Tuesday, September 20, 2005
At a dinner party some ten years ago, the subject turned to most embarrassing moments with various attendees sharing theirs.
A friend asked me to disclose my most embarrassing moment and I told him that I couldn’t because it involved him.
Now, with the passing of time and the expiry of the Faux Pas Statute of Limitations (as it had only recently occurred), it can be revealed to this wider dinner party.
I’d known the friend in question for a couple of years then and had always assumed that he was the same religion that I was (Maronite Christian).
That I didn’t know what religion my friend was is a testimony to Lebanese multiculturalism, but, as I got to know Lebanon, I got more politicized and in Lebanon politics is all about religion.
So, while spending the weekend at my house, my friend felt that he had to confess something to me.
He was a bit hesitant but, after some coaxing, he finally began to reveal what it was he wanted to tell me – in stages.
“My mum’s a Muslim”
In Lebanon, if your mother is from one religion chances are that your father, not to mention you, are from that same religion too so I should have stopped right there but I didn’t of course.
“Is that all?” I replied, “What’s the big deal? We’ve both got the same problem – my mum’s a Muslim too!”
“My dad’s also a Muslim,” he continued.
“That’s okay, as long as you’re not one of those bloody Shiites” I “reassured” him.
I had though that this was a safe assumption because his mother is from the north and all the Muslim villages in the north are Sunnis except for ONE village that is Shiite, which just happens to be the village that his mother is from.
Of course, my mother (who was also there) knew that because he’d earlier told us the name of that village and tried to shut me up to no avail.
Of all the villages in all the north, his mother just happened to be from that one.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well and we’re still friends to this very day – once again, a testimony to Lebanese multiculturalism and also a testimony to my friend’s nobility and definitely not to my tactlessness.
PS: I have no problem with Shiites but I call a spade a spade whether it is in our tool shed or their tool shed or anyone else’s tool shed.