A Dutch friend of mine here in Beirut has a son. Hashem is his name. He’s a nice guy. A dentist. But he’s nearing 35, and he still isn’t married. What’s more, he’s showing no inclination towards getting married either. It’s not that he’s gay; he’s just very busy with his work, and it doesn’t help much that he is a bit of a shy type. And not exactly George Clooney either. So his mom has voiced her concern to me. Didn’t I know anyone for Hashem?
Well, I didn’t.
That was until a trice-removed relative from Tripoli drops by for a visit to Beirut for the day. And in her wake comes the daughter of her sister; Salwa. She’s single, in her early thirties, and she works as a nurse in Tripoli. When she smiles, a row of stunning pearls laughs at you. She’s got fantastic teeth, I am thinking. As a matter of fact, all of Salwa is good looking. Except for the hair. Or actually, I cannot see the hair, because she’s veiled. But not the raincoat type; she’s dressed very nicely.
In the evening, I ask the old aunt who lives with us, how come Salwa isn’t married yet? After all, she’s very good looking, and a working woman as well. She should have been off the market a long time ago.
“Salwa doesn’t want to marry a peasant,” answers the aunt. And in Salwa’s neighborhood, it’s all peasants and otherwise ignorant men. Salwa has higher ambitions.
Suddenly I remember the son of my friend. She’d make a good match for him. They are of the same religion. He’s a dentist, she’s a nurse. So I call my friend. I explain the situation. We discuss the parameters of the matter. Salwa’s age is not an issue, assures the mom. The fact that she has no money is not an issue either. The veil is, though. “Rather without a veil,” says the mom. But that is a problem Hashem can deal with later.
So how do we set these two up for a date? We decide we don’t want it feel like a meat market, like they’re checking each other out. That is quite embarrassing, at least in our Dutch frame of mind.
“Let her drop by his clinic for a check-up,” she suggests. “We’ll tell her he doesn’t know. And we’ll tell him the same. This way they can check each other out without knowing.”
I think that is a great idea.
Until the evening, when I tell my husband.
“Why don’t you just invite the two over for coffee, like civilized adults,” he suggests.
“No, it would feel like such a meat market, like it is a set-up,” I reply, “This way is much more subtle.”
“Subtle,” he says.
It is quite for a while, as he ponders over this.
“So he’s going to check out her teeth?” he asks.
“Sounds a bit like when you buy a horse. You check its teeth. So he’ll know exactly what he’s getting into.”
I nod, less vigorously now.
“Actually, in the old days, when you bought a slave on the market, you’d also check its teeth. Maybe he can pinch her arm too, see if the flesh is good . And then afterwards, you send him for a check-up with her. She’s a nurse, she can give him a shot in the ass, and then she’ll see right away what merchandise she’s getting into as well.”
It is obvious; hubbie is not taking my match-making efforts very seriously.
We’re back at square one. How do I get Salwa to meet Hashem? Any ideas?
(The names of the participants have been changed to ensure their privacy)