The cake I waited six years to taste

If you’ve been reading me regularly, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised that this post is a little shorter than usual. It’s about cake, after all. How much can you really say about a slice of cake.

The story goes like this:

In 2009, in between classes, I walk into a Starbucks near my college campus to grab a green tea. ‘No sugar please,’ I tell the cashier as I placed my order. I walk over to wait for my tea, and I felt the need to tell the barista one more time ‘sorry, can you please make sure you don’t add any sugar?’ You know, just in case. It was almost summer, which means almost time to go to Lebanon, which means looking like a fat foreign kid who can’t resist American junk food was just not an option.

As I waited, a slice of scrumptious chocolate cake grabbed my attention. It wasn’t like any other chocolate cake. This was heavenly chocolate cake. It looked so good. So sinful. My mouth was watering and stomach making all sorts of sounds just thinking about it. I couldn’t just leave it there.

Little did I care that what I was about to say was gonna make me sound like someone who’d lost their mind (you know, asking for a green tea with no sugar. Twice. Then ordering (what looked like) a 2000-calorie slice of cake): ‘can I also have a slice of your Chocolate Decadence Cake, please.’

I couldn’t wait to get out of there and go somewhere quiet, so I can peacefully devour my cake. A slice that had my name written all over it. I sat in a perfect spot, under a tree, all excited that I was about to have my first cheatcheat in a month. I opened the bag.

Wrong cake. I can’t believe he gave me the wrong cake. I debated going back to claim what’s mine, but it was time for class. (I found out later that the food-deprived me gave him the wrong name. Chocolate Decadence Cake was the name of another slice right next to my beloved).

In 2012, I walk into a Starbucks near my office in Abu Dhabi to grab a green tea, with no sugar. As I waited in line for my drink, I saw it again. Beautiful as ever. The same cake. The other side of the planet. Three years later. It’s fate. I wasn’t gonna get the name wrong this time. So I looked real carefully at the tag, and placed my order with confidence. ‘May I also add a slice of your Dark Belgian Chocolate Cake, please?’

‘Sorry, ma’am. The gentleman there has already ordered the last slice.’

You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. I debated fighting for my cake, but I had already made a scene by confirming twice that my tea has no sugar.

In 2015, I walk into a Starbucks in Kaslik, Lebanon. As I stood with a friend in line, I saw the cake again, and smiled. I told him the quickest version of my cake story. ‘Tonight is the night,’ he said.

I knew the name by heart. They have more than one slice. No one is ahead of me in line. Nothing can go wrong. ‘Okay,’ I (happily) surrendered.

We walked over to our seats, and as he placed the tray on the coffee table, my greenteawithnosugar spilled all over the tray. I should have known. My cake is ruined. I’m sure it’s ruined.

It wasn’t.

I sighed with relief. Tonight is the night, I reassured myself.

I sat down. My eyes widened with anticipation. My friend pulled out his phone to document the moment. I took my very first bite, of the very cake I fantasized about for so long.

It was gourmet-less, taste-less, disappointing.

We laughed and joked about it. He thought the story was so funny, I should write a post about it. I smiled diplomatically and thought to myself, what the hell am I gonna say about cake.

I got home that night, and realized that this is not just about my cake. It’s about every single thing I’ve ever put a ‘my’ in front of, when it actually wasn’t mine. Be it a job, a boy, a trip, a dress, a cake. Every single time I put them on a pedestal and made them out to be the next big thing. My next big thing. When in reality, they were neither meant to be mine, nor a big thing.

Often times, we try to make things happen, against all odds, against all laws of nature. We ignore everything and everyone telling us to stay away. Because in our minds, it’s ours. And we want it.

Well maybe it isn’t. And maybe we shouldn’t.

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Should women lose the pants?

(initially drafted on January 24, 2014)

You know life can have quite the sense of humor sometimes. This past week has been eventful. So eventful, in fact, that the title of this blog post didn’t start out the way it reads now. It initially was “Women Should Lose the Pants [period]”

The reason? Simple. At some point this week, I thought my pants are the problem and was ready to give up on them; but now, I’m no longer sure.

