2007-09-03: We Come From Monkeys

Starring:

Eliana_icon.gif Namir_icon.gif Samantha_icon.gif

Guest Starring:

Felix_icon.gif and Essam Dayan

Summary:

Namir takes Essam to the Museum of Natural History where they bump into Eliana. Samantha arrives to meet Essam and they hit it off well with talk of dinosaurs and Africa. Felix calls and a meeting is set up.

Date It Happened: September 3rd, 2007

We Come From Monkeys


Hall of African Mammals, Museum of Natural History

Once upon a time, a visit to the Museum of Natural History with his early-teenaged nephew was filled with childish wonder and excitement. These days, it's more about education and good old-fashioned bonding. Since he started dating and recently moved in with Sam, Namir's contact with his nephew has been rather limited, however his brother has allowed him to take Essam out today (likely due to sympathy and concern over Namir's recent week-long disappearance). The pair currently roam the hall of African mammals with its intricate taxidermy displays.

In the center of the oval room on a raise dais towers a herd of elephants that appear to be perpetually walking toward the entrance. Surrounding them are windows into various scenes of African wildlife. The floor above is a walkway that circles the entire room, and up there are even more displays. The lighting is low, however the lights within the displays are bright.

It's on the lower level that Namir and Essam wander, conversing quietly in Arabic. They stop in front of the waterhole display, but don't appear to be discussing it so much as other things.

Sitting near that very display is Eliana Pasternack, recently accomplished author. She stares at the display as one might stare at art - with a transcendent expression of wonder and ponderous thought. The pinkish-blonde woman chews idly on her index fingernail, her other hand supporting her elbow as it crosses her stomach. She's lucky she has the bench to herself, but it doesn't seem like Eliana would notice, or care, if someone were take up the seat beside her, if only to rest their feet for a moment.

That's the only trouble with museums. You have to walk /everywhere./

Arabic changes to English — a language Essam is considerably more comfortable with — when the boy grows tired of his uncle's fluent chatter. With a frustrated sigh, the boy blurts out, "But she is a Jew." Namir is patient in his response, casting a casual glance roundabout to make sure they're not disturbing anyone. Not that it matters. The room itself is rather noisy with the conversations of other patrons.

"Not all Jews are bad, Essam. She is actually very nice. You would like her if you met her."

That blurted word, especially with so much emotion leaning on it, snaps Eliana to attention. She peers about, looking for whomever spoke it, resentment and shock muted in her expression. Her ears attuned to it even moreso now, Eliana spots Namir and Essam when the former says it again, though much more gently.
Knowing that they are talking about /her/ is even more shocking. But wait - how could they know? Eliana quickly takes stock of herself. She isn't wearing anything so archaic or demonstrative of her faith and ethnicity - not even a star around her neck - so how? It dawns on her relatively slowly. Of course they aren't talking about her.

But soon the desire to meddle becomes much too strong. Eliana can't help but smirk as she rises from the bench and approaches the display, as if for a closer look. In reality, it's just to make listening to Namir and Essam easier.

"Father says that it's still wrong," Essam retorts with a deep frown, taking no real notice of the pink-haired woman. After all, it's New York; pink hair isn't that odd an occurrence. "You aren't married to her."

"Not yet, but someday." Namir takes a few steps away from Eliana to make room for her in front of the display, casting a brief glance and apologetic smile her way. "It's unfair to hate all Jews just because they are Jews, Essam. After all, is it fair to say that we are terrorists just because we are Muslim?" He reaches out a hand and ruffles the boy's curly black hair playfully, grinning. "Don't judge people you don't know just because they are part of a certain group. When you meet Sam, you will see."

"Whatever happened to respect for the People of the Book?" Eliana's words are spoken clearly, but they are soon followed by an apologetic glance to Namir. Sorry for butting in! "Besides, it's the same god, right? Muhammad saw it that way. Same god, different revelations to different folk. In a way, we're cousins. /Distant,/ but cousins."

Essam immediately falls silent when confronted with an outsider, watching Eliana with a small scowl — like a child being chastised, really, which would be accurate. Namir rests a hand on the boy's shoulder and smiles at Eliana. "We are all people," he states plainly. "That is the important thing to remember." Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, it doesn't matter to him. Then again, he is also not the most observant of Muslims.

Eliana nods reverently at Namir's words, then opens one eye to look at Essam with another smile. "Truer words are rarely spoken," she says before she starts to turn away. "Tikkun olam, gentlemen."

