In any café you have to see the fashionable crowd, these are the girls and guys who dress to impress. No matter what time of day it is or what day of the week it is, these people are in top style. Their clothes speak for them. They really don’t have to say much as they make their entrance to the café loud and clear. Noticed by everyone, they guarantee a table in a central location. If that table could be placed on a stage for them then that would be even better! They sit in their seats and order the most colorful item on the menu. Their conversations are animated, spiced by elaborate hand gestures and a mix of English and Arabic sentences. They don’t look around them because they are above that. They don’t see anyone around them because they are there to be seen. They are the trend setters. They have the power to determine whether a place is going to thrive with new business or close down. Everybody wants to follow them or so they think. In their eyes, they think that everybody wants to be them. They grace one lucky cafe with their leading role for a few months, or until they are bored and ready to deem a new place popular and worthy of their recognition.
Then, there are the observers. These are usually older men or women sitting at the corner table in the café. They either come alone or in groups of two. They order their argeeleh and smoke it in silence. Looking at them you would think they have the whole world on their shoulders, simply because they are unable to utter a word. But, behind their meditative look they are busy, busy looking at everyone around them.
They hear each and every conversation made. They take note of each and every individual sitting in their field of vision. They mentally rate the beauty of every woman or man who walks into the café. If anyone were to get up to go to the lady’s or men’s room, they are to give that person a piercing gaze . The gaze follows its victim from the table to the men’s or lady’s room and back. It captures them with a deadly sense of accuracy. If you happen to be sitting close to an observer, do take note of what you say, as he or she is with you all the way. Observers hear you.
Even if they came with a friend, the friend wouldn’t sit opposite them, as conversation isn’t the purpose of this get together. Both of them would sit side by side to get a panoramic view of the scene in front of them. After all, they are there to entertain their visions, and to rate what they see through the personal grading system they have set in their heads.
Amidst the hum of conversation, you are also bound to hear one person’s voice rise above the rest. This is the person with a crises. Their crises starts with an elaborate ring tone (It could even be a song played in full blast) and then the loud phone conversation will follow. Whether you like it or not, you will hear every word of that conversation, not because you are ease dropping, but simply because the person with the crises is shouting at the top of his or her lungs into the speaker. He or she doesn’t mind making their problem public even if it involved using swear words. This phone conversation usually ends with crises guy or girl slamming the line shut. Then they give everyone at their table the full dramatized account of what they had said on the phone, as if the people around them haven’t heard them already. The people sitting with them at the table grant them their full support, they want them to cheer up, but they just can’t. They apologize for ruining the evening for everyone just before asking them to keep this incident confidential between them. What they really should do is ask everyone in the café to keep this conversation confidential, simply because everyone there heard every word. These people are usually teenagers, and the crises involves a parent asking them to come home now, a relationship falling to the rocks, or a person buying the same outfit they had bought for the school dance, a boyfriend or girlfriend stealer, or something or other along these lines. We older people know how to keep the crises private.
Then, the café door is bound to let in the happy couple. These are the young love birds who are wholeheartedly committed to showing the world how much they love each other. This show begins the minute they walk in. They make their entrance arm in arm, and then make their way in proud strides to the furthest booth in the café. The guy allows the girl to sit in the inner corner, and then he doesn’t waste anytime to put his arm around her. She is trying to look as if she is the happiest girl in the world, but she keeps glancing around her fearing that a brother, a cousin, or any other family member may walk in. The waiter approaches their table, and then the guy asks the girl what she would like to have. After this short consultation they order large plate of dessert and a drink with two straws. They drink and eat everything together with a light stroke on the ear, a casual stroke of the hand, or a small giggle. If anyone happens to look in their direction, the guy asks the mucho question in a voice he had deepened three digress more than his usual tone “3a Shoo bitital3!” then the girl in her seemingly soft voice tells him “7abeebee balash ni3mal mashakil win farjee il nas 3alena”, as if what they are doing isn’t attracting attention. In most cases this couple is still in school or at best in their freshman year of college. They plan their futures together, but most probably you will see the guy with another girl and the girl with another in the same café, same booth a few weeks later.
In the café, you are also bound to see the fashionable veil-wearing girls (Muhajabat). Those are the girls who take hijab to a whole new level. They wear the leggings, the tight shirt, the full make up, and the knee high boots. They don’t dispense with the hijab, as they wear that too. Their veil is exactly the same color as the shirt, the lipstick, the bag, the boots and the nail polish. When looking at them, you just have to admire them for their commitment to fashion. Hijab or not, these girls have to sport the latest style no matter how tight it is, and even if it makes them look like the human lollypop.
You may also be sitting close by the happy table. This table has a group of guys and girls who all have to laugh loudly between each sentence they say. Their laugh drowns out the rest of conversations it is loud, and happy. You instantly like this crowd simply because they are having a great time, and unlike the rest they are not posing or making a show out of their actions.
Last but not least, you might be lucky enough to be sitting near the man of the world. This is a person who invites himself to be part of your conversation. You look in his direction and you find that he is laughing at your joke. You might ask your friends a question and he might answer you instead. You might be talking about a book and he might volunteer to tell you what his favorite part of the story was. This is also a person who deserves your admiration. He has the supernatural power of being involved in seven conversations at once. Wow he is good!.
Of course you will also find the normal people like you and me. These people may be quietly working on their laptops, having a meal, having a normal conversation with friends, or smoking their argeeleh. You probably won’t take note of them, or even realize they exist . But that is ok, as they are not their to be seen, and trust me, you won’t be damaging their ego by not seeing them.