Wednesday, October 15, 2008

After Applebees we were inseparable. I discovered a few things about my new friend.

That strange accent that I mentioned before, a hybrid mix of growing up in Pakistan, learning English from British tapes and books, and immigrating at 25 years old to French Quebec and then traveling all over the east coast of the United States with a brief stint in Louisiana. I guess that I should have expected no less of an accent with that history. The funny thing is, I think he adopted more aspects of the French in QC speaking English than anywhere else.

M was a lot of fun. He was funny when you least expected it and he was so cute that it overshadowed imperfections. I think the thing that always got him out of trouble was the dimple strategically placed just to the left of his lips, situated to perfection and showing every single time he smiled or laughed. I loved to see him laugh and you could always tell when he was happy. It was fun to watch the way he related to his friends and the way that he made them laugh and how happy that made him.

I started seeing him after work several nights a week. He would feed me curry of all different types. He taught me about daal and goat meat and naan. Trust me, these are not things that women from my area of the country are familiar with. In fact, one of my first college friends, from Bangladesh, was shocked to see me eating curry in pictures. She remembered the days when I would order chicken wings and french fries as Chinese take-out (another habit I have thankfully broken after meeting M.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SuperBowl 2003

M and I talked every night. He didn't get off work until after midnight and I had to be at work every morning at 9am, but I still waited for his call every night at about 1:00am. I was so infatuated with his conversation that every night I would listen to his cooking, sizzling vegetables for curry or whatever he happened to be cooking. We would talk until 3:00 am and I would sleep like a baby after that until 8:00 when I got up for work.

Our first date was February 1, 2004, the night of the infamous Janet Jackson "boob" incident and three days after my 23rd birthday. We had scheduled to go out for dinner, but 6:00 rolled around and no call. Then 7:00, 8:00, 9:00. . .he finally called around 9:30 pm. He apologized and said he just couldn't get out of work until later. At this point I was livid. We'd had about three cancelled dates (none of which he had called to cancel, just never showed up.) I told him to just forget it, and he sighed heavily. He said, "No. I really want us to go. I really cannot get out right now, but I will come soon. Is that okay?"

I still don't know how in the world I swallowed my pride enough to take so many stalls and starts, but at 11:30pm I found myself sitting straight across a very thin Pakistani man at my local Applebees. Don't diss Applebees. . . at least it was open late enough for him to have his orange juice and me my chocolate fudge cake. And don't diss the chocolate fudge cake either, I mean who waits until 11:30 pm to go to dinner?

I liked the way that M talked to me. He was still shy and embarrassed, and had no idea what to order from an Applebees. Frankly, he only ate halal food and wasn't comfortable trying to figure out which dishes might be safe for him. The orange juice itself seemed like a monumental risk. I finally did talk him into a bite of my cake, but only one. And even through my own ignorance for the meaning of "halal" food I remember it did not contain whipped cream, so we were okay.

I fell in love with M that night, and it was the weirdest thing in the world. He asked me what I had done all day. Keep in mind that I was working a few jobs, I had taken the day off to schedule our date. I told him that I had gotten up late, read a book, took a nap and now was visiting him. What did he say to this?

"You were a lazy ass."

You could see from the shock in his eyes as soon as the words escaped his lips that this was not meant to come out loud. You could see that it was not something he would have normally said to a near stranger. You could see that he was completely mortified and I had to laugh. M had just accidentally shown some of what is his trademark humor. While it sounds simple and silly, and I guess you had to be there, when I started laughing I just said, "Yes, I was definitely a 'lazy ass.'" It reminded me how unlike me that was, and how I really, really liked this guy.