Khalil Michael Ghannam
Where you come from: Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, what was then the Palestinian side. Moved to the DC area when I was 8.
Where you live now: DC by way of Seattle, LA to DC again.
What age you were at the time of the photograph: If your thirties were a swimming pool, I was at the deep end.
How old you expect to live to be: I remember we started asking ourselves that question when we were kids, junior high and I remember saying 41. Didn’t know then, don’t know now.
What is something that you do that gives you real joy in life? or
What do you love most to do in life?
That’s a hard question for me because I am simple man (not to be confused with simpleton). Honestly, I have 5 brothers and sisters and so I have 15 nieces and nephews. I get a kick out of watching them grow up. Beside that I love to cuddle with my girlfriend, Beth, and make her laugh.
What about yourself do you really like?
“You like challenges”, said a fortune cookie I got a couple of days ago. That made me laugh. Those Chinese in San Francisco are so profound. I like to look at struggles in my life as puzzles and try to figure them out.
Have you ever known anyone who died of AIDS? A coworker in Seattle who became a friend. We were bartenders at the Two Bells Tavern. We split tips at the end our shifts – that is when he give me the nickname Khalil Non-Prophet, with the many intendres. I loved him. He started calling in sick to work, went to a doctor, and two or three weeks later he was in the hospital on his deathbed. I went to visit him in his last week – and he was comforting me – I was so shocked to see how the disease had ravaged his body. Back then that disease could take people much more quickly.
Have you ever known anyone who died at a young age?
Michael Houghton died in high school. He had a van with a racing stripe. Yeah, that’s right, he wanted a racing stripe on his van. His death had nothing to do with that van, though. He was just walking home after drinking some beers and Quaaludes with some friends of ours. Got hit by a car. His brother called me in the middle of the night to tell me what happened. I started crying, fell back asleep, and woke up and cried for about a day and half without stopping. That was the first person I knew who died. A year later I had an
opportunity to change my name when I applied for citizenship (foreigners have to be eighteen before they can apply). I gave myself the middle name Michael. No one in my family knows, because middle names are big deal in Arab culture; you’re supposed to keep your dad’s name.
What would you like to see people do to change the world?
Just more common courtesy –less horn blowing – less loud talking on phones. But if I am getting this question wrong – I would just suggest everyone have a bicycle – I mean these things just run and run.
Looking back over your life, what are some of the funnest times you’ve ever had?
What are your (or is a) favorite memories (memory)?
I didn’t want to dwell on answering these questions and tried to just pile through them. I could spend five minutes telling you very funny stories from each year of my life. But the first ones that popped into my mind now, were attending weddings of some good friends. I mean that is a good time, watching your dear friends getting on their tiny little loveboats and casting off. I’ve had the great fortune of “standing up” with the groom at three weddings.