Back in the
distant past - in the early-mid-1980s in Southern California - when Talking Points was just a mere dot or speck, there was a slang phrase (actually a mix of a phrase and a gesture) called 'FACE!'
To make the gesture you would take your hand, extend out your fingers and thumb in every direction in a spider-like fashion, and hold your hand about two inches in front of your face, with your palm facing your nose.
Then with the back of your hand toward the recipient of the gesture and a look of awe, schadenfreude, and contempt on your face (perhaps with an air of mock pity and pained regret), you'd say "Ahhh .. FACE, dude! You are faced!" etc.
Usually there'd be a few other permutations of 'face' thrown in, with the true adepts raising the whole enterprise to something of an art form.
What this conveyed is hard to explain precisely. It was a touch shy of humiliation. But a good deal more than embarrassment. More of the arrogant being suddenly and unexpectedly brought low. Very low.
So why this little digression into a Geertzian 'thick description' of the folkways of So. Cal. teenagers circa 1984? In a word (or four, I guess) ... Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef.
As is being widely reported today Zaeef was the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan. And in the early days of the Afghan war he gave daily press conferences, hurled accusations, chatted it up with international reporters, and was generally living the life of a Taliban bon vivant, if I may be permitted such a phrasing.
Eventually the Pakistanis told him to chill out a bit, and not attack the US quite so fulsomely, at least as long as he was operating on Pakistani soil. Then they shut him down after the Taliban government collapsed and diplomatic ties with departing Afghan government were severed. After this he vainly sought asylum in Pakistan. Finally, last week a few of those wild and crazy guys from the Pakistani intelligence services (ISI) stopped by the homestead and took Zaeef into custody, according to his secretary. And last night, in the process of being deported to Afghanistan, the Pakistanis turned him over to the United States armed forces.
Apropos of my earlier discussion, this is what is called being royally faced.
Apparently, Zaeef will probably end up with other Al Qaeda prisoners at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
One of the elements of being 'faced' is some essential unfairness in the process. (That's part of the embarrassment or humiliation: getting dealt a very unexpected and perhaps even unwarranted reverse.) And I must admit this whole process of what happened to Zaeef seems a little odd and not quite by the books.
Still, it's not something I'm going to lose a lot of sleep over. Like I said, telling someone they're 'faced!' is all about schadenfreude.