Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Butterflies, Shebab [Youth Males], and My Apologies

Happy New Year, my sweet friends. Wanted to let you know… I’ve developed a newfound desire for a superpower: Invisibility. Ya see, sometimes I have to walk down streets and come within a few feet of men I would prefer never see me. But I have to go that way. And yes, when I can, I re-route myself and take a longer, less convenient way, but sometimes I just don’t want to go through the trouble. [Or don’t think I should have to.] I’m dressed modestly, I’m acting “properly,” and I think that I should be left alone. [Ahh, yes… welcome to my dream world.]

Enter my new role model: the Monarch butterfly. Not only is she royalty and British [therefore, totally exotic], but she’s ingenious. [Definitely a well-thought out creation from our loving Creator.]

I would like to say that Monarch butterflies have always been my favorite. Not only because they’re super pretty, but also because I don’t know the specific name of any other butterfly besides them. [Yes, I have a master’s degree, and now we all know it’s not in butterflyology.]

Here’s a picture for your reference:

She has polka dots, color and is wildly symmetrical. I was flipping through a children’s science book one day, and there it was, in a little “DID YOU KNOW?!” box: Monarch Butterflies are incredible.

But in more words. As caterpillars, they feed on poisonous milkweed. The poisons don't harm them, but they absorb them and keep them with them. Also, their bright colors of orange, black and white are beautiful to me, but a warning to birds and other predators, who actually learn not to eat them and end up leaving them alone because of their poisons or overall unpleasant taste.

And I got to thinking...

Yesterday, on my way to go run at a park here, I got into a little bit of a fight/shouting match with some 2nd grade boys in my neighborhood. [Classy.] That was truly unprecedented. I usually play with kids on the street—it’s like they want me to, or something. But these little rascals were totally mad when I kind of helped them retrieve a ball and then scored on them. They yelled at me. No sir, we don’t yell at adults.

Then, on my way back, since we were running [haha] late, my seventeen-year old friend [and running buddy] and I decided to run outside the park—like, on the streets, back to my house. I've never done this before, but we had to hurry. We came upon three young men [shebab]—maybe 14 or 15-years old. They opened up their little “I-have-nothing-to-do-but-hang-out-on-the-street-and-harass-and-stare-at-people” shebab triangle and postured themselves to watch us like the parade my friend and I were.

As we ran by I was overwhelmingly annoyed and disgusted with them and said:
"Oh, go watch TV."
Well, they of course loved that and one of them even responded, "Oooh!! She's a sassy one!"
To which I totally freaked out—to my friend, not them—“sassy??!" People don't really know or use this word because there isn’t a really accurate translation for it in Arabic. [I've tried.]

"GIRL!! He knows English!! Like, really knows it! … Whoops!!"[She missed it because, unlike me, she has two working ear phones for her iPod...]

But I feel like, in some small way, I take it on myself sometimes to be a Monarch Butterfly—to be an unpleasant taste in these shebab's mouths so that they will be less likely to mess with the next girl and just let her run through the streets if she wants to.

And sometimes, like yesterday, I just totally fail. I actually think I just revved them up to interact with the next foreigner they see even more boldly—so this is my formal apology.

Sorry, ladies. I tried.

Again, not one of my finer moments,
but hey, at least I’m being honest.


  1. Missed your blog over the holidays. Glad you are back. It's hard, indeed, to know how to handle the shebab. It's one thing I do actually love about being 47 now. Not as many problems with that. ;-)

  2. OT! Sorry I neglected your comment! Thanks for reading and for being so fantastic. I check on your blog from time to time, too! Ya shebab. Can't live with 'em, can't live without them. However, I think I'm managing okay... ;) You don't look 47, girl. Get it!!

    Love, Sarah.


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