In my defense, it’s confusing okay?
Living in a country where some people pray, some people don’t, some people don’t do it in public and some don’t in private. Not to mention there are about a thousand bazillion different beautiful textiles floating around in Marrakech.
But I digress.
Dating a Moroccan is a tricky business, especially if you’re a socially unaware airhead like myself, but a great first hand insight into the culture, as well as your own shortcomings. It’s not that I’m not educated about Morocco, because I am. Not as well versed as my colleague who’s been here for 3 years but for a mere 60 days, I thought I was doing pretty well. Until…
It’s not every day you have a hot Moroccan guy making you a delicious tagine dinner, right? Right. So there I am, leaning seductively against the door frame (with the grace of a calf taking its first steps, I’m sure) watching this tall, dark and handsome Casanova slice peppers and structure them into a majestic tee-pee of tastiness in the tagine.
We’re laughing, drinking, talking and generally enjoying each other’s company. He’s run out of olive oil, could I please set the table while he runs out to get some more?
I have done literally nothing during this hour long dinner prep except stress over my music selection (obviously crucial to set the mood; Jack Johnson? Not sexy enough. Pretty lights? He wants singing. Arctic Monkeys? BAM) and peel one potato.
Yes, one potato. So naturally I accept the table setting challenge and go forth with an unusual sense of determination.
I turn the music up, start twirling around and gathering the feast.
“… left you multiple missed calls and to my message you replied ‘why’d you only call me when you’re high? High, why’d you only call me when you’re hiiiiIIIIGHH?'”
Hope the neighbors can’t hear me.
I’m folding paper napkins, transferring a delicious looking olive mix to the nicest bowl I can find and cutting up a very strange pink looking sausage thing whose identity I’m still not sure of, even after multiple conversations regarding the beast.
The table was not cute, ladies. A white, plastic abomination covered in shmutz that could only live in bachelor pad. So I dressed it up a bit, who could blame me?
I grabbed a pretty little rug/ runner looking thing and laid it on the table. Added the plates, hors d’oeuvres and lit a candle I had eyed earlier.
I hear the key in the lock and come prancing into the living room, self-satisfied look on my face and all, like a kitty presenting a dead mouse at her owner’s feet.
He takes one look at the table, one look at me and starts dying laughing.
“What!?” I ask, frantic that I had somehow missed his hints that this tagine was in fact for him and his current girlfriend, pas moi, and I would not being joining them or that the pink snappy sausage thing was supposed to be cut into cubes, not circles.
When I say dying laughing, I mean like doubled over GUFFAW-ing, unable to catch his breath and tell me what the hell’s the matter. Each second I stood there like an idiot felt like 5 years. I aged, I tell you.
Finally he gets it together, stands up straight and puts his hands on his hips. He looks at me. “Do you know what this is?” He asks and flicks the edge of the table cloth.
“It’s used for prayer.”
You know that scene at the end of Titanic where old Rose throws her giant diamond into the middle of the Atlantic? Blunk.
That is about how fast and how deep my heart sank into my dark, ignorant soul.
Cheeks ABLAZE, I start throwing the dinner on the floor. Gingerly, you savage, so as not to disturb my elegant arrangement of pink sausage circles, but quickly!
For those of you that don’t know, or are perhaps oblivious morons like myself, Muslims use rugs for prayer. They’re used to create a clean space between the worshipper and the ground and should be taken care of in a holy manner to show respect. Aka no putting it someplace dirty, no throwing it around haphazardly, and definitely NO SERVING DINNER ON.
The absolute last thing I wanted to do while I’m having an adorable date night with this great guy is disrespect his religion!
Read, Alexa! Be conscious, Alexa! Sometimes, I’m just too much.
After the prayer rug was safely folded in it’s designated holy area and our pretty dinner was back to being served on a plastic table of shmutz, I let the horror wash over me.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I can’t believe… Oh my god…” I said and buried my face in my hands. The word “mortify” comes to mind.
Luckily for me, the guy is sweet as pie and as a result of a lifetime of embarrassing myself, I recover quickly. He assured me it was no big deal, still laughing, and I only sulked about in a fog of shame for ten or so minutes after that. The evening was no disaster and the dinner was delicious and not the *tiniest* bit awkward. Tiny bit.
BUT! Lesson learned, my traveling, well educated friends.
ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH AND BE AWARE WHEN VISITING A RELIGIOUS COUNTRY.
Or anywhere, for that matter.
And when in doubt, forgo the table cloth.
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