tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Foul play suspected in death of Camel queen

The distraught owner of a beloved, beauty-queen camel is suing the Saudi Aramco oil company for negligent behavior which may have resulted in the tragic and mysterious death of the beast.

Olive, a black three-year-old ungulate who recently competed for the title of Miss Camel Saudi Arabia, was out strutting her stuff through the desert the other night when she allegedly fell into a hole filed with crude oil. Saudi Aramco frequently digs random holes in the desert and fills them with surplus crude (possibly for sale at a later date when the market rebounds).

By the time she was found, it was too late. Regrettably, it is the first fossil-fuel related death ever recorded.

The camel's owner, Abdullah al-Saiari, is seeking one million riyals ($283,400) in damages in a lawsuit filed in a Riyadh court.

But the court may have to consider more than just the value of a pretty dead camel. Foul play cannot be ruled out in Olive's bizarre demise.

Camel beauty contests are at least as prestigious in the Arabian peninsula as Chuck-wagon races are in Calgary, and the death of a top competitor so close to a major competition is bound to raise some big, bushy eyebrows.

The annual Pan-Arabian Pageant in Abu Dhabi, in which Olive was expected to compete, attracts over 24,000 camels from across the peninsula; the bejeweled crown is considered the most holy grail that a camel can ever hope to attain.

During the nine-day competition each spring, the camels parade about in front of discerning judges who evaluate the size of their eyes, the sheen of their hair, the arch of their nose, the bauble of their lower lip, the width of their toes, the length of their neck, and of course, the perfectly proportioned dimensions of their hump and their rump.

Olive the camel was reputed to have it all and then some, which is why her death should be shrouded in controversy. Did a jealous rival want to keep her out of the pageant? Did Aramco have money riding on the competition? Or was the intense pressure of being beautiful finally too much for Olive to bear?

Sadly, we may never know what was the straw that broke the camel's back.

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