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When people ask me why I’m still single, the usual response is, “I just haven’t found the right man yet.” This comment is usually followed with the other person saying, “You know, I know someone who you might be interested in.” Sometimes, with my mother or brother’s the permission, I’ll meet the man they’re sure I’m going to fall in love with, and other times, I’m just so exhausted from meeting guy after guy, after guy, that I simply refuse to go along with these proposals. It seems that as of late, I have refused more invitations than I ever had before, simply because I had reached my limit. I’d asked Allah to guide the right man into my life; I don’t know how, that’s His job, but I did hope it would be by chance, in a café, or he’d caught me when I am about to fall, something romantic. Anything but someone who works at an Araby store, or a mom at the Masjid who is herself desperate to have her Adonis married off, or my uncle calling up randomly to say, “I found someone for Faiza!” like I am some sort of an item dug-up from a Lost & Found box.
So when my friend Randa convinced me to meet Amir, a thirty two year old cardiologist, she was feeling pretty damn good about her choice and I was pretty damn shocked that I agreed. I guess it had something to do with the fact that she had never tried to set me up before and I dared to be a little hopeful. She had met the mother of this cardiologist during a visit to the dentist. IM Amir was seated directly next to Randa who, when I called her phone and my picture popped up, asked her about me; you know all the usual Arab questions, “Is she your sister? How old is she? Is she married?” After telling IM Amir that I was her friend, was twenty nine years old and single, IM Amir began pitching the ‘BEST OF AMIR!’ to her in the hopes that she might actually convince me to meet her son and possibly see if there was a connection between us. Apparently, the sale’s pitch worked because as soon as she was through rinsing the mouthwash from her dental exam, she called me and insisted that she had finally found the man I was going to marry. My naseeb! She encouraged me to meet him; I mean the girl practically begged me. So I agreed and did my best to remain hopeful despite my continual bad experiences.
So, at 3:00pm on Thursday, I was waiting for Amir at the entrance of Water Tower Place. I’ve only had just seen his picture since Randa decided that there was no better time to update to ios8 than fifteen minutes before meeting the man she was sure I would wed. The revolving doors turned and in entered Amir. He was about 5’7 with the typical God complex of a doctor. His chest was puffed out and his shoulders pressed back which added on another two inches to his torso. He walked over to me almost like a man gliding across ice as if he owned the room. Hell, he acted like he owned Water Tower Place and all the people in it. And then there was his five-inch head, I mean forehead! I’m sorry, but the thing looked like it could have been sending WiFi to Mars. I’m sure it meant the guy was extraordinarily smart or some shit, but damn! That thing was… big! Very big!
“Faiza?” he inquired.
“Amir?” I responded as we shook hands.
“It’s nice to meet you,” he said.
“Likewise!” I said as we made our way up the escalators.
“You weren’t waiting long, were you?” he asked his eyes fixed on mine which I’ll admit were lowered. Not because I was trying to avoid his forehead, but because there was something intimidating about him. I mean his gaze was so intense, I felt like I was sitting across the Sheikh who was questioning me about why I miss salat (prayer).
“Nope!” I responded. “Just got here a few minute before you.”
“Good! So how’s your day going?”
“It’s going well,” I said as I forced myself to make eye contact with him. It was hard. I mean, call me shallow or whatever the hell you want, but that damn forehead, BY GOD, it was big! But I tried my very best to just ignore it and get to know him despite the extra-terrestrial forehead. Let’s be honest, I am twenty nine and in another year I’ll be thirty, which translates, to my family, into being a senior citizen. That doesn’t mean that I would be willing to settle, but I didn’t want to obsess about something so trivial because that might just be the reason why I’ve only met men over fifty and am still sitting my ass at Nordstrom’s on Friday starring at the newest red bottoms that I want. Sigh!
We made our way to the coffee hut where I grabbed my typical iced caramel macchiato, which of course he already knew thanks to his inquisitive mother. It was at this moment that he admitted to me that he had read my work, “All of it!” Oh yeyyyyyyyyy! I thought. I mean, I have had experiences before where men had read my posts and tried to avoid or downplayed everything that I find unappealing about them simply to get my approval. In other words, it never works! Bring on red flag number one!
“Oh wow!” I said. “I’m flattered.”
“You should be!” he said sounding rather narcissistic. “I do not read just anything. But your writing is really funny and very real! I love writers! I can’t write for nothing,” he said boosting my ego a bit.
I always say that my ideal man is someone who supports my work and dreams and so I’ll admit that despite the forehead and obvious hubris of his demeanor, I was intrigued.
We grabbed our drinks and sat down at a little secluded table by the window.
“My mother so wanted to come along, but she had to take an unexpected emergency trip to Ohio to stay with my sister’s children. Her and her husband had to fly to New York to pay their respects to the family of a friend who died.”
