I’m slightly fazed and confused in Beirut.
Last night proved memorable; or so says my text message to Flutterby:
“We is high, drunk and in a convertible. If I die, I’m an idiot. But I love you all!” followed by an audio note in which my friends demand me who I am writing to over some bad dance music, “What?!”, I yell back “I am reporting my possible death.”
Now that I’m alive and unscathed, I feel that I may have exag…actually no, that drive was pretty scary! I sat at the back, as their arms waved in the air and their bodies danced to a song I didn’t know, I couldn’t see how close to collision we could come, and the wind in my hair was wildly playful, and the avoiding of potholes excited and frisky.
Sitting in the back, rather immobilized by the ominous cockpit and the Madonna-sponsored OMG party – words that I kept repeating over and over again as I prayed for the consistency in Foux’s usually reliable driving skills – I tried coaxing my mind into letting go that one extra neuron. But I was handicapped - the grass had indeed been greener for the front half of the car.
As I filmed their antics for future sober-day viewing at the red light, Yamamoto turned around with her ever-lecturing finger, “You’re not better than us!” and continued waving her arms in the air.
It was only until we approached her home that Foux’s idea to stop in the middle of a residential street with speakers in epileptic blare had her stretch her arm and discretely decrease the volume bit by bit. Diplomatic party-pooping party-loving Yamamoto – her gesture made me smile.
As she was leaving the car, Foux asked her to say it. I had no idea what was going on.
“I can’t say it”, tried to break free Yamamoto from the chains of their inside joke.
“Koussi mwal3a,” I heard Foux’s tongue and flaming lips splutter “Say it Yamamoto, say it!”
I was now in the front passenger seat and Foux turned to me, “Chou? B0?”
“Yalla, B0!” I said half-convinced. And in a cloud of dust, exhaust and titanium we zoomed through Beirut to sour smelly Qarantina.
“Don’t worry about anything! We’ll just walk in like divas!”
It had been our years old vintage dream to go there together, and finally the fantasy came true: our figures made their wobbly way down the stairs into 80s kitsch.
Foux was the perfect lead. He took me firmly by the hand and into the middle of the club, spun me, threw me, caught me (or didn’t!), held me, swayed me and after one shared drink of vodka-orange, he leaned in and…
“I don’t mean to brag, but I have been told that I’m really good,” he had once said.
Hands up, defense down, he was amazing. Despite our friendship and in spite of everything that would’ve normally deemed this irrational and irregular behavior, it felt surreally appropriate for our fantasy night out.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. I moved to let the tapper through. Tap, tap again. I turned around and saw an all-too familiar face at an all-too wrong timing. My mind spelled w-h-a-a-a-t-?
No this was not happening, no I had not mistakenly subscribed to awkward weekly, my mind was still on the a-a-a- part when he said, “Hey.”
And I say…
…all the wrong things, because I am unprepared for this scenario. My train of thought had sent all its carriages in a wide-eyed frantic search for easy let downs, curtsy retreats and possible reconciliations, but all it could make out was a lonely steaming engine caught between two advancing cargo loads. Here we go…
“What are you doing here? I didn’t expect to see you. I wish you had told me you were coming. This is awkward.”
There was no more smoky mist hanging in the air to conceal disappointment, frustration or any other facial contortion that should not normally appear to Bon Jovi screaming “it’s my life, it is now or never” to the jolly crowd that for a moment thought it would live forever. Tomorrow would come, and tomorrow would still be awkward with a quivering a-a-a-. The situation was crystal clear and surprisingly well lit.
Caught in between what first looked like an exchange of words, then an argument, then a friendly retreat on Foux’s part, I was hoping somebody would take a hint.
I had first met Joos on a dance floor back in April. It was only four months later that we bumped into one another again. Yamamoto was a friend in common and he seemed like a pretty cool character to add to the mix. He was fun and he was funny and I was glad he wasn’t fluent in awkward, so the bumping into became a scheduled event and it looked like Joos was staying on the menu. I was open to the possibility that somehow, somewhere I would meet a guy who would not read into my sociability and no-fuss attitude as an invitation to find a hidden agenda behind good chemistry. Most people told me I was delusional, “and especially in Lebanon!”
Maybe I took “He’s just not that into you” book too seriously and maybe I wrongly expected of others to be versed in its rather basic philosophy, but if I were into you, you would know. But as Key explained to me “girls here are passive” and anything short of bitchy can easily be interpreted as a green light. So I say…poor Joos! I would hate to be in his maladroit shoes! What a chore it must be to be a man in the dating game – no wonder there are PUAs and AFCs and forums that teach men how to upgrade their status from beta to alpha. And as much as I feel bad for the men who must measure every single one of our moves against some self-professed love guru’s calibrations, I feel just as sad for the women who are taught from day one that they must wait for the knight in shining armor to slay the dragon and rescue them from their tower. The dragon might as well be the future in-laws, the tower built with the bricks of patriarchy, and the knight just a poor consequence of the two with a bad case of the Madonna-whore complex – which Virgin Gaga wouldn’t grow her hair to escape this nuthouse? The answer is – very few.
Poor Joos and poor me – screwed by two ends of the same system.
But all this empathy and self-pity comes later. I tug Foux by his arm and tell him that I want to leave. “But we are having fun!” he whines!
Eventually, he goes up for a last smoke, while I ineffectively try to butter the Joos dilemma with worthless peanuts.
“Who is that guy? Is he your ex-boyfriend?”
“I can’t tell you. It’s complicated.” I exacerbated the situation.
“Is he even straight?!”
I had had enough. What the hell was this? Jerry Springer? The “makhasne” switch in my head was flicked. You brought this upon yourself Joos, and I didn’t need or want to make it clearer to you any longer.
“I don’t need to explain myself. I have to go, the car is here.”
“Because I’m going back with him!”
“Because I came with him!”
The glamour of dialogue under influence didn’t stop there. In the car, Foux just kept repeating, “I’m so fucked.”
In the parking lot, in the car, under the gaze of the uniformed McDonald’s drive-thru boy, we dug into a happy meal, and kissed between the bites of sin-filled heaven.
“We are not going to…!”, announced Foux, clearly entertaining the opposite possibility, in light of his two week old adventure with his ex.
We didn’t, but instead we stopped the car in the middle of nowhere and danced self-indulgently beneath a street lamp. When the song was over, we hopped back into the car, and as I turned to fasten my seatbelt, the cops were already by Foux’s side, their window down, not saying a word, two pairs of eyes looking at us. We tried to squeeze every ounce of sobriety and innocence unto our facials expressions. An intense stare later, they motioned for us to drive in front of them.
“Drive. Sloooowly.” I squealed.
“We’re so fucked.”