A Language Lesson in Arabic

Dear Diary:

Metropolitan Diary

Reader Tales From the City

I was on the treadmill in my Midtown hotel on a visit in February, when I noticed the Secret Service come pouring in to the room. Tons of them — I don’t know why they are called “secret” when they are simply so obvious. The next thing I know, they put this older gentleman on the treadmill next to me.

A few minutes later, I hear him speaking Arabic, so when he looks over at me, I say hello in Arabic. I hear him saying to his guards that he thinks the American girl just said hello to him in Arabic. He starts asking me a few questions in Arabic, and I respond the best I can (I have been living in Saudi Arabia for 14 months and have picked up small amounts of the language), then he asks me if I know it fluently, and I’m fairly certain that I responded with the equivalent of “How much do you cost?” Whatever — I’m trying.

He asks me a few more questions about how far I’m running and why I’m living in Saudi, and then I ask him where he is from. He and the Secret Service start to laugh, and after a few seconds he tells me that he is from Yemen.

After parting ways, I go back to my room and Google “Yemen official in NYC,” and his picture and name pops up. He’s the president of Yemen, here for medical treatment.

I basically propositioned him. OOPS.



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