It was a quiet Friday afternoon, and I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I wasn’t meeting anyone by just sitting at home and relaxing. The day was cloudy with scattered rain showers – an overall great setting for me to lie in bed snuggled under the covers with a hot cup of green tea and a good book. As I settled in my cell phone rang. I decided to ignore it, figuring that if it were important whoever was calling would leave a message. Just as the phone stopped ringing, I began reading only to be interrupted again when my mother came into the room with her cell phone.
“Your father wants to know why you’re ignoring his phone calls?” she asked.
“He only called once, and I didn’t know it was him- why is he calling private? Besides Mama, I’m trying to relax.” To which, of course, my father could be heard yelling his usual comeback whenever the topic of my wanting to relax is brought up.
“What does she mean relax?! She can relax when she’s in her husband’s house. Now, put her on the phone!” he demanded.
“What Baba?” I asked annoyed.
“What do you mean, ‘What Baba?’”
“I meant, yes Baba?”
“That’s better. You remember Abu Abdallah’s daughter, Yasmin, right?” inquired my father. First, let me explain who Yasmin is. Yasmin is a hijab-wearing hoochie. She, and others like her, spend all of their time criticizing ‘slutty girls,’ in order to detract attention from that fact that they are guilty of those same things. In Yasmin’s case, she’s been secretly dating a boy named Omar for the past six years – and was caught, by my best friend’s brother, giving Omar a blowjob in the Arby’s parking lot a few weeks ago. I recently received an invitation to attend her ‘All-Girls Pre-Wedding Sleepover.’ But, I’ve spent more than enough time in the company of hypocritical, gossiping Muslim women and, being tired of it, I never responded to the invitation.
“Yes Baba, I know her,” I answered.
“Well, she’s getting married this Friday to a boy named Omar. And, today she’s having a sleepover at the Hyatt for girls only.” I bet you’re wondering how my father manages to find out about these things, huh? Well, the truth is that although Arab women’s tongues are about as long as ten consecutive football fields, the men double, no… TRIPLE that. They can spread a piece of information faster than that speeding bullet Superman’s always being compared to. “So, I want you to go. Ashraf’s daughter, Reham, is going too,” my father added.
It didn’t take me long to see what my father’s intentions were. He wanted me to go so that I would befriend a room full of witches. They, in turn, would inform me of any single desperados who are currently looking for a bride – doubling my father’s chances of getting me married. Jeez Louise; the way my father wants me out of this house, you would think I was standing on the corner giving out free blowjobs to passers-by.
“I don’t have a choice, so whatever,” I answered, sounding as down as I felt.
“What do you mean, you don’t have a choice?! You have a choice.” My father has always been quite talented at reiterating statements as questions to sound sincere – only to validate what you were saying a few seconds earlier.
“So, if I don’t wanna go, I don’t have to?” I asked with a suddenly hopeful heart.
“No! You have to go!” he demanded, “but, I don’t want you to think you don’t have a choice. Because you do.” There was no point in arguing, so I just took down the directions for the all girls sleepover and got ready. I packed several essential items in my duffel bag and headed out the door. Twenty minutes later, and there I was… standing in front of the Hyatt hotel in beautiful downtown Chicago. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and noticed a pale-faced titan wearing a pink, floral hijab.
“Faiza?” she asked.
“Yup. Assalamu Alaikum.”
“Wa Alaikum Salam. You’re short,” I joked. Since the last time I’d seen Reham – which I could swear was no more than a year ago – she was still living among us average-heighters.
“That’s what my sisters always say ‘cause I’m only 5’11 and they’re both 6’2.”
“Wow,” I said with shock as we started walking to the hotel. I traipsed my statuesque 5’5” self to the elevator, alongside what must’ve looked like my mother. We arrived at the suite where the sleepover was taking place and knocked on the door. We were welcomed in by Yasmin, who hid modestly behind the door for fear that men might see the red silk lingerie she was wearing.
“Assalamu Alaikum,” Yasmin said, motioning for us to get in quickly.
