September 04, 2010

The End of Summer

This week the country will slowly empty. It is the end of summer. Most of the overseas Lebanese are due back at work/university in their adopted countries and are headed for the airport. The beaches look already quite abandoned on a weekday. Last night was the last night for our overseas cousins. They have one more wedding to attend and then it’s back home. They wanted to go clubbing as the pinnacle of their two-week tour past the Lebanese restaurants, bars and clubs in town.
Note: The conversations mentioned in this article did not take place in the bar.

The night was reasonably uneventful until we got to a certain underground nightclub. The guys buzzed around the cousins like bees around honey. What is it with Lebanese guys and blond girls from Texas? And somehow - I may have mentioned this before – when they think you’re from abroad and an ignorant tourist, you get to hear all kinds of ‘interesting’ things about society that they would not dare say to each other, or at least not that I can imagine. I learned that, although I was considered a ‘west-sider’ (I live in Hamra, thus West Beirut), I sure smelled like an east-sider. “You smell good, you smell like an east-sider. East siders smell better.” Another guy mentioned that he would ‘kill’ his sisters if they’d come to this specific club. Yet he seemed to enjoy himself quite well in this alcohol-laden den of sinners. “What, you’re with Hezbollah?” asked one of the cousins. “We don’t talk politics here in Lebanon,” was his reply. You don’t talk politics? I thought that was all you did.

The stereotyping about christians and muslims was so blatant that it was funny. In a way. It is strange to see though that among young people (I was made that quite clear in the bathroom when a girl said to me “Gee, I’ve never seen someone your age in his place.” Thank you dear, you just made my day), the old antics are alive and kicking. You’d think that after so many years these ideas would somehow have eroded. At least slightly. But they’re still there, and they’re not even skin-deep, they’re right out in the open.

We were stereotyped pretty seriously too. When we packed up to leave, one particular adhesive guy suggested we take him home as well. “Shou, why not, I’m modern?” he said. WTF!? Modern? And he’s suggesting I take his sorry ass home?

I guess I’m just too old for this game. What worries me a little is that I’ve got 2 kids coming up through this society.


marijke said...

My daughter is one of the very few muslims at her university, and you really dont want to know what kind of comments she gets to hear. You are right, what i worry about is: how is life ever going to be normal if even kids still think that way!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I decided to leave the country because of these issues - superficially the country seems modern (clubs, beaches, sexy clothes ... crazy how that is the hallmark of modernity - how much cleavage a woman can show) but underneath it all values and morals are so archaic. I left partly because I refused to raise a child in that environment.

On a more positive note - I love your blog!


Anonymous said...

LOL that last guy is kind of funny in a creepy way.

I always thought Lebanese guys, like most middle-easterners, were super conservative and only dated their own.

I liked a lebanese guy here in the states but he's not motivated to make a move beyond looking at me at all.