June 1978—American Embassy Amman, Jordan
I enjoyed my visits to Amman, Jordan. Hands down it was the closest thing to Israel in the Middle East. I had to believe that was due mainly to the guidance of King Hussein, one of my idols. As I’ve mentioned in several previous messages (tag: King Hussein of Jordan), the King flew his own state jet airliner, was a Ham radio enthusiast, and had visited the U.S. on several official occasions.
<feature photo courtesy pinterest.com
During the summer of ’78 I spent a week in Amman completing an upgrade of Am Embassy Amman’s radio system and getting some informal training on the technology of the future—TERP. Terminal Equipment Replacement Program, a computerized telecommunications system would slowly replace the mechanical Teletype machines used at embassies and consulates worldwide.
Darts was a very popular sport in the Middle East. I must emphasize that the competition was local (whomever showed up, and no tournament play here) and was spurred on more by the consumption of beer rather than skill. Since beer was illegal in some Middle East countries, darts held a kind of underground mystique to it. The Brits were very enthusiastic about the game.
I had readily agreed to tag along when a CRU technician announced he would visit a British pub one particular night in Amman. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but the Brits like to have a good time. It had been my experience that they were very boisterous about their celebrating. When we arrived at the pub the Brits were in full force celebration mode.
I wish I had a “darts” war story to tell where I beat the Brits with a match ending bull’s eye. But, alas, I played only one game, very poorly. My American compatriot handled himself well, even winning a couple games. I sat at the bar. Next to me, a chap named Henry, from Liverpool, had a lot to say although I was having difficulty deciphering his heavily accented sentences (overlaid with high decibel background cacophony). I did catch that Henry had been a professional boxer in his youth and somehow made his way (this part I couldn’t decipher) into the British equivalent of the Foreign Service (he didn’t tell me what his job was).
Henry downed his “pints” at a good pace and I didn’t attempt to keep up with him. Strangely enough though, I began to better understand what he was saying. Henry gave the bartender a handful of Jordanian dinars and said something like, “Albert, be a dear friend and play only Donna Summer. Would you please?” The bartender gave me a conspiratorial wink and replied, “Sure, Henry, whatever you like.” Apparently the stereo system was behind the bar and the bartender was also the DJ.
The sound of Donna Summer cooing, “Love to Love you Baby,” lent a mellowing effect over the noise. It acted like a filter that improved the frequency response, although Summer’s sultry voice caused one of the Brits to toss a dart into the wall, off the dart board.
Henry looked at me and said, “She’s the original disco queen, you know.”
I had heard her sounds everyplace I had gone in the Middle East. “Yeah, I’ve heard that.” I had to be careful not to utter any words that might tarnish Henry’s obvious affection for the sight and sound of Miss Summer.
“You Americans didn’t appreciate her,” Henry said. “She became our idol in Europe. It wasn’t until this song [“Love to Love you Baby”] that she became your disco queen.”
The manner that he said it, so personally, made me feel like Donna Summer was my disco queen. I laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Henry said.
“Henry, what would you do if Donna Summer walked through the door right now?”
He gave me a double take and smiled. “I’d kiss her feet and confess my unrequenting love for her. Did you know she stayed so long in Deutschland that she speaks fluid German? She even married an Austrian actor, but divorced him a couple years ago.”
Like somebody should have rescued her from the Germans and Austrians. Donna Summer, who probably felt pretty good anyplace in Europe, sang, “I Feel Love.”
“She’s available,” I said to Henry. “Why don’t you go for it?”
He laughed. “The wife back in Liverpool wouldn’t take too kindly of it.”
“Henry, it’s your go,” a voice called out as Donna Summer sang from “I Feel Love…”
“Ooh, it’s so good, it’s so good
It’s so good, it’s so good
It’s so good.”
Henry the Brit, using perfect “dart posture,” scored a bull’s eye on his first toss.
I was sure that one was for Donna.