French Fries & Pineapple Juice: 48 birr
I was 18, back in Addis for the summer after a rough freshman year in New England. He was so cute. All my friends thought he was to die for. I spent most of my summer around him. He never even tried to kiss me once. Ever. But every afternoon he would pick me up from my aunt’s home in his Mercedes- his dad’s Mercedes (or was it his mom’s?). Baby-blue Mercedes, I remember. I don’t recall what he did for a living, but he must have been well compensated because he would never let me pay for anything. He would never let anybody pay for anything. He spent his days running errands for his mom or dad and generally driving around town.
The last Saturday before I was to return to the states, he picked me up as usual and we headed to Burger Queen. In between mouthfuls of French fries he casually asked me to be the mother of his children. I laughed. He said kemir, inigaba. I laughed again. He can’t be serious. By the time I realized he was, it was too late. He drove me home in silence and had tears in his eyes. I felt sooooooo bad.
Toasted bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and decaf coffee: $4.99
He had dated half the campus by the end of his first month as an exchange student. He would saunter into the cafeteria every morning kissing hands and complimenting all of us girls with the uncombed hair, groggy eyes, and unwashed faces. Fogari neber. After he tried and got shot down several times, we settled into a comfortable ‘best of pals’ sort of relationship. I helped him in chemistry lab and he helped me with physics homework and we partied even harder than we studied. It just wasn’t the same when he went back to Toulouse the next semester. I changed dorms. I missed him because he wasn’t there to remind me why I had no business missing him. We emailed each other daily and run up enormous phone bills. It started with ‘I miss you so much’ and somewhere thru the 4th month, it was “I love you so much.” By June he was on a flight back to the states to see me. I was a bundle of nerves waiting to pick him up at the airport. I knew instantly that it wasn’t to be. But how could I tell him? Miskin. Wenz shentererun aquarTo, he was in for a letdown. The more I withdrew, the more determined he was to make it work. After a week, it was time to drop him back at the airport 2.5 months earlier than his planned departure. Over toasted bagel at the airport Au Bon Pain, he took out a box from his back pocket and showed me the ring, his grandmother’s; he had intended to give me. I felt soooo bad.
Spicy cornish hen on a bed of almond raisin couscous: $19.97
His heart was as golden as his Wollega roots. I loved him. Be-fiqr. Ilim yale, no questions asked sort of silly fiqr. Hod yemiyasamim fiqrrr. A week after we met, we were picking out names for our kids. I met his parents after a year and they loved me. We were sorting out details and preparing to make concrete decisions about our future when over a plate of couscous he said qelebet iniser. I smiled and tears rolled. We said we would do it soon. But five months down the line he was sitting across me in the same restaurant with him tearfully admitting how he and one of our mutual female friends had mesasated. He wanted to tell me before I heard it through the grapevine. Yiqirta argiliN, it was just a kiss, aleN. Wey gud. You can imagine how I felt. But that was the end of that. I have a diriq yale no-tolerance rule about these matters. I know he hurt but I don’t think he could ever feel as bad as I did. I felt sooooo bad. Really, this time.
Chicken Sa’ag with basmati rice and a side of garlic nan: $29.57
I was taking my last bite of the best Indian food delivered this side of the Mississippi when I made a comment about someone on TV. We both started laughing and tin aleN. He ran to bring me a glass of water. As I tried to take sips in between coughing out my lungs, he was on his knees in front of me laughing and muttering, “man gif awri alesh…” He wiped my tears with his thumbs and it occurred to me that nobody other than my mother had ever touched my tears like that.
I have known him for a few years and he still does things that totally derail me. I think I am in love with him in a way that I have never loved or could ever love anyone else. It is the kind of love that weakens and steadies your knees all at the same time.
He let out a long temessggeeeeen and settled down on the couch. Then he looked up. “Shai tifeligiyalesh?” He sensed something was wrong. “You ok, babe?” I blurted out, “Wanna get married?” Silence. Smile. Ha-ha. “No really, I‘m serious,” I said. He looked so shocked. “Kemirish new?”
He grabbed the glass from me and gulped it down. “I just never thought something like this would ever happen to me.” He said. CHiniq yalew yimeslal. AmedE bun ale. I stood up and said… “….Is…is that the phone ringing?...” I ran out.
We still hang out; we just never talk about that afternoon. He must have felt sooooo bad.
L’ anbabiiew it’s Ironic. LennE gn… Karma is a bitch.