Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scenario #27: A real, respect-filled proposal

As foreign girls, we often swap stories about random guys in the Middle East who propose to us. I have friends who have been offered thousands of camels or sheep in exchange for their hand. Sometimes they feel like the proposal is a joke, sometimes they are scared by the propositioner and run.

My favourite proposal story until yesterday was the scarf salesman who, in the course of bargaining over a purchase, told me he had four wives but always wanted a Brasilian wife so would divorce one to marry me. I asked him if he'd give me a good price on scarves if I married him and he said I could have them for free. My friends took a photo of him so I could remember that momentous evening forever.

to encourage thoughtful ways...

Well, yesterday I had another proposal, and this is how it went down:

At a major intersection, I got off one bus and needed to catch another bus the rest of the way home, but first I stopped to get myself a bananas and strawberries and milk smoothie at a juice shop. Then I crossed to where my bus would come and waited, demurely sipping my juice. My bus was taking a long time to come, so I was soon halfway done my drink.

A man came up to me at this point and I smelled trouble. All I remember about his appearance was that he was dark and not too tall nor too short, and that his beard was going gray. He may have carried prayer beads, but I'm not sure. He stood rather close to me and said, "Excuse me." I took a step back.

Then he continued: "Do you have anyone for engagement?"

I replied, "What?"

He repeated his question, then said, "You know, engagement... like as in marriage?"

A bit suspicious, I was also a bit intrigued. I immediately remembered the wedding I attended last year in which the groom met the bride one day on the street. He saw her walking home from school, approached her, and asked her if she was engaged or married at all. When she said no, he asked for her number and said she'd be hearing from his mother. And the rest is history: they are apparently a very cute and happy couple. But still, I was mostly suspicious: "What do you care?"

Then it was his turn to reply, "What?"

So I said, "I mean, like, why are you asking me?"

Then he replied, "Oh, are you a foreigner?"

To which I responded in a rather indignant voice, "Oh, I'm sorry, sorry." And he walked away.

Strangely enough, I felt extremely flattered after this. Clearly this was a serious proposition, with all levels of respect, and as soon as he realised it wasn't an option he stepped back. When I finally caught my bus, my heart was rather sprightly.

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