Love and Basketball


I’ve found an awesome pick up basketball game. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I go to the teacher’s college. It has an awesome and quiet campus with a pretty good basketball court. The court overlooks the forest and the town of Bonga. It might as well be Glebe Park in Arlington.

But the best part of the Basketball game? I’m by far the best player. Now, you have to understand something. I suck at Basketball. At least back home I do. I spent years figuring out how to do this horrifyingly ugly reverse layup just so Ben Deane wouldn’t slam the ball back into my face. So I’ve been taking a little too much pleasure in winning every game of “21” by about 19 points.

I did my ugly reverse lay up thing tonight. WOW! Said my friend. You are Michael! Michael Jordan!

Yes, Yes I am.

Ethiopian Wedding:

I was invited to an Ethiopian Wedding last night.

It had to be one of the craziest and most unique experiences of my life. And the crazy began early. With about 100 people sitting outside at night, the wedding procession came down the aisle. They were chanting what sounded like a Native American tribal dance. Everybody was piss drunk.

The bridesmaids came first holding candles. The bride and groom, in long gold and black robes, followed them. Brides here are expected to show no emotion. They are to act solemn and happiness is considered to be vain. I couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be trepidation in her eyes. After all, just behind her, a relative carried a massive straw basket. These baskets are an Ethiopian tradition and are placed in every home after a wedding. At the top of the hour-glass shaped basket is a white cloth. Following the consummation of marriage, this soon-to-be blood soaked cloth is placed in the basket to display the purity of the marriage.

The groomsmen came last, each dragging one leg of a sheep. It was painful to watch this sheep struggle so hard, and the men force it down the aisle. The sheep was fighting for its life. They presented the sheep to the bride and groom. Then, 18 inches from where I was sitting, they cut its head off with a machete.

The wedding could now begin. Everyone started to drink even more Tej — a wine made from fermented honey. Its tasty, but gives more of a sugar high than anything else. This produced dancing unlike anything I could pull off. I was the only white person at a tribal ceremony dancing like a 13 year old at a bar mitzvah, surrounded by people with a natural ability to dance. Their shoulder popping and near convulsions defy physics. They took great pride and apparent amusement in seeing me attempt the traditional dancing.

Everyone was ushered to sit down for the present distribution. I couldn’t imagine this happening in America: The emcee for the night started calling out people’s names. They would stand, bring forward their present, and lay it at the young couples feet. The crowd would react to how good the present was. All the while 100 drunk people would chant the name of the gift giver. The emcee of the night saw that I had a gift (Perfume for the bride). He called my name last. My name, by the way, is “You America, Come”

Now this was awesome! They did not know what to chant. They tried chanting “You” repeatedly and then “Foreigner.” Then someone got an idea.

For 5 minutes the entire room burst into the infamous U-S-A! — U-S-A! chant. Awesome. They then forced me give a speech. I did as best as I could in broken Amharic and the chants continued.

Finally before the night ended with dancing, they brought out dinner.

It was freshly roasted lamb. Putting two and two together, I turned to my neighbor. “Oh no thanks, I’m a vegetarian.”


2 comments on “Love and Basketball

  1. Birgit says:

    awesome stories Michael. Who are you playing basketball against? Ten year olds?

    And who got married? I am so glad to see the perfume gifts you brought are coming in handy. What a great idea that was to ask the waiters at Etete for ideas on what to bring to Ethiopia.

  2. Mom says:

    Incredible posts, Michael. I bet they loved your dancing at the wedding. Of course you are the Michael Jordan of Ethiopia. So talented, so athletic. So handsome! But your writing is the very best. Love reading your posts.

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