Namir grins at that, but Essam, unlike his uncle, does not speak Hebrew. He peers at Eliana, then at Namir. "What did she say?" he whispers and Namir simply gives his shoulder a squeeze. "Don't worry about it. Let's go to the fourth floor. I can show you the dinosaurs that I own."

Samantha /loves/ this place. It's her favorite museum in all of New York, which is why she was so eager to share it with Namir - second only to the Brooklyn Museum's Egyptian exhibit, which is considerably impressive, too. Having promised to meet him and Essam (a prospect she is somewhat nervous about), she made a brief stop in the Hall of Oceanic Life to say hello to her whale (there SHOULD be a sign, dammit), she heads for the Hall of African mammals. She's not exactly dressed up, but she's wearing slacks and bothered to put one of her more relaxed blouses she picked up in the Village. It takes her a few minutes of walking to spot the menfolk she's looking for, and then with a smile, walks over. "Hey." she greets them, more pointedly to Namir but really to both, adding with more directive toward the boy. "You must be Essam. I'm Samantha, but you can call me Sam." Hopefully he won't select 'halal strumpet' as an alternative. She doesn't spot Eliana initially as she's turned away, though Eliana might recognize her voice.

Indeed, Eliana does. It's one she doesn't hear often, but it's one she knows. It takes her a moment to pinpoint it, like flipping through a mental rolodex. "Dr. Applebaum?" she asks once she has it, turning with that expression that is happy and unsure at the same time, but common when bumping into someone you rarely see. So /this/ was the Sam that Essam should be happy to meet. New York City is still part of this small world.

The barely-teenager is all set to head off for the dinosaurs, but then there is Sam and he halts, unsure. It's The Jew. "Hi," the boy greets, obviously fighting with whether or not Sam is cool because Uncle Namir said so, or if she's a horrible man-eating witch like his father says. He hesitantly extends a hand toward the doctor.

Namir's greeting is far more welcoming and accompanied by a smile, which soon turns into something of a surprised expression when Eliana pipes up. He glances between the two women. "Oh, you two know each other?" Essam adopts a contemptuous expression. Of course they do. All Jews know each other. They communicate via Jewlepathy.

Samantha blinks. "Oh…hi." she says, with a cheerful but vaguely clueless smile. It's obvious she recognizes Eliana, but it's an 'I saw your face a few times' sort of recognition, "I'm sorry, I don't remember your name, but I've seen you at shuul…" and then she's distracted by Essam's offering, and her smile increases a fraction. "Hi." she says again, and accepts his hand in one of her own, giving him a firm shake. "I understand the plan is dinosaurs? You do realize this will lead to your uncle's inevitable lecture on the superiority of the Dinobots, right?"

"Pasternack. Eliana Pasternack," the pink-tinged blonde answers. She looks between Samantha and those she's come to meet, her face once again apologetic. "And yes, you have. Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein asked about you last week. I think she had a bad fall, and they were sad they didn't see you at the hospital." Realizing she's rambling, Eliana shakes her head. "I'm sorry, I won't impose any longer. It /is/ nice to see you though. Enjoy the museum!" Eliana starts to back away then, giving the group a gentle wave.

"I was just about to show him Bob and the other dinosaurs that I own," Namir chuckles. Essam rolls his eyes slightly at that.

"I like dinosaurs," the boy states, but that's all he offers. More Jewlepathy is going on, and he stares between Eliana and Sam with an odd expression. It's crazy enough he was going to meet one of these people today. Two of them is just crazy.

"You're not imposing at all," responds Namir to Eliana. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Pasternack." And to Sam he adds, "You're just jealous because my dinosaurs are mightier than your whale and squid."

Essam needs a news flash; New York has probably the biggest population of Jewish people in the entire country. And both his father and his uncle were born and served in a country /full/ of them. Sam is spending a moment if Eliana's the woman who flipped out when she called herself a Heeb, and thusly looks a mite sheepish. "It's nice to see you again too. Oh, shanah tovah." The New Year is coming on soon. Turning back to Essam and Namir, she rolls her eyes. "I've never argued the issue of dinosaur coolness factor, but my whale can kick dinosaur ass. I mean come on, whales have survived well past the time of the dinos."

Despite what Namir says, Eliana feels awkward. "Shanah tovah," she replies before stepping away and disappearing into the relative throng in the museum. After all, it's not as though she and the doctor go way back or anything. That's hardly the case.

More Hebrew. Essam looks a little pained at that and glances up at Namir questioningly, but his attention soon snaps to Sam. "But whales came from dinosaurs," the boy says matter-of-factly, "and the dinosaurs were bigger." So obviously dinosaurs are more superior, right? Namir grins, first at Essam, then at Sam. "There you go," he utters. Yes, Essam just explained everything. Sam got owned by a thirteen-year-old boy.

