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“Out, Out, Out, Out, OUT!!!!” I screamed at that damn monkey in my hot tub. In the darkness of my little patio I watched his eyes grow wide with surprise, and I wondered suddenly if any of my neighbors had heard me yelling. A quiet, gated condominium community nestled in a tiny scrap of forested wetlands fortunately preserved by eco-visionary legislature, my neighbors and I were grateful beneficiaries of the 1990’s federal wetland protection acts.
Monkeys are probably covered in one of those eco-protection laws governing what goes on in my neighborhood. But this monkey was clearly in the cross-hairs of Scheri’s smoking wand of rose-scented incense, glowing softly from its stand in the flower planter beside the hot tub.
“Scheri!” I hissed at her as silently and as tersely as possible, hoping none of my neighbors were within earshot of my patio. “Get that damn monkey out of my hot tub, NOW!”
“At your command, Dearest Amirah and Queen of the Western Casbah!” Scherezade’s adorable honey-colored eyes twinkled in the dark, and her glistening lips shined with a mischievous grin.
She leisurely snatched up the stick of rose-scented incense, twirled it between her fingers like a dainty little baton, spun it like a gun-slinger twirling his pistol, and then, closing her hand with the glowing stick pointing directly at that damn monkey, poof!
A stream of shooting stars shot like a cheap sparkler from the incense stick, hissing and popping as the sparks landed in the hot tub. The water lit up in a flashing rainbow of colors, changing with every new spark hitting the water, and a refreshing mist with a delightful scent of roses quickly filled the patio!
As the mist was clearing, I peered through the dark, softly stepping closer to the hot tub to see what happened. I heard a muffled giggle and turned just in time to see Scheri draping a towel around the dripping body of my casbah guard. This was definitely not an improvement.
“Oh, great, Scheri, you got the damn monkey out of my hot tub, and out of that damn genie, too!” She just giggled, not even looking at me as she wrapped herself between his hug and her towel. “Out, Out, Out, Out, OUT!” I screeched, completely unconcerned about anything except ridding myself of these two damn troublemakers.
I snatched up my patio broom and started swinging. Laughing like mad hyenas from within their towel cocoon, suddenly they melted into the dark, transforming into two mad bats, flapping wildly around my patio, above my head. I swung at them just as wildly with my broom, secretly avoiding them and secretly thankful for the excuse Scheri conveniently provided me for my neighbors, if anyone happened to be watching.
Slipping quietly into the house to change, I returned shortly to gratefully slip into the warm, bubbling waters of my casbah hot tub. In the dark, rose-scented shadows, I gazed up at the silent stars and rested my whirling head against the comforting edge, relaxed my body in the swirling water, closed my eyes, and wondered if I would ever wake up.
The dream I entered on the 9th of June seemed unlikely to end anytime soon. My chocolate sultan was growing increasingly sweeter with each passing day, and the distance between us was decreasing. Mr. “Answer to my Prayers” was wrapping himself around my heart, enveloping me within his email cocoon, his words caressed my mind, his smile caressed my eyes, his eyes caressed my soul. I shivered in the hot water, searched the starry sky, and prayed my thanks to Allah.
July dawned softly in the eastern sky. I stepped from the hot tub into the new day. Did I sleep? Did I wake? Did I know the difference? No, no, and no.
Riding the morning schedule of my children’s summer routine, we worked our way through another day. So much to do, and only one thing on my mind. Egypt. How to get to Egypt. Every spare minute between my work, I searched for more information online.
Collecting details from the internet was like collecting pretty butterflies in my net. Excited to share them with the only one in my life who really cared, the return of evening stars in the sky kindled the warm glow in my soul. I sat down in the dark to share the bright light of love with my new husband-to-be.
|Date: Thurs, 01 Jul, 1999, 22:48:19|
|Subject: mmm mm mohamed sultan shokolati|
|Sabah al khair ya habibi|
|“Hi Honey, I’m home!”
Oooh it will be wonderful, my love… it is such a pleasure to carry my thoughts of you around with me all day, I am so happy and smiling all the time about you! I hope you are smiling all the time, too! Here are some smiles for you:
Hahahaha want some more?
|Think that will hold you for a little while?
!!os epoh I
Hahaha I think that’s your smiling face, mohamedarling, because it’s right-to-left, like arabic!
Oh! I have an idea, here you go:
There! We are smiling and kissing!
|Hahaha yes, and by the way how will I resist you if you sneak up behind me in the kitchen and whisper in my ear??? And also by the way, I love to learn to cook new foods, do you like to cook too? Oh, I hope so, it will be fun to play with you in the kitchen, we can have fun cooking together, and we can feed each other little tastes to make sure the food is delicious!
Oh, and about the pigeon… and the lobster and shrimp… how do you cook them? Sweetheart, who cleans them before they get cooked?????
Well, I can do the shrimp, if you take off the heads… and I could probably drown a lobster if you whisper something nice to distract me in my ear… hahaha but if you do it, I’ll gladly make the lobster bisque!
