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Saving Our Country, One Boy at a Time

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The other day, I went to grab a late lunch. I specifically picked a restaurant with TV sets, so I could watch the unfolding events in Cairo.   I know this sounds counterintuitive for someone who admits to rarely watching TV, but since last week, my inner Rottweiler has grabbed onto the bone that is Egypt and is not about to get distracted by anything else. For some "big picture" reason I can't quite define or explain, I'm riveted by what is happening there as if it is a crystal ball of sorts showing us our collective near-future.   My gaze is fixed.   I can't let that bone go.  

What amazed me at first in the fairly crowded restaurant (an upscale sports bar) was that most people seemed to be detached from, if not completely disinterested in (or completely unaware of) the significance of this historic event.   It may as well have not been taking place at all.   The lingering, pervasive sense of isolated entitlement and detached idea that Americans are somehow different or better than the rest of the world continues to make me bristle.   It confounds me.  

It occurred to me that if Jay Leno were to walk in and do one of his "Jaywalking" segments, the sheer ignorance (or stupidity) of people would be proven once again when it comes to matters of current events, especially when they occur outside our country.   I find nothing about this remotely laughable at all.   It makes me cry.

I asked to be seated in a (relatively) quiet booth with a TV that was tuned into the news with the volume on.   I watched and listened to it as I opened my laptop, surfed the net and followed updates on Twitter. Within moments, the White House press briefing began.   For what seemed like eternity, I listened to Robert Gibbs offer absolutely no information that wasn't already old news.   He awkwardly failed to commit himself or President Obama to any concrete positions or statements that could come back to haunt him (or the administration) and bite them on the proverbial ass as I am about to do now.  

In short, like the premise of "Seinfeld", Friday's press briefing was about nothing.

At once, the Egyptian uprising has turned me into perhaps a never-to-be-reformed armchair analyst, observer/writer of the human condition and rabid truth-hound, using social media tools to hunt for facts or an angle to the story that may have yet to be considered.  

What I didn't expect was for my connect-the-dots moment to appear as the news reverted back to (filtered) reporting.   It arrived in the form of a young man.

Within a minute of seeing him sit down in the booth next to me, I was curious to know what made this kid do what nobody else in the restaurant (other than myself) was doing.   With great intensity, he was witnessing the world shift before his eyes as I once did in 1989 when I watched the Berlin Wall fall.  

His profile was handsome.   He had skin that reminded me of deep, rich coffee that had been lightened by cream.   I knew immediately that he was not Caucasian and for a moment, I considered he might possibly be of Middle Eastern heritage.   This piqued my curiosity even more.  

This dog had found a new bone.

I told the young man that I was fascinated by his interest and asked him what prompted him to sit down and watch the news when he could be watching any number of sports events on the flat screen TVs.

His answer took me by complete surprise.

"I'm thinking about enlisting in the military and I wanted to see what I might be in for," he said.


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I have no children of my own, but my immediate instinct was to become a Mother Tiger of a different color and save this boy's life.

"Why?" I asked.

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Patricia A. Smith is a writer and artist (and sometimes both at the same time). A former columnist, restaurant critic and cruise line executive, Smith has lived in London, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Egypt, Costa Rica and France. She returned (more...)
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