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How (Not) to Be Press

The nature of Timmy Mowafi's job means he gets invited to fancy places for free, all the time. Sounds cool, right? Wrong.

Amazing, another invite to a press dinner! Back when I was still mostly human, and not made from ReTweets and Likes, I used to get really excited for these. Free five course gourmet meals at lavish new restaurants, getting to hobnob with biggest players in the industry and be the first to tell people about the amazing new bar or bistro before it’s even opened… That was the life but now…now, it feels like the afterlife. At 23, I feel like one of those old hacks in Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, going to the same places, seeing the exact same group of people doing the rounds from the same five English publications that we have in this country, with the same faces and the same worn out smiles. The kind of people who will Tweet about a Beef Carpaccio and relate it to #Boston #Tragic to get hits, while my socially inept brother antagonises everyone around us about how amazing we are and how shit they are.

I had the usual argument with my co-workers/family (same thing at this point) when I was last invited to one of these and it usually ends in: “Shut the fuck up, Timmy, and get in the car.” My argument of “Ana mish khawal 3ashan aro7 a3mel Tweeting fel mat3am,” never seems to stand, unfortunately.

Not all the lobster bisque, prawn cocktails and really elaborately decorated grilled cheese sandwiches in the world could arouse my taste buds or excitement. I know these stories usually start with me smoking up, but as Rumi put it: “God has put into the form of hashish a power to deliver the taster from self-consciousness,” and frankly, another fake smile or social media-centered joke would have seen me end up in an insane asylum (if I'm not already in one. So you can't blame me for deciding to get colossally high beforehand...

As soon as I got there, there was a very friendly and professional photographer that had the unfortunate characteristic of not being one of our CairoZoom guys, so naturally, I fucked his life. He did his best to take a shot of me and four female colleagues outside the restaurant.

“Han2ool wa7ed, etneen, talata, sheeeese! Mashy?!” I shout out.

“La2 ana mish bata3 el hagat di,” he replies.

“Lalalalala, ezay keda? La2a, mish hatakhod el soora lagheyt inta mat2ool gebna.”

The intimidated photographer chuckles nervously and takes a picture. I put my hand over the girls’ faces and thrust my hips forward, to make the shot look more like something from The Hangover than Hello! Magazine.

I can see the photographer is getting more and more annoyed. If I’m going to be here, everyone has to be as annoyed as me, I think to myself. He tries again and again, still refusing to say cheese, as I ruin each shot. The girls get bored and walk towards the restaurant as the photographer stares at me like I’ve just got him fired. Fantastic. On with the show!

I sit down with the rest of the hacks at the press table, as they scribble away seriously at their Moleskins probably using adjectives like ‘salacious’, ‘sumptuous’ and ‘quixotic’. I get out my Blackberry and play BrickBreaker for a bit so I don’t have talk to them as we wait for the food. The thing about these press dinners is that they’re, by nature, one big blue ball for your stomach; plate after plate of miniscule portions to make up for the fact that the food is free. They usually taste fantastic but they’re shared between 10 people, so you never really get the sense of fullness. This was happening as I had the munchies, so naturally I fucked everyone’s life. First by ordering different juices and then returning them because “the fruit wasn’t in season” then, as every plate would came, I would scoop half of it onto mine, knowing that the other press people will be too shy and polite to say anything about it. Also, if I eat the food and they don’t, my review will probably be better. They needed to learn a lesson.

It then came to the point in which I am forced to tweet about said press dinner. I was really not in the mood to put coherent sentences together so I did what I usually did at these press events: tweet pictures of generic objects that have nothing to do with the product or place being promoted and say that they’re nice. The tissues at this restaurant are quixotic! Loving the sumptuous plates (literally)! The waiter's shoes are salacious!

"Amazing Plates!"

Anyways, please stop inviting me to these things. It’s for your own good.