Chances are I’ve lost you at pants. If so, please get your head out of the gutter and think a little deeper.

Many years back, I dated a drop dead gorgeous guy. To this day, I still think he’s the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. So hot in fact, that I stayed with him for a whole year and a half just so I can look at him. That’s a long time when you’re 17. I was the girl who always built up his ego, reminded him how sexy he was everyday (though he didn’t need the reminder) and even complimented his brains every now and then; despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly what you would call smart. Guys need that, a woman who supports them, I thought.

Months passed and I realized that I was giving a lot more in the relationship than I ever took. That by staying with him [knowing he was having an affair], I was sacrificing my everything including my dignity.

I decided to put an end to it but blamed myself for the mishap for a very long time. I probably wasn’t enough for him, I told myself. A drop dead gorgeous guy needs a size 0, six-foot tall drop dead gorgeous girl so they can be gorgeous together and have gorgeous babies.

It took me years to finally get over him. But with getting over him, came another item.

The Pants.

Sorry it took me this long to finally get to the pants, but I needed you to be aware of the background before we got here.

I wasn’t always the woman I am today. Bitter is probably not the best word to describe it so let’s call it “pink-less,” “girl-less,” “pants-ful.”

To girls, I’m strong and independent. To guys [or some], I’m probably the Cruela who doesn’t need them or anyone else for that matter.

Whether Hotboy (HB) was the reason or not, is not the point of this post. He was definitely a trigger though. The trigger that brought out the pinkless in me.

I’ll give you a couple examples so you get the picture. I gave HB passes for everything; being hours late to dates, not putting me first, checking out other women when I was around, having no clue what he wants to do in life or even what he wants. Anything he did wrong in the eyes of everyone, I gave him excuses for. Because, I mean, he was him. The hot, handsome him. And he was with me, though he could have been with any other model-like girl. And trust me, we don’t have a shortage of those in Lebanon.

Today, I’m different. I surprise myself everyday with behavior that would be deemed too manly/extreme/harsh even for a man.

When I love, I still love with all my heart. And I’m still a giver, that hasn’t changed.

But I want things to be a certain way now. The guy I choose needs to meet me half way, put me and my needs above others’, respect me enough to show up. On time. Feel just as lucky that I chose him as I feel that he chose me. Because, I mean, (narcissistic comment alert) I think really highly of myself. I studied hard, worked tirelessly and overcame incredibly difficult experiences to build my “life Résumé” and become the me writing this today.

I now decide overnight to take trips to the randomest of places, by myself, because I can. I have no problem packing up tomorrow and moving to a different continent, because why not. I have no desire to tie the knot anytime soon and don’t see the issue in sitting at the movie theater watching a movie by myself.

Love issues this week called for several “meetings” with a few girl friends of mine who see life from the same angle. We decided that maybe our pink levels are too low, our pants are too high and that we need to act more like “normal” girls.

Okay, okay. Maybe there are things that we could do differently. Letting guys pay for things every now and then is a good start and not the end of the world. Getting their opinion on things before we actually do them is feasible. Not talking to them for days because they broke one of our rules is probably not the best solution. But I can’t act vulnerable and dependent. It’s simply unnatural. Un-me. Undoable for any guy regardless of how much I love him.

Do we need them? Undoubtedly. But in the same way they need us. To give us love, sex, babies and be someone we can build a life with. We (and by we I don’t mean Women, I mean the Pinklesses) don’t need a provider, a leader, a controller. We need a lover, a companion, a friend. Who respects our independence and lack of helplessness and understands that these attributes don’t diminish our love by one bit.

Is this too much to ask? I mean should we tone down the pants so we don’t emasculate the guys in our lives?

But.

I kinda like my pants.

