There's one other Arabian cultural experience Jeremy will never get to have: being sexually harassed. This comes to mind because on Thursday, some guy - brushed? groped? touched? I'm new to this so I'm still searching for the right word - my boob. Sorry to put it so indecorously, but really, there's nothing decorous about the incident.
It happened as I was exiting the metro with both girls in tow. Somehow I've managed to spend almost two years in the Middle East unscathed as far as gropings go, but when it did happen, my two kids were with me. Of course. I had Magdalena in my arms and Miriam by the hand and we were trying to exit the metro car at the same time people were pushing to get on. We made it out, but amid the bustling crowd as I passed close to a guy entering the car, I felt and saw a distinct and intentional, uh, grabbing. Ooh, it makes me mad again just thinking about it.
The good thing is that, in response, I shoved him. YES, I did. Right there in public in front of everyone, with my two kids with me. Heck, the arm I used to do it was also holding Magdalena at the time. Mr. Harasser is the only one who knows for sure why I did it. I'll let the other passers by take a guess. I'm sure they can figure it out.
I've been steeling myself for this eventuality (because if you're a western woman and you spend enough time in the Middle East, an incident like this is just that) since we first went to Syria in 2004, so I actually don't feel as violated as I expected. I'm more just sad that my "winning streak," as it were, is now over.
You know what else mitigates my disgust? Besides this incident, considering my ride on the metro as a whole, I experienced nothing but men behaving like gentlemen. A young man gave up his seat for me immediately (that's why I was in the mixed car in the first place, for better seating chances, but in retrospect it was a bad decision), then spent the rest of the ride entertaining my kids. When we were struggling against the crowd to get off the train, a few men helped people get out of our way so we could pass. They really were on their best behavior, except for that one guy.
Still, it's the ladies-only car for me from here on out. This is one cultural experience I don't want to have ever again.