Sunday, October 31, 2010

Letters from Egypt: All Things Trivial

My best friend and her husband before their wedding. She somehow figured out the secret to finding a decent man.
To be quite honest, I really don’t know what my problem was when I lived in the US, particularly NYC. I used to complain worse than the ladies of Sex and the City when it came to my dating life.
Then I had a reality call that I think all of you should have. Mine was moving to Egypt. However, it wasn’t until this last trip back home that I realized how crazy I used to be (and to be fair, my craziness is still probably very prevalent in other aspects).
It isn’t as though I’m looking to settle down anytime soon, but I used to whine whine WHINE about the guys back home. There were the guys that still lived with their parents at the age of 32 (ah hem, if you live in NY and a guy tells you he has his own apartment and it’s the basement apartment, that means his grandmother lives on the first floor and his parents live on the second floor); there was the guy that took me to a strip club; there were the guys who were married desperately trying to hide the bulging wedding band that they’d just slipped off into their pocket; the guy who sang “She’s Like the Wind” full blown while stroking my head like a dog; and trust me, I have plenty more although I’m pretty sure I should keep some things to myself.
Take all of those experiences (multiplied by 100 more give or take), and here’s what you face in Egypt:

Jealousy – I particularly like when I need a lighter and the guy I’m with goes to find me one when I don’t understand, why didn’t he just ask the guy smoking directly in front of me? So while he goes off, I just ask the guy only for my guy to return to yell at me for remotely talking to another man while he was there. Apparently, it’s disrespectful, no matter how innocent your intentions are.

Misunderstood – The above story leads into the guy that actually lit my cigarette who, although could clearly see I was with someone else, began following me around and continuously hitting on me. Apparently asking for a lighter is a big pick up line here.

Mistaken Identity – As if smoking wasn’t bad enough, smoking in public must equal being a ‘working girl.’

Double Standards – Because as long as you’re a foreigner, it’s okay if you aren’t a virgin, but don’t expect anything serious or to remotely meet the family – that’s reserved for those that are worthy and you’ll never be good enough. Arranged marriages are still big here and let’s be clear, mommy dearest isn’t going to allow some floozy to be in her family. I mean, your passport might be good enough and that foreign salary, but you – no, you’ll never be.

Conflict of Interest – No matter how open-minded you may be and he may say he is, if you are religious, be cautious. As a female, you are not required to convert to Islam, but you are required to raise your children Muslim. Please look for a future blog on things you should know before getting married in Egypt such as rules, dowry, what you can put in your contract, etc.

And finally, Cultural Differences – This may not seem like an issue at the time, but for me, I want someone who gets my idiotic Jersey Shore references, when I say “Frogger,” not only do I want you to know it’s an arcade game, but I want you to laugh remembering the Seinfeld episode with George moving the game throughout the streets in NY. I want to talk about football – American football – and how Brett Favre just needs to retire when he says he’s going to, or how the NBA isn’t as good as what I remembered growing up, and how I would like to see the Mets win the World Series again before I die.

I was riding on the subway one day and I noticed this relatively attractive guy staring at me. Perhaps it is from being here so long and maybe I never noticed it before, but people stare a lot in the US. I was thinking, “Why is this guy staring at me? Do I have something on my face? My nose is runny, but do I have grossness left from my tissue?” Then I thought about how many attractive people I saw on the subway platform and I was like, “Wow – I miss this.”

Fist pumping the night away with my Snookie Halloween costume
I used to play this game each day when riding the subway to work. If this was my last train ride ever, who on here would I…well, you can fill in the blanks. And without fail, everyday, I’d say, “Damn, I got on the ugly car.” Twenty minutes into the ride, I’d look around and say, “Alright, he’s not so bad.” Thirty minutes, “Okay, yeah, him.” And forty minutes would have me nearly jumping the guy all because we lower our standards and pick the best of the rest.
I feel that’s what I’ve been succumbed to in Egypt, although I haven’t really picked anyone. So when going back home, I was like a kid in a candy store. I was so excited to be able to talk sports, throw out the frogger reference a few times, laugh at the Jersey Shore, etc.
My point is, all the things that used to throw me off about guys at home, well, most of those hang-ups seem trivial now considering what I face each day. Find a foreigner in Egypt you say? That’s funny, most of them are no better. So my subway analogy is still applicable to Egypt: you realize that the guys at home aren’t so bad after all.

Disclaimer: For those of you reading this and you recognize that you were mentioned above, don’t feel bad – at least I didn’t mention your name. After all, this is supposed to be a reference tool. So now you know, don’t do it again. You’ll never have another chance with me, but use it in the future.

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