“Wa Alaikum Salam,” said the skyscraper and I.
“Faiza?!” Yasmin said in astonishment, “Oh my God, I’m so happy you came. I didn’t think you were going to.” I forced a fake smile and tried to look as sincere as I possibly could. I don’t have anything against the girl, to be honest. I don’t care if she’s sleeping with half the men in Illinois; but, the fact that she spends hours tarnishing innocent girls’ reputations to make up for her own, angers me beyond belief. “Come in. We’re all in here.”
From the moment we turned the corner, I could see that the room was filled with Muslim girls and mothers. They were removing their hijabs and jilbabs to reveal the skimpy lingerie they were wearing underneath. Every kind of lingerie imaginable was present in that room- silk babydolls, lacey plunge halters, satin slips, boat neck tunics and even a strappy elastic chemise. They were accessorized with fishnet stockings, garter belts, rhinestone chokers and earrings with a pair of Marabou slippers to finish the entire ensemble. I felt overdressed in my Victoria Secret ultra soft tie-dye pajama set since everyone else was wearing practically nothing. I wanted to beat myself over the head for not having taken a shopping trip over to Fredrick’s. I mean it’s not every day that single Muslim girls get the chance to wear something so scandalous. Even the mothers were dressed this way. They would have looked like their daughters, if not for the fact that many of them sported more than two stomachs and breasts that served as a third. But, they looked spirited and in the mood to do what happens 99.9% of the time at these sleepovers – GOSSIP!
“You guys should go change, we’re gonna paint our nails and chit-chat.” (Which of course means gossip) Yasmin said excitedly.
“Yeyyy,” I said, feigning excitement. As I exited the bathroom, I was shocked when I saw Reham dressed in a kind of “dominatrix” corset set. All she needed was a whip and a pair of stiletto gladiator boots and she would have fit every man’s fantasy.
“Oh my God, I can’t wait. This is going to be soo fun,” Reham said.
We walked into the room where all of the girls were seated Indian style on the floor in a wide circle. The mothers looked me up and down as if I were the prude of the group in my covered PJ’s. I just returned the favor by giving them the once-over. And, believe me, once was more than enough to wonder whether these women had given the mirror more than a side-glance before leaving the dressing room. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, some of those who sat Indian style had either “forgotten” to wear underpants. Ewwwww!!!
“Okay girls, everyone pick a nail color to put on,” Yasmin prompted. I wasn’t excited about having to paint my nails because I had them painted the day before at the salon, but I figured they could use another coat. As the basket came to me, I reached for the black nail polish since it was what I had on.
“Everyone have?” asked Yasmin, “cool. So, now let’s go around the room and everyone is gonna tell a deep, dark secret about themselves OR about someone they know. Anything you’ve heard.” I hate this game especially since none of the ‘deep, dark secrets’ the girls were going to reveal had anything to do with them. They were obviously going to talk about some poor girl who wasn’t there to defend herself, one way or another.
“I’ll start,” Said Yasmin, “yesterday I went to the 7Eleven and I needed to use the bathroom. So, I’m like waiting outside…waiting, waiting, waiting and then Tahani comes out of the bathroom- you all know Tahani right?” Tahani is a single, twenty-seven year old pharmacist who has never been engaged or married which, to the girls in the room, translated into de-virginized slut. “So, I asked her, ‘Are you okay?’ and she goes, ‘Yeah, I just threw up out of nowhere. I think I’m coming down with the flu.’ Anyway, later on that day another friend of mine saw Tahani, buying what looked like a pregnancy test.” The room exploded with a loud gasp.
“I mean, let’s be honest…she’s pregnant,” Yasmin said confidently. I don’t know what disgusted me more, the stupidity behind Yasmin’s story or the fact that every mother over the age of forty just sat there listening and participating.
“Okay, your turn Maysoon,” said Yasmin. Maysoon is Yasmin’s best friend and just about as trashy as Yasmin.
