Let me say first off that I love Bubba. He's a good guy. He was a good guy when he came to La Romana and stayed at the house of Julio Iglesias with a number of women, none of whom were Hillary. And he was a good guy in Pakistan this time around. The best part about him (officially) was the comments he made about the continuing cartoon controversy. The best part (unofficially) was that he stuck around at the airport for 15 minutes taking photos with everyone under the sun, and grabbed the control officer for a solo photo. It's great that some things never change, and that Bubba still has it.During 6 years in this gig, I've met many advance team members. Bubba's advance team was really only one guy: X . And they call my name odd. X was nice enough, the kind of guy I get along with because I find people like him entertaining to watch. I know, I know, I didn't have to work directly with him, but I did spend two nights in his company carpet shopping and having dinner because that's how people work off steam in Islamabad. They shop for carpets and have dinner. And if they're smart they golf at the ridiculously cheap Islamabad Golf Club, where the course is ripening from recent rains, is fairly easy, and only 5 minutes from work and home.
X wanted a carpet. Problem is, carpet shopping requires time — which he didn't have — and an attention span of more than 5 minutes — also absent. So the fellows at Afghan Carpets tossed down rug after rug, clouding the air with carpet dust, and we just ran through the motions while X helped himself by looking through a pile of carpets that was going to the Embassy for the perusal of Bubba and Co. the next day. Because it's better to be lucky than good, I was ecstatic that after about 1/2 an hour X found "The One." An 8×11 carpet from Herat, Afghanistan, about 45 years old. Mostly blue and gold with decortaive splashes of orange/red within the pattern. Nice carpet, actually. Starting price: $2800.
To make a long story short, because it bores me to even write about it, X worked him down to $2300. I had told him he'd probably be able to get about $500 off the original price, so I like to feel that I influenced this bargaining session, though in who's favor I'm not sure.
He later offended the unoffendable guys at a local store by trying to bargain for a 50%discount on a pashmina sweater. He offered to buy two, and then bought only one for about 200 rupees less than the rest of us pay because they wanted to get rid of him. In the end, though, X was all right. He paid for dinner with R&R, who met us later in the shopping evening. Better still, he did a Bubba imitation for us after we all consumed two bottles of wine. While I waited at the airport for the better part of the day for Bubba to come and go, X did ask me one more thing, to make sure his carpet made it on the plane. The security folks had cut open his nicely packed rug from Afghanistan and re-packaged the whole thing with a belt around it. I hope they didn't cut the carpet. It was too nice for that and would be a damn shame.