Have you ever met those happy, sappy women who say, “The moment that I met him, I knew that he was the man I was going to marry.” I know I’ve met many women who have said those very words, but I’m not exactly sure if those words will ever come out of my mouth. Unless of course, that man is Matthew MacFayden dressed as Mr.Darcy. Now, if there is one thing that I’m 100% sure of is this: the moment I met Yahya I knew for certain, that the odds of him and me ever marrying were about as good as finding out Tom Brokaw and Betty White had tied the knot in Acapulco.
Abu and Im Yahya were born and raised in Palestine. After marrying and moving to the United States, they decided to make San Francisco their home. Abu Yahya found an inexpensive cigarette wholesale shop that was guaranteed to be a lucrative business and it was. Im Yahya bore seven children, six daughters and one son who they named Yahya. Yahya was now twenty-eight years old and his parents were afraid that he would never get married because he was too focused on his job as a realtor. The family had come to Chicago for a weeklong stay to attend the wedding of a friend’s son. Once their envy – that their closest friend’s son was now a happily married man, while their own son seemed to be avoiding the topic- wore off, Abu and Im Yahya became determined to marry Yahya off to any eligible woman whom they could find.
They didn’t need to search very far to find another father who was desperately seeking to get rid of his own luggage – namely my dad, who was readily available to meet with them. So, there my father and I were, sitting in the family room on another Friday night waiting for them to arrive.
“Oh my God, when are they going to get here?” I asked my father, annoyed and slouching down in my chair.
“Soon. Now, sit up. You look lazy. No man wants to deal with a lazy woman.” said my father.
“They’re not even here yet, Baba,” I said.
“It doesn’t matter, sit up. You want to get a hunchback like that Japanese man who lived in that church, in France somewhere?! Who’s going to marry you then. Nobody! Wallah, we’ll be lucky if we can get you married now,” he said angrily.
My cheeks blushed from all of his flattery. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. I rushed to answer but my father quickly stopped me.
“Wait, wait. Don’t rush to the door before you look desperate?”
“Isn’t that exactly what we are?” I asked.
“Yes. I mean, no. Just give it a second.”
The doorbell rang several times more and then my father gave me the go ahead to answer the door.
“Assalamu alaikum.” I said. “Please come in.”
“Thank you.” Said Im Yahya. “Yahya is getting the sweets from the car so just keep the door open for him, habibti (dear girl).”
“Okay.” I said as I led the couple into the house.
“Assalamu Alakium.” My father said to Abu Yahya as they kissed two times on each cheek. “Assalamu alaikum.” My father said to Im Yahya as he shook her hand.
All four of us took our seats and waited for Yahya’s grand entrance and oh boy was it an entrance. You know the beginning music to Lady GaGa’s song Pokerface and the awesome back up music while that sexy guy’s voice repeats:
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Yeah, that was the section of the song that should have been playing when Yahya entered the room. It was like looking at a male version of Lady Gaga: bleach blond hair styled in a punk-rock hairdo a la Chris Crocker, tight black straight leg jeans, black leather butterfly gloves, a black leather jacket that exposed his graphic tee that read, “WHO ME?” with a lame picture of some, obviously, gay guy who looked confused and pissed at the same time. Let’s just say that the fact that his parents were oblivious to the fact that their son is clearly floating on the other side of the rainbow, was completely ridiculous to me. I mean no wonder the girl… I mean boy isn’t married yet. He’s NOT into girls, duh! He’s looking for a disco stick.
“Uhh salam- a- laikum,” he said in a light-pitched voice.
“Wa alaikum salam,” we all said. He took a seat directly next to me and crossed his legs, feet pointed.
“Hey,” he said to me with a wide smile.
“Hey,” I said in response.
“Talk to her,” said Im Yahya with a hopeful glint in her eyes.
“I just got here mom, can I, like, take a second?” said a moody Yahya, speaking with a lisp, “sorry, my mom is so freakin’ annoying.”
“Yahya,” said a shocked and insulted Im Yahya.
“Don’t get insulted mama, you know it’s true.”
“Sorry, Yahya is always acting like this,” Im Yahya explained to my father.
“Acting like what?” My father asked bewildered at Im Yahya’s comment.
“Whatever,” said Yahya as rolled his eyes, “I love your hair,” he said as he examined me from where he was seated.
“Too bad the rest of you looks like one hot mess,” he said as he looked me up and down. I didn’t blame him, though; I looked like I was wearing a linebacker’s outfit.
“If it makes any difference, I normally don’t dress this way,” I said.
“Girl, you should not be seen walking around like that anywhere. Even in your own house. You never know who might pop in,” he continued, “So, your dad wants you to get married as bad as mine, huh?!”
“No worries. I’ll pretend I’m not interested in you,” he said with a wink.
“Do you really have to pretend?” I asked. Yahya eyed me for a good minute.
