Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let's not share that

People are forever analyzing my failed marriage this way: you two had nothing in common. My ex was a Muslim, part-Saudi, part-Palestinian Bedouin who grew up in Jeddah. I was a white, all-American, Christian who grew up on an army base in San Francisco. But actually we had more in common than you’d think.

For example, we were both accustomed to “calls” ringing out a few times a day. For him, the Muslim call to prayer. For me, taps and reveille. In each case, you had to stop what you were doing and turn toward something – Mecca or the central flagpole. And in each case, neither one of us turned.

In Saudi, one of the concepts behind men wearing white and women wearing black is that the uniformity is a great social “leveler”. You’re all the same in front of Allah. The military, too, has a passion for leveling, sticking the heart surgeons in the same quarters as the accountants. And of course they love uniforms.

And aren’t army brats nomads of a sort?

Not to mention that we both came from cities where men liked to hold hands:


I will admit that there were a couple of things we didn’t have in common: a rejection of BLTs and miniskirts, and an abiding fondness for polygamy. But we did agree on one thing: anti-Semitism sucks.

In fact, my ex was so concerned about it, that he once came to a screeching halt on the NY Thruway to assist some stranded travelers who happened to be Hasidic Jews. (I believe to this day that this was his sole motivation because, despite being an auto mechanic, he never stopped for anyone.) After determining that their car was unfixable, he loaded them into the backseat of ours and sped off to deliver them safely to their uncle’s house in Albany, 20 miles out of our way.

The befuddled travelers had some difficulty with my ex’s enthusiasm. (“Brothers, we all come from the same God! We should learn to share the land he gave us!”) But when his words of comfort failed to stop them from squirming, my ex turned to me and whispered: “Maybe you should cover your hair.”

I reluctantly agreed. Sure enough, once I was covered, the men smiled at my ex and seemed to relax. Well, would you look at that? You guys do have something in common after all.

Mazel tov. And sayonara.

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