Sex, that taboo

(initially drafted on February 10, 2012)

I got in a car accident a few days ago caused by an illegal immigrant who had no papers, no insurance and probably a stolen car. (But that’s another day’s topic) After the accident, I drove myself to the hospital, got checked up by a pleasant doctor who asked for an X-Ray. I got escorted to the appropriate block by a lady who seemed to be more like the hospital slut than a nurse. She winked at and flirted with every single guy we bumped into on our way to the x-ray room. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more awkward, the radiologist walked into the room and instead of asking me if there was a chance I could be pregnant (as they would at any normal place), she asked if I was married.

Her dumb question got me to think about her ignorance as a healthcare specialist, our ignorance as a people, the taboo that we made of sex, the meaning that we gave to virginity, and this backwards world that we’re creating for the future generations.

I wanted to say so many things but didn’t know where to begin as her question was wrong on so many levels. I felt the words fighting to get out of my mouth but 5 seconds later all I spit out was: “I’m single.” I felt weak, submissive to the status quo which is not usually a trait of mine. I should have said something. I really should have said something.

We live in a society where it’s 3eib (a shame) to talk about sex in public. I feel awkward bringing up sex in front of my cousins or friends (males of females) who have never left Lebanon. It’s a no-no topic that should just be kept behind closed doors. I think the rule is: if you’re a girl and you’ve done “things” (even if you haven’t gone as far as sex), don’t tell anyone because people talk and then no one would want to marry you. Seriously, what the hell. Where do guys fall into that equation? I know a guy who would only date/marry a virgin when he has literally “de-virginized” half the population. I don’t see anyone telling him to keep quiet about it in the fears of not getting married. Quite the contrary actually, he kinda brags that he’s a man whore. But that’s ok because he’s a guy.

We live in a society where we shame a girl who gets raped to the point that she’d rather keep quiet and let the bastard who raped her go unpunished.

We live in a society where we’re formally introduced to sex for the first time in 9thgrade. Don’t get too excited. We learned about animal sex and had to do the math and figure out how it would happen in our species. We don’t have a formal sex education class so naturally we have to get our sex knowledge from other sources; Porn, other kids, random people, movies… Since the forbidden is desired, especially for teenagers who think they’re “badass” for having sex, they go on sex sprees with anyone. With no protection. With no clue.

We live in a society where the definition of a “virgin” is messed up. So messed up I want to throw up. I was at a doctor’s clinic a few months back when this lady walks in screaming, yelling, going nuts. Her 10-year-old daughter was holding her hand, in tears. The lady was so loud that everyone and their mother heard the story so I didn’t have to eavesdrop. Apparently, her daughter fell on a sharp surface and started bleeding (hence the tears. She was in pain!) and what was the mother worried about? “Please doctor, can you make sure she’s still a virgin? And if she’s not, can you attest on a piece of paper that you’ve checked her up and that she’s never had a sexual relation and that she’s “popped” because of the accident? Just in case we needed it in the future” I was in awe. In shock. I didn’t speak for hours. How do you react to that? What does being a virgin have to do with her damn hymen! And how could the mom think of such thing when her daughter is bleeding to death and is in excruciating pain? I was hoping it was a nightmare that I would wake up from but it wasn’t. I knew it wasn’t because when I told the story in another circle full of Lebanese women, hoping I’d get some of them on my side, I didn’t.

WAIT: Wait to have sex but wait for the right reasons. Ladies, saving yourselves for your husbands does not count as one. I don’t see them saving anything for us. Be with a guy who appreciates/respects the fact that you’re a virgin but would be with you even if you weren’t.

EDUCATE: Let’s educate teenagers so if they do have sex, they can do it safely. Let’s prevent teenage pregnancies, abortions and STDs.

CHANGE YOUR MENTALITY: In order to change a society as a whole, we have to start by changing our own mentality. We can’t expect a girl who gets raped to say something if deep down we’re still going to blame her. We can’t pretend like we’re cool with talking about sex if we’re going to think “slut” of the girl who brings it up.

It is our responsibility as a society to do something.