On Marriage…

Marriage is to Arabs what baseball is to Americans—their national pastime—except that it is much more fast-paced, even when the players are on steroids. It’s actually more like basketball–Hell, it’s March Madness! High speed, high energy, and rapid scoring!

The Tabal

The tabal is basically the bachelorette party. Again, it’s not anything like what you’re thinking. Trust me, Las Vegas, this is not. Besides, us Syrian girls know from experience that “What happens in the village—Doesn’t ever stay in the village!” You know what I mean?

The tabal starts out real girlish and then gets real rough ‘n’ tough. At the tabal, all the women gather at the bride’s father’s house. They put on music and dance in the living room. During that time, there are a variety of traditional customs that make the occasion very special. One such custom is that the maid of honor paints henna on the bride’s hands.  The bride is also showered with rose petals as she dances the beautiful Arabic dance.

And her sito—her sito (grandmother)—stands in the middle of the room and, for lack of a better term, basically raps. I’m talkin’ hooks and all. I ain’t saying she’s Kanye West or nuthin’, but it’s some tight a** s**t, especially for a 90 year old.Sito rap, for real. She’ll start bustin’ out these rhythmic fertility blessings—even without a beat.

Inshalla bit jeebee sabay! … Ou Inshalla bit shoofee ouladek! … Ou oulad-ouladek …Ou oulad-oulad-ouladek … Inshalla kil sineh bit-dulee quaisee … Aweeeeha …!

(If God wills, you will get a boy. … And if God wills you’ll get to see your kids. …And your kids’ kids. … And your kids’, kids’ kids. … If God wills, every year you will stay prosperous. … Aweeeeha …!)

Sometimes, they get a little confused and get the blessings all mixed up, but they mean well. So, MC Lil’ Sit2’s rappin’ for about ten minutes or until she can’t holler anymore and her head starts to hurt. Then she starts b**chin’ for someone to go get her a couple of aspirins. After a little while, they leave the father’s house and take the party out to the streets where the rest of the village joins in.

The women escort the bride-to-be to the center where her fiancé has been waiting. They are then carried on the shoulders of their strong male, cigarette-smoking cousins. That statement is a literal one. They physically lift both the bride and the groom up into the air as a celebratory gesture. It’s funny to watch their uneasiness. You can almost see the terror in the couple’s eyes as they try to grasp each other for safety. One bad move and they know they’re faced down on the ground. Especially if the guys have been celebrating all day with their good buddies, Johnny Walker, Jim Beam and, you know, the real rowdy one—José Cuervo.

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