Wednesday, November 28, 2007

الجمهورِيّة اليَمَنيّة

On the walk today from school to my store, C told me a story about recess. He said he and his friends were playing Four Square on the playground but kids kept running through their squares, so they took their ball out to the field to play but "some kids, I think they're from Yemen, took our ball away from us." And then those same kids, who already had a football, started throwing their football at C and his friends. Yemenese! I never saw this coming. Raising kids in Memphis, TN, trouble with the Yemenians isn't the racial discourse you imagine being a problem.

I wasn't quite sure how to handle this situation so I began by making sure I understood him correctly. "These were Yemenites, I asked?" He assured me they were. "That surprises me," I continued, "because Yemen, officially the Republic of Yemen, is a Middle Eastern country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. And with a population of about 20 million people, Yemen is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the North, the Red Sea to the West, the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to the South, and Oman to the east. Furthermore, Yemen's territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra." Okay, I didn't say any of that because I only just now went to Wikipedia to study up on Yemen. Okay, I didn't actually study, but I did skim, and one thing that didn't stand out was anything on the Yemenials' great love, or hatred, of Four Square, so I feel this was a random act of playground frivolity between two cultures that no one could have guessed would come together in downtown Memphis, much like Bono and Sam Phillips, who I've heard loves Four Square.

C went on to tell me that such-and-such teacher talked to so-and-so in the fifth grade and what's-his-name in the fourth to get the facts objectively, and that there were two options, though C quickly saw that there were three: 1) No more playing outside, 2) Play outside, but everyone has to get along, and the elusive, inferred 3) Play outside but with no equipment. In what grade does the whole Mock U.N. stuff begin? Because this has the stink of the United Nations written all over it, and if I find out Angelina Jolie was at that school and no one told me then there's going to be hell to pay!

Tomorrow is a new day. It's a Thursday in Memphis, I have no idea what day it will be in Yemen, but I'm sure that these kids will all work it out on their own as kids on playgrounds all over the world do. It isn't until adulthood that they actually take up arms over something so silly. The young Yemenheads probably just didn't quite understand the concept of Four Square, though I'm sure they'll catch on quickly. Either that or they're just very excited and overzealous about Evacuation Day, which Wikipedia tells me is an actual holiday in Yemen on November 30.

[I copy and pasted that title up there over from Wikipedia. I think it means "Yemen." I hope it does. If, instead, it means something derogatory then forget what I said, we're not really located in downtown Memphis.]