Date:         Wednesday, August 25, 1999 (12:29 p.m.)
To:             Biruk  
From:         Sergut
Subject:      Woah there!! Yemin igir MaTeb??!!

Tena YisTilign, (no Ras, no Lij, no Ato, just…) Biruk!

Do I sniff cyber-sarcasm or are you really serious about your ideal mate being none other than Dinq-Abesha-Set (a.k.a Abesha Wonder Woman)? I'm so bloody glad we got to this before I'd had my final say. I feel my blood-pressure inching up, as it is. Let's see if I've got this right: your ideal woman is one who is abesha enough to cook for you, wait on you hand and foot and hold her tongue all the while, but is also ferenge enough to have enough ambition to slug it out in the corporate or otherwise world, right? What is this, an attempt at living out your version of, "I can bring home the bacon [da-da-da-dum]; fry it up in a pan - and still make you feel like you're a maaaaan!?" At the risk of sounding…oh, I don't know…liberated, let me just say that the 80s (sometimes referred to as the tail-end of the 50s) are well and truly over and that the 90s were all about true partnership. I'm hoping that in the next Millennium, an android can wash your feet while you rub your woman's shoulders after her hard day as a CEO somewhere out there in the corporate world.

Forgive me, but I guess my ferenge-Qend is much more defined than even I surmised if your view of the ferenge-ized abesha woman turns out to be universal. Naturally, if your little paragraph was in total jest, I take it aaaall back. I just couldn't let the weTbet-phobic, qoomsaTin-chauvinist you did such a wonderful job of illuminating pass without comment, lest the SELEDA-weets at large feel honor-bound to start a woman-hunt for me - to say nothing of our Editors.

So you don't cook, huh? What a pity… .

I agree with you in that interracial dating for Ethiopians is a two-sided coin. Our culture is so inherently Ethio-centric and, in some cases, even ethnocentric, that it was not a far leap for me to understand - not necessarily accept - the point of view of some ferenge's racist parental unit or family. But, of course, I also know that I could never enter into a marriage with someone whose family was like that. The institution of marriage brings everything to a whole new level, now, don' it?

I think that I implied in my previous entry that if push came to shove and I found a good man and he turned out to be a ferenge, well…so be it. I guess by "good," I mean that, as well as treating me like his queen, he would also get along with my family, attempt to understand the culture, speak the language and develop a taste for the food. Notice I said "attempt." It's all in the effort. And, yeah, I guess I would have to contend with trying to translate a particularly witty saying in Amharic for him; possibly give up the hope that he could ever learn to iskista and never even dream that the finer points of Q'iné could ever be a point of discussion in our home. As for any offspring - they would be, like I was, brought up as citizens of two cultures. In my particular case, be he ferenge or abesha, I fear that I would eventually find myself lamenting his lack of cultural parity from time to time.

I'm doing this at the end of the day, after a particularly mind-numbing meeting where I sat there inadvertently playing the Bullsh-t Bingo Game. The rules are simple. You have a Bingo sheet with the catch-words or catch-phrases of a typical meeting, such as think outside the box, the bottom line, result driven, ball park, game plan, or benchmark, revisit, mindset, leverage, etc. printed in boxes. To play, you check off each box whenever you hear the word or phrase come up during the meeting. The first person to mark off all the boxes gets to stand up and shout: Bullsh-t! Keeps meetings interesting, let me tell ya.

Here's something funny: during the meeting, they kept talking about an "Otto," a member of one of the visiting delegations. No one could figure out how to pronounce his surname. Then finally, they turned to me and said, "Well, how do you pronounce it?" I must have had my How should I know? expression on my face because they quickly explained that he was Ethiopian. An Ethiopian named Otto? Wey gud! I scanned my list of names and came across no Ottos. Then someone kindly pointed out his name for me. It read: Ato Tegegne Woldeghiorgece. I gather, somewhere out there, there is an Ethiopian woman whose first name has been registered as W/ro.

I'm really tired, and with this fatigue comes the realization that I haven't taken a real vacation in such a long time. The last significant block of time I took off was the week right after returning from a trip for work. I came back ill, a little discombobulated and stress-worn. I spent several days in my nice, cool, often dark apartment honing my skills as a couch potato. So, of course, that doesn't count. I'm in need of a real, bonafide vacation that includes a new location, drinks with little pink umbrellas, lot's of down time, sunglasses on more often than not and absolutely no sick time. I'm planning it as we speak… .

But before I take my vacation, I have to get rid of my cell phone. No, not for all the salient reasons you're probably thinking up. Actually, I'm just not keen on shelling out $20/30/40 bucks a month for something I may use once or twice. My particular service (I'll whisper the name to you: Bell Atlantic Mobile) starts charging me for each call while the damn thing is still ringing! So, if I terminate a call without ever connecting, I'm charged for a minute's worth of time. That is just so unreasonable, don't you think. For a while, I thought about going with Sprint, but again, I'd be paying $50 a month for the privilege of getting to carry the thing around and charging it occasionally since I just don't have the occasion to use up 600 or even 200 minutes of air time on a phone every single month.

Forgive the digression…I think I've simply run out of things to say.

Ishi….bel inghidéh. So far we've covered the essence of Ethiopiawinet, Ethiopians and the dating game, our respective work places- even my cell phone. Left with little else to talk about, I must bid you adieu and Godspeed on your last entry. This has been most entertaining…and edifying!

Ke akbirot gar,

Date:       Friday, August 27, 1999 (1:14 p.m. EST)
To:          Sergut
From:      Biruk
Subject:   Sergutay... Kalanchi man alegn?

