I know, I know. I sound like one of those bitter, lonely girls who always wear black on February 14th and spend their day talking about how much they detest heart shaped chocolates, the color red, stuffed animals and that certain shameless naked baby flying around with a bow and arrow (where the hell is your mother cupid baby? Someone needs to call social services on her behind.) I have just NEVER enjoyed Valentines Day. Granted, this year, “happy couples” around me went on movie dates to watch “He’s just not that into you”! Ironic much? And am I bitter?
You see V. Day and I have never gotten along. If I ever were in a relationship, my boyfriends and I would always get into an argument exactly around the month of February so yes I missed out on those candle-lit dinner dates, movie nights and long cuddling sessions on February 14th. Well there was that one time in my A-levels when I asked an old crush to be my valentine (he was probably only attracted to the fact that I had the reputation of being a ‘loose churucter type’ girl). He was already engaged and claimed to love his fiancé. And yes, I always knew that but I figured ‘what the heck”. What a sad valentine, that turned out to be. When he picked me up in his car, his backseat was layered with roses. My heart melted as I got in the car and told him “he shouldn’t have”. He told me he hadn’t. Those flowers were for his fiancé! All he had for me was a lousy rose. Still, we went back to his friend’s house, made out like idiots on the couch and then he dropped me home in time to take his fiancé out to a candle-lit dinner. No sermons needed here, save them.
This year wasn’t a bad valentine. I have come to the conclusion that Valentines Night is the best night to pick up men. The bars are packed with desperate singles. The pick of the litter! They promise themselves they will buy you a drink, woo you, introduce you to their friends and parents, marry you, have kids and then take you out to watch “He’s just not that into you” next year instead of drinking away their misery at a dive bar. All those fantasies are chucked out of the window when reality of February 15th hits next morning and you quietly sneak out of his apartment to rush home and get ready for work. That relationship ends, a few hours later. You and your “ex” of one night then avoid the same bar for the next month.
Anyway, as I sit here on an empty hotel room bed in Seattle, I am wondering whether to go out and flirt with strangers. I could go down to the hotel bar where all the other special assistants and ad execs are getting liquored up. They have been hungrily eyeing me around the conference all day while fidgeting with their wedding rings. My rule there is simple. Never hook up with work people, only enjoy the attention by playing hard to get. That way they only hunger more for you and you are the topic of lust-filled conversations of all the suited men at conference lunches and lobby bars. Comments like “Dude, did anyone get the lowdown on that exotic chick? What is she? Spanish? Indian?” And while they talk, I hook up with strangers at another bar instead. You don’t ever see them again. At the end of the day, here I am, in my room. On a large king size bed, writing about how much I hate valentines day and the month of February for that matter.
So I am going to do something which someone (an overpaid quack) once told my friend to do to find closure from all her failed relationships. Write about all the men idiots who came and went in my life. (Note: Stupid one-night mistakes like fiancé boy are excluded from this list!)
When: 3rd grade.
How: After being made to sit all year with the “booger eater girl” in class, boys and girls were finally allowed to sit together. I was assigned next to Irfan. A handsome boy (for a 3rd grader). His stud credit included that he was pathan, had never puked in class nor peed his pants. I bet he grew up to be quite the stud and I am sure women eventually chased him around. To those girls I say “I had him first, bitches”. Anyway, I was young and had seen far too many Indian movies and wanted to say “Rahul I love you” to a boy too. There weren’t many Rahul’s in Pakistan so I settled on Irfan. By now, he is probably a feudal lord, married to a cousin with 3 or 4 kids and a big belly. I don’t quite remember how our relationship began but somewhere between English period and Social studies we said “I love you” a few times. We then, shared Fanta and Shezan bottles under a tree. He also blew kisses at me when we were punished. And then just like that he dumped me for a game of King Stop. Fine, I agree, I was an overweight and annoying girl myself but what boy leaves a girl for a group of boys and a ball? Then again…he was pathan! So maybe he isn’t married. Maybe he lives down the street from me in Chelsea and dances to Madonna and Britney. Who knows these days!
When: 6th Grade
How: Okay this wasn’t really a relationship. As much as an illicit affair with a teacher in the 6th grade would make my life that much more interesting but all my advances were simply unsuccessful. I’m sure he too is married now and old enough for Viagra. When I first laid eyes on him