He’s Muslim. Like I am.
He calls me to tell me how his new girl “didn’t work out”.
I ask him what is it that she was missing.
He tells me how she has a past and I explain to him that we all do.
“No, not that way…a sexual history”.
He’s over 30. Most people our age have a sexual history, I explain.
“Yes, but she is Muslim” and I ask him “Are you not Muslim too?
Were you not bragging about hooking up with that girl…what was her name…Jessica? Britney? Whatever. At my cousins wedding?”.
He tells me how it’s different. “She’s a white girl”.
I tell him some would consider me a white girl.
“But you’re not. Not really. I mean you’re Muslim. Turkish too.
Bosnians aren’t white anyway. There are different rules for us.”
I get quiet.
I’m not sure how to explain to him that Muslim women have sex too.
He doesn’t believe me.
He says “I used to think we’d end up together. But you had a child”.
I laugh. I tell him that the prophet married Khadija even though she had children. He says it was different then.
“I’d marry you if you were a virgin”.
I ask if that’s what he wants.
“I want a wife who is a virgin, there is nothing wrong with that, don’t give me a new age feminist lecture either. I can have preferences”.
I ask…“how many women have you touched?”.
He goes quiet.
He tells me it’s different for him, he is a man, men have needs.
“What of women? Do we not have needs?”
“Sure but women can wait. The husband can fulfill their needs”.
I ask him who he thinks fulfils my needs since I no longer have a husband. “
You don’t have sex. You are a good girl. You have always been a good girl.
I want my wife to be like you”.
I laugh again…“but you don’t want me?”.
“ No, it’s not you but…you know…you’re not a virgin. I’d like someone like you…just less experienced”
He says this but his voice sounds bitter at the last words.
I’m sure he meant to say damaged goods. Someone else has had me before him.
“What else?”, I ask, “What else does your future wife need to have?”.
He tells me she needs to be smart, educated, he’d like post grad work too,but she must know how to cook well.
He says “she cannot be modern…like you. I mean, I like you a lot but you are too modern.
We would never make it work. You and I…you are too smart”.
He mentions a Ph.D.
I ask if he has one. He doesn’t. He didn’t finish college. He works at the tire factory.
But his wife must be educated.
Educated and intelligent but she must allow him to take care of her.
I tell him “you want your wife to be everything but what are you? What are you offering her?”
He tells me he will love her, provide for her, and she must do the same.
She must also take care of him, finish school, be a virgin, be intelligent, want children, have children, raise the children, work, cook, clean, and be a virgin.
He mentions the virginity thing twice.
I ask him if he is expecting too much without giving anything in return.
He says a woman would be lucky to be loved by him.
“I’d love you, but you know…” and I finish it for him “I am not a virgin, I know”.
I laugh again.
The women are expected to be everything all in exchange for love, an ounce of love.
Not even good love. Mediocre love. The men….the men are expected only to find such a woman.
I tell him “I hope she doesn’t suffer. Whoever she is that you marry. I hope she doesn’t suffer.”
He doesn’t understand. Why would a woman want anything other than the love of a man?