Lately, with a final round of law school exams around the corner, I’ve taken to jogging at night. It’s not because I can’t sleep or because I’m having deep thoughts – explanations my mother apparently prefers – but simply that I’ve been studying late, it’s less crowded at night, and Washington’s spring evenings are perfect. It’s nice to get the legs moving once in a while. (Cue my shrink, who is nodding patiently…)
A week ago, during a measly jog around campus, I was jolted by an all-too-familiar call. More like a shriek actually.
“Majnoun! Anjad sayyer majnoun intah!” (Crazy! You’ve really been crazy lately!)
As I slowed my clip, looking for the siren in question, I noticed a young couple on a street corner. The young lady, who I’ll name Mariam, was absolutely tearing into her boyfriend. Let’s call him Fadi. In turn, he was simply nodding – in that dismissive, distinctly Lebanese way – as he sucked every drop of nicotine from his cigarette.
Eavesdropping normally makes me uncomfortable. We can chalk that up to Catholic guilt. But this was too much to resist. I started “stretching down” across the street as I listened intently to their conversation.
At first, it seemed like a typical couple’s spat. Something was wrong; it was dude’s fault. Dear little Mariam kept talking about some sort of betrayal. “Real juicy stuff,” I thought to myself (referring to the conversation, of course, not her). Here’s what happened next:
Marriam: “Keef btaamil heik fiyyeh?!? Shoo darrab bi mukhak, eh?” (How could you do that to me? What the hell was going through your mind?)
Fadi: “Ya aami, khallas ba’a! Ghlot ghaltah wihdeh OK? Inssiyah!” (Enough already! I made a mistake, alright? Let it go!)
Mariam: “Inssiyah? Mitl el aadeh, eh? Halla bit shouf, baddi khabir el kil ya akhou sharmouta!” (Let it go? Typical… Wait and see, I’m going to let the world know you [INSERT FAVORITE TRANSLATION: piece of shit/son of a bitch/brother of a whore])
Fadi: “Wlik akh aaleykeh! Killo min warra…. INTIKHABET?” (You’re impossible! All this drama over… ELECTIONS?)
Now, I nearly burst out laughing at that last sentence. Apparently, poor old Fadi wasn’t having an affair or anything mundane like that. Oh no, this was much worse for Mariam! Turns out that Fadi, or one of his friends, voted for a particular side during Beirut’s recent Engineering Syndicate elections.
As I jogged back home, I found myself thinking about the Godfather III and Lebanese politics. Sometimes, when you try to get out, they pull you back in!
(NOTE: March 8 won the elections. I’ll never tell which side Fadi voted for, or supported. The story’s too good to taint with politics)