My first date with Rashed is tonight. I wear tight jeans with the highest heels my feet can bear. I have never been one to chase Saddle bags and knee-length skirts in the perfect shade of beige. Men do not care about that nonsense.
I gather my hair in a ponytail and go over my plan one final time. My mission for the next 20 dates is to be a breath of fresh air, someone who has an innate understanding of who he is as a man. Hands soft, back straight, eyes on him and only him at all times.
You may be wondering why I am going to all this trouble for a recently divorced man with a couple of kids. For women like me, the ones who, for whatever absurd and random reasons, weren’t quite eligible enough to marry a catch on the way out, our only hope is to land one on the way back.
I have been doing well. Rashed makes every attempt to impress me. He is hooked. On date 21 we are having dinner at a new restaurant. He tells me it reminds him of a quaint little fish place in Positano. He tells me he would like to take me there one day. I tell him that sounds absolutely magical. I decide to make my next move. “Speaking of fish, mama makes an incredible sayyadeyyeh, you should come visit.” He agrees to come over for lunch the following week.
On our first of hopefully many “big” days, Rashed arrives 45 minutes late, empty handed, with his two children. The son seems quite harmless. The daughter, who looks exactly like her mother, gives me an icy glance. Like most women, she doesn’t like me. It hurts. She doesn’t even know me. My eldest brother calls me to the kitchen. Hada ma biyastahallik. He doesn’t approve. For a second, I cannot breathe in my baby blue jumpsuit. If he ruins this for me, I will never speak to him again.
After lunch, I serve coffee and the room is quiet. No one touches their cup. Everyone is waiting for Rashed to say something. He clears his throat. This is it.
And he finally says, “Thank you for a lovely lunch, we really must go.”
My brother’s wife tells me to walk away. She tells me the right man will never give me a hard time. I wish she would just be quiet. In any case, I had already made up my mind. I was determined to see this through.
Dallik warah, Sama.
To read the other parts click here.