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02 May 2014 00:00
ticketing boxoffice A letter to George Clooney from an Arab guy
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Dear George,

Congratulations. Mabrook.

You're marrying Amal Alamuddin, an international award-winning barrister (for us Americans, "barrister" means lawyer, but I wrote "barrister" because it just sounds so much cooler). And on top of that, she is one of us. You hit the jackpot.

CNN has called her "discreet." It looks like you found the only Arab woman who wouldn't blab to the whole world that she is dating George Clooney. Lucky you.

I do have some words of advice for you, from one Arab guy to another soon-to-be Arab guy. Yes, you are not currently an Arab, but you will become one soon enough. See, when one of our women marries a white guy, she doesn't become whiter. He becomes more like us. Wikipedia says your "ancestry includes Irish, German, English, and more distant Scottish and Dutch roots." And you were born in Kentucky. As far as I can tell, that means you're "really white." Strap yourself in for the ride.

I have been known to get a little upset when Arab girls marry non-Arabs. But most of the time, they turn those non-Arab guys into Arabs. And when that happens, I'm all for it. Our culture is strong. It is contagious. And though you are George Clooney, you will not be immune to this phenomenon.

Oh, and by the way, there are tens of thousands of Arabs named "George." My dad is one of them. And it's not Arabized or anything. It's just "George." We just say the "g" a little differently, like it sounds in "beige." So we will be able to say your name just fine. And you won't be the first couple to be named "George & Amal" either. So you'll fit right in.

Ok, so let's talk about a few things.

Get ready to go to Lebanon and explore. We Arabs are extra proud of where we come from. And Lebanese Arabs are extra special super-duper over-the-top proud of where they come from. Lebanon is a beautiful country and you will have a great time. But movies come to the Middle East a little late, so don't be surprised if some Arabs tell you, "Hey, I loved you in Ocean's Eleven." They might not even know about Ocean's Twelve or Ocean's Thirteen yet. Try not to ruin it for them. Also, while parts of Beirut are more beautiful than any other place in the world, don't be alarmed if most of it looks like it was bombed yesterday. This is normal in our part of the world.

Also, you are marrying an international lawyer who has represented kings and advised secretary-generals. We Arabs are political animals, and I imagine Amal is no exception. You will be learning much about the ins and outs of Arab history and politics over the last century. If you haven't yet, you will probably be receiving some lectures on Palestine. Sit back and listen. You will learn a lot. And it will all be true. You've been in Hollywood for a long time, so much of it may come as a shock at first. This is normal. But you're not just marrying any Arab girl. You're marrying the Arab girl who is an expert in international law. And there's nothing we Arabs love more than talking about international law and how it has been betraying us since... well, since forever. And there might be some anger directed at America. But remember, we don't hate Americans. We just hate America.

Oh, and we have to talk about the wedding. You may have hoped for a small, tactful affair. I wouldn't be too optimistic. Arab parents like to brag when their daughter marries someone really accomplished like a doctor, a lawyer, or an owner of three or more gas stations. But this Arab daughter is marrying freakin' George Clooney! She's marrying Up in the Air! She's marrying Gravity! She's marrying Batman! (Yes, I knowBatman wasn't your proudest moment, but you know what I mean.)

At the wedding, the size of your family will immediately grow a hundred times over. You will become a cousin to more individuals than you ever dreamt was possible. You will hold hands with men and dance in circles. You will need to learn the "change the light bulb" and "windshield wiper" moves. I have a video that might help.

Our weddings can create a sort of sensory overload. I would go to a few to observe the spectacle firsthand before your big day. It could be quite traumatic if the first Arab wedding you attend is your own. Yours might make "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" look like a private ceremony.

Incidentally, now that you will have an Arab wife who advocates for Arab rights, if you were ever going to run for political office in America, you definitely cannot now. Unless, of course, you move to Dearborn, Michigan, where you will be swiftly elected mayor with 99.9% of the vote, Saddam-style.

Finally, George, you have inspired me. If you can snag an accomplished, intelligent, beautiful, worldly, multilingual Arab genius professional, then maybe I can too.

So, welcome to the family. You're going to have more fun than you ever imagined.

Sincerely,
Amer Zahr

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