Thursday, 2 July 2009

Weddings (Middle-Eastern Remix)

If you've ever had the honour of attending an Arab wedding, you know it's a treat, a meat market treat. Weddings are a time of showing off one's wealth, no matter how cheap the family is. Wealth is also displayed through their outfits, where their entire gold fortune is featured on their necks, arms and ears. Oh and did I mention the entire blue-red-green portion of the Christian Dior eye shadow set too? Weddings are also a time for the creativity to shine, with ideas copy pasted from other weddings in order to show their rendition of "pastiche." Your daughter had a wedding singer? Mine will have a band. Yours had a DJ? Mine will have the best in town. Yours had both? Okay now you're a show off. Weddings are also home to the best complaints from the older more “Elite” ladies. They complain profusely and compare their childrens' weddings to the one they are attending. The bride is always ugly, the groom can always be thinner, the food needs salt, the table setting too crowded, the seating arrangement preposterous, the guests dressed as if they are going grocery shopping (which they relate back to the village they come from), the cake hurts my eyes, and so on. Making a scene is necessary, because this is the time they can cause backlash in front of the entire community, and everyone knows Arabs don't like anything more than to hate on each other. It's like an Arab league meeting. Enjoy the Yuppie's guide to surviving a Middle-Eastern wedding.

Arab weddings are divided into areas. For single men and women (if you have not admitted to dating one of the boys or girls from the community you are considered single) goes this way: The women between the ages of 17-27 (they're marrying later these days, in Arab years) are on one table and the boys between the ages of 19-30 are on another. These tables are not visible to one another because they place mothers and grandmothers of single boys in full view of both tables for obvious reasons. Some weddings have included notepads and disposable cameras for easy go back to. Okay, I made that up, but really it’s not far off from the truth. Some things to take note of regarding the scoping technique at these weddings: if you are brave enough to get up and do the walk across the dance floor to greet the bride, you're giving them a full view for scoping, by more than one lady with ferocious eyes. Avoid all eye contact, they are trying to be discreet, let them think they are. Even if you are moderately attractive, but single, you're getting scouted, just like being at the bar Winston Churchill in Montreal. Everyone gets a shot. This is when the women accumulate their thoughts about your outfit, body type, family, status, etc and sum it up to see your candidacy for their son, nephew, etc. For example, the last wedding I attended, I made the mistake of wearing black tights with a black dress, a black headpiece, black shoes and red lipstick. I mainly wore tights to keep it conservative, that dress is pretty short, and all I had was black. I’m prime marriage age, I’m totally getting scoped. While walking over to congratulate the bride, I can feel the piercing eyes (no Hand of Fatima on me) probably saying the following: "she's so skinny, it's because she lives on her own that one, looks like a sexy widow at a funeral scoping for men. Shame. Her sister got married at that age you know, younger even, why aren't the offers coming in?" There are positive outlooks such as "well she's educated, speaks many languages, (including French that’s like 100 points for Eliteness), has a job, well traveled, comes from a good family, she's pale, not from this village and the girls think she is funny." Just also make sure not to get caught doing anything deemed “bad” in front of one of their kids, they are all rats and will use that information against you once their parents start comparing them to you.The bad, in our world, always outweighs the good. One thing you can be certain of, if your mom is not in attendance, your outfit choice will travel back to her. For example, here is what a future conversation with my mother would sound like regarding the "funeral" dress:
Mom: "Who died?"
Me: "No one did, why?"
Mom: "Why in the hell did you wear so much black? You know your aunt was embarrassed about your outfit choice? Couldn't you be more like your cousins? Such colour, femininity. Do you have to be so morbid?"
Me: "I don't conform to this crap. I can't wear green, I'm not tanned yet."
Mom: "Tan? Just like your sister. Except she does tan you burn. Keep the skin pale, they like pale. And what's this I hear your father telling me you cut your hair even shorter?"
Me: "I like it short, plus it grows back, then I cut it again."
Mom: "Like hell you will. And dye your hair, there's white in it."

