Saturday night, we went out to meet some friends at a club. Very nice evening. Being with lots of people you know and running into lots of people you know as opposed to sitting by myself drinking coffee & smoking at a club in a foreign capital where I know so little of the language I couldn't respond properly to friendly overtures if anyone was inclined to make them and am left painfully aware of the fact that am not the most scintillating company when I can't understand a word of the conversation around me.
However, being out on the town with the ones you know and love does have its disadvantages. Like when your husband decides some guy walking past was peering over your shoulder into your cleavage & glares at the guy so fiercely that - this being UAE - a bouncer instantly materializes at your table, asking if you want to complain.
Bouncer: Law fi 7ada za3ijkon. Law eldemoselle bada tishtiki mafi ay moshkila. (If anyone is disturbing you or if mademoiselle would like to complain).
K: Shokran bas hiya mish mademoiselle. Di elmadam. (Thank you but she's not mademoiselle. She's my wife.)
Upon which the bouncer proceeded to ignore everything I said, giving me his back while he finished a conversation with my husband that ended with my husband saying he wanted the guy thrown out.
The bouncer goes off, gets 2 other bouncers & they throw the guy out. Just like that.
It made me FURIOUS because I was sure the guy did NOT peer over my shoulder. If someone was peering over my shoulder from behind DOESN'T ANYONE THINK I WOULD HAVE NOTICED? My husband is just paranoid.
But no one would listen to me when I tried to say that. Not my husband. Not the bouncer. Not my friends. No one.
In my fury, having failed to get through to my husband, I actually went up to the bouncer & subjected him to a tirade - the bulk of which I doubt he heard because the band was back on by then and the music was deafening. In the end, he basically explained that even if the guy hadn't done anything, my husband clearly thought he had and if one of them hadn't been removed from the premises, a fight might have broken out which the bouncers simply won't have.
What could I say? That if one of them had to go I personally thought it should have been my husband because the guy didn't do anything? I was tempted but it seemed disloyal. Instead I mumbled something feeble about how my husband would never resort to violence etc...and the bouncer just smiled at me patronizingly. Defeated, I went back to our table where I sat fuming.
My husband was silent but all our friends took his side, saying they'd seen the guy peering over my shoulder. I am still not wholly convinced. I mean, how could that be? I would have felt SOMETHING. Breath. A shadow. SOMETHING. But I mean 9 people sitting & standing in close proximity can't all be wrong can they?
On the way home, I was silent, staring out of the window. K said that when he gets into fights I don't like it. And when he reacts in a civilized manner, complaining to authorities - no violence, I don't like it either. So what was he supposed to do when someone harrasses me? High-five them? The answer I wanted to give was no let me handle it. I've been taking care of myself for the last 30 years & I've gotten pretty good at it. But I was suddenly too tired and vaguely depressed to bother.
Seeing his point, I decided the fact that he didn't try to hit the guy WAS commendable and a great improvement. Not only did he not hit the guy, he didn't even swear at him or otherwise abuse him which is the least one has learnt to expect from him. Definitely a behavior trend I wanted to reinforce. So I decided to stop complaining.
That's not to say HE had no complaints.
Him: Shoft ezay elragel kan fakrik mademoiselle?(Did you see how the bouncer thought you were a mademoiselle.)
Me (hopefully): 3ashan shakli sgeera? (Because I look too youthful?)
Him: La ya madam. 3ashan mafish wa7da mitgawiza mo7tarama btilbis zayik.(No because no respectable married woman would dress like you.)
Me : Do you mean that I'm not respectable or that all unmarried women are not respectable?
Him: It was a joke.
Me : So you really have no complaints about my dress sense?
Him: I didn't say that.
Me : I'm sorry. What DID you say?
Him: Let me see. How can I put it? I much prefer it when your chest is covered in public.
Me : Well guess what? So do I.
Him: Khalas. Fain elmoshkila?(Great. So where's the problem?)
Me : You think it was all my fault.
Me : Back there. In the club.
Him: Your fault how?
Me : You think that if that guy really did what you said he did, the reason was that my top was too low.
Him: 7abibi I am not interested in his reasoning. I didn't like him seeing your chest. Wala howa wala ghairo.(Or anyone else) Mahom illy kano a23deen ma3ana ma 3amaloosh zayo bas ana ma kontish mabsoot ya3ni in inti a23da kida 2odamhom.(The people we were with didn't do what he did but I still didn't like you sitting infront of them like that (with uncovered chest))
Me : Tayeb if I go out with you in my jalabiya and someone still harasses me?
Him: Yakhod 3ala afah(Egyptian expression meaning the guy should be or would be put in his place I guess). Bas 3ala2al ana hab2a mitdayi2 min 7aga wa7da mish min 7agat.(But at least I will have one thing to be angry about instead of lots of things.)
Me : 7abibi, I don't have a chest. I'm flat. You MUST have noticed.
Him: You are not flat.
Me : No?
Him: No.You have enough for me. And you clearly have enough for that ******* back there. Good enough reason to cover up.
But I didn't care about the guy in the club or women's rights anymore. There were more important things at stake.
Me : How can you say am not flat when you know my cup size?
Him: Your cupsize is too small for you.
Me : What?
Him: Your bras are always too small for you. Why don't you try the things I got you? You never wear them.
I don't. He's bought me lingerie a few times. I wear the knickers and other stuff but never the bras because they're all the wrong size I thought.
Me : Well, they're too big.
Him: Try them.
Out of curiosity, I went home and did. The size I usually wore was 34B. He'd bought me 32C. The fit was about the same to look at. But I had to admit the one he bought was more comfortable.
I couldn't believe the miracle so today at lunch, I went to Marks & Spencer to see a 'lingerie specialist' - a woman who measures you and helps you to find the right underwear sizes to buy. She took my measurements and voila. She suggested 32C.
I was so pleased I ended up buying about a dozen new bras from M&S. I know the difference isn't much but the psychological effect of graduating from B to C was an immeasureable boost to my self-confidence.
Is it possible that all these years I've been wearing the wrong size bra? I thought back to what made me settle on 34B. And then I remembered. It was my mother's size. My first bra was stolen from her. And I just kept on buying the same size.
He may be a male chauvinist with a violent streak but not only does he love my hair, he also thinks am not flat. Thanks to him, I don't FEEL flat anymore (Size C is officially not flat). All my life I've agnoized over my dimunitive breasts and frizzy hair. And now I am free. How can he not be The One?
P.S. Torn between gratitude for the miracle he worked for me & wondering exactly how he became such an expert? I mean, the first bra he ever bought me was way before I'd let him anywhere near my chest and it was size 32C which means that:
a) He can tell just by looking.
b) He didn't learn from me.
I mean, I can't tell other women's sizes just by looking. For years and year, I got my own size wrong. My mother got my size wrong. Even the M&S 'lingerie specialist' had to use a measuring tape to tell me. But he gets it right on the first guess. With no help from measuring tape or other, more advanced technology. Go figure!