I’d say I’m pretty Zen these days. I rarely ever lose my temper anymore. I made that oath to myself last summer, and I must say, I have done quite well so far. Maybe it’s the age. Maybe it’s the experience. But I tell you, there isn’t much that gets me upset. Except stupidity. There’s plenty of that around here, I’d say, but even that rarely gets me in distress.
But today I lost my cool. It was over that ‘mamnouah’ thing.
Mamnouah, for non Arab speakers, means ‘not allowed’. And the weirdest things are not allowed in this place. I can throw my housekeeper off the balcony without so much as a visit to the police station, triple park and block the entire traffic flow during rush hour, or buy under-the-counter-counterfeit DVD’s over the counter, but boy, once you start taking pictures of things, some pretty weird rules come out of the closets. Actually, I seriously doubt they’re existing rules. Just some idiot behind a desk who decides because he can.
I was in the ABC mall this afternoon, shopping with my daughter for her birthday present. These days she wants an active say in what I buy her, otherwise I risk having to exchange it.
“Madame, mamnouah,” he says.
I don’t get it. What on Earth could be forbidden here? I’m not taking pictures of the merchandise, I’m not photographing veiled women, I’m not engaging in anything dangerous, my daughter’s not spitting over the balustrade, there’s no celebrity on the floor; What on Earth could be ‘mamnouah’ about me photographing my daughter in front of a Christmas tree with a million or something teddy bears.
“The tree. It’s mamnouah.”
It is amazing how this poor teenager in zits and a uniform managed to unleash this horrendous rage in me. Have you ever heard of a nano second? Some say that in Lebanon it is the time between the light turning green and the first car honking its horn behind you. Well, you can ask that security guard how fast I got upset. It must have been a split nano second.
“Mamnouah!? Taking a picture of the tree is forbidden? Where’s your boss? Go get your boss. Get your boss right now!” The gates of hell had opened, I tell you that. It will be months before I can show my face in that part of town again.
I played my role as the bitchy foreigner quite well, I must say. The poor kid couldn’t do anything about it, of course, some idiot in the office had obviously outdone themselves and given him this pathetically idiotic order; “nobody is supposed to take pictures of the Christmas tree. It is a matter of national security.” I can imagine him going home tonight to his family. “And how was your day today?” “Well, I encountered this menopausal woman who totally blew her top over a simple request.”
The boss never materialized. This ranting and raving woman took him obviously quite by surprise. I tell you, had he made a move for my camera, he’d gone over the balustrade. I eventually was escorted out of the shop by my daughter who was afraid we’d end up in jail and she apologized to the guard that her mother was known for having ‘anger management issues.’
I do not have anger management issues; but christ on earth, what could possibly be ‘mamnouah’ about taking pictures of a Christmas tree? I therefore have a request for you. Please, all of you, go to the ABC mall, and make many many many pictures of that friggin’ bear tree, will you.
I think we should even organize a flash mob event there, right around the darn tree. Boy, they will remember the day they forbade me to make a stupid picture of their stupid tree.
And you get to see the tree twice! Just because I was not allowed to picture it. Please, spread this state secret around.Highly secretive tree.