Yekebere selemta le-wuditua Sergut,

Although I am not wholly sure why you took back the title you gave me (which I had graciously accepted), I would just have to take liberty and assume that what you meant to say was "Birukyay", until your blood pressure got the better of you.

Needless to say, I am saddened to hear about the sudden rise in your blood pressure. I know ayatochachen would recommend nech shinqurt. But I fear that if I suggest you eat ande ras nech shinkurt, your ferenge-ized abesha boyfriend would not be too happy with the garlicky result, so I will have to settle for recommending a good dose of aspirin or, better yet, "hulet melekia areqie".

As any good doctor would do though (not that I claim to be any kind of doctor, of course), I should address the cause of your blood pressure and not just its symptoms. I got to thinking, "Did I perhaps say something that caused her to get upset?" So, dutifully, I went back and re-read my last entry.

My diagnosis was right, and I am devastated that my description of my ideal ferenge-ized abesha woman, or Abesha Wonder Woman (I leave the interpretation of the ironic acronym, AWW, to sociologists) might have sent your blood pressure swirling to great heights. I would like to make amends, of course. I apologize for not mentioning what I must assume is your favorite dinq abesha mist requirement: the always welcome "shama yeza fituan wede-gidgida mazor" ritual while the kibur bal and his boys eat dinner. (Of course, she is exempted from this during t'som, when she will remain in the Guada.)

Now, Sergutiyay, I can hear you holler out the same question: "But that's only the abesha part! Where is the ferenge stuff in that?" Patience, sweet Sergut. As a properly ferenge-ized woman, she would not have to hold a T'waf, which, as you know, can get very messy. Instead, she'd be free to choose one of those fancy scented candles (any scent of her choosing, but of course!) as she occasionally gazes into the husband's eyes and calls him "antu getoch".

She would be relieved from all this ye-kibir sira, certainly, when she has borne the requisite six kids (maybe more) whom she will raise with such perfect manners that they take over some of her roles with nary a question.

That cleared, I hope we are back to being friends.

As a liberated '90s techno-amelaku kinda guy though, I do appreciate your perception of the 90s and the future as the era of partnership. I share your dream that an android (I presume a female looking one) can wash my feet, cook my food and take on the drudgery of housework, while the missus labors out in the field making muchos dineros. I would have no problem becoming a kept man (by a CEO no less!) in the next Millennium. At a very minimum, it has its positive aspects the least of which is not perpetuating the time-honored tradition of wushimanet. After all, what would a man/woman be doing all day sitting at home with an android and a bunch of kids for company?

I suppose if I were a qoomsaTin-chauvinist, I would definitely tell you that you should never be intimidated by woman-hunting SELEDA-weets who feel their honor has been violated, or, for that matter, fear the collective womyn worshipping SELEDA editors, because, shegitu Sergut, you have a chivalrous Diary partner to defend you. But since I am neither a chauvinist nor in any qoomsaTin, I shall extend the same courtesy you afforded me and assume that you are not a qoomsaTin-femi-nazi, and take back every offensive thing I might have said.

I am sorry you've gotten the impression that I don't cook. I can't imagine what/who gave you that idea, although I am strongly inclined to believe that the ye-tekonenew ye-SELEDA menfes whispered it into your ears. I sure can cook: scrambled eggs or sunny- side-up… leaving the whatchamacallit (the yellow spheroidal mass of stored food that forms the inner portion of the egg) the... yolk, running just so. I've even been known to chop onions and peppers to make a cheesy omelet.

My favorite though is ye-enqulal firfir be-injera, which I promptly make at 8:00AM every Saturday. Lest you feel vindicated in your assumption that enqulal meTbes is not really considered cooking, I should mention that I am not beyond preparing the occasional feast during certain holidays. Thanksgiving being the major holiday here in the US where everybody stuffs themselves with turkey, cranberry sauce and what not, I look to the abesha substitutes, being that behagerachen, jigra (turkey) is only eaten during times of tilik chgir. So, I go out and buy a beTam ye-d'lebech doro, then proceed to unceremoniously anjetwan awT'che hoduan be-dabo meqozer. Pop that baby in the oven for an hour and half, voila, you 've made yourself a nice turkey substitute - ye-doro arosto!

I know you must be very unimpressed by my cooking skills, but in the interest of full disclosure, I must also tell you that I have no choice but to cook… no one to do it for me. So, le Gena - ye-d'fo dabo; le fasika demo, kilbich yalech doro woT, minchet abish, etc including absit T'lo injera megager (le anebabero ena qategna) - a feat, I might add, a great deal of weizerits and weizeros in the Diaspora would never contemplate. I know I have been going on and on with mouth-watering descriptions, so should you ever venture forth up to New England, rest assured that you have a standing invitation to witness and partake in what would be a sumptuous feast in your honor.

Keza beterefe

I think I am beginning to really like your work place. I would give anything to just get up in the middle of a meeting and scream BULLS**T. Somehow, I think the men in the gray suits would not find it terribly funny. The only mitigating factor is being able to stare out into the Boston harbor and the Atlantic Ocean from one side of our conference room, and the largest public works project in the US (a.k.a The Big Dig) from the other.

By the way, I never told you that I know a nuer guy from Gambela named Otto, did I? I can imagine the look on your co-workers' face if they were to read his name - Ato Otto.

Eshi Sergut, I guess the time has come to close this chapter of the SELEDA journey. But I hope you keep in touch 'cause come Labor Day, I am going to be in DC. You may want to have an eger maTeb session or maybe have me expound on my theories about some of the topics we raised - but then again, maybe not. Who knows…my theories along with my sense of humor would have evolved by then, and any SELEDA-weets whom I might meet, hopefully that includes you, will surely be disappointed. Oh well……

As they say, it's been real - and it was a great pleasure talking to you. Take care.