Gemmayzeh is where you get offered a drink and somehow end up paying for it. It’s where you go to be seen but not to be heard. Background music jumped to the foreground: People of Lebanon, I dare you to communicate! Maybe it’s for the best, for when they do try to communicate, they end up outside the door of the pub, talking about getting into a fight, gathering up the “troupes”, making not-so-subtle political allusions and suddenly the police is there and a night out is never a night out: it’s political.It’s men trying to mark their territory, drinking and pissing, rinse (most often not) and repeat.
Both men and women are hypocrites. Their main victim? Themselves.
“Let’s dress up and go to Gemmayzeh, I’m sure we’ll meet THE guy!” said the women.
“Let’s dress up and go to Gemmayzeh, if we act like we care and offer them enough drinks, maybe we’ll get a bit of lovin’ tonight” said the men.
You see them going into the pub, with a hopeful face, a smile, some money, good, well-applied (most often not) make-up or just good cologne for men, and… a plan.
You cannot go without a plan!
“You sit on one side and casually look around on your left, I’ll do the same on my right. If you find a man I might fancy on your side, we’ll subtly (most often not) exchange seats and vice versa.” said the women.
“Buy beer (or for the fancy men: Vodka) and wait” said the men.
The military strategies are out! Head to the trenches! Fun?! Who has time for that?
Then you see this one guy. This guy who is dancing and singing along to The Doors’ “Light my Fire”. He has this certain je-ne-sais-quoi, he has a T-shirt that boldly states with an arrow pointing upwards towards his head “THE MAN”, while the other points downwards towards his precious family jewels “THE LEGEND”. You think: Maybe he reads Albert Camus in his spare time, or maybe he is well-versed in post-colonial theory. So you twist, turn, do all sorts of acrobatic movements to subtly (most often not) get closer. Adrenaline rush, prepare the smile, the little dance moves and the proper “See?-I-know-this-song” lip-synching. Then you hear him say: “ya zalameh, ktir 2aweya The Doors”. So you walk away, a man who knows his music would not simply describe The Doors as “ktir 2aweya”. You sigh: it could’ve been the start of something good.
And the women are dying for a little attention but if given some, they retreat and go into defensive mode: “shou?! He thinks I’m easy?!” But they crave the drama because it serves as excellent material for their next Facebook statuses and the next day’s gossip.
Then they leave. The make-up makes the women look like members of ” Kiss”; it has deteriorated and retreated to the very side of their eyes, between the small wrinkles. All hope is gone from their faces. They are tired, filled with self-doubt and confidence issues.
“Men just want the easy women, mish ma32ool, Lebanon has no decent men!” said the women.
“Yalla man, ghayra bi ghayra.” said the men.
“Gemmayzeh mantaka sakaniyya. Gemmayzeh is a residential area” said the posters.
“We didn’t get the chance to catch up” said I.
Because in Gemmayzeh, you do not communicate, you pay for your own drinks, you do not have fun, you are seen but never heard.