Holiday in Dubai Gone Awry
ON AN ARRESTING VACATION WITH THE LONG AND HILARIOUS TALE OF MY OWN ARREST AFTER THE “MORE” JUMP AT THE END
I read a news item, tantalizingly brief, about a holiday in Dubai gone way awry. It seems a British businesswoman went on holiday to Dubai, one of the seven states that form the United Arab Emirates, with some friends. It seems she was with friends and they were having drinks when one thing led to another and now she has achieved international fame and is possibly being made an example of; “Michelle Palmer, manager of a publishing firm, was arrested after a police officer reportedly found her and a British holidaymaker in a compromising position on Jumeirah Beach in the Arab state.”
It appears there was drinking of champagne during a brunch with fellow holidaymakers and then said businesswoman agreed to go for a walk on the beach with a friend of a colleague. Funny choices of words those – ‘agreeing to go for a walk’, which might suggest a level of innocence and which also suggests that the walk was not her idea. Clearly the reporter is sympathetic to her plight. ‘Friend of a colleague’ might suggest a distance from her partner in crime. I can’t help but analyze choices of words, all day, every day. Anyway, brunch is often in the morningish time of day, so this 5 July day was off to a merry start. I imagine the sun was out in sunny Dubai.
The walk turned into sex on the beach. Ok-this means she’s a daring and impulsive sort as now she is having sex in broad daylight (why is it called ‘broad’, I wonder?). So anyway they are having sex/making hay on the beach while the sun shines. A police comes along but lets them off with a caution. Phew, right? But then it all goes terribly wrong when later they are discovered in the same position (it’s not clear if it is the same police at this point), and they are arrested. At this point businesswoman Palmer is said to have become aggressive.
She is now charged with being drunk in public which is bad in the UAE because while alcohol is available to non-Muslims in hotel bars, it is not legal to drink or be drunk in public. So she’s kinda screwed. She is further charged with indecent behavior in public, another pretty weighty offense in the UAE. So she has some charges for which to answer. But it gets worser and worser!; she is charged with assaulting a police officer. Oh dear. I guess he wrecked the moment for the couple. Yikes. For all of her sins she is facing a possible 6 years in a moral Dubai prison. That’s got to be terrifying. And here’s the worst of it-she is further charged with having sex outside of marriage. Whoa! Businesswoman UK Lady is married! Imagine the call home. And, Adultery is not cool, so there’s that. But prison?
Remember in Jaws when they try to hold off alerting the public about the killer bikinicladgirl-eating shark because the politician guy doesn’t want to lose holiday tourists and their detachable disposable income? Maybe that’s what the first caution was about. I bet she is consumed by a myriad of shoulda, coulda, wouldas; those are the killers in life. Shoulda stopped when the first police came, shoulda gone to the south of France, shoulda gone back to the room, etc. I’d not like to find myself in a foreign prison (New Hampshire is a foreign country, by the way).
And isn’t Dubai where Michael Jackson went for an extended stay as guest of some incomprehensibly rich royal at his insanely opulent palace to escape the investigations and insinuations of various moral and financial indecencies? Oh–the hypocrisies. I think Michael Jackson should call his royal pal and help this poor fellow morally turpitundinal woman out. She looks so nice.
Back to Dubai; I have heard it is really expensive and is home to the world’s only 7 star hotel. I will ask my editor to send me there to investigate, and will report back.
“Among the Jumeirah Hotels you find the world famous Burj Al Arab, the only 7 star hotel in the world.”
A King suite at this architecturally intriguing hotel is 4,000 AED (United Arab Emirates Dirhams) which equals $1089.18 USD. That’s not so expensive really. There are hotels in Boston similarly priced. I must be getting misinformation from the hotel booking engine.
“Offering the highest levels of personalised service in the most luxurious surroundings imaginable, your butler will ensure that every little need is met. Designed to provide maximum comfort, our unique service levels mean that even your check in will be in the privacy of your suite.
Burj Al Arab does not have rooms; it has 202 suites, each one arranged over two floors. Ranging from a spacious 170 sq. mts to an astonishing 780 sq. mts in size, the floor to ceiling glass windows offer simply breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf.
Decorated with lavish textures and exuberant colours, each suite features a sumptuous living and dining area, state of the art entertainment system and office facilities. Their sheer opulence in every tiny detail is underpinned with technology that does everything from controlling the 42 inch Plasma screen TV to closing the curtains.” <–That description aptly describes my life and its surrounds.
So we’ll see what pans out for poor Michelle Palmer, who looks so nice. Seriously, Michael Jackson needs to give back – he needs to come to the aid of Michelle Palmer. She is a fellow human being and has a humble and endearing smile.
