I hope that somewhere in the world, there is a bar whose bouncers deny admittance to people for being over-dressed. “Ma’am, you’ll have to put a hooded sweatshirt over that glitter-top and push-up bra, and please, find some more comfortable shoes.” “I’m sorry sir, but that popped collar is a bit too pointy.”
Where ever this magical Shangri-La is, it’s not Beirut. I have to sneak past the hair-gel soaked doormen, as to avoid the inevitable, “I’m sorry sir, I’ve never heard of the brand ‘Miracles do happen,’ you’ll have to buy an over-priced drink somewhere else.” But once we did find a place to drink, the doorman assigned me and my Swiss friend two bar stools which crammed us elbow-to-elbow with what was clearly an awkward double date. They looked good—chest hair and cleavage was prominently displayed by all the right genders, and their four different expensive perfumes mixed into an airy broth which hovered around half the bar. We were all very impressed.
When me and Swiss ran out of things to discuss over our beers, I began paying more and more attention to the double-date. The far couple was hitting it off, while the two closest to us dawdled with their cell phones and made frequent trips to the bathroom to pass the time. At one point the guy made up some excuse and said goodnight, making it a party of three. The successful couple continued with their flirting, while me, Swiss, and our new friend, Third Wheel, sat squeezed at the bar watching a soccer game on T.V.
Third Wheel began playing with her cell phone again, whose screen showed a glamour photo of a stunning Arab woman. At this point, she had stared at the picture for the 8th time, so I finally broke the silence and asked, “men heea Ala moblieKi?” “Huh?” So then I tried in English, “Who is that on your mobile?” She pointed to the spot between her fake breasts (as if she bought them just for the sake of decorating her point of self-reference) and said, “It’s me.” I was caught off guard for sure. I expected her to tell me it was her favorite singer, or a loved one… someone whose picture deserved her own reverence. But apparently narcissism knows no cultural barriers.
So how would you respond to her answer? I could think of but three ways:
A. Honesty: “Wow, that’s incredibly vain of you. And you look a lot more attractive shrunk down to a digital 1 by 3 photo. How’d you do that?”
B. Womanizing: “Wow, you look great, but it doesn’t do you justice. You’re very beautiful, [compliment], [compliment], <roofie drink>, [compliment].”
C. Awkward: “Oh, neat… Ah yeah… I wish I could take pictures with my phone [remove Nokia 1995 model from your pocket, the one you bought off a Syrian guy on the street for $10] But, ah… it only takes numbers.” Shit, did I just accidentally ask for her number? “Ah, I mean the screen. Ah, its just numbers and letters and stuff… it’s really old… see?”
I chose C. Third Wheel’s response was more physical than verbal, perhaps because of the language barrier. Without saying a word, she stood up and walked straight out the door. I took a long drink of my beer, while Swiss leaned over and said, “Tyler, you’ll never impress a Lebanese girl with that phone, they like expensive things.” I’m still a little bitter about being rejected by someone I wasn’t even interested in. But I’ve recently purchased some hair gel and taped a glamour photo of myself to the back of my cell phone. Next time I sit next to a girl void of personality, I’ll be ready to impress.
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