Don't Let your Keffiyeh Show is one of the earliest short stories I wrote. It was also my first short story to get published in print back in 2005. It was published at a little magazine from Detroit called STRUGGLE. The complete name of the magazine actually was: STRUGGLE: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature. It might still be around. (The website is still up) It was edited by a fellow named Tim Hall (not the indie writer). Back then the story was published under another name--The Existence of Nabil.
I couldn't believe it when I got the acceptance letter. I was so happy when the issue came out, and despite the editor misspelling my last name I showed it to everyone. My friends thought it was cool, but most of them weren't into reading or writing. One of them though, Sean Houser, did read the story and he congratulated me and he continued to read all the stuff I wrote and published. Sadly, Sean passed away not too long ago. So every time I see this story, I think about Sean and about the trippy chaos of the early 2000s. I also think about a little South Miami dive bar called Fox's Sherron Inn where I worked for about 2 1/2 years and where this story was truly born. Fox's is not around anymore, it closed in Summer 2015. I loved that place. I loved working there, and I loved everyone I met and I still remember them all, from the quirky line cooks, life hardened servers, and happy regulars to the owner George Andrews and his family. One of my fondest memories was the free jukebox that was right in front of the bathrooms, next to the busstand.
Eventually, around 2007 I ran into a website called MuslimWakeUp.com that didn't mind running previously published short fiction so I sent them the story. At MuslimWakeUp.com, a great editor and writer by the name of Patricia Dunn accepted it. She suggested changing the name of the story to Don't Let your Keffiyeh Show which I liked.
Before that, the story had already made its way to my short story collection Ciao! Miami as The Existence of Nabil in 2007.
Fast forward to now, the story is back at The Times of Israel Blog. A writer friend in California had recently read it and told me that he thought it was great, and I should send it out again. In addition to being a story born from my place of employment at the time, Don't Let Your Keffiyeh Show was also greatly inspired by an Anton Chekhov short story called The Dance Pianist, which was about a young musician that has a nervous breakdown at a high society party after a girl confuses him for a guest.
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