A Perfectly Nonchalant Conversation

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Year: 2003

I plunked myself down in my usual front-row seat. I was well into my first semester at Dawson College, a CEGEP located in downtown Montreal. It was, thankfully, a 180-degree difference from high school and I had contentedly fit into it like a hand into a glove. (Well a glove that fit, anyways).

I was early; there were only two or three people milling about in the room. I pulled out my notebook and attempted to kill time my usual way: Spacing out while peppering the margins with doodles. It wasn’t long before the sound of my name broke into my reverie.

I quickly turned around to face a girl several rows behind me, “Yeah?”

She wasted no time, “You’re Lebanese, aren’t you?”

“Yep!”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen.”

“Seventeen?” she said with genuine inquisitiveness, “Aren’t you supposed to be married by now?”

Um what?

Despite my initial incredulity, she remained earnest. This was an honest question. Perhaps it was odd that my teenage Lebanese self wasn’t sporting a wedding ring already.

When I found my voice again I retorted, “Um, no. Why would you say that?!”

“I just meant–well my Lebanese friends are all saying that they’re gonna get married soon, so that’s why I asked.” (I don’t know how relevant this is, but as far as I could tell, the girl was a typical-looking Caucasian blonde).

“Oh…well, no I’m not about to get married anytime soon.”

By this time, the class was filling up and the instructor was calling us to attention, so that was the end of that bit of oddness.

It was my first experience with how Lebanese girls are seen from a foreigner’s perspective. Apparently my teenage brethren were known for wanting to get hitched in 21st Century North America.

Who would’ve thought?

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