. Finding the cure for cancer? Get a life. Discovering the secrets of the outer reaches of the universe?  Puhleez.

Such trifles are hardly the mark of genius. No, true genius is the chutzpah ability to claim that lousy work habits, a willingness to engage in shady business practises, grandiosity, and absolute narcissism, are all the mark of a superior intellect.

This was such good news.

All my life I have wanted to write a book, but failed, because, yanno, it takes a lot of time to type 100,000+ words.

But tomorrow, I am going to write a novel.  It will end up being 300 pages long.  And I’ll produce it in less than a day, and self-publish it on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

I will then write laudatory review copy of this book under assumed names and publish these in various WordPress blogs.

I will ask some of my Russian friends of mine to download thousands of copies of this book, and pay for it with stolen credit cards.

I will even create a distribution/marketing channel on Youtube for this book, and have some of friends pose as literary critics interviewing me on air.

Then I will claim my book is a best seller, a work of genius.

I will do all these things, and more, because after all, I too am now a genius, just like The Donald.

I just hope that no one ever notices that there will be no actual content between the virtual covers of my genius novel — that its pages, in effect, will be blank.

Nothing to worry about.  That is just a libtard, fake burger, college-educated elitist issue.

After all, just like it says in Fire and Fury, geniuses like me and The Donald and his so-called base don’t actually read anything.

Thank you Mr. President for making that okay.

Thank for taking me from being a dime-a-dozen blogging mediocrity to unassailable Literary Greatness.


leaving america