Samantha is totally unwilling to conceed! But the point here is that she's actually taking this thirteen year old as a serious debate opponent, sort of. As they walk, she volleys, "Whales may have come from dinosaurs, but we come from monkeys.

"No, we come from Allah," Essam corrects. "That makes us superior." He glances at Namir as though seeking confirmation, and the man adds, "If we did come from monkeys, however, would they be superior?" To which the boy responds with, "No, but dinosaurs are cooler than whales." Namir indicates his nephew again with a grin. The boy is a genius, clearly.

Samantha points out lightly, "Allah made the monkeys, too. So if Allah made the monkeys, and then he made us, they might have been the beta test. But you two are clearly conspiring against me. And, let me add, monkeys are very cool. One of the camps I worked in while I was in Africa had one."

That gets Essam's interest — as much as a boy's interest can be gotten when he's thirteen and being indifferent is the cool thing to do, anyway. "You were in Africa?" he asks with some awe leaking through in spite of himself. The fact that they're in the hall of African mammals ought to attest to the boy's love of the place. Namir is content to walk along quietly. Sam is the one who is meant to do the wowing. He already knows how wonderful she is.

"Mmmhmm. Columbia as well. I was - still am, actually - part of a program called 'Doctors Without Borders'. We go into countries that don't have a good quality of medical care and help the people there. Most of the time the places we go are not sanctioned by the United Nations and they're war zones, like Darfur. Have you heard of it?" Samantha asks him this seriously, given that he may have learned things like current events and world history in school.

Essam nods, loosening up some now that he's come to realize that Sam isn't going to eat him or anything. "A little. Not much." Another glance between Sam and Namir before he adds, "So you go into war as a doctor? Do you shoot people?"

Samantha shakes her head. "I was in a war zone, but I didn't shoot people. I dealt with a lot of people with guns, though. Darfur is in the Sudan. Boys who are younger than you are taken away from their homes to fight in the wars whether they want to or not. So a lot of them try to run away The conditions are very bad there." The subject's probably becoming a bit more tragic then Sam would like to expose Essam to, so she switches the subject. "I did get see some wild animals, though."

It is a rather heavy topic to be discussing on a first meeting. Essam looks a little worried and uneasy at it, however the subject change is more than welcome. "Like what?" he asks curiously. Seeing them alive and in person in the wild is a lot cooler than seeing them stuffed in a museum or locked in enclosures at the zoo. Namir sidesteps around and moves to discreetly takes Sam's hand, because he wants to.

Once upon a time, Sam and Nam had a buddy. Namir because he was Namir's partner back when, in the NYPD. Sam because she slapped a piece of plastic over a sucking chest wound and thereby saved his life. And this jerk has apparently vanished off the face of the planet. A couple of NYPD officers have been by, to ask about him, but this was a couple of weeks ago. And since then, nothing. At least it's the kind of nothing that doesn't end with a po' faced cop calling to let them know they've found a body in a dumpster that needs IDing.

Which should make it something of a surprise when Sam's phone goes off. It's a singularly obnoxious personalized ring: the theme from the old Tetris game. Guess who?

"Gah." Sam looks down at her waist, and reluctantly removing her hand from Namir's, says to them, "Excuse me." sheepishly. She steps a few feet away, clicks open the phone and says, "Felix, where have you been? I've been calling and calling, and I /know/ they have cell towers in Washington."

Namir's been around Sam enough to know that the ringtone doesn't signal work, however the name she says causes him to perk up considerably. He doesn't speak to interrupt, but he watches and listens intently. Essam stands by silently as well.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Felix's voice is utterly exhausted. "And in point of fact, I'm not entirely sure if it was actually Malawi, Mozambique, or somewhere else with sand and camels and languages I don't speak."

"Sounds horrible." Sam is sympathetic, but also a little hurried. "Listen, I've got some news for you. Can you get together with Namir and I in a few hours? You could have dinner with us in the new apartment." She mouthes a sheepish 'I'm sorry!' at the two men.

Well. Man and almost-man.

Namir shakes his head and mouths back, "Is he okay?" Obviously he should be if she's wanting him to meet them for dinner, but there was that bit about something sounding horrible too. Essam quietly observes, then opens his brochure and glances over the floorplan.

"Sure. What's the address?" There's the sound of someone rummaging for a pen.

Samantha gives the address, a nice place in Greenwich Village, names a time, and signs off. "Alright," she says brightly. "We've got a date with dinosaurs. Shall we, gentlemen?"

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