Samir Badr

This week, Samer’s father died. His name was Samir Badr and was a lifelong resident of Ayn-al-Rummanah in Beirut and Brummana on Mount Lebanon. He worked as a dedicated and honest civil servant who became the head of the Preparation and Training Department at the Civil Service Council. A prestigious position in the office of the Prime Minister. 

The first time I met Samir was in the spring of 2012. I went to Lebanon to visit, and we did not say much to one another. I do not speak French or Arabic, and he did not speak much English. Samir was from a different era of men, he wore a suit to entertain guests, and a tie to have lunch out of the house. You would expect to see him as an extra in Casablanca. He knew and appreciated formal Arabic, and memorized some of the greatest Arabic poems.

In his retirement he served as the President of the public sector retirees union. He took his role and work in that position as seriously as any full time worker. He led his union to fight against proposed pensions cuts and served the members with dedication and professionalism.

I once asked him what he wanted to become when he was a child, and he told me he thought he would become an army officer. He had a patriotism for Lebanon that was uniquely unburdened by nationalism or religious sectarianism. He did not want a divided Lebanon, but a Lebanon where the nation’s great experiment was not corrupted by bravado and political dickering.

He died a Maronite Catholic, though he was raised an Evangelical Christian in his childhood. He and his two brothers could tell tales of the urbanization of their neighborhood and their city. Where once stood orange groves, now stand cement apartment buildings. He lived through wars and went to work when many others stopped walking outside. 

Let me not suggest he was without humor. Samer tells tale of his father trying to tell a dirty joke by using clean language. The revisions brought more laughs than the punch line ever did. After being in his house for a few days, I walked into the kitchen one morning. He looked at me, grabbed my belly and in English said, “What is this?” and chuckled his way out of the kitchen.

He was a rigid, conservative, and traditional man. Traits that are as far from me as possible, none the less he has my admiration. He was a proud, dedicated, and ultimately hopeful man who believed in a Lebanon better than it is today. He believed in his family, and was proud of the success of his children. I am grateful I was able to meet him and spend some time with him over the past three years. Let us all take a piece of Samir’s dedication to hard work and make our own society better for all of us, and not just ourselves.

Fantasy Football

My very heterosexual brother-in-law invited me to play fantasy football with him and his friends this season.   It’s college football with all of the Bowls (for those not in the ‘know,’ a bowl is a championship. It’s like 3 weeks of the the Tony awards) at the end of the season.   Now normally the really fantasy about this would be me even pretending to participate. However, I promised myself I would try new things in 2010, so here are my picks for which football team will beat the other football team. I did not even know there were this many teams in the United States. No wonder it feels like this nonsense goes on forever.

Auburn vs. Oregon.   I picked Auburn. Auburn hair is pretty, and I visited Oregon one time. It was also pretty, but not as pervasive as auburn colored hair. I pick Auburn.

Nevada vs. Boston College. I pick Nevada. I worked in Boston one time and had a terrible time.

Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky. I usually always pick the non-Pittsburgh team, as I still owe the money for school.   However, I have never trusted anyone from Kentucky so I pick Pittsburgh.

LSU vs. Texas A&M. I had to look up what LSU stood for.   It’s Louisiana State University according to my 6 second Google search. I think the Louisiana accent is sexier than the Texas accent, so I pick LSU.

Miami, Ohio vs. Middle Tennessee State. These are probably they two worst places on the face of the earth.   Think about how terrible they sound. My friend Tirzah is from Tennessee so I pick them.

Ohio State vs. Arkansas.   I am going with Arkansas only because I hate the fanaticism about Ohio State that surrounded me while I was growing up.

Stanford vs. Virginia Tech. Wannabe west coast Ivy or shoot’em up school. I’ll take the gun toting southerners.

Oklahoma vs. Connecticut. I have seen natives of both of these states naked in close proximity. Without a doubt Oklahoma has what is going on. And it’s the name of a musical.

TCU vs. Wisconsin. Google tell me the ‘C’ stands for Christian. In my book, the Christians always lose. Wisconsin you get my vote by default.

Mississippi St vs. Michigan. Michigan did not let me into their grad school. Let’s go Deep South!

Michigan St vs. Alabama. Wait, there are 2 Michigans? Christ. I guess I will apply the same logic here. Go Alabama.

Florida vs. Penn State. I go with Penn State.   Florida is a hot mess of white trash shooting up school boards. I hate Florida.

Texas Tech vs Northwestern. This is a toss up.   I guess I am going to go with Nortwestern, because I once worked in Chicago and saw a great drag queen at a bar called the KitKat.

South Carolina vs. Florida State. God. Two awful places that should be put down. Let’s say Florida State, because it’s public school.

Georgia vs. UCF.   Google says this is another Florida school.   No more Florida votes. Georgia you get a vote for me. Also Savannah is pretty and I liked it a lot.

Miami, FL vs. Notre Dame. Ok, one more Florida vote. Fuck the homophobic Catholics at Notre Dame. Go Miami, FL!

Clemson vs. Southern Florida. I know the super fit math geek gay guy who goes to Clemson. Scrumptious. Clemson, you get my vote.

Nebraska vs. Washington. Seattle is the best. I pick you.

North Carolina vs. Tennessee. I pick Tennessee.

Syracuse vs. Kansas State. I went to a gay bar in Syracuse years ago. It was really fun. Syracuse you get my vote. They also have a salt museum.

SMU vs. Army. Google says the ‘M’ stands for Methodist.   I was reared a Methodist, but I also hate the Military Industrial Complex. I am going to go with the Army. Methodists are boring and lame.

Oklahoma State vs. Arizona. Cacti make me nervous. We should have never built cities in a desert. I go with Oklahoma. Wait, is that a desert as well? Fuck. Remember the naked guy from Oklahoma. Perfect. I pick Oklahoma State.

Baylor vs. Illinois.   I wanted to pick Baylor, because it was not named after a state, but then I found out they are Christians. I like to see Christians lose, and there is a great economist named Werner Baer at Illinois. I pick Illinois.

Maryland vs. East Carolina. What the fuck is east Carolina? Do we really need another one? I pick Maryland. Everyone should watch the Wire.

Missouri vs. Iowa. Who cares? Lame vs boring more like it. Let’s flip a coin.   Heads Iowa, tails Missouri. Ok, Iowa it is.

West Virginia vs. NC State. You can buy grain alcohol at Rite Aid in West Virginia. I pick West Virginia.

Air Force vs. Georgia Tech. Why does our military even have football teams? I have no clue. Air Force. Military guys are always super fit, while college buys can get a little blah.

Toledo vs. Florida Intl. I know Toledo. I always thought it was the worst place on the planet earth. Then I heard about a school called Florida International. I guess I am going to pick Toledo.

Hawaii vs. Tulsa. Hawaii. Don’t be an asshole and says Tulsa is a better place than Hawaii. Just don’t.

San Diego St. vs. Navy. No more military picks. San Diego do your best.

Boise St vs. Utah. Militia people vs. Mormons.   Militia. Go Boise.

Louisville vs. Southern Miss. I have always liked the name Louis.   I am going to pick it.

Troy vs. Ohio.   I fled Ohio and the first boy to break my heart was named Troy. I am caught between a rock and a hard place on this one. I pick Troy, because well there were some great times.

Northern Illinois vs. Fresno St. I have never been to Fresno. I would like to go I think. I am picking Fresno.

BYU vs. UTEP. Two initial schools. Jesus Christ. Mormons vs. Texans it seems.   Everything is bigger in Texas.   Go Texas.