Familiar Voices

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Part I

“Baddi i7kiki bi mawdou3 mouhim”1
I am pretty sure that the mother-daughter marriage conversations are familiar to most of you. I have grown to take in these “important” talks (“ta3i mama, baddi i7kiki bi mawdou3 mouhim”2) with an open heart and a decent extent of self-control, given my irritable and anal personality, reason behind my chosen nickname “Teez”. I am not sure whether reading how these dialogues go is as amusing as being part of them; amusing not only because I am gay but also because they offer a perspective on marriage that, though not novel, can be somewhat… comical?  Or maybe just sad…
Mother: Mama ma tbalshi tsarkhi, sma3ini shway bil awwal! hayeti3, your dad and I met this amazing guy last night. Awwal shi4, he’s a kid only 35 years old, has a great job: partner bi ma ba3rif ayya shirki5, graduate degree
Teez: Mom bsharafik, iltillik meet marra! MA BADDI IDJAWWAZ!6
Voice inside my head: Grrrrr…here we go again! I thought she gave up after I turned 30!

Mother: Mish 3am illik tidjawazzi!7 No one is going to make you… just talk to him… bi jannin ya8 mama
Teez:  Mom, even if I wanted to get married, ma ra7 idjawwaz ZALAMI (short pause) 3arabi aw libneini!9
Voice inside my head: Grrrrr… mom I AM GAYYYYY GAY GAY GAY!!!

Mother: Tayeb tayeb, bala 7aki bala ta3mi10. I wanted to just tell you so I can give him your e-mail. Why don’t you give him your Facebook?
Teez: Do you even know how Facebook works mom?! And is he too dumb to use Google and find my e-mail?
Voice inside my head: I can’t believe you have no idea that I AM GAY! You didn’t get a clue from the American lesbian “colleague” who you thought looks like a teenage boy and who came to Lebanon to “visit me” last summer… You probably know but it doesn’t matter to you
Hopeful voice inside my head: Maybe this guy heard that I am gay (don’t know how) and maybe he is gay too… maybe he is looking for an “arrangement”
Teez: Shou ismou?11 I will look him up…

…On a separate occasion… when there are no specific suitors to set me up with

Mother: Mom if you come back to Lebanon, you can meet great men. You are 31 years old, shou natra? In two years, khalas12… it won’t do you any good to come back. You would be too old. khalli Amerka tinfa3ik se3eta13
Teez: Mom I will never come back if everyone will keep treating me like I am sick because I am single and old
Voice inside my head: Don’t you think I know that I’m getting older?  Don’t you know I really want a family and kids? Don’t you know that I worry everyday that I will never meet the right woman! That even if I do and have kids with her, I worry that you will not be part of my life?

… On a separate occasion… when she gets too desperate
Mother: The most important thing in life is to have kids. Marry that guy X who likes you, have a kid or two and then get a divorce. You don’t have a lifetime, you are already too old, in few years, you will not be able to have kids… then khalas14… Why even get married?
Teez: I can have kids here without getting married then divorced if kids are really the most important thing in your opinion.
Voice inside my head: I hope that this strategy is not a common one. I hope that my mother is just a little “creative.”

Mother: eh ba3ed na2ees tjibili lakeet!15 A bastard to the family! Don’t ever say this again, not even as a joke! I told you marry someone then divorce him! Your cousins were depressed and moody like you until they got married, look how happy they are now!
Teez gets silent at this point
Voice SCREAMING inside my head: You have no idea! I was only like that because the woman I loved and lived with for 6 years left me and I can’t even talk to anyone about it!


[1] I want to discuss an important issue with you.
[2] Come here, dear. I want to discuss an important issue with you.
[3] Don’t start yelling, hear me out first! Honey,…
[4] First off
[5] In some sort of company
[6] Please, I told you a hundred times! I DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED!
[7] I’m not telling you to get married
[8] He’s amazing
[9] I won’t marry a MAN… if he’s an Arab or Lebanese!
[10] OK, OK, enough nonsense
[11] What’s his name?
[12] What are you waiting for? In 2 years, that’s it
[13] Let’s see what good America would do you then
[14] It’s too late
[15] That’s all I needed, you giving birth to a bastard!


– Contributed by S.

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