26 July 2007

don't blame your knowledge on some fruit you ate.

I hit a bit of a dry spell for a while in terms of entertaining stories, but it seems the Petra bachelor party bus opened the floodgates again.

Between SAT and GRE class yesterday, Angel, the young woman who runs the front desk at Amideast, struck up a conversation with me. She's always been friendly and I sense that she's lonely, but this was the first chance we've really had to talk. She asked about me in Jordan and how long I was staying, and we got on the topic of Peace Corps and my moving to Ethiopia. She thought it was great and wanted to know how she could get paid for humanitarian work. Apparently, she's volunteered with a lot of NGOs but is now 28 and in need of a "real" job.

She's also unmarried and quite content with it, which is very unusual here, but she's feeling that motherly instint kicking in. Thank god mine is still very dormant. She said she'd love to marry an American man for the citizenship so she could have access to things like visas and the Peace Corps. I respect her honesty about the situation - she's not the only one who thinks it's pretty fabulous to be an American. Then, I almost passed out on the floor. She said she'd also love to marry an Israeli, but her family would kill her, so that's the only thing stopping her. She worked at a kibbutz outside Eilat (inside Israel proper) for a few years and loved it. Nevermind that I met an Arab who could say the word Israel without spitting - her family's Palestinian, so that's an even more mindblowing idiosyncrasy. It was an enlightening ten minutes.

Then, one of my GRE students asked if we would be getting next Tuesday off of class...for elections. Never mind that it's only local Amman elections in a state that's only nominally democratic and class runs from 6 - 9 PM, outside polling hours - he thought democracy was special enough to warrant a day off. I think Election Day should be a national holiday too. Hooray for freedom!

But, as all things go in Jordan, you can't have fun and interesting experiences without something getting creepy. On my cab ride to work this morning, my cabbie struck up the standard Arabic conversation. When we got to marriage, it was early and my lying reflex hadn't woken up yet, so I instinctively resorted to truth and said I wasn't married. At the near-ancient age of 22, he was aghast. He said it was important for me to get married young so I could have as many babies as possible before I got too old. I replied that I was a student and didn't want to get married until I had a good job, and even then, I was having exactly two children. He said I was very pretty and if he were younger (I'd peg him in his mid-fifties), he'd marry me and we could have lots of strong babies. Then, he reached back to shake my hand in affirmation of our new understanding, and just to drive home his point, fondled my thigh and attempted to reach into my crotch before I swatted him away. Honestly. It was 10 AM. I thought the creeps only came out at night, but not in Jordan. Liberate the proletariat already.

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