LITTLE ETHIOPIA New Year’s Eve 6:00 p.m.
Polite to the hilt Tewodros Kassahun interrupted his conversation with friends at a restaurant near Little Ethiopia, stood up, and allowed this otherwise reserved and thousand times better half of mine to give him a hug. When my turn came, I was at a loss for words. What do you say to a man whose music we’ve played all summer and laughed our heads off as our tiny off-springs neigh whenever Balderasu (altegeram wey feresu?) comes on?
“Teddy . . . um, um, um, um, beTam beTam gobez neh . . . jegna, jegna, gobez neh!”
He flashed a smile that apparently came easy and brought me in for the shoulder hug. I was surprised by how short he was. “BeTam amesegenalu” were his only words and bowed low to send us back to our table. Kelik yalefe tehutenet.
I mumbled something like, “see you all in a few hours” and headed to the Tibs that waited for us at our table. Barely a make-up gursha down, one of his retinue came to me and said that the concert was cancelled that night. “It was on the DC radio, haven’t you heard? Where have you been?” He almost sneered.
Damn. What DC radio?
Too much had been invested in this trip. We could barely afford another night at the Crystal City hotel with our meager state government incomes. We had no alternative but to stay another night for the Tarik Tessera concert.
POPSICLE TOES New Year’s Day 7:00 p.m.
I told her to wear something warm but she opted for the sexaay. I worried about her bare toes that peeked unprotected through those things she called shoes. She would soon regret her decision.
A mob scene awaited us at the Hyatt. Arlington County police were screaming into their bullhorns threatening to arrest hundreds of Ethiops (and I understand Eritreans) of all ages and skin color. We must be the most law abiding immigrants in America: within minutes hundreds of ticket carrying folk found the sidewalk 20ft from the hotel. Some had traveled from as far as California. Others had bought scalper tickets minutes before Virginia’s finest were dispatched. A couple clutched each other and their prized “VIP” tickets, presumably to watch Teddy up close and personal at “Uliena Arina.” (Yep, stupid me should've looked that up before buying the tickets (just google it).
Hundreds waited outside hoping desperately against hope. But all we got were mi esposa’s frozen toes.
Eventually somone close to the promoters came out to speak with the crowd that refused to thin. A pissed off nerdy looking fellow turned warrior (what do you expect, he was a fellow Nueva Yorkian) began yelling almost uncontrollably at the people who apparently sold thousands of tickets for the Uliena venue without obtaining requisite fire department clearance in DC. The following summarizes their conversation sans expletives:
"You guys are a bunch of incompetents, you can’t even get a fire department permit before organizing a concert for someone as big as Teddy?”
"Hey, hey, hey, teregaga! Why don’t you first ask what happened before yelling at me?”
“Oh, Ok. What happened?”
“Look, this is something that will soon come out. Something, someone is behind this shit. YeIhadeg ij alebet, eshi?”
It would've been nice to watch and hear Teddy singing addis negus enji lewt mech meTa. It wasn't meant to be. But I wonder, when will we ever learn to own up to our mistakes?
A cherished collection. Grateful to len'Abegazu for Muluken's volume 1, eagerly awaiting 2 (krestian mechem tesfa ayQortem).