The Thursday Experience

The Thursday Experience

Ring, ring.
Me: “What is it, auntie? I’m asleep.”
Auntie: “How are you doing, dear?”
Me: “I’m sleeping now, auntie. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Auntie: “There’s something urgent I need to tell you.”
Me: “What is it?”
Auntie: “Tante Hoda was with some of her relatives who just got back from Kuwait.
They’re looking for a new school and wanted to ask a few things about your school.
Can you meet her Thursday at 7 at the sports club?
Me: “Next Thursday won’t work.
Give me her phone number and I’ll answer her questions over the phone.”
Auntie: “Why? We’ll arrange it on another day then.”
Me: “Give me her number and I’ll arrange it with her.”

I called Tante Hoda and quickly realized that the whole school and Kuwait thing wasn’t real.
I could’ve told my auntie that I knew what she was trying to do,
But I wanted to put an end to all future attempts at finding me a husband.
So I went to the club and met auntie, Tante Hoda, and the suitor—tall, with glasses, and eyes on the floor.

Tante Hoda: “Hello, dear. This is Mohamed, my nephew.”
Me: “Oh, you’re back from Kuwait?”
Auntie: “Kuwait? This is Mohamed, Tante Hoda’s nephew.”
Me: “Isn’t he the one in ninth grade?”
Mohamed (laughing and blushing): “No, actually. I’m not.”
Auntie: “He’s a professor at university.”
Me: “Really? But you look so young!”
Auntie: “How are you doing?”
Me: “I’m well. What about you?”
Auntie: “All is well. How was the show last night? Did you have fun?”
Me: “What show?”
Auntie: “That show you were excited to see.”
Me: “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”
Auntie: “The show…the one that…”
Auntie got nervous.
Me (finally): “Oh, you mean Reda’s Band? It was great, but I didn’t have fun.”
Auntie and Tante Hoda: “Why not?”
Me: “I had a stomach ache.”
Tante Hoda: “I hope you feel better. Do you have the stomach flu?”
Me: “No. But I had a big meal yesterday at Al-Madbah. Do you know it?”
Tante Hoda: “Yes, the one under the bridge?”
Me: “Let’s cut to the chase. I’ll get out my notebook so we could talk about school.”
Auntie and Tante Hoda: “Let’s!”
I took out a bunch of weird things from the bag.
Tarot cards…a magic box….
Mohamed inspected them with his eyes.
Tante Hoda: “What are those things, dear?”
Me: “I give a class on magic. I’m really into these things.”
Auntie: “Are those game cards?”
Me: “Please don’t make fun of the cards.
They’re full of frightening spirits.”
Auntie: “Are you going to read them for us?”
Me: “Read them for you? Easy.
Everyone pick a card and concentrate.
Feel the energy emanating from the card.
Close your eyes, please.”
They close their eyes and held their cards in the air.
I opened my eyes and showed them my card.
I looked at Tante Hoda’s card and stared at her.
Me: “Why are you running away? Why?”
Tante Hoda: “You’re right.”
Auntie (nervously laughing): “See, Hoda? Our girl is unique!”
Me: “Unique? What do you mean, auntie?”
Auntie: “It’s a good thing.”
Me (looking at Tante Hoda): “What does my auntie mean?
Is being unique a bad thing?”
Tante Hoda: “No, dear. It’s a good thing!”
Me: “Okay. I thought otherwise. Now let’s talk about school.”
Auntie: “Let’s.”
Me: “We’ve got three systems—national, American and British.”
Auntie: “Tell them about the extracurricular activities you did with the kids.”
Me: “What extracurricular activities?”
Auntie: “That thing with colors.”
Me: “I didn’t do that.”
Mohamed (looking at me and mumbling):
“I understand what your auntie is talking about.
I once attended a seminar where, before they began,
They made everyone stand in line and throw a teddy bear to one another.
This supposedly helps get the message across.”
Me: “I understand what you mean.
I’ve seen that before.
But not in education,
Maybe in theatre or acting.”
Me (looking at Tante Hoda): “I’m an actress, you see.
Next year will be all about cinema and TV.”
Tante Hoda: “Why, dear? You don’t like teaching?”
Me: “Education nowadays is seriously affected by capitalism.
And it’s hard for a communist like me to deal with it.”
Auntie: “Communist?”
Me: “Yes, I’m a communist.”
Auntie: “Communism came to an end with the Soviet Union, dear.”
Me: “Because America imposed restrictions on them.
If it weren’t for that, they would have succeeded in spreading communism all over the world!”
Tante Hoda: “Why would we want such a thing?”
Me: “Do you being imprisoned?
Do you like not having the freedom of exploration?
School, university, work, marriage, children,
It’s like we’re caught in a circle!”
Auntie: “What are people supposed to do?”
Me: “Every person should live in a different country every three years.
That’s why I’m moving to Argentina in June!”
Mohamed: “I think I understand what you mean.
I’ve travelled to China once to attend a conference.
It was really nice.
But I felt homesick.
Me: “I’ll ask you something, Mohamed.
When you were in China, did you stay at a hotel or at a hostel?”
Mohamed: “A hotel. Sorry.”
Me: “Why, Mohamed? That means the whole experience went to waste.”
Auntie: “Let’s go get juice, Hoda.
Let them talk about capitalism and communism all they want.
Okay, Noony?”
Me: “Yes, please leave us alone for a while!”
I felt sorry for the poor guy.
I explained to him that I was putting up an act.
I told him to tell his aunt that I’ve been nothing but a disgrace.
Then I left.
What happened next was a total surprise.

Auntie: “The guy likes you despite that act you put on.
He knows you did that because you’re against the idea of arranged marriage,
And that it’s not personal.”
Me: “How can you possibly think he’s suitable for me?”
Auntie: “What’s wrong with him?
He comes from a good family and he’s well-mannered.”
Me: “So? What good is that?”
Auntie: “It means he’s a kind man who won’t give you a hard time.”
Me: “Wow! Those are some unique characteristics indeed.
Am I that desperate?
You think I’m looking for a kind man who won’t give me a hard time?
Didn’t you say I was one of a kind?
He didn’t say a word the whole time.
He was red with embarrassment!”
Auntie: “He was shy because it was his first time.”
Me: “That half hour we spent at the club was indeed one of the best experiences!
My plan was to shock you,
But you’re the ones who shocked me!”

He finally got the message
One month after the rejection and not replying to his emails.
I wish I hadn’t felt sorry for him.
Next time, I’m going as a clown!

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