My seven-city tour was coming to an end. I had visited Dubai, New York, Toronto, San Jose and Phoenix, over the course of a month. I had three days left before returning to my job in Baghdad. Just enough time to get married… or anyway, my aunt seems to think so.
I’ve never written about my dating escapades, but this seems like a good place to start.
Many of my family live in the Chicago area, and that’s where I was, just relaxing for a few days before going back. That’s when my aunt decided to start arranging my marriage. She didn’t actually think I had enough time to get married of course. But to meet my future wife and begin our courtship? Definitely enough time for that. What time does it take? You make a phone call, you meet for coffee and you start the courtship.
The girl in question is an Assyrian-American naturally, which is why my aunt is involved at all. She spoke very highly of this woman, emphasizing all her claims with grand hand gestures, saying things like: “She comes from a very good family”, “She has a very good reputation in the community”, and culminating in the elixir of cultural moral rectitude: “She has never been around with anyone.”
I gave in and agreed to initiate a dialogue with her.
Less than half an hour later, I was sitting in the kitchen checking something on my iPhone when my aunt came walking down the hall at a brisk pace, holding a small piece of paper in her hand.
“I got her number!” she announced, sounding and seeming like the New York Times was running the headline “Elon Musk lands on Mars” I couldn’t help but smile at her excitement.
Let me pause for a second and go back to this statement: “She has never been around with anyone!?”
In the Middle Eastern culture, if a woman has been sexually involved with someone, she would be considered tainted, and no man would want her. Vaunting virginity like a badge of honor is common practice in the culture of shame.
And this is one of the reasons why a percentage of Assyrian girls tend to date a non-Assyrian guy after their first failed relationship with an Assyrian boyfriend. (It gets even worse for Muslims girls. They may even face honor killing.)
So anyway, I messaged her.
“Hi, is this J? This is Ninos.”
An immediate reply from J: “Hi, which Ninos?”
Hmmm…Thinking what to say: “My aunt insisted that I meet you, she got your number from a friend. She knows your family very well. And this my picture.”
She never texted back.
My aunt kept following up with me: “Did she message you back?”….Five minutes later: “Did she message you back?”…Two minutes later, “Did she message you back?”
“No, not yet!”
About eight hours later, I got a text from her: “Hi, I thought this was a prank, but I figured out eventually who your family is.”
I’m thinking to myself: “Thank God, finally!” Now, at least I know my picture wasn’t the reason for her late response.
After a few more silly text messages between us, I asked for her Facebook. I was itching to see what she looked like.
She replied: “Facebook is only for family and friends.” That’s fair enough, I thought.
So I gave it another try: “Do you have a LinkedIn account?”
When she answered “No.” I thought “Hmm…well that is interesting” (keep in mind, I’m not asking for Instagram or Snapchat).
Suaving my way along with more silly text messages, I wished her a good night and ended the conversation.
I started to think to myself: born in Chicago, age 33, and no LinkedIn. She is neither a lawyer nor a doctor. Not even a pharmacist… or business owner. I would’ve known all that because my aunt would’ve known all that. And there are very few female doctors, lawyers, pharmacist, or business owners in the Assyrian community. So, everybody would know them.
Something is wrong with this picture.
As an educated Assyrian guy who is interested in meeting an educated Assyrian woman, her not having a LinkedIn account was a red flag for me.
In my opinion, at the present time with social media, a LinkedIn profile speaks volumes about a person. It’s a professional representation of oneself to the outside world. And not having one means you don’t feel comfortable enough with yourself to present a picture to the public. Or, more importantly, you might not be an accomplished person.
Most likely, you haven’t even graduated from a university, and that reflects no potential and no personal growth. So…
As a common Assyrian saying goes, “A thousand and one men would run after her,” because “She has never been around with anyone.”
I decided not to pursue this girl.
As Christian Assyrians migrate – from the Biblical lands of the Middle East where Islamic cultural hegemony is the modus operandi, to the Liberal and Progressive American land where Steve Jobs has been extolled to Sainthood, and the iPhone replaced the symbol of the Cross – we Assyrians exist in a state of cultural schizophrenia, losing our ancient customs in this social re-evaluation.
The attitude of self-promotion via vaunting virginity is still common in the Assyrian sub-culture in America. I have dated more than a few women who empowered themselves with considerable status using that very technique.
Now by all means, I could be wrong about this girl. I could be having a Don Quixote moment. She might not be interested in meeting me after seeing my picture, and possibly she is educated. Perhaps too, she is not a virgin, and so she has sworn off the idea of dating an Assyrian man.
Virginity is a cultural value of that old modus operandi designated to women by men, like a proprietary gauntlet around their sexual behavior. With that in mind, what is the fastest way to cheapen a woman? It is to remove that value.
What I found even more interesting is when I meet women who are virgins (I met quite a few) passing judgment on other women for “whoring” themselves by having a few relationships. Then the conversation shifts into another debate on the topic, “What is the cut-off number of relationships a woman could have before she is considered a ‘whore’?” One?
You think I’m exaggerating?
And what? Am I supposed to believe that virginity is as important as a LinkedIn profile?
I know what’s important in today’s world. But what the hell is my big beef with virginity?
Look, I’m not being iconoclastic by rubbing the Assyrian culture’s nose in the mud. (or am I?) What I am talking about here is the evolution of old world cultures after a new generation arrives in America. My father dated only my mother, I on the other hand, have dated many girls. Each generation pushes the process of assimilation further on towards the Liberal horizon.
Stop and think for a few seconds. We are in the 21st century. As humans, we are at the edge of evolution from Homo Sapiens to Homo Deus.
Here I am, a guy who lives in Chicago, a major American Cosmopolitan city being maneuvered into a fixed marriage, and at the same time deeply engaged in my own philosophical debate on the value of virginity vs. a LinkedIn profile.
My episode represents a close-up view of a transformation in the Assyrian cultural scene. I find it to be hilarious.
The old mentality in the Assyrian community is so impressed by the moral principle of virginity that other values get forgotten or overlooked. Things such as education (never reads), character (always negative), a potential for growth (lazy), lifelong learning (careless about self-improvement), financial responsibility (mountain of credit card debt), and physical fitness (gym is a tourist attraction).
If you were looking over your list of profiles, and under her name, in the “about me” section, the attributes listed included “VIRGIN” in big capital letters, followed by the above list (I never read, I’m always negative, I’m lazy…) how fast would you swipe left on the new SurayeSwipe App? (Yes. That is a real app.)
Did I mention that one of the four finalists competing to colonize Mars is an Iraqi woman? Look how far did she’s willing to go to escape her cultural requirement for virginity. I bet she has a LinkedIn profile. I should be dating an astronaut.
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