8 Topics to Discuss When You’re Avoiding One Specific Topic*

*The title may confuse you – there’s usually one topic you don’t want to discuss with someone for whatever reason, yet they insist on bringing it up whenever you see them. Here are 8 topics to throw them off the trail.

1. Apple is probably building a super computer that will control our lives, dubbed the Big Mac, and it will run on the preserved tears of Granny Smith, a special fuel also known as AppleSauce. You really think the name “iRobot” was a coincidence? Exactly.

2. How playing NatGeoWild Narrator in real life can be incredibly entertaining. Proceed to play NatGeoWild Narrator. This is a game I invented out of pure boredom: pick out a person or two nearby and start narrating their behavior as if you were a NatGeoWild Narrator and they are wildlife. Name your show and episode. Use an accent. If you’re not into nature, Soap Opera Dialogue works too.


3. The existence of dry shampoo baffles you. How are you supposed to feel cleaner after sprinkling white powder (yes, I’m imagining Tony Montana and a mountain of coke) on to your scalp? Wait, it doesn’t look like dandruff? What do you mean it’s all in my head? Like, LITERALLY?

4. Whether or not Norman Bates, lead role in Psycho, had some twisted version of the Oedipus Complex. He went all RuPaul on his mother’s memory. Dress up in drag all you want but when you go drag as mommy? That’s some Freudian shit right there.

5. Justin Timberlake is the king of payback songs/videos. Cry me a river because what goes around comes back around and ain’t nobody love you like I love you…Biatch.


6. Gum is illegal in Singapore. Because bubbles be badass. Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride never looked so fierce.

7. The world before Facebook/Twitter made you an unintentional creeper/legal stalker of people you don’t even remember waving hello to the day before. Or some other person you don’t know because let’s face it: 15% of the Earth’s population is on Facebook and not all have discovered/understand privacy settings. Oh my god, he’s mutual friends with my cousin’s godfather’s brother. THERE IS HOPE.

8. Which combination of seven dwarves you would want to live with in the middle of the forest. A new version on the if-you-could-only-pack-3-things-island-question. You are allowed to make up your own dwarf names but be realistic, they can’t be all the variations found under “happy” in the thesaurus.

Disclaimer: If I have ever used these on you, I may not be avoiding a topic. I just noticed that they are good topics to use because I will genuinely talk about them- which simultaneously make them effective in the above endeavor. 

Cafe Younes’ Book Basket

I noticed something at Cafe Younes, my home away from home, last week. It’s a book basket. Quite a simple concept but a great idea: you exchange a book for a book. Every book you take from the basket must be replaced with another book of your own so there is always the same number available. It’s a good way to have a little selection of random things to read from different types of readers. I admit I already have a collection waiting for me at home but this could be fun if you’re looking for some new material and don’t want to fork over the moola for it. And personally, I prefer actual pages to reading off of a kindle or iPad.

Saida Souk & Soap

As odd as it may sound, a bit south of Beirut in the town of Saida, we have a soap museum. It’s the Audi Soap Museum located in the middle of an old souk across from the famous Sea Castle.

First of all, the souk is very authentic – none of that commercial souk stuff like in Jbeil, where anything from a monkey to Marilyn is wearing a scrap of fabric with gold discs that jingle as you jiggle. It’s still got old little shops with antiques, junk, and a bunch of bakeries with sweets stuffed with dates and sugar.

Sesame bread stuffed with dates
Old Souk

Second of all, after going through the maze past the Khan el Franj (an old courtyard that is now used as a mini marketplace), there is the Audi Soap Museum. It’s small and quaint, displaying old tools and samples of soap, a video about the process playing on repeat, a cafe and a giftshop. There are handouts and pamphlets everywhere and it’s a simple process to understand but there is a guide in case you want some extra info. Be warned though, there are usually tour groups from Europe keeping them busy.

Be prepared for the giftshop.

Everything smells so good and the fact that this soap is natural makes you want to buy more. Plus, there’s all that encourage-your-country’s-production thing. The soaps have a great refreshing feeling – they don’t leave gross residue and the smells are light – like you just got plucked from a clothesline. They have soaps of different scents and sizes, forms and combinations. Laurel and olive oil, all olive oil, honey, green mint, yellow musk, gardenia, rose, tarboushes, slippers, characters, worry beads of soap, body butter, sprays…you get the point. Anyway, stock up on some good stuff because who doesn’t love smelling like fresh laundry?

The smell of the shop was intoxicating. Seriously, we were dizzy after leaving. Of course, that can be cured with some falafel at Falafel Akkawi – it’s near the big malls hidden in a side street. Just ask around.

Cut into blocks using a mini plow-blade

Wall of soap! 
Tools used to stamp the soap with the family emblem

Audi Soaps

Round Soaps with Dye

My goodies

Soap Masbaha (Worry Beads)

10 Things You Should Avoid Doing While Stuck in a Beiruti Traffic Jam

1. Eating nutella&go while security guards on the sidewalks watch you get chocolate on your fingers. You’re too afraid to eat the leftover nutella out of the container for fear of their “overexcitement”.

2. Singing along to one of these songs complete with hand gestures and high notes:
Usher- Climax
Chris Brown & Bieber- Next to You
Fugees- Killing Me Softly
Rihanna- Birthday Cake,

You don’t want people watching you bop your head to the beat of cake, cake, cake, hearing you say you know they want to lick icing off or attempting to sound like an acoustic guitar with your vocal chords because you sound just like Lauryn Hill when the sunroof’s open. You don’t. Record yourself and embrace the truth.

3. Drink a beverage of any kind. You’re in a traffic jam and have probably studied the human body once in your life. It’s only a matter of time before that bladder is wishing it could cry so it wouldn’t have to rely on you to physically empty it.

4. Get out of the car to see how bad the traffic is ahead of you. What’s the point? Are you going to part the red sea of cars like Moses? No.

5. Honk. The horn was invented to use in case of vehicular emergency when something or someone is in grave danger of being mutilated by the heavy machinery you’re operating. That does not apply to people who can see you frozen in time in their rear view mirror.

6. Blast a song with all the windows open without dancing along. If you’re going to be stubborn about it and make us all listen to your choice of lyrical genius, at least give us a free show. Leaning back like a gangsta with “My Humps” blaring is not hardcore unless you’re wearing a camel costume and aviators.

7. Cleaning your windshield with the automatic water sprayer. That’s just rude. And I’m sorry but I couldn’t see. 

8. Inflicting pain on a darake, or policeman, no matter how much his self importance makes you want to prove that you can make him squeal higher notes than an ambulance siren by shoving his baton up his…Smile and wave, boys, smile and wave. 

9. Going aks-el-ser, or the wrong way on a one way street, to escape the traffic only to cause another jam somewhere else because a conga line of morons followed you and now you’re all blocking the road.

10. Texting. You’re slowly going to roll into the bumper in front of you because you’re too busy complaining to others that the “traffic is deathhhhh.” BAM. There goes your radiator.