Picture Lebanon as one of its trees, the mulberry tree / shajrit toot / mûrier; Picture its people as the silk-making worms.
The worms wander around the branches all day and night, going back and forth between the small and larger branches, feeding on fresh leaves or weaving silk cocoons, much of it ugly, some of it nice.
The worms are all living some kind of a love-and-hate relationship with the naturally beautiful tree that is their country. Many of the worms have long turned butterflies, and have gone seeking new horizons on Faraway trees. The tree gets busy around summertime, when many native and foreign butterflies, black or bright, come visiting.
Many worms, most notably GiB worms, are busy most of the time nesting their silk cocoon. Cocoons around their life at home, their life at work and their social life.
Some GiB worms wait impatiently for the weekend to come down from their little branch, and gather with fellow GiB worms on the tip of a handful of little Beirut branches, to feed together on Acid and Milk leaves.
Some GiB worms occasionally bump into each others on shady branches called Corniche or Freeway. Other GiB worms prefer to meet GiB worms from the comfort of their cocoons using Internet branches called Manjam, Gaydar or Facebook.
Time goes by on this sun-bathed tree as the majority of its GiB worms stays quiet, untiringly wrapping their repressed and e-based double-lives in thick and sick cocoons.
You can tell the many GiB-ophobic worms by their traits of the family, macho and conservative type, but the GiB worms have learned to deal with it by just ignoring them. Generally the straight worms don’t seem to mind the GiB worms, some actually feed on them for fun or business, but the reality is that the majority of straight worms can’t even tell a GiB worm.
Remember this is a third world tree, it’s Arab and it’s messy. So messy that the subtly-GiB looks and acts of GiB worms easily go unnoticed and unquestioned around the branches, at least in Beirut. What holds true for these two presumably GiB-ophobic worms getting intimate after an exhausting day at the construction site (Photo from Charles Fred’s Flickr), also holds true for borderline-gay appearance and behavior of GiBs on the trunk, Beirut.
Because Lebanon’s worms know by instinct that they would be left alone to die if the tree were to dry, keeping the tree alive remains the common struggle of all. So after going through many storms and droughts, the tree’s got used to feeding on substances called “Whatever Happens”, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and “Live and Let Live”.
Now add to the mix a touch of this common naiveté that prevails in third-world trees, naiveté about the reality of GiB matters and other disturbing things – a powerful substance made up of misinformation, self-denial and taboo. The result is plain and simple: the existence of GiB worms on the tree might be considered positive by some, negative by others, but it is, by any scale, so very secondary…
…for the tree’s crowded, but it’s here to stay, sexy and cruel, selfish and poor; good thing it’s got some fine silk and pretty butterflies, too!