“Okay, I heard that Im Hatem’s daughter, Maryam, was caught having sex with some white boy on campus.” Once again the shocked ‘Aww’s’ and gasps followed. “And, that’s not the best part. The person that caught them was her father.” Maysoon smiled deviously, as though she’d just dealt her worst enemy a death blow. The room was gripped by shock. Yasmin noticed that I was the only person in the room actually painting my nails and sitting with a stern face.
“Faiza. Why don’t you tell us something shocking?” Yasmin requested. I noticed, at least, fifteen girls and eight mothers looking my way.
“I don’t know anything shocking,” I answered without taking my eyes off my nails.
“Oh, come on,” said Yasmin. The mothers and daughters all eyed me angrily, wondering why I wasn’t participating. But, the truth was that almost every ‘dirty, dark secret’ I knew was about the ‘virginal’ bride-to-be and her friends; I wasn’t about to exploit them in front of their mothers.
“Nope, nobody tells me anything. Sorry.” I could feel the bad vibes heading my way from all corners of the room. What I really wanted to say was, ‘Hey, you lifeless bitches, it’s none of your damned business what any of these girls are doing.’ But… one, I don’t curse and two, I wasn’t interested in being kicked out of the room while my toenails were still wet. After three hours of gossiping, Yasmin stood up.
“I’m bored of this game. Let’s go down to the pool.” She said. ‘The pool,’ I thought. The mothers decided to stay upstairs, while the daughters were all crowded in the bathroom changing. As Reham and I dipped our feet in the pool, two very fine young men entered, causing Reham to retake her lounge chair.
“Faiza, you should come out of the pool,” Reham said coyly from her chair.
“I’m not swimming.”
“But there are men here.”
“Well, I’m sure they’ve seen feet before,” I said as I continued sitting alongside the pool. I noticed that the room was filled mostly with men. I would nonchalantly sneak looks – here and there – at two fine men and their chiseled bodies as they swam laps back and forth.
Suddenly, the room filled with girls’ laughter. It was emanating from the entrance, where Yasmin and her entourage of friends had just entered in their Burkinis. I bet you’re wondering what a burkini is? Well, it’s a waterproof garment worn by Muslim women at pools and beaches everywhere. It has been said, by many Muslim girls, that the burkini is ‘the most original fashion idea EVER!’ Now, I’m not sure about its originality since all the “designer” had to do was sketch several of the outfits worn by the Oompa-Loompas from the 1972 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to come up with the burkini.
“I’ll race you to the end of the pool,” said Yasmin, diving into the pool in her yellow polka-dot burkini. The other Oompa-Loompas… I mean, GIRLS, dived in behind her. Suddenly, the pool was filled with Yasmin and her party. The two men who’d caught my eye from across the room watched the girls with vested interest. I could definitely understand how intrigued non-Muslim men and women would be at such a sight.
“I beat you guys!” Yasmin shouted as she exited the pool like a Bond girl – in a Burkini.
I watched as Yasmin towel-dried her suit and couldn’t help but wonder what exactly the point of the burkini as far as the modest dress code goes. I could plainly see that Yasmin has a flat ass, huge breasts, and no hips with skinny arms and pegged legs. It was like an invisibly visible bathing suit. One by one, I looked at each and every girl and could see their exact body shapes. Nothing was left to the imagination – except their hair length. I took a seat in the pool chair next to Reham only to have Yasmin take the chair next to me.
“You guys should totally go in the water… it feels amazing.”
“You can feel the water?” I asked Yasmin with sincere curiosity.
“Oh my God, yeah. Where’s your bathing suit?”
“I don’t have one.”
“You-don’t-have-one?!” Yasmin asked, gobsmacked.
“How do you swim?”
“Well, you’re missing out. You should totally buy a couple. They’re great! We get to swim anywhere while still being modest. I have one in every…” Yasmin stopped mid-sentence. I followed her gaze which stopped at two bleach-blondes who had just entered in white bikinis. “What sluts!” she said in the most judgmental tone she could muster. “I mean some girls don’t have any respect for themselves,” she continued.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Yasmin’s anger stemmed from not being able to wear what those girls were wearing, or from sheer delusion. There was a certain something, as she glared at the two girls, that told me it was indeed jealousy. She didn’t want to have to wear the burkini.
