Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Don't touch me, period.

On our way out of the Khan, Courtenay decided to stop and barter for one last item. She had been searching desperately for a badge to sew on her backpack--she has a little badge from places she's been: Arches, Nauvoo, Israel, etc. But she hadn't been able to find anything to sew on her backpack from Egypt. Not a pin. Not a badge. Nothing.

We eventually did find a badge of sorts. It was really ugly and of shoddy workmanship, but she bought it because it was the only one that we were able to find. She spent the rest of the time after that finding other things that might work--a key chain, a little woven carpet purse, a flag. Anything.

At a carpet purse stand we were met with a man who asked Courtenay how many hearts she'd broken that day.

Playing along Courtenay answered, "Oh, only 6 or 7."

"No," the man answered, "Hundreds!"

Courtenay just laughed and continued looking at purses. I, on the other hand, was incredibly bothered because the man had his hand on her arm the whole time. I hate it when Arab men touch me because I am a woman! I should not be touched. Ever! I have a husband and they should understand that if they don't want other men touching their wives they shouldn't be touching me. Just because I'm American doesn't mean I need to be treated differently.

So far I've been pretty lucky here. I've only been touched once--and only on the arm. It was just the other day on the metro on the way home from Coptic Cairo. I got separated from Andrew and ended up a little ways down the car from him. This guy came up and stroked my arm. Purposefully, I'm sure, since he stroked up and stroked back down.

I glared at him, almost snarling, and he apologized profusely and backed away.

Arab women here do not get touched by Arab men (as a general rule), so I don't think they should have a double-standard for American women.

Cross-gender touching in America is a little more common, however. It's not unusual for guys and gals to give hugs to each other. Courtenay hugged Andrew goodbye when she left, which was fine and normal by American standards...but a little weird by Arab standards.

Anyways, this vendor was touching Courtenay's arm while they were bartering, which was really bothering me. It wasn't bothering her too much, but then he said,

"I will give you this for free if I can just stare into your eyes."

"Okay," Courtenay said, going cross-eyed.

I stood there for a minute, unsure of what to do, while Courtenay continued to cross her eyes and ye olde creepy guy stared intently at her face. He appeared to be leaning, and his lips were quivering. In all honesty he seemed to be going in for a kiss...

So I clapped my hands loudly and yelled, "Alright! That's enough!"

"I was only joking," Ye Olde Creep insisted.

I was not amused, nor was Courtenay.

"Well it isn't funny to a married woman!" I screeched.

He muttered something that sounded apologetic, but probably wasn't. And we still ended up buying that purse from him even though he didn't say sorry and said he'd give it to us for free if he could stare at Courtenay's face, which he did. Sheesh!


  1. Yeah, I'm with you on that one. Don't Touch Me.
    The Blood pictures were well, bloody

  2. Hey Nancy,
    It has been an awful long time since I have read your blog. Heavens! I didn't even know you guys were in Eygpt! How long will you be living there? What is your husband studying there? Your stories are really interesting...I definitely agree about the No Touching. And that is an awful lot of blood...

  3. Hey Rebecca,

    So nice to hear from you! Yes, we're in Egypt. :)

    Andrew's doing his master's degree in Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo. We've been here for a semester already so we have about a year and a half left.

  4. A trip to Egypt wouldn't be complete without an uncomfortable touch from an Egyptian man in the marketplace!

  5. That was me, Arielle, by the way.

  6. OH my goodness... worst.purchasing.ever. I was TRYING to forget the instance, but since it was all about me, I had to read on! I am SO glad you were there...I was cross eyed, trying to steer him away and DID NOT notice the leaning/lip if you hadn't been there, I may have had to scour my face and lips with steel wool and peroxide! YUCK! So...thanks! I LOVE you blog! Glad we can be internet friends! :)

  7. Hey, that's what I'm there for: to scare off obnoxious males.

    I'm glad we can be internet friends, too. :) But I'm also glad we met in real life!