So, I was wrapped up watching Who the (*@$#%) Did I Marry, when I absent-mindedly picked up the phone…
The voice on the other end wasn’t exactly my new date, Mustafa. Do you know what it’s like to get kicked in the throat and it kind of then hits you in the gut? That’s what it felt like when I assumed it was Mustafa on the other end.
After a few seconds of silence, Dean said, “Are you there, J?”
Well, it’s too late to act like I’m deaf and hang up on him. Right?
I cleared my throat, “Yeah? Um… what?”
“Who is Mustafa?” Dean inquired.
“Why are you calling?”
“I wanted to catch up and see how you were doing,” Dean’s voice was unnervingly calm, while I was taking deep breaths to calm my shaky voice. I turned the TV off since the gory scene of a woman’s body being hacked into a million pieces, was not helping.
“I’m fine. Actually, can I call you back? I’m getting another call and I have to take this.” I disconnected before Dean could respond. It wasn’t like I was actually getting another call on the other line, I just desperately needed an excuse to dislodge my heart out of my throat.
I hadn’t spoken to Dean in two months. Mutual friends had informed me that he was wrapped up in an enormous trial so he would soon need to be in Santa Barbara. Thus, he was not in Los Angeles, much.
Well what am I suppose to do now? I thought to myself.
Overwhelmed with thoughts of disbelief and annoyance, I phoned Nadia. You know how this will end up. Nadia phones Sophia, and Sophia phones Salma.
After the first few minutes of me stuttering a slew of mumbled words, Salma interrupted me, “Wait. All I caught was ‘Dean’ and ‘hung up.’ Slow down. What happened?”
“Dean called! I accidentally picked up because I was watching TV and I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t know what to do so I told him I had another call coming in, and then my fingers hung up for me.” The burning sensation in my stomach felt like acid was boiling. I reached for the Tums that laid in the side dish on my coffee table.
The girls talked over each other, one not wanting the other to be too soft with me. Naturally, Nadia’s voice barked louder.
“Do not! I repeat, DO NOT, even think of going back to him!” Nadia bellowed.
“Who said anything about Jehan going back to him?” Salma asked.
Thank you, Sals!
“Yeah! But, maybe he wants to apologize,” I said.
Sophia, the sage master, chimed in. “Do you have space in your heart to forgive him?”
I was caving in. The silence in my room was as thick as Kim Kardashian’s sculpted eyebrows.
“I think I need to hear him out, first. But I can’t right now,” I said meekly.
It was Thursday, the day of my date with Mustafa. He did not call the night before, like he was supposed to. Instead, he sent a text that read,
“Looking forward to tomorrow! I’ll pick you up, at 7 lol.”
I’m not entirely sure what was funny about that and I found it a bit unsettling he wanted to pick me up. I scrolled through my inbox and saw Nadia had sent him my address. Because that’s normal behavior, to send your address to a stranger you virtually just met. Yeah, that’s not like it was the beginning of a twisted scene off a Lifetime movie.
“Do you have space in your heart to forgive him?”
My workday was very peculiar. When I arrived to campus for a meeting with the Provost at University of Southern California, police had blocked off the building of the main entrance. They yellow taped the front end and groups of students circled off to the side. I presented my work badge to try and gain access, but I was denied. “Ma’am this is a crime scene,” Officer Hefty, with his coffee soaked mustache said. My twisted interest in Forensic Files, along with my prying curiosity alerted me to the fact that I might have run into a crime scene.
“What’s going on?” I asked, as if I belonged on the force. Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an object soar down from the rooftop to the ground. From my angle, it looked like an arm! At closer inspection, it definitely was confirmed to be an arm.
That was when I knew; I was in the wrong profession. Hell, anything was better than academic publishing sales.
My boss gave me the rest of the day off, thankfully. Since I was coming straight from work, I kept my Diane Von Furstenberg, navy blue, wrap dress on but switched my heels for a pair of Tory Burch nude flats. My hair was kept off my face, and swept back into a low maintenance bun.
Mustafa sent me texts in 15-minute increments all the way home to my apartment.
“On the highway! Lol”
“Almost at the exit! Lol”
Oh my goodness, he was already on my last nerve. What was next? His bathroom schedule?
I waited for him on the front stoop of my building as planned. The decorative flower bed appeared thirsty from the heat wave. Kids were riding their bikes and the mothers were exchanging recipes and hugs. I reached in my bag to pull out my water bottle, for the flowers, when I heard a loud screech come to an abrupt halt. I dropped my bottle to the ground. Water splashed everywhere, but on the flowers. Irritated, I looked up to see a bright yellow motorcycle glinting in the waning sunlight. The driver pulled up the visor from his helmet, and howled, “Jehan, right?” The guy’s hair was a disheveled black ball. He flashed a Smile Bright smile under a set of wild eyes.
My head snapped back along with my polite tone, “Excuse me?” This COULDN’T be the guy Nadia set me up with, could it?
“It’s me, Mustafa. Get on! We are going to get stuck in traffic on the 405 lol,” he actually said “lol,” (pronounced, law-l). He did not spell out l-o-l, he literally said, lol.
I couldn’t even.
“Um … I don’t know about this-” I began.
“What’s there to not know about? Are you one of those feminazis?”
I squinted my eyes, perched my lips and stared at him bewildered. I couldn’t decide if I should waste my breath on responding or if I should just walk inside and call it a day. He put the kick stand down and parked his bike. He stepped up to the sidewalk, all 5’5 of him.
His online profile had said he was 5’11. I should have known something was off when he was sitting down in all of his pictures.
“Come on, baby. Let’s go,” he reached out and grabbed a hold of my upper arm.
“Woah! I’m not your baby and-” He cut me off mid sentence by lowering his grip on my arm to my elbow instead, then nudged me towards his bike.
I stopped dead in my tracks and yanked my arm out of his death grip. hold.
“Look, Fido. Don’t ever touch me, again. You can go ahead and hop back on your ten speed and get out of here.” I turned on my heel and walked up the stairs towards my apartment building.
“Oh, you’re playing hard to get, I like it! OK, we can order in, instead.” I heard footsteps behind me.
Perhaps the helmet was on too tight and it was suffocating his tiny brain from registering what I had said.
“I’m about to go from zero to crazy in a nanosecond if you don’t leave, now,” I said, while placing my arms across my chest. Mustafa took a few steps back and mustered up a laugh, “OK, girl! I’ll hit you up about another night.”
For the second time since living in Los Angeles, I double locked my door and put a chair behind it — underneath the doorknob for extra security. I logged onto my dating profile and deactivated.
Later that night, Mustafa sent me 40 texts messages and called me thirteen times. We have a term for that in Arabic; it’s called, “Magnoon” (means crazy). Magnoon Mustafa put my definition of crazy to shame.
I wanted to relax in a bubble bath with a good book. I grabbed the lavender, soap, oil and candles. I placed the candles around my white claw foot bath tub. The hot water was sprinkled with a few drops of lavender oil as I set my playlist to classical music. As soon as I lowered myself into the bathtub, the water soaked my skin and all of my stress from the day began to melt away.