Friday, October 8, 2021

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls

 At MacQueen's Quinterly today:  A piece of real life.

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls, September 2001


I remember our trip in a rental car: Ray, John Crawford, and me, just after September 11, to Lowell, Massachusetts, in search of Jack Kerouac’s grave, but finding instead a Middle Eastern Karaoke bar across the plaza from the Industrial Museum. There we joked about whether the woman might be Osama bin Laden’s wife in exile—the bin Laden family did own property in Boston after all—cooking barbeque with her small daughters, smiling for the tourists. Eventually we made it to the Jack Kerouac Memorial Park, thinking how much alike the words Kerouac and Karaoke are, yet so very different.

And years later, John is on the long-distance phone, asking: Remember the bin Laden girls? I wonder what they’re doing now? what language they speak? Farsi, Arabic, Pidgin English? Laughing at how insensitive we sound, but not caring, no one else is listening (except possibly the NSA)—and we have been politically correct for decades, back to when it wasn’t even a thing.