“Oh I’m so sorry to hear that!”
“Don’t be! He smoked! He did it to himself!” he said before taking a sip of his coffee. His remark took me off guard and needless to say, my interest was downgraded a bit. My father, Allah yer7amo, was also a smoker and although he tried to quit, he never could. To know that this man would share the same sentiment towards my dad only disgusted me. “So…” he said “since mother is not here, we could…” he said pulling out his cellphone placing it on the table, his hand firmly holding it. I was confused as to what he was doing, until I heard him say, “Hi Mama. Yes, it’s going well. We just met, are having coffee and a pleasant conversation. Yes, she’s right here.”
“My mother wants to talk to you,” he said extending one headphone and putting the other to his ear. I looked at his hand holding the left ear piece … I was confused. “Take it!” he said. “Don’t be shy!” But I wasn’t shy; I was baffled, taken off guard, ‘weirded’ out! But I took the ear-bud and placed it next to my ear. He motioned for me to sidle over so that I could see her. It was at this moment that I realized that she was right there. On Facetime!
“Assalamu Alaikum,” I said.
“Wa alaikum salam habibti. How are you?”
The conversation between her and I went on for almost ten minutes. She asked me so many questions in her thick Araby accent.
QUESTIONS ASKED OF ME BY IM AMIR ON FACETIME DURING MY FIRST DATE WITH HER SON
1. “Where your family from?”
2. “Why you still single?”
3. “I hear you were engaged, why it not work?”
4. “CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
5. “Why you wear so much makeup?”
6. “Why you so skinny. Look at her Amir. We have to fatten you up!”
7. “Do you not like food?”
8. “How tall are you?”
9. “Why you have all that shiny stuff on your lips? Take it off!”
But the most uncomfortable question came when she asked me:
10. “So you want to marry my son?”
I didn’t know what to say? Why didn’t he tell his mom that it was an inappropriate to such personal question considering that we had only shared one escalator ride. I looked like a deer caught in the headlights and didn’t know what the hell to say. The two looked straight at me awaiting a response. I mean, did he feel that an escalator ride, a sip of coffee, and a stupid ass comment about a dead person, meant that we were ready for marriage?
“I don’t know IM Amir. I think we need to get to know each other first.” I said.
“WHAT?” she answered. “I CAN’T HEAR YOU. SAY IT AGAIN.”
“I said we need to get to know each other better.”
“I can’t hear her Mama,” she said to Amir.”
“Here,” he said handing me the right headphone piece where I again had to repeat myself.
“Ohhhhhhhhh,” she said. “OK, but do you think you want to marry him? He is very good boy. Very good! And he is a doctor.”
“Mom! Stop!” said a shy Amir who didn’t at all seem shy, but he tried his best to fake it. “… and I also assist in the research of muscular dystrophy,” he added with a cocky smile.
As both son and mother starred at me with these wide synthetic smiles, I realized exactly why I had refused to go on these types of meetings. Sure, I thought that Randa would be the one who would find someone worth considering, but this boy and his mom were just too freaking weird. And I’m sorry, but if you can’t make the meeting in person, Madam, I, nor ANYONE ELSE would want to communicate with you over Facetime with your son and his forehead sitting right there.
I had had enough. I excused myself and said that there was a problem at work and I had to take care of it. But the two insisted that I keep in touch and meet Amir again that Friday, so that we could all go to lunch and actually talk. I didn’t want to ask if she would be there in person or via Facetime or Skype because, to be quite frank, I didn’t give a damn. I was not interested in seeing either of them again.
24 hours later I received a text from him asking me why I hadn’t contacted him since our meeting. I simply responded with this:
Salam Amir. I’m sorry but I just didn’t feel a connection between us and don’t want to waste your time by meeting again and giving you and your mother false hope. I wish you all the best, inshallah.
What do you mean you didn’t feel a connection? That’s stupid! I felt it!
I DIDN’T RESPOND
Well fuck you then! I would have treated you like a Queen. You could have bought red bottoms for life since you only care about materialistic shit. I was going to take you and my mom on a helicopter ride to a boat where the three of us were going to have dinner and talk and have a good time. I ordered you seven dozens of roses and rented a dope ass car just to show you how much I can offer you and her and that’s how you treat me! Well FUCK YOU! Seriously dude. No wonder you’re still single!
THREE MINUTES LATER
You know what I’m going to do????? I’m going to take my mom to enjoy everything that you would have liked because you don’t deserve anything at all. You deserve to be single forever. I guarantee you that I’ll be married by the end of the year because there’s not ONE girl who wouldn’t want to marry me. I’ll have kids, put them through college, and you’ll still be sitting around single with your stupid fucken heels. Enjoy them because that’s all that’s going to keep you conpamy.
TWO MINUTES LATER
And THAT, folks, is why I’m still single.