Friday, March 14, 2008

Genuinely lovely time

If I talk about last night, naturally I have to talk about the one before. So it's been a genuinely lovely weekend, dust storms at 4 AM notwithstanding.

Screw it. We'll go back to Tuesday afternoon, when I discovered that the Czech embassy was hosting a Mezzo Soprano Piano Recital at the local SAS Radisson. Things like this aren't widely publicized at all (when they do happen), and even going to look for them online or in the paper, you won't find them. Honestly, the best news feed is word of text message in this country.

So I texted Hot Mama, who knows everyone anyway, and we got all excited about Dressing Up. Then some people arranged to come, and some people declined, and my closet vomited shoes and skirts like usual, and the week went on.

Wednesday I was notified about a party, on Thursday night. There are actually very few things more pleasant than a message while at work saying "There is a party tomorrow night, and that person you've been thinking about all week is coming, and you should come too. Wear a dress." (I'm now waiting for the one that tells me a plane full of pals from Pittsburg are on the Tarmac with burritos and Zywiec). So I went to the salon, and subjected my eyebrows to cultural indignities I won't repeat and won't treat with language- there are no words. There is, however, Retin-A.

Thursday morning my assistant came in, frowned, and in a perfect Islamabad accent asked what happened to my eyebrows.

On Thursday my last period is a prep. Apparently the prep teacher crossed the Crazy Librarian in some former life- my class was supposed to be in the Library watching a movie so I could industriously finish that last episode of House MD, streaming online. Well, the Crazy Librarian threw everyone out. They ended up back in my room before the mid-episode crash cart- busy watching 13 in the throes of an medi/ethical crisis and suddenly there is a face in the window...that...shouldn' there. Waving cheerily. Long story short, I locked myself in the closet and finished the episode while my room became a camp out for two special needs classrooms, two assistants and a really irate Islamic teacher.

I ran away from the circus very quickly- a teacher colleague needed to get home quicker than usual and I drove him. Apparently, the rest of Kuwait had the same idea and they executed it in the same fashion: Colonel Mustard; On 5th Ring Road; With the SUV. It took something like 45 minutes to get home.

Supposed to go to French, but called it a week and called in sick. Instead, I sat in a chair and had a very nice lady do my toenails while I watched "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid." The cinematography was so good it made me sort of miss Utah a little. (That's damn good cinematography, incidentally.)

Got a text message when I was leaving, that the party was off- apparently the guest list had topped six billion in two days, and the original invitee was (shocker) afraid the cops show up and unable to handle the texts from his grateful six billion. No worries! I went home, took a shower, put on polka dot pajamas, prepared dinner.

Hot Mama texted, still disappointed about the party and wanting out. She directed me to come up with something (preferably involving alcohol) with That Guy You've Been Thinking About All Week, even if it was crashing his place to watch a movie.

Well, that's what we came up with. Until Hot Mama got in my car with another party at about 9:30 PM.

That Guy You've Been Thinking About All Week had changed locations, moved from Dasman to Farwaniya (the euphanisim for Butt-F--- Egypt when Egypt is actually closer). So we went to get him, got lost twice because Kuwaiti urban planners just constructed everything in a circle rather than let you do a U Turn. He was expecting us to park and come up and watch a movie. What we did was drag him in the car without a wallet or ID and cart him off to an (unknown to us) A List party.

The way parties in Kuwait work is this: you know someone who knows someone, who asks if you're interested. You say yes, and later that evening (if you're lucky) you are provided with directions to meet someone to meet someone who will lead you to the place where it's being held. We had no idea that it was going to be the type of party where, when you walk out, people are going to cluster around you and beg you to get them in. Freaaaaakkky.

The original organizer of the Grateful 6 Billion had regrouped and reorganized, trimming to twenty. It was very, very nice- I felt distinctly inferior, by the way. Every Arabic woman in there had at least a triple H cup and 150 pounds on me, no joke. All arranged on couched at the front of the room, they surgically attached themselves to their man-things (stoically chain smoking) when we walked in. Funny as hell-we were at a table in front of the speakers, so Hot Mama and I were texting back and forth when they loosened up and started folk dancing to the house beat.

