Georgetown is beautiful in September and even more in Autumn. I felt at a loss for words after the mini confessional between Adam and I. The few minutes of silence allowed me time to regroup and shift my energy. There are people who make a significant impact in your life; whether positively and negatively. What is important is to not hold onto the narrative but to evolve from the experience.
Dapper Dean was a significant lesson for me in numerous ways. However, what was lingering from the lesson was why? What was my karmic contract with him? Everybody you come into contact with, on this earth, serves a [karmic] purpose. The revelation, with Ambitious Adam, was confirmation that I had to live out a negative karmic deal. The manner in which I unintentionally hurt Adam, came back in the form of my encounter with Dapper Dean.
Months after the fall out with Dapper Dean, I felt that I was given the closure I needed to let it go. To close off the reoccurring recital between Dean and I. Maybe I was ready to actually have a conversation with him. As of right now, however, I am in the beautiful and captivating city of Washington D.C. and in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Georgetown.
The awkward silence between Adam and I was resounding.
“I can’t believe you’re actually a lawyer!”
“Want to see my gavel?” he said, winking and giving that left dimple another show.
“No.” I crossed my arms over my chest and started thinking of Georgetown cupcakes.
Don’t judge me.
We pulled up to the restaurant and I noticed a lady standing off to the side of the entryway. She wore an ivory fur coat and large sunglasses, even though it wasn’t sunny and it was only 60 degrees. Her mouth was clamped shut so tight; it looked like she may need a crane to help open it.
“Ezeik Tunt,” (How are you, Auntie?) I leaned in to kiss her cheek.
She didn’t budge an inch nor return the greeting. Yet, as soon as she saw Adam, she became mobile. She flung her arms around his neck and kissed his cheeks feverishly.
“Hi mama! This is Jehan. Jehan, this is my mom.”
I smiled through the gut wrenching thought that this was going to be a very long lunch.
The restaurant was empty, for my luck. We were seated at the corner in front of the bay window. Adam held the seat out for his mother and even helped her sit down by taking a hold of her arm and easing her into the chair.
I took my seat and sat on my hands, to calm the shaking. I don’t know why I was so nervous. It’s not like I haven’t mingled with adults before. But Adam’s mother was by far the most intimidating woman I’ve met to date.
“So, how do you like the city?” I asked hoping that striking up conversation would help ease the energy.
She answered by pursing her lips firmly.
Adam laid his hand on her arm and turned to me, “She only speaks Arabic.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know she doesn’t speak English!” Feeling slightly relieved that she wasn’t blatantly ignoring me; I relaxed back into my seat.
“No, she does. But she refuses to speak to Arabs in English.”
Just kidding, I’m back to being nerved, learning that she is blatantly ignoring me.
Adam sensed my averseness. “You speak Arabic though, so it’s all good.”
I stared at him.
“Right?” he pressed.
“I mean, like elementary level. I understand perfectly fine but I am shy to speak because I have an accent.” I could feel the heat rising from my neck coloring my cheeks red.
“Oh, well so then you do speak Arabic. You can use this as an opportunity to practice,” Adam smiled and kept his hand on his mother’s arm.
But, I don’t want to practice speaking Arabic. And if I did, I don’t want to do so under the impression that I’ll be giving a pass or fail. If I knew there’d be an exam at lunch, I wouldn’t have even shown up.
Adam’s mother kept her sunglasses on and was tapping her fingers on the table. Each finger fell in succession of another. The rapid tapping added to my growing agitation.
The waiter filled our water glasses and started to recite the daily specials. All the while, Adam’s mother remained controlled like a statue. He ordered a selection of appetizers for the table and turned to me to spark conversation.
“So, Jehan. What took you out to California?”
Adam’s hand remained implanted on his mother’s arm.
“For work. I got a promotion and-”
Adam interrupted me, “fil araby ya Jehan”
“You asked me in English!”
“Bas mumkin enti be calam fe araby?” he replied.
Memories of my 8th grade Spanish class flashed before my eyes. Last time I was put on the spot to speak in a different language, in front of an audience, I froze. Minutes later, I stammered through the most simple sentence before shutting down and going mute, entirely. My brain and my tongue knew how to speak Arabic but being put in a situation where I felt judged phonetically was very unsettling. My old habit of stuttering, when nervous, came back for a little visit.
“I-I,” I took a deep breath and cleared my throat, “I’m n-n-ot comfortable speaking Arabic.”
Adam’s eyebrows raised and he smiled, “I didn’t know you stutter?”
“I don’t normally! Thought I fixed this as a child, after years of speech therapy. Thanks for pointing it out, captain obvious,” I said.
“No, it’s cute,” Adam’s attention was diverted towards his mother tugging on his shirtsleeve. After the mannequin, otherwise known as his mother, whispered in his ear, Adam shifted his focus back to me.
“My mom wants to know where your parents are from.” Adam was now playing interpreter.
“My mother is from Cairo and my father is from Alexandria. What about you? Where is your family from?”