Sometimes one thing just leads to another and then lines get crossed, egos and issues get involved, things escalate, tempers arise and pointless retributions are cavalierly meted out, depending on who has the power or the connections. I know. I was unfairly arrested once in a far geographical cry from Dubai…
It was 199something and my friend Daffodil (not her real name, which is not even flowery) was visiting me in Boston from Western MA. Daffodil was dating some guy from New Hampshire and wanted us to go spend the day at the beach with him and his friend. So we went and met them at a rest area just over the state line. We crossed the line. They seemed nice enough, but rather uninteresting. I was not entirely willing to spend the day this way but went along for what would be quite the ride.
We expected to head to the beach but instead we ended up back at the friend’s rented house, which he shared with a female friend. It was a little cottagey house filled with flowery curtains, froufrou decorating attempts like fake flowers, framed prints of rainbows and unicorns (no lie) and stuffed animals everywhere. I went to use the bathroom and was perplexed by the array of stuffed creatures on the back of the toilet. It was inexplicable that a male would live there, in that way.
The guys seemed to be happy to just sit around this cottage drinking budweiser but we wanted to be out in the sunshine and go to the beach etc. So we managed to get them to take us somewhere, anywhere, we asked, just not in this dark overdecorated rainbow-ey cottage. So we all got in a car and they started driving. We drove endlessly and the ennui increased exponentially with every quarter mile. At one point we drove over a big dip in the road and we half-heartedly exclaimed at the feeling of falling as we dropped down the other side of the steep dip so they turned around and drove back over it. Seriously. Now we were really dismayed. We demanded that they take us somewhere fun. After what seemed like days on unfamiliar roads, we asked where we were heading and they said, “Oh, where do you want to go? We are just driving.” Sigh. A tad slow on the comprehensional uptake.
Daffodil suggested a cruise on a nearby lake; she had heard about a boat with drinks etc on this lake which I forget the name of. So we drove another few days on this ill-fated day trip and when we asked when we might ever get there they informed us that since it was a holiday (I can’t remember which one it was) the boat was not operating and so we were again just driving. They had not thought to tell us it was closed but had rather just nodded and started driving more. Heavy sigh. So we again demanded that they take us somewhere fun. We ended up in Portsmouth and had lunch and drinks in a nice outdoor restaurant and then walked around a bit. Eventually it got dark and there were more pointless drivings around and we decided we wanted to go get dinner somewhere.
But everywhere we went the restaurants were closed for said unremembered holiday. Then the friend mentioned a place in Londonderry that had a good menu and music so off we went. After another few days we ended up at a club near the Londonderry airport. There was a sandwich board in the lobby listing tempting specials like swordfish and scallops. There was a $10 cover charge. We specifically asked if they were still serving the specials and they said yes. We more specifically asked if there was swordfish left and they said yes. We were clear that our paying the cover and entering was conditional on getting food. We actually whined about how hungry we were.
The bouncer was an aggressive, cocky, smirky type causing faint warning bells to ring in my head, which I foolishly ignored. Both Daffodil and I showed driver’s licenses that listed our addresses as Northampton, MA and yet bouncer guy made comments about how *special* it was that we were from Boston. We pointed out that Boston is 100 miles from Northampton but no matter – he was on a tangential mission. We paid the cover charge and went in. As we walked away toward our table I heard him mutter something about “Massholes”. The road to hell is paved with unheeded warning bells.
We ordered shots of tequila to douse the cloying boredom and at the same time politely told the waitress we’d be needing menus to order food. When she returned we asked again about the menus and she said, “The kitchen is closed. It closed an hour ago. ” Uh, and Oh. This is where the trouble started.
We decided to leave. But it seemed imperative, in a shots-of-tequila way, to get the cover charge back. It became a crusade based on the principle of the thing, the sheer, cloudy, injustice. Arrogant bouncer guy smirkingly told us we could not have a refund because we “saw the band”. Yeah, all 10 minutes of it and not an inspiring 10 minutes at that. After arguing with his issues in a circular fashion, we asked for the manager.
The manager acquiesced, after much animated and gestural discussion, to refund our principled money. In the course of our hand-waving and gestural debating with the manager (Daffodil is Italian), the phone on the front desk was knocked off and into the wastebasket, along with a subsequent glass of water. I don’t know exactly how this happened but I suspect one of us might have enabled it. Daffodil later attributed this to me but I remember all of my minor sins of the evening and that wasn’t one of them. I had others. I believe in being the first one to announce my sins and have them be done with. I’ll even confess sins that have no chance of ever being uncovered. It’s my M.O.