“I’m tired of swimming… let’s go back to the room.” Yasmin huffed as she wrapped a towel around her waist and hips. As Reham and I followed behind Yasmin and the other Oompa-Loompas, we ran into Tahani the ‘pregnant pharmacist.’
“Oh my God, Tahani. I’m so glad you made it,” Yasmin said hypocritically, as she embraced a flattered Tahani. All of the girls stared at Tahani’s ‘pregnant’ stomach – that on a neutral inspection looked about as flat as mine. “We were just talking about you a little while ago.”
“Really?” said Tahani, again flattered.
“Yeah, about how much we miss you,” added Yasmin.
“Were you really?” asked Tahani almost teary-eyed.
Suddenly, any pity I’d felt for Yasmin and her Wonka-inspired burkini faded. There they were crowded around a girl who had no knowledge of how badly the others had just tarnished her innocent and clean reputation. I wanted to tell Tahani the truth, but being that my father knew everyone of those girls’ parents, I knew I couldn’t. My blood boiled and I felt like dirt for not being able to say anything. Suddenly, God took pity on me.
“She’s telling you the truth Tahani. They were talking about you,” Jumped in Malika. Malika and Yasmin have been mortal enemies since Yasmin spread a rumor that Malika gave a male student a blowjob in the school’s cafeteria after she picked up a nickel he’d dropped while purchasing a bag of Chex Mix from the school’s vending machine.
“Really?” asked Tahani.
“Yup. Yasmin here decided to play a game where all of the girls would reveal a deep, dark secret about themselves… or something they’d heard about someone else. Now, we all know Yasmin wasn’t about to say anything about herself. It’s probably just better for her, Omar and both of their parents if those secrets remain secrets. Anyway, Yasmin’s dirty, dark secret was about you.”
“Uhh… Malika…” interrupted Yasmin.
“What’s wrong Yasmin? I’m just telling Tahani what you said about her. So, like I was saying… Yasmin was telling us that she saw you throwing up at the 7Eleven the other day and she’s one hundred percent sure that you’re pregnant.”
“What?” Tahani exclaimed with shock.
“Yup. They missed you soooo much that they decided to do away with you and your family’s reputation.” Suddenly, Yasmin and her clique busted out laughing.
“Malika, Malika; you just misunderstood,” said Yamsin.
“Like I misunderstood you to be my friend. You gossiping bitch.”
“You told everyone a lie about seeing me having sex with some guy in LA Fitness.” What I love most about Muslim girls is that, although there may be irrefutable evidence to prove that they have done or said something, they still try to call it a lie in order to save whatever face they still have.
“I think we both know that wasn’t a lie Malika,” said Yasmin bluntly.
“You stupid bitch,” yelled Malika who pulled at Yasmin burkini hijab. Suddenly a fight erupted, and I mean a physical one on one – burkini ripping, hijab tearing, fist flying fight. Security came to separate the girls, although they looked afraid to even touch them for fear of breaking some religious code. I on the other hand went upstairs, grabbed my things, said “Assalamu Alakium” and got the hell out of there.
When I got home my father demanded that I explain why I’d left so early. Knowing very well that he would never believe what had played out so perfectly amongst that group of girls, who were seen as elite in the community. I just said the first thing that came to mind.
“The girls were going to be swimming most the time, and I didn’t have anything to swim in.”
Two days after the sleepover I decided to carry off where I had began that Friday morning, by getting cozy and reading. As I got comfy, the doorbell rang. It was the UPS man.
“Fay-e-i-ze-ya?” he attempted to enunciate.
“Yes.” I jumped in, not wanting him to massacre the rest. After signing I took the large box into the house and opened it. Inside were four burkinis- red, black, pink – and yes; a yellow polka-dot burkini – compliments of my father.