I hate to give you a bad surprise, mohamedarling, please forgive me if I do… I hope I’m not too prissy if I also warn you I don’t really want to know how the feathers get off the birds, ok? And I’m not in a rush to find out what they look like on the inside, either!!!
|I remember my high school days, my girlfriend Dana and I would ride the BART (metro) into San Francisco to the tourist area, around the docks, and it was popular to buy a giant snow crab, sit at a picnic table, and pick the crab clean… I’m sure we all looked like human seagulls! But it’s soooo delicious!
It’s a little messy and funny to eat the big crab with only fingers, tearing it all up to get out all the yummy meat. We did this often for a fun treat, Dana and I. Then we would go shopping along the streets where the hippies sold jewelry that they made by hand with wire and beads… beautiful necklaces and earrings…
Anyway, back to the crab…! I never knew that the snow crabs had been cleaned, I was so silly about such things, I had no idea there were internal organs in a crab, I never saw any, and I knew we were buying the whole crab… silly girl, I know… but only my brothers were invited to go fishing with my father, so I just never knew about such things.
|Well, one day early in my marriage, we had little chesapeake blue crabs for dinner, and he told me what to do to clean them… so I did whatever it was he said to do (I can’t remember now – here’s why: ) I pulled off the back of one and I saw all the guts – I nearly dropped the thing, it was soooo disgusting to me, hahahaha I didn’t know what was wrong with it!!! I was so appalled by it and my air choked off in my throat – I ran for the bathroom because I wanted to throw up! My ex was practically falling on the floor laughing at me… it was not at all funny to me at first, but once I understood how silly I was being, it was very hilarious, and I still laugh at my naivete.
But I never cleaned any more crabs, that’s for sure!
Oh,speaking of crabmeat, do you like it? and speaking of pigeon… well lobster would be even more wonderful, come to think of it… I know a recipe for quail stuffed with crabmeat that will knock your socks off, and I’m sure it would be excellent if it is pigeon stuffed with lobster instead! Oh, and I also know a great recipe for duck with dark cherry sauce… mmm mmm!
Are you hungry yet, my husband? I will verrrry gladly share with you your hobbies, it’s too much like a delicious dream!
Mmmm mmm mm! Sweet delicious duck with dark cherry sauce kisses for you!
|I love you so much already, I will never get over my amazement, it is such an incredible blessing that we have found each other…
oh, and I should explain, I don’t think I am so much afraid physically, sweetheart, I am just a little too accustomed to disappointment, and I suppose I am like a child who looks at a pretty bubble.
|When I read these words from you:
My love, my darling, as I know you more I love you more and more, you are very understanding and I will never all my life forget that you are the best understanding wife in the world. I love you, I love you, I love you and I am so happy that you are my wife.
Ahhh, I love you sooo much, oh please don’t pop and disappear, this is my prayer to Allah all the time.
Please be understanding if I did not write to you very long letters starting from tomorrow, because I will be very busy fixing this house to be a new wonderful “Kasr” for my Amirah, my Queen Aisha
|My husband, my best friend, my sultan and my king forever, any place I live in will be a kasr if you are with me! Mmmm you are deep in my heart and I will always be happy to be your amirah and your queen, you are the best blessing on earth to me. I love the picture of your beautiful “kasr,” you are pure egyptian chocolate, thank you Mohamedarling!|
|It will be fun to know how you are doing and of course I will be waiting anxiously for your email, but I am happy to leave you alone so you can work… I know you will write when you have time and I will send you lots of kisses and smiles and hugs between your emails.
We can keep each other updated as it gets closer to my arriving there, too, I’m finding airfares now, and I spoke with a woman at the Egyptian embassy today. Insha’Allah, it will be easy, like you said, I have to get a stamp on my papers from Virginia State Dept., then that stamp gets blessed by the U.S. State Dept., then they send it on to the Egyptian embassy, and they bless it too, no problem! It can be done in the mail, but I will be taking the children to Washington DC in 2 weeks for a long weekend visit, so I can probably get it done right then.
|My mother has one of my brothers’ daughter visiting her right now from Texas, and my sister from California is arriving there with her son. My other brother and his wife and children are coming up from Florida and they will stop at my house for a short visit. Then we will meet in DC where we will all be together for a mini family reunion. We are all looking forward to it, I think it will be fun!|
|Alright sweet sultan shokolati, husband of my dreams,
kisses and more kisses for you:
Sweet dreams, my love, I’m going to bed now… how funny that you are in tomorrow’s sunshine right now!
I hope it is a beautiful day for you, sweetheart, filled with sunny bubbles and nice surprises
Happy to slow down a bit, now that the train seemed less in danger of crashing off a cliff, I heaved a heavy sigh as the computer shut down and darkness enveloped me in the humid hug of a hot summer night. No candles tonight, no smooth jazz, no hot tub, no crazy Scheri and her damn genie, not even an open window.
The silence was strange; I wondered, puzzled by my darkened surroundings and exhausted to the point of amnesia, “Where am I, really?” I wondered how long it had been since I slept. Clutching the furniture and creeping carefully through a black maze of dragon-shadowed houseplants, I dragged myself to bed and passed out.