Aftermath of “The Scope”:
If one of the moms, after checking you out cavity style is interested, she will go outside, smoke a MatinĂ©e Slim and discuss your various criteria with the other Elite ladies. The next day, she will phone your parents. Grandmothers usually have less shame and will literally walk up to you, give you wet kisses on the cheeks while attempting to ask you about your family that has long passed and also attempting to touch you in order to get a “feel”. This has happened to me before, except “feel” was more like “grab”. I am not kidding. It was uncomfortable as hell getting violated for this lady's grandson's purposes as my parents looked on helplessly attempting not to laugh. Anyway, let’s stick to the phone call: the girls parents, after analyzing their own criteria of said woman's available relative, which includes family, looks, health care history, delinquency pattern, friends list, facebook profile, university transcript, calls to other community members, will tell the woman they'll call her back after speaking to their daughter. The girl is informed. She thinks about it, knowing full well it’s a no because 9/10 he's kinda ugly and you know him from school as a hypocritical ladies man, a total Gino who can't do his eyebrows properly and tans too much, a loser who is balding and gossips too much, or you’re dating the other boy from the community but aren’t outing your relationship yet until he gets his engineering degree. The girl refuses, her parents ask 21 questions, then they realize she's right. Usually her dad suddenly remembers some 20 year old dirt on the family or realizes the guy is a total douche. Especially when eyebrows are involved.
Next wedding, same pattern. Vicious cycle, no escape until that giant rock is wrapped around your finger. University is only a 3-5 year excuse, their claws will grab you eventually. Scoping is one of the main reasons Elite Arab weddings are not segregated. How does the process happen otherwise? And how do we act more foreign if we segregate? We're no zealots!

The Girls who get offers:
Girls who get loads of offers are flattered and they try to act modestly but you totally know she keeps track of it in a handy document and likes to drop hints of these offers during convos with her girlfriends who say "inshallah" after the words "o3balik". Don't ever say that, you're totally desperate if you say that. No one likes that girl, and your mom will find out and yell at you for it.

Middle-Eastern Wedding Attire:
Arabs are usually conservative but at weddings this concept is thrown out the window. Shame doesn't have anything to do with your outfit, unless it is hideous. Remember to leave your wealth on your neck, the tackier your dress the better, and the best designer wins, even if the dress is super ugly, if the price tag is $800, which is like $300 more than Leila’s dress, you’re golden, even if Leila’s dress is nicer than yours.
Middle-Eastern men just love Gino attire. White shoes, belts, Mexx suits, flashy chemise colours are in full effect. Oh and three button suits are the staple of the older men with the Elite wife. There are exceptions, some of these men actually know how to dress, let’s not generalize.
When at an Arab wedding, you cannot escape the wrath of the older ladies for having a miscalculated wardrobe, white people are exempt because they think that "these weddings are the same as white ones." If you wear jeans or pants to a wedding, you're digging yourself a grave.
Ties: For Shia Muslims, men shouldn’t wear a tie, mega frowned upon, for Sunnis, or just general Arabs, wear one, you're more Western handsome that way.

Blame it on the non-alcohol:
There is no such thing as alcohol because it's already mental up in here. Do you need another excuse to tell my people to dress up and dance? Even church can be a fashion show.

Western tendencies, borrowing and etiquette:
My sister, who feels the need to deny that she goes to weddings and compares them to hers, is lying. She claims that many recent weddings have been copying aspects of hers, but then talks about how she didn't appreciate how much of a fiasco her wedding was. Someone needs to remind my sister that there isn't that much innovative stuff you can do with weddings. The head table is not new, it's Western. And God forbid if anyone decides to use the same slow song she danced to at her wedding. English music is completely forbidden, except the slow song can be English, although they'd much prefer Amr Diab or Ragheb Alama.
Anything Western, like speeches, is frowned upon, mainly because Arabs take them to a whole other level, like instead of two speeches, everyone in the family wants to talk so there’s 10-15.
Slide shows are usually no good, because sometimes they include photos of your parents and nothing stabs an Arab woman's heart more than what she used to look like.
As for amount of guests, the more, the better. It shows that you have a lot of friends and are powerful in the community. Usually, the bride and groom did not invite them, it's all the parents' doing.
Dates and Location: Be careful on the day of the week and month. Anything other than Saturday you're going to get cheap backlash. Avoid this at all costs, especially if you still have a few kids to marry off. Being branded cheap is worst than "slutty" in the community. Location is crucial. Make sure you do not choose a location where many people from the community have gotten married in the previous year. For example, a few years back, I attended four weddings at the same hotel in town. I was pissed, mainly for lack of originality and being at the same wedding four times with the difference being the bride and groom. Plus their veggie meal was horrible. And I'm open minded, imagine the others.
For the males: do not bring your girlfriend to the wedding. Even if your mother knows about her, DO NOT BRING HER. Especially if she is a skanky leather face, this makes your family look really really bad and the bride will not even get any attention because the gossipy community is focusing on the "ho" in the peach dress.
For the ladies, do not dance with your friend's cousin because "y'all grew up together and you're like siblings." The rest of the community does not see it that way. They're not THAT Western.
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  1. hahaha i love it. and how accurate. you're very observant, my dear. ps- i have some single relatives - degrees/masters, above age 24, charming..etc. just send me your mom's number and my aunts will be in contact by friday to set up a 'meeting' lol.