Anyway-the resulting refund of our cover charges pissed off now-seething bouncer guy. Yet, bouncer guy had been the one to assure us that we could order the food that we clearly stated as the integral condition of agreeing to pay the cover.
We were almost out the door, we were so close, but bouncer guy blocked our path as soon as the manager turned his back. He started with the insults in a childish singsong and redundant manner; “Oh isn’t it nice to be from Boston? I bet you go to Harvard, don’t you? Does your daddy pay for it? I go to college too, you [redacted]s.” Something snapped and I made a tactical error – I retorted in a purposefully and affected snotty tone, “Really?! And where do you study, collegeboy? Londonderry International College?” Whoooops!
Bouncer guy then used that very bad [redacted] word and Daffodil immediately slapped him across the face. Whoa! I was in awe. That was a called for and unarguably merited move, I thought. I was impressed. Daffodil was my hero.
Six foot, two-hundred pound bouncer guy immediately called the police and informed us that the chief of police was his uncle. That explained a lot. Daffodil and I went to the ladies’ room and tried to find a window. It didn’t strike us at the time that being fugitives from Londonderry ‘justice’ would exacerbate an already convoluted situation but it was pretty amusing. Bouncer guy came into the ladies’ room and dragged us out saying, “Oh no you don’t”. I don’t blame him for that. He actually saved us from deeper shit.
The police came and put us in separate police cars. Ok–that was totally not cool. I weighed about 100 pounds then and Daffodil was not much bigger. Now we were terrified of Londonderry law. We had not been aggressive but rather had been giggling throughout this ordeal. As a matter of fact, bouncer guy had kept commenting on our giggling saying, “You think this is funny? You are up shit’s creek now, you stuck-up Boston [redacted]s”. I am not stuck up. I am many other things. And our combined weight was not of a capacity to do any overpowering of men with guns.
In our jail cells later we compared notes and found that we’d pictured almost the same terrifying scenario while en route to the police station; the police cars pulling over to the side of the dark back roads and that song, “Rise” (by Herb Alpert, LOVE Herb Alpert) from General Hospital playing, while a scene similar to the Luke and Laura Campus Disco rape scene unfolding. It really was needless and not at all cool to have transported us that way.
Once at the police station we were booked and fingerprinted and placed in separate, adjacent cells. Again, what danger are two slight, giggling girls? We could hear each other but could not see each other. We amused ourselves by singing “How much is that doggie in the window?” and “Swing low, sweet chariot” because that’s what people in jail do and we wanted to fit in. We were told to [redacted]ively shut the [redacted] up, so we switched to pretending to cry, thinking this might go over better and get us released. The charges? Willful and Malicious Destruction of Property (that phone worked perfectly fine, conflicted bouncer guy used that very same, exact phone to summon the police which I later pointed out to the kindly, berobed judge), Disorderly Conduct, and for Daffodil, Assault. Oh my. The Londonderry Police really ought to be ashamed of themselves for playing into this ridiculous display of bouncer guy’s emotional problems. Assault? You cross a line with that word, and you have to expect some consequences.
We got bailed out and had to report back to a courtroom in a few weeks. We both got court appointed lawyers. On the day of our ‘trial’ Daffodil’s lawyers showed up in a 3 piece corduroy (I had to look up how to spell that. At least it was tufted and not wide-wale) suit in a lovely burnt sienna with shades of orange at the creases. I laughed and told her she was about to do some real time. She pointed at the space where my non-existent, no-show invisible, pre-paid lawyer ought to be standing and laughed harder. The doors to the court room had hand-painted letters, somewhat sloppily applied, and that’s when I more fully realized that this was no lark.
The judge was a small, kindly man but he played the same game the police had; he was nice to me and harsh with Daffodil. At the station the police had made jokes during my mug-shotting and fingerprinting, and then when Daffodil joked with them in a similar fashion they told her this was no laughing matter.
We both had borrowed Laura Ashley floral, flouncy dresses (ew) and had bows in our hair (ew, ew). No exaggeration. The judge decided to file the charges without a finding which meant that if we got in trouble again in New Hampshire in the next year we’d be charged with the new charges and they’d tack on the old ones. We laughed–we were never going back to NH.
Years later I went to a friend’s cottage on Lake Winnepasaukee and we got pulled out of a tight line of cars all going the same speed and given a 150$ ticket for speeding. Sigh. I think it was the “Masshole” license plate. After this post I best avoid NH altogether and forever. I wonder if police stations have google alerts set up for themselves? If so, I am [redacted]ed.