Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Almost Became A Fifth Wife

A few weeks back, I was in Oxford.

It was as beautiful and romantic as you might have imagined it to be. But that's not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is the fact that I almost became the fifth wife of a 57 year old Saudi Arabian man.

Not. Joking.

I promise.

It was a lazy afternoon, and after wandering around looking at colleges (that's a lie, I was shopping), I was reaching that mid-afternoon slump. So I did what any civilized person would do, and took myself to a tea shop and ordered tea.

I sat down, savouring the silence, which was a nice contrast to the bustle of the streets outside, and decided that it was the perfect moment to write in my journal. I know: Oxford, Tea, and Journal Writing - they just go together.

My warm tea by my side, a feeling of contentment oozed through me. I should have known it was too good to be true. Very suddenly, I became aware of a dark swarthy man, repeatedly turning from his table to look at me.

"Don't make eye contact. Don't make eye contact. Mary DON'T LOOK UP."

I looked up.

He leaned over. "Sometimes, at the beginning, things are difficult. But as time moves on, they get easier."

You know what my first thought was? "That's so TRUE! I needed to hear that. Maybe this is my guardian angel! I wish he was better looking."

I am not sure normal people have thoughts like that.

I just nodded, because I was not in the mood to have a conversation with a stranger, not even if he happened to be my guardian angel. I turned my attention to my tea and pen, assuming that it would be obvious I was not willing to chat.

Somehow, it wasn't.

An hour later,  after having been asked if I was married or not - "Ahh! You aren't!!" -  I was in possession of an invitation to Saudi Arabia. I was further informed that he had not successfully had any children with any of his wives thus far  but was certain it would happen soon. Possibly he might have a problem, and not the multiple women he is married to - but this is not something I actually wanted to suggest to his face.

As I made a move to leave, he asked if he could show me around Oxford's Covered Market. Having lost the ability to say "no," I slowly nodded yes. He showed me his butcher's and his cheese man, and the place where he buys his bread, and as we entered into the sunshine on the High Street, he asked if I had been into the quads of any of the Colleges.

Having lost my brain, I dumbly shook my head. So he escorted me around some lovely college quads, and tried to explain some gorgeous college chapels to me.

Seeing as how I was the Christian of our dynamic duo, I am pretty sure I should have been doing the talking.

A further hour later, he was informing me that we would see so much more of each other in the future, and his hand had somehow found its way onto the small of my back. *Shiver.*

If the man you like does that, you want to kiss him. If the man who is informing you that you would look lovely with a head covering on, who is as old as your father, and very obviously not your guardian angel does that, you want to castrate him.

We entered a bookstore so that my eager suitor could show me some atlases, and I took this an opportunity to frantically text a Spaniard for help. Seeing as how he was in London, I am not sure what exactly I thought he could do to help me, but seeing as how he is my boyfriend, I thought he better do something.

My phone rang shrilly, disturbing the staid silence of the bookstore.

"Walk away."


"Just....walk away."

"Just like that?"

"Yep. And if he follows you, ask for help."


I walked past the Saudi gentleman, motioned to my phone and told him I needed to take the call outside, and walked out the door of the bookshop.

"Oh my gosh. I'm on the street. And I am walking around the corner. And he isn't following me!!"

"So. Why didn't you just say no?"

".....I'm Canadian? I don't assert myself? Maybe?"

"Wow. I need to give you 'no' lessons or something."

And that's that. Except the next morning, the friend who I was staying with was getting a coffee. As she was waiting for it, a man approached her, started chatting, and asked her where she was from. Having been informed that she was from Canada, he did a little jump and said that he had met a Canadian girl named Mary the previous day, and was looking for her.

Shannon, having as she said "No time for drama like that," simply shrugged and told him she knew of no such person.

Somehow she escaped the Saudi man without having to lose three hours of her life to him.

I think I might have to take my Spaniard up on those lessons.


  1. HAHAHAHA oh, my favourite part is the quote from Shannon.

  2. Haha, I thought at the beginning of the post, "Wow, if she could she sound MORE like Harriet Vane...." And then, well, it went downhill from there ;)

  3. Golly and heck, Mary. Your magnet is still working!

  4. Ahahaha! Thank goodness for your Spaniard boyfriend!

  5. Also I am SO sorry I never called you, our summer has been one big fat chore after another, and by the time I remembered "CRAP, I WAS SUPPOSED TO CALL MARY AND SEE HER MAYBE" you were gone and I felt like an ass.

    I apologize.

  6. Oh my goodness Mary you are a riot...