October 2005

We celebrated Ethan’s birthday all weekend, most notably by attending a Halloween party at the US Embassy on Saturday night.

Our costumes were pretty thrown together; at about 5 PM we went around the corner to the shop of a guy who always sells random stuff. Ethan got some zombie face paint, and I got a very low quality bat cape and hood and one of those knife headbands that makes it look like you have a knife going all the way through your head. Carrie came over in her spider costume, and after a quick dinner, we were set to go.

A friend had offered to drive the three of us to the embassy, but the pickup point was a 10 minute walk away, down Hamra Street, always busy in the early evening. We knew we would stand out- Halloween is not celebrated much here, but we were unprepared for the level of fanfare.

It was like we were in a parade. People were waving and calling out to us from across the street. Adults were pointing us out to their stunned children. Cars slowed down, people giggled, pointed, and called out words of encouragement. As we stood waiting for our ride, two girls from Qatar got out of their SUV and asked if they could have their pictures taken with Ethan. Another guy appeared with a video camera and trained it on the three of us. “Fantastic!” he said to me.

We were a little less famous at the party itself, but we had a good time. Lots of dancing and chatting with embassy staff. People from the embassy are always surprised to find out that there are westerners who actually live in Beirut. This is probably because they have to live on the embassy compound under heavy security. The embassy is in Awkar, which is a 20 or 30 minute drive from Beirut. If they want to leave the compound to, say, go out for dinner, they must submit a written request 24 hours in advance, detailing where they will be. They must also be accompanied by bodyguards. Very inconspicuous.

Ethan ended up winning first prize (a bottle of Wardy red) for “Scariest Costume”. After saying thanks, he took the microphone and said something like,”Wow, I thought this prize would go to the guy dressed as George Bush.” I was so proud, even though I think myself and the (nonplussed) event coordinator were the only ones who heard it.

That night there was a huge storm that lasted till morning. We went to Casablanca for Sunday brunch and watched the waves splash onto the corniche.

Today is Ethan’s actual birthday (Happy Halloween) so we are going out to dinner as a final celebration.

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