Every Egyptian girl goes through the same thing but Sally Sampson has her own way of dealing with the eternal questioning about when she's going to get married...
My mobile phone goes off. It’s permanently set to vibrate (I hate all ringtones) and is always under my pillow, so I often awake feeling that someone is progressively, but very violently tasering my temples. I open one eye, and I’m immediately blinded by the sunlight pouring into the room. This does not, in any way, help the chronic early morning blurred vision I’m prone to experiencing daily. I forcefully urge my other eye to open, trying to adjust the wonky eyesight that is currently making my phone look more like a vibrating walky-talky than anything else. I open and close my eyes a couple of times to no avail, trying to think if someone could’ve possibly managed to slip something in my drink the night before…
Probably not. No one ever tries to drug the paranoid girl in the corner, holding on to her drink like it contains the secret to everlasting youth or long-lasting orgasms. Plus, I’m lying on my best friend’s couch in her living room a.k.a. party central where she, her husband, my little sister and I (hold on to your fucking hats!) watched television the evening before, had dinner and then went to bed at as reasonable an hour as we could. I know… my party-girl lifestyle is the envy of many!
My eyes slowly adjust to the light and I am able to make out that my best friend (not the one whose couch I’m sleeping on) is calling. I love her, but I decide to cancel…if it’s urgent, she’ll call back, I tell myself. She calls back so I figure that she’s trapped under a burning truck somewhere and there is literally no one else to save her barbequed ass but me, so I answer.
FRIEND: Are you still sleeping?’ Why? You usually wake up so early? Why haven’t you woken up yet?
I’m sure there is an emergency at this point. Something horrible must’ve happened for her to be calling me so early on a Friday surely.
ME: What’s up, babe? Is everything alright?
FRIEND: The tailor called and the dresses are finished. So are you free to meet up today for a fitting?
Oh, I forgot to mention that my friend is a bride-to-be, which basically means that as her bridesmaid, it is my duty to be supportive and caring, no matter how many sleep cycles she makes it her mission to disturb.
I’m kidding, of course (sort of)…I really am excited to be her bridesmaid and this is actually the first time I’m ever going to be a bridesmaid. The thing I’m not excited about, however, is the fact that this reminds my mother and father that I am as close to marriage as Adolf Hitler is to being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Recently, I had to have an uncomfortable conversation (another one!) with my parents where my mother sat there gushing about how she wanted me to eventually get married and have kids with a good man (translation: the man of her choice) before my ovaries shrivelled up and my father stared at me intensely for about half an hour before asking ‘Do you not like men?’ in a tone that made me want to burst out into side-splitting laughter, even though I could sense that he was probably vocalising one of his biggest fears.
I’m fairly immune to it by now though. This isn’t the only time I’ve been subjected to these sorts of entreating, imploring, look-into-my-eyes-and-let me-hypnotise-you appeals. It’s not just my parents either (as if that wasn’t bad enough)…it’s almost everyone and everything around me! For example, most of the girls from my class at university are either married, engaged, pregnant with their first baby or pregnant with their second child. In comparison, most days, I’m just pregnant with good old fashioned deep fried ‘this probably isn’t even chicken’ spicy strips from KFC … (yeah I know it’s gross but I’m sort of obsessed with them at the moment..)
One of the drivers that take me home from work has brought up my single status a couple of times as well. “You’re going to be too old soon! Don’t put yourself in a position where you might do something wrong because you’ve been waiting for so long!” he states, donning the air of a wise older brother telling his sister not to pick her nose. He’s says this to me fairly often and every time, he pauses and looks over at me to make sure that I’m catching on to his not-so-subtle hints. I, in return, always nod profusely, making it my mission to look like a bobble-head, just to make sure he knows that I know that he’s talking about sex and not about going on a field trip to a candy floss factory without my parents’ consent.
It’s my driver’s suggestions, however, regarding how to get married ASAP, that always have me in hysterics (and not in a good way). During one of the infinite times we were having this same conversation, he looked at me like he’d just discovered uranium and said, “Don’t you have any male cousins?” I’m not going to lie; I almost projectile vomited onto the dashboard. What the hell was he on about now?
“What the hell are you on about now?” I said to him mortified at what was being suggested.
“Cousins! Marry one of your cousins! They’re part of your family, so you know them. And it’ll be good for you.”
“I don’t want to marry my cousins! That’s gross…they’re like my brothers! Besides, you’re not supposed to marry your first cousins…I don’t want babies that will make the Chucky doll look the cutest thing since Justin Bieber’s haircut, just because I couldn’t be fucked to expand the gene pool a little…!!!” (Note: I probably didn’t say it exactly like that, but you get the gist.)
“I married my cousin and our baby is fine….”
Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth! Yep, that was fucking awkward. After the palpable silence between us had faintly simmered down, I giggled nervously and muttered that I was happy that he was happy and that I was even more glad that his baby wasn’t growing an extra limb out of her forehead (again, maybe not exactly in those words), but marrying my cousins wasn’t going to happen so he needed to go back to the drawing board.
“What about second cousins?”
I didn’t even bother answering!
The other day I went to my little sister’s school where they were having parent-teacher conferences (don’t ask me why I was there!) and even sitting there with my own mother, I was subjected to the wide-eyed fawning mothers (or hunters I like to call them!) of the other children, latching on to my mom and saying things like “Oh my God, this is your oldest child? Masha’allah!! She’s a ‘arousa’! You know, I know someone who is looking for someone! What do you think??”
I fucking hate that word by the way. Arousa!!! In Arabic, (for all you non-Arabic speakers) it literally means a doll, a bride or someone who is old enough to be a bride a.k.a. moi! Ew! Even the cultural significance behind the linguistics of being called a doll (having to be a beautiful, blank, stationary, complacent thing that you carry under your arm etc.) is enough to make me sick. Why can’t we be called ‘warriors’ or ‘leaders’ or ‘visionaries’ when we come of age…why the fuck do we have to be likened to empty-eyed, picture-perfect dolls?
That’s a whole other rant, though…
I just want to take this opportunity to say that I’m not opposed to marriage. I firmly believe that it can be a beautiful thing, but only when it’s done for the right reasons. The right reasons, however, do NOT include getting too old, being scared of losing your virginity before you get married, trying to cover up the fact that you lost your virginity before you got married, or because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. That’s horseshit…and a recipe for disaster.
Anyway, I just want to state for the record that I am extremely happy for my friend that’s getting married, (even though she did abruptly arouse me from a dream where someone was offering me expensive crackers) and I’m so honoured to be her bridesmaid, but I’m also so incredibly happy that it’s her and not me walking down that aisle, because I know that it’s not something I’m ready for yet, no matter what everyone in the world may be telling me. At the moment, I’m happy being a BITCH, a bridesmaid, and the bride’s bitch, but certainly not the bride.
For now, I hold on to these words by the legendary Groucho Marx:
“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”
I probably will end up in an institution anyway, all dressed in white… but my garment of choice may very well be a straight jacket and not a wedding dress! I’m not too fussed about it just yet though.
So here’s to my friend, the beautiful bride, warrior, leader, visionary (not a fucking arousa!) whom I love and who often forgives me when I go on ranting about things that she thinks aren’t really an issue in the first place!
It’s okay, because I’ve forgiven her as well for waking me up early on my weekend, to tell me to go to a dress fitting that got cancelled later on in the day.Oh yeah! Cherry on top: there was no fitting after all!Good times…#onlymarginallybitter