After about an hour Hot Mama got a summons from Handsome Guy, who was denied entrance. Hot Mama was smelling trouble anyway, since her escort into the party, Bruiser, was giving other men squiffy attitude about talking to us. We decamped to go find Handsome Guy, taking a now buzzed and cheery Guy I'd Been Thinking About All Week, too. Three AM, hooked Hot Mama up with Handsome Guy and poured Guy I'd Been Thinking About All Week into shotgun.

And we're off, back to Farwaniya in a dust storm so bad I can't see what's on the side of the road. It took us an hour and 4 misses to get to his hotel. En route, we saw South Keitan, North Subhan access road, cargo shipment area of the airport, and both directions of 4th Ring Road.

The problem was this: picking him up had only been the second time I'd ever been to Farwaniya. He'd only been in Kuwait for a month, wasn't any help. There was only one way I knew to get to the road that he lived on, which was through two other roads I only knew one way to get on. It was dark and extremely dusty and I did not have my inhaler. I had been racking my brain to get there six hours earlier with Hot Mama. The end of the evening was sort of nightmarish.

Me: (nose to windshield, trying to see) "So what do you think of Serbia and Kosovo?
Him: "I think this is a perfect opportunity for someone to start a conflict, the US hands are tied, this is a one way street..."
Me: "They see me, they can go around. Smile and wave."

When I finally dropped him off, he was sweet enough to ask me up for a glass of water. I thanked him, hinted it might be another hour trying to find my own house , made it home by 4:30 AM muttering "He's twenty six, he's twenty six, he's twenty six."

I tried to sleep longer, but I woke up by nine. Got a nice Thank You from That Guy for finding his hotel instead of dropping him in the desert. Poked around the house, made a recipe I'd been dying to try for ages. Unfortunately, I used Egg Roll wrappers instead of Won Ton wrappers. The moment of truth came when I threw dinner in a pot of boiling water and it turned to sludge. Damn it.

Skirt and top, hair into shape, cup of coffee. Ran to pick up Hot Mama, who decided my name was now Hot Mama. She was running late, got dressed while we talked about Handsome Guy. Out the door to the SAS Radisson and The Big Ass Boat.

En route to The Big Ass Boat, I told her about the dinner disaster. She insisted that I get something to eat. "There!" So I dove across 4 lanes of Gulf Road and down a side alley that ended up as a Carl's Junior Drive Thru. We were running later for The Big Ass Boat, you see.

So we're in the car, back on Gulf Road, I'm wearing a silk top and skirt, hair up, driving with one hand and balancing a burger the size of a dinner plate in the other. Processing the personal history of Handsome Guy.
"So he teaches at University?"
"Yeah. Of course his passport is the wrong color so he's paid next to nothing"
(waiting at light, burger in hand, looks down) "This tastes kind of good." (remembers that Hot Mama is a vegetarian, looks at her) "Oh."

The Big Ass Boat is actually a ballroom. It's called the Al Hashemi Ballroom. I wasn't aware of this until Tuesday. Until I was run out by spiders the size of trashcan lids, I'd been going to a small private beach in Salwa. The Big Ass Boat sort of dominated the left hand view, but who am I to question who parks a dhow the size of a football field in their backyard?

The Guy I Had Been Thinking About All Week had pleaded off the Mezzo Soprano, citing an unsophisticated childhood. We were due to meet two other people, a friend and a colleague of Hot Mama. Finishing the burger (neatly, heimdullilah, nothing on the silk), we drove actually down under the Big Ass Boat and parked. The event was upstairs, a cluster of about 150 chairs around a small platform in a dazzling room, so brightly lit it was bringing tears to my eyes.

The event was superb, the reception was wonderful. Afterwards we all went to Cafe Supremo in Salmiya to drink coffee and talk politics. The guy who claimed that I was the only woman in the world to make him happy did a couple of angry Stomp Bys with a pal, sent a nasty text. I traded seats with Hot Mama and kept talking. Next time, bring the fucking chess board.

And...home again at 1:30 AM. I got up at 9, listened to Third Leg talking really, really loud to my neighbor on the landing about going to Fallika Island while trying to finish another House MD episode. I think my life is supposed to feel empty and strangely hollow without two-syllable conversation and eating fast food....