We Have a Suitor!

by jdeena

The four most dreaded words in a 30-something Arab female’s life are:

“You have a suitor.”

Now, growing up in the US always gave me mixed feelings when it came to suitors. On the one hand, you feel a sense of 1800’s flattery that a man whom you don’t know yet has heard of you and your beauty and requests the honor of coming to see you. On the other hand, it also makes you feel like cattle, waiting on display for the farmer to come around, check your physical appearance, and deem you fit or not to produce milk. I know I may be exaggerating a bit (at least in regards to US customs) but really how can anyone feel comfortable in such a situation? It makes me feel like I have to be on my best behavior since the guy and I will spend time talking within a group made up of our families, and then when we are given the opportunity to go to the other room and talk it’s like a rapid-fire interview with the questions pertaining only to marriage and kids:

“How many kids do you want?”

“Will you work after having kids?”

“How soon do you want kids after we are married?” (I’m thinking: “…after we are married?” Dude…I just met you.)

“What’s your ideal length of an engagement?”

And so on. I usually tune out, make up ridiculous answers (like, “I don’t want kids,” “I’d rather adopt,” “A two year engagement is ideal.” I do everything in my power to try and steer the guy away from ever wanting to see me again. But no matter how hard I try, they always call back the next day wanting to see me again. WHY GOD WHY?

The reason for this reminiscent blog is because I heard these same four dreaded words yesterday afternoon.

My phone rings, and it says “Fetoosh” on the screen (which is my parent’s restaurant.)

Me: “Hello”

Mom: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Hanging around the house, reading, watching TV.”

Mom: “You have a suitor.” (Yup, just like that…no preliminary build-up.)

Me: “Umm…” Silence.

Mom: “Jinan! Don’t start that!”

Me: Silence. (I still don’t know what to say. It’s been three years since we’ve had this issue.)

Mom: “Ayman led him to us. He’s 40, lives in Ottowa, Canada and is working on his PhD. He’s tall and built….you know what I mean? Not fat, but wide…like built.” (She really did say all this, just in Arabic. I’m translating word for word.)

Me: “Ok, FINE.” (I am ready to scream)

Mom: “I wanted to make sure you agreed before we had him come down to see you.”

Me: “NO! I don’t even know this guy. I’m not having him come see me if I don’t even like him. Give him my email first and we’ll talk that way.”

Mom: (Probably overjoyed that I agreed at all) “Okay, okay we’ll tell him.”

Me: Hangs up phone and bursts into tears.

Ok. I know that isn’t the most appropriate way to react to this. But seriously….I felt like I was ambushed. Just recently I was telling a friend how my parents have given up on setting me up and have focused on my younger sister’s upcoming nuptials. Guess I was wrong. Here they were scheming behind my back this whole time.

So now what? I’ve said before that I hate setups. What am I supposed to do when the guy emails me? I could be myself, and miracle of miracles he could actually like me. Or I could just pretend to be the typical Arab girl and answer all the questions in the way he expects me to. I know that he could end up being a great guy. I know that this could be the chance my entire life’s hardships has led me to. But the pessimist in me refuses to believe that.

It is so unfair that we have to endure these incidents in the 21st century. All I wanted was to meet the man of my dreams, become best friends, then fall in love. I don’t know if I will ever be able to see a relationship blossom from a setup for myself. I know what my parents are thinking: I’ll be 32 in a few months, and if I meet someone now I could be married by (if not before) my 33rd birthday. Even writing out these numbers and seeing them on my computer screen just now can’t seem to register with the person living inside me. I just don’t feel this age and I’m afraid I never will and therefore will stay single until one day I wake up, 50 and alone (but still looking 30!).

Sigh. Here goes nothing.