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Monday, December 17, 2007

A Lesson Learned.

The picture I posted previous entitled Free To Be reminded me of a relationship I had in high school... While we weren't complete opposites, my friend and I were a visual mismatch. She wore the hijab and wore long skirts while I wore tight tops baring a little cleavage and blue jeans. We grew to be very good friends in the last days of childhood and innocence and enjoyed the most fantastic lunch bells together in school. We'd go sit by the soccer field and share experiences, stories, opinions, beliefs, meditative moments, poetry (she adored Kubla Khan) and the best stupid jokes in the world. She was particularly fond of the frog in the blender jokes. Her voice rose barely above a whisper, her thoughts were always of others, and she cried when she got really angry which was a rare occurrence. I talked her, with ease, into joining me for volunteer work after school every Wednesday, playing with "orphaned" kids with disabilities at the hospital they called their home. We both felt the innate desire to help others, and I doubt she's changed much. She was from Bangladesh and always said she'd return their to be an OB-GYN as the mortality rate in childbirth is rather high. I was well on my way to learning how to interact with children of various disabilities.

You may only meet four of her kind in your life time, if you're really lucky. She's the friend who personifies all that is good and right in humanity, faults and all.

Anyway, we decided it was about time we went out for lunch together and I suggested a place my family used to go to once in a while. She left a note for her mother and I watched her write in her native language and never realized how beautiful it was until then. She often told me folk tales from her country, which I adored, but seeing her write a simple note to her mother was just as poetic to me!

We showed up at the restaurant and while I was prepared for some staring at our apparent polar appearances, I wasn't prepared for THAT much. We were generally preoccupied in laughing the entire time, and our noticing the room's interest in us made us laugh all the more. She enjoyed the place enough that she tried to take her family there the following weekend. She later told me of the embarrassment she faced when she tried.

Maitre d': You may sit, but the ladies have to take off the head scarf.
My friend: Excuse me?
Maitre d': We can't allow Muslims inside. We sell alcohol. You may sit, but you have to remove your head scarves.

Now, for any non-Muslim here who may not know, this would be like telling a woman she could sit down if she took her blouse off and let out all of Victoria's secrets. Obviously, my friend and her female relatives declined the offer and left.

I was furious with myself for not having known. I really had no idea. I burned with shame for having let such an embarrassing thing happen to one of the nicest people I will ever know. Apparently, when they let us in they risked getting into trouble with the government for permitting a Muslim on the premises and I had NO idea. They must have slipped up, or something. I wasn't angry with them, just myself.

A while ago, my e-mail got wiped out and I lost her contact information. I guess the inevitable will happen and she'll show up on Facebook, and that will be a fantastic day... Because it's about time we were both in tears again laughing at the misfortune of an amphibian in a kitchen device.

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