Romance with low-interest rates

Cousin Mildred [of course not her real name but you will agree that even ridiculous names are better than initials] is making vague and half-hearted attempts to set me up with a man. Aware of my impending return to Cairo she has apparently taken upon herself to rescue me from falling into the abyss of blue-stockinged singledom by telling me about her hot – but intelligent- male friends. The description of this latest one came accompanied by a photo, so I can even try before I buy.

This is the latest in a succession of random attempts by the mafia the family to end the collective public humiliation of having a 29- year old unmarried leper in their midst. The fact that I am a mongrel half-breed raised in The West, with a British father (and therefore not actually Egyptian at all because as we all know the Immutable Laws of Bollocks say that Egyptian-ness can only be passed on through the superior male genes) usually relegates me to the foreigner-beyond-redemption category, and exempts me from such things as: belly-dancing well, having sound morals, and really understanding, no ya Amnesiac, really feeling the meaning of Um Kulthoum songs – amongst other things.

So apparently the pain of the single woman is a scourge which must be combated globally – like terrorism, or rabies – and means that I am not spared the efforts of their take it or take it dating services.

The first time a potential suitor was hoisted on me the situation was this: I was opening a bank account, and an aunt who uses the same bank, and who herself is an incorrigible flirt, put me in touch with – guess what! – a young single guy with swimmer’s shoulders. Fearing that Cupid’s inevitable magic would not take it’s course without her mystical presence, she accompanied me to the bank and presented me to the helpful young man, before proceeding to inform him in the loudest voice she could muster ‘this is the one I told you about’ *wink wink* while the poor boy shuffled papers. The bank actually happened to be in one of Cairo’s omnipresent posing sports clubs, and the next time I went, I happened to run into the helpful young bank clerk who chivalrously invited me for a platonic coffee (auntie’s mystical matchmaking powers having curiously deserted her). I cannot tell you how my soul died a little when, looking up at the balcony above the café where bank boy and I were discussing our respective partners, I saw my auntie, waving wildly, STILL WINKING and, worst of all, needlessly calling me up on my mobile to wax lyrical about the wonder of romance – when in fact I and the entire club could hear her already. It was like some grotesque David Lynch interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

The next target also worked in a bank funnily enough, but this one I refused to meet because, not requiring yet another bank account and not wishing to enquire about low-interest loans, I could think of no pretext to present myself at his window. This is an addition to the fact that I totally object to these manufactured encounters of course. I did briefly consider scandalising my family by appearing at his window in thigh length boots and asking him whether he’d like to make a deposit in my checking account *WINK BLOODY WINK* but realised that even this gesture would be put down to Western eccentricity and interpreted as a sign of interest.

I got an insight into the criteria el familia use to gauge a man’s husband suitability when one of the aunties – who just happened to be looking out of the window/was doing her Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window impression – spotted me alighting from the car of a very platonic rugby friend. Her keen eyesight/binoculars/satellite imagery had provided her with the intelligence that rugby friend was Wearing a Suit, and Driving a Good Car. When I was later interrogated about who he was, I attempted to burst her balloon by telling her firstly; that he was slightly younger than me, secondly; that he was kind but dull, thirdly; that we had nothing in common, fourthly; that he was probably moving abroad anyway (stupid me, this only made him even more desirable) fifthly; that he liked Celine Dion and (the killer argument I thought) sixthly; that he wore his stripy jumper nonchalantly slung round his shoulders in a ‘going on my yacht’ style – unforgivable surely! Apparently infinitely forgivable when it’s slung over a suit! I eventually resorted to besmirching the poor boy’s character through mild fabrications such as claiming that he wore women’s underwear while forcing cats to break-dance at gunpoint, but even this elicited the memorable reply ‘but ya Amnesiac! He drives an Opel!’

As a result of these experiences I now have an unreasonable and almost visceral aversion to bank tellers, and force male acquaintances to give me lifts home in donkey carts whilst wearing prison garb.

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13 Responses to Romance with low-interest rates

  1. Will E. says:

    very funny post :)

  2. Amnesiac says:

    Thank you sir :-)

  3. Cowtown girl says:

    Finally I have come across a blog rich in British wit! I love your writing style though I would do less skimming if your sentences were a tad shorter. But maybe I am compelled to skim because I take time away from my readings to read blogs, in which case you can ignore my comment.

  4. Basil Fawlty says:

    Very funny stuff, Amnesiac.

    May I recommend diasporicdiscontents.blogspot.com? She’s got similar stories to tell, albeit from the other side of the pond.

    It’s rough being bi-cultural and it’s even tougher when you’re the wrong sex (The Jews, like Arabs, are semites and their lineage is passed through the mother, which actually means that women are held in slightly higher regard than men). All I can tell you is what I did: if you have a sibling, encourage them to get married at once, bear children and distract everyone with their offspring. It’s very effective.

    That’s what I did, which was my next-to-last resort. The last resort? Faking my own death or posing as a rather obvious homosexual. Anything to keep the natives off my back.

  5. Amnesiac says:

    Cowtown Girl: Too kind, too kind :-) Yes sentences are perhaps the unique instance where longer is not better. Someone else has commented on the labyrinthine nature of my sentences, so your compulsion to skim through my nonsense is apparently quite normal :-)

    Basil: Thank you sir for the compliment and the advice.
    -I know Carmen’s blog and enjoy reading it.
    -Yes Judaism is matrilineal, but not sure about the women being held in slightly higher regard than men, would be interested to know about that.
    -I am in the unfortunate position of being an only child, and therefore have the childbearing spotlight entirely focussed on me. The pressure was relieved briefly when my mother got a cat, but requests that I have a child with a random man and give it to her were resumed soon afterwards.
    -Lol I rather fear that if I pretended to be with Dorothy my mother’s requests for grandchildren would increase exponentially on the logic that both I AND my…erm…wife could bear her children :-s

  6. Basil Fawlty says:

    So what do you do for a living? Please don’t be an insurance agent or a building inspector or anything else that doesn’t require writing. You have a gift.

    Also, check out Forsoothsayer.blogspot.com: another very good writer.

    PS I’m planning a move to London, in 2007. Any advice? Email me, if you can.

  7. Basil Fawlty says:

    sorry about that:

    mo.nassar@gmail.com

    Well, I’ve lived in NY for about 7 years now and I’m damned sick of it! I hate the politics here, I hate the PC-ness and I hate the sports. There’s a lot to like, but it’s kind of like that saying: “for every hot girl you see, there’s a guy out there who’s sick of her shit”…:)

    Want to trade places? I’ll give you my US citizenship for your UK one!

  8. Anonymous says:

    thanks mo :)

    yes, your writing is very good. bas actually, women are held in poor regard in old-fashioned jewish community, lineage or not. also, you can now get egyptian citizenship through your mother! ya alf alf.

  9. Amnesiac says:

    Thanks Forsooth. Yes I am living proof that mongrels with Egyptian mothers have now been awarded the right to go through the hell of Egyptian bureaucracy for a year, before emerging sweaty, disorientated and traumatised at the end of it with a passport in which the foreign part of my name is misspelt in both Arabic and English. I can’t think of a more fitting introduction to Egyptian citizenry!

  10. ramy says:

    i know this will sound weird… but i have a theory that egyptian women (young, old, related, unrelated) are obsessed with match making to quell a combo of their own amorphous sexual desires and nosiness…

  11. Amnesiac says:

    Are not all women?

  12. ramy says:

    haha … i guess to some degree. though i dont think egyptian women may not have the opportunity to express their sexuality more directly..

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