Sitting with some friends at a coffee shop in Abu Dhabi mall, I look out of the window and catch sight of my husband. He's with 'the guys' at the swimming pool in the Beach Rotana Hotel - next door to Abu Dhabi mall. At least he told me before he left that he was going out with the guys.
It wasn't planned. He didn't know where I was. And I didn't know where he was. But I look out of the window and there he is. Abu Dhabi is like really, really small.
I watch them for a while then I notice myself getting distracted, missing out on the conversation. So I turn from the window and tell myself to stop being pathetic. I had no reason to ogle him like that. I was going home to him. This was an unhealthy obssession I had to get over. Pronto. Blah, blah, blah...Yeah right.
I did get over it for about 15 minutes. We were having a heated discussion about something or the other and for 15 whole minutes, I actually forgot that he was out there if I just turn my head to the right. More to the point, I forgot that he didn't know he was being watched.
Why was that so irresistable? The opportunity to watch him without his knowledge? It wasn't attraction. At least not entirely. It was the chance to be a fly-on-the-wall that was getting to me.
They looked like they were having fun. Standing in the water near the edge of the pool, all with colorful, exotic, highly-alcoholic-looking drinks in hand - except him. Laughing and goofing around. How is it that people drink so much when they're swimming? Doesn't it slow down your reflexes? What if you pass out in the water?
It didn't bother me though. Not right away. Was enjoying the show. Smiling to myself like an idiot because seeing him laugh will always make me smile. I saw his friends making fools of themselves trying to pick up girls. And I saw one of them succeed in picking up two - despite the obvious drunken lack of finesse.
And so it went. The group around him and his friends kept getting bigger and smaller as people joined for a while and then swam out into the water or climbed out to lie around sunbathing. Some of the people I knew and didn't really like. The guys. Most I didn't recognize. The girls.
It was like a signature photo of a lifestyle he was clearly very comfortable with. Too comfortable? A sobering thought. Could I learn to be comfortable with it too? Would he want me to? Did I want to?
I started to think maybe I should call and join them. Or maybe I should just drop by without calling. Then I thought no. Not me. Too undignified. I wasn't going to come across as some hysterical, insecure, shrewish, jealous wife spying on the poor, harrassed, hen-pecked husband and spoiling his fun. Not infront of others. Not infront of him. And not infront of myself.
Plus ok, I admit it, I AM insecure when it comes to him. I am head-over-heels etc...and I do love being around him. But I don't think I'm made of the stuff that could handle it if I were to feel I'd put him in a situation where he wasn't 100% glad to see me.
I felt a pat on the shoulder and jumped. A friend of mine.
Friend: Hey, earth calling!
Me: Sorry guys.
Friend: What are you scowling at out of the window?
I was about to say nothing when she saw him. Why was I about to say nothing? Didn't I want him to be seen? I hated that thought. What was wrong with me? Usually I love to show him off!
Friend: Your husband?
Upon which - another friend who hadn't met him yet, wanted to see. And there was a scuffle as the others tried to describe him and point him out to her so she could pick him out among the crowd. I just sat there quiet.
Friend 2 (to me): The guy behind the red bikini?
Me: That's him.
Friend 2: He's hot.
Friend 2: But I don't think you should be sitting here.
Me: Why not?
Friend 2: I think you should be down there. In a red bikini.
Great how friends will only give you marital advice when it's most likely to embarrass and confuse you no? Like marriage is not complicated enough without all the random conflicting input pouring in from all ends.
Me: He's with his friends. I'll see him later at home. Are we having desert or what? 'Cos if we aren't I want to go see a movie.
So we get up and walk around shopping for a while. We never make it to the movie. About half an hour later, I fall back behind the girls a bit and I call him. No answer. So I call the other guy's mobiles. I dial 2 of them and get no answer. The third one picks up though. He tells me that K is in the water. I ask him if he'd ask K to call me whenever. He says sure.
A little later, K calls me. He says hello and waits - which tells me he can't speak freely because there are people around him. A short, expectant silence while I get tongue-tied and stuck for something to say. What am I DOING? I silently yell at myself. I was acting like some awkward, late-developing teenager trying to talk to her first crush!
Finally, he speaks:
Him: Elbasha bta3na yo2mor bi7aga? (It's essentially a polite way of asking what I want)
Me: I missed you.
I'm kicking myself. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Him: Ya 3am 7aram 3laik. Omal ana a2ool eh bas?(Essentially that he misses me even more)
Me: Aren't you mad at me?
Him: I don't know. Should I be? Remind me.
Me: For calling all your friends.
Him: La mafish 7aga. Inta fain dilwa2ti? (It's ok. Where are you?)
Me: Fi Abu Dhabi mall.
Him: Eh da begad?(Seriously?) Tab ma teegi(So why not come over?). I7na fi Rotana(We're in Rotana).
Me: I'm with my friends. But I'm tired and I think I'll go home now.
Him: Alf salama. Khair. Fi eh?
Me: Nothing. Just too much shopping.
Him: Mashi ya 3am. Khalas rawa7 inta ba2a wana gay warak.(Ok go home. I'll be right there.)
Why was he talking to me as if I were a man? He's not allowed to talk his wife when he's out with them? Is that it?
Me: I don't want to take you away from your friends. Besides, I still have some shopping left to do.
Him: La ana harawa7. Ma tita'akharsh 3alaina ba2a.
I didn't go home for ages. Typical reaction for me no? Not wanting to go home when things aren't going well. I wanted him to call and ask me to come home. At last he did.
And I didn't tell him I saw him. Which was stupid because if I tell him now I'll have trouble explaining why I didn't just say so and act normal. Whatever 'normal' is.
And if I keep quiet sooner or later one of my friends will mention the incident infront of him and he'll know. I am NOT about to swear them all secrecy! That is one humiliation I will not heap upon myself, thank you very much.
That was yesterday. We managed to have a nice evening inspite of everything. We went out grocery-shopping. We picked out a set of new blinds for the living room. He picked up some Arabic DVD's. We went home. I fixed dinner. We watched an Arabic movie called 'Inta 3omri' which I cried buckets over. He held me in his arms and laughed at me for crying over a movie. Really gets a kick out of that, my husband does. Making me watch Arabic tearjerkers and then making fun when I can't hold back the tears, I mean. I married an emotional sadist.
The very picture of domestic bliss. Only because I didn't say anything about the one thing that was on my mind the whole time.