“I’ve got another person in my cross hairs,” said a giggling Yahya.
“Who’s the person?” Yahya looked over at his parents, who were too caught up in conversation with my father to hear anything he was saying.
“You wouldn’t know him, but omg he is totally Butlerized.”
“Butlerized?” I asked.
“He looks just like Gerard Butler. The hair, the eyes…” Yahya’s eyes skimmed the room then whispered, “the ass.”
“Wow. Well, congratulations,” I said.
“Thanks. How about you? Anyone special in your life?”
“What? Why? You’re beautiful; I’m sure your body is sexy underneath that sack of potatoes you’re wearing.”
“Well, it’s not like we’re allowed to date, you know, according to our religion and stuff.”
“Oh girl, fuck it. Fuck-it! Who cares? We only live once, right?!” said Yahya.
“Uhh… yeah. Unless, you’re Michael Meyers. That guy has died and resurrected more times than Jesus Christ.”
“If you believe that, then why don’t you tell you parents about your significant other?”
“Because he’s not that significant.” Said Yahya, obviously attempting to make a joke.
“Really?” I said, not believing the shit that was coming out of his mouth. Yahya was a typical Muslim. He’s the guy who tells others to go off and live their lives without giving a damn about what anyone else says, when in fact you’ll never find him practicing what he preaches. I guarantee you that Yahya is known in the community as the straightest man since John Cena, even if he does dress like a mix between Elton John and Lady Gaga. Or, the fact that he walks like he’s on fashion runway. He’s probably just known as the guy who looks and acts effeminate, but only because he was raised around six sisters.
“Let’s change the subject,” said Yahya.
“Have you seen the new Sex and the City movie?” asked Yahya.
“Yeah. I loved it.”
“Really. I love Sex and the City, but I just wasn’t feeling this one. I mean…”
Suddenly Yahya stopped mid-sentence. I saw that his eyes were locked on someone who had just arrived. I followed his gaze that ultimately led to my brother, Kamal, who’d just entered the house. My brother is a firefighter and my father’s biggest disappointment. My dad wanted him to take over the family grocery store, instead, my brother committed a capital sin and took his life into his own hands by pursuing a career as a firefighter, a passion of his since I can remember. My father would have much rather he, like most Arab parents, become a doctor or a lawyer. Fighting fires wasn’t impressive enough to boast about over coffee with other families“Oh- my- God! Stop the presses!” Said Yahya.
“Assalamu alaikum.” Said Kamal to our guests.
“Wa alaikum salam.” Answered everyone in the room.
“Hi. My name is Yahya.” he stood up quickly with his hand extended.
“Oh. Hey,” said my brother, rather thrown by Yahya’s quick reaction. Or, maybe it was the fact that he was confused as to why my father had brought over such an obviously gay man for me to meet.
“It is like, so great to meet you.”
“You too,” said Haytham, who forced a diplomatic smile.
“I just came by to drop off your keys for the truck. I finally got it fixed,” Haytham said, handing my father a pair of keys.
“Okay, okay,” said my father.
“I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow,” said Haytham to my dad.
“You’re leaving already?” asked a disappointed Yahya.
“Yeah. I have work early in the morning. Sorry, I wish I could stay.”
“Wa alaikum salam,” everyone responded.
“Oh my freakin’ God,” he said in a melody he had just made up, “your brother is HAWT!”
For the next three hours all I heard Yahya talk about was how “hawt” my brother is. He went on and on about whether or not he has a Facebook page, so that he could befriend him. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the entire uncomfortable situation to be finished, when his parents announced:
“Yallah, Yahya I think it is time to go,” said Im and Abu Yahya.
“Aww… I was having so much fun,” said Yahya.
‘That makes one of us,’ I thought to myself. A three-hour conversation about how hot my brother is to some guy isn’t exactly exciting to me.
“Before I go…” said Yahya. “…I just want to remind you that if you come across your brothers Facebook page, just send it to me.” He finished as he slipped a tiny piece of paper into my hand that I later saw had his e-mail address on it.
Two days later my father told me that, out of all the men that ever came to our house, Yahya was actually the only man who continuously called him yearning to talk to me. I didn’t have the heart to tell my father that he wasn’t interested in me at all, but in Haytham. I did my best to point out to my father that Yahya wasn’t exactly going to be interested in me because he was obviously only interested in men. But, explaining that to a man like my father is close to impossible. I did my best to try and explain, but this was my father’s response.
“Why are you saying this, Faiza? Just because he dresses different. Or walks different? Or maybe it is because his hair is three different colors? I can guarantee you, that boy likes women as much as I used to before I met your mother.”
“WHAT?” my mom snapped.
“I know what you meant, Abu Tarek!” my mom angrily stormed out of the family room.
“Now see what you did, Faiza!”