“No, where specifically?” Adam asked.
“Like, what neighborhood?” I tilted my head to the side contemplating if I should give them the street addresses and their social security numbers as well. “My mom is from Heliopolis and my dad is from La Run. Maybe we should just settle with appetizers, I can’t stay long. I don’t want to miss my connection flight.”
The remainder of the lunch was a background check from hell. My entire family history was questioned. Far back to my great great maternal grandparents, Adam and his mother were now well versed on the historical account of my lineage. In fact, they have enough material for a short documentary. Throughout the duration of the interrogation, Adam’s mother did not flinch. She didn’t eat or drink. Perhaps she wasn’t even mortal. Maybe she was an immortal being that could live off air. We exited the restaurant and as soon as we approached the car, I wasn’t sure if I should extend my hand out for a goodbye shake or give her the customary cheek kiss.
“It was nice meeting you Tunt,” I nervously said and stood by the car.
“Oh come on, you can give her hug, Jehan. She wont bite,” Adam laughed and gestured with his hands for us to hug. I stepped forward and extended my arms, thinking she’d meet me half way. She didn’t. So I leaned in further and forced a hug.
I walked past Adam and immediately retreated to the back seat of the car. I quickly retrieved my phone from my handbag and texted my mom in a fury, “ADAM’S MOTHER IS NOT HUMAN. THAT WAS THE WORST LUNCH OF MY LIFE. I THINK SHE WORK’S FOR THE EGYPTIAN FBI.”
“That went great! I think she totally loves you!” Adam said as he shut the car door.
“You’re joking, right?”
“No, I think it went well. I mean, you should have spoken in Arabic, out of respect.”
“Respect? Your mother was aphonic, the entire time. If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t even know she was mortal. She didn’t move.” My phone started buzzing with my mother’s text messages.
“What did you do now?” read my mother’s text.
Before I could respond, in my defense, I was distracted by Adam’s idiocrasy. “It’s customary to speak to the parents in Arabic. I’ll do the same when I meet your parents.”
“You’re meeting my parents?” I asked amused with how fast this escalated. “Who said you’re meeting my parents? And even if you do, they wouldn’t expect you to speak to them in Arabic. Nor would they drill you with 101 questions about your ancestry.”
Adam’s phone rang. He placed his index finger up in mid air to silence me.
“Hey mama!” Adam said gleefully.
It wasn’t even five minutes since we left the restaurant and his mother called. True, I did reach for my phone immediately upon entering the car to text my own mother, however, that’s different. I wasn’t just at a lunch with her minute’s prior. I was officially in the car with an Egyptian Justin Bieber but I was not a “Belie-ber”
I closed my eyes and sunk back into the seat. Soon, I’ll be on a plane to California. I’ll be back in my routine of my simple life and I can put this day behind me. Since I didn’t get to indulge in a Georgetown cupcake, I’ll treat myself to Susiecakes in Los Angeles. Maybe even 2 since I survived that horrific lunch.
Adam reached over and lightly squeezed my knee, “I told you! My mom loves you! She just called to give her approval.”
“Approval?” I sat up as fast as Lindsey Lohan’s 2006 moral decline.
“Yeah, you know, a mother’s approval is pivotal for a relationship,” Adam said matter of fact.
“Adam, I already am “approved”. I don’t need nor seek anybody’s approval.”
“You’re taking this the wrong way. This is how we do these things. In our culture, we seek approval from the parents. You know, like seeking their blessing.”
“No, I wasn’t raised that way,” I said bluntly.
“Relax, Jehan. This is all a good thing. I’ll be back in L.A. in a few days. Let’s continue this conversation over dinner when I’m back.”
Adam had a problem with comprehension.
“Thank you for lunch. Please give my regards to your mother but I don’t think dinner in L.A. will be necessary. This entire thing (I said while waving my hand in a circular motion) was bizarre. Have a safe trip back.” I gathered my purse and stepped out of the car.
“Jehan, wait!” Adam tripped out of the car and stumbled his way towards me. “Give me a chance. You’re making a quick harsh decision. Look, ok … maybe meeting my mother was too soon. I want you to know, I’m serious about this. Just give me a chance.”
I inhaled deeply and studied his eyes for a few seconds. “I don’t know. Let me sit with this for a bit.” I placed my hand on his arm and said goodbye.
He had a good point. He was at least being straightforward and respectful adhering to the way he was brought up. I may be making too quick of an exit but who wouldn’t want to? This situation was outlandish. These scenarios made me question the forced custom in which Arab’s date. I never identified my dating practice as being “Arab.” I have conservative boundaries, that are based off my religion and spirituality, not my ethnic identity. What happened to dating the authentic way? In which two individuals want to get to know one another, out of mutual admiration, attraction and genuine interest? When did we correlate dating to marking off prerequisites off a checklist?
Stay tuned for next week, to find out if I gave Ambitious Adam a second … err … third chance!