Thursday and Friday is the weekend in Saudi, folks. Our current year, according to the Gregorian calendar is 1433. I was writing my date of 2012 recently and the Saudi woman I was speaking to was trying to figure her date and wrote it for me. I said, “Is that the year you’re living in?” She kinda smiled and I smiled back but told her, “Well, this is the year I’m living in,” and wrote 2012 again. We both giggled.
It’s real strange living here, as you may have discerned already. I just came back from a little grocery shopping and one of the dogged things is that men are served first. They have someone weigh your veggies and fruit for you, like back in the olden days. But unlike the good ole days, men come first. When I first went to this store called Othaim, I was in the checkout line and had this man give me the hand signal to move back while he moved ahead of me in line. Bitch!
I’m gonna tell you this though. While I wear the abaya and head covering, I refuse to cover my face. I can’t read the food labels that way. Some women have the hijab on, which covers them from the bridge of the nose to around the neck area, like the picture above. With this, you can only see the slit of their eyes and some wear glasses. I won’t go into detail on how ridiculous this looks to me. I’m just a hardheaded westerner, I guess. But I have to tell you, that time we were kicked outta the corner store, well before we were kicked out, I was trying to read the oatmeal label with my face covered. It was frustrating ’cause I wasn’t counting on being covered and didn’t have my glasses. I couldn’t see shit!
A Muslim woman I worked with described the covering thing as keeping the desires of the men down. Something like that. But I’m thinking, that’s his damn problem. Why should women wear all this shit ’cause men can’t control themselves?
I tend to carry myself like a westerner wearing my abaya. I wear big Hollywood-style sunglasses. I have a tendency to put my hands on my hips during long pauses. When I’m sitting in public, I cross my legs without covering my underclothing. There’s even a hint of frustration that I have to deal with all these clothes when I’m walking up stairs ’cause if you’re not careful and unaccustomed, you forget to raise it up and step on them.
I’m about to tell you some real dumb shit I did. I should be embarrassed to expose myself in such a way but I’m fully capable of stepping outside myself and recognize that I’ve done dumb shit from time to time.
Folks, when I first got this abaya, well, I bought two. Over here, that is. What I brought with me were long skirts and such that I’d bought from a Muslim shop online. I thought if I dressed conservative, I wouldn’t have to wear no abaya. Plus, I didn’t want to be wearing black in all this heat. Well, I do have to wear one but it’s only for wearing in public. Once indoors, it can come off. What my dumb ass did when I started wearing the thing was put it straight on over my underclothes. Imagine me in the airport, coming from Riyadh to where I am now and the damn snaps popping open. I just knew I’d end up getting arrested. There I was struggling with the luggage, trying to figure out where to go and my tatas trying to see what’s happening and such. Of course, I know better now but I have to tell you, it sure was a lot cooler wearing the abaya without the skirt and shirt underneath. I don’t care how many clothes you put on these women though, they’re no different from women folk anywhere else. I’m here to let you know, folks!
This one young woman was telling me yesterday that she couldn’t sleep. I asked her why. She said her back was hurting. I said, “You need to go to the spa for a massage.” She got to looking all funny and I thought she didn’t know what a spa or massage was. I said, “There’s one across the street.” She said, “Who give massage? Man or woman?” I said a woman, ’cause you know, that’s what I was supposed to say. She goes, “I don’t want woman. I want man!”
And I’m thinking, I can feel you on that!