True story (at least until the end)

Had dinner last week with a friend who does business in the Middle East. When I commented that the restaurant looked a little like what I would imagine a harem room to look like, he asked, "Did I ever tell you my harem story?"

At the conclusion of a successful deal, a sheikh invited him and a couple other men to one of his palaces. After they entered a large room, the sheikh clapped his hands twice, and twenty young women lined up. They were dressed in semi-traditional Arab garb -- according to my friend, basically I Dream of Jeannie-style outfits. All were attractive, and the oldest was probably in her early twenties.

The group then proceeded through another series of rooms, and the sheikh clapped his hands again. The same twenty girls appeared, except this time they were dressed in hot pants and bikini tops.

The sheikh then said to his guests, "You can have any of them you want, except that one and that one and that one." (Those three were his palace favorites.)

One of the guests, whom my friend described as pitifully out of shape (he had "arms like broomsticks and a belly out to here") chose four girls all for himself. Evidently he was completely unable to get an erection. My friend laughed, "I think the girls were relieved."

To any women who might happen to read this post: I of course expressed my outrage to my friend that young women would have to choose between poverty and life in a harem, and my disapproval of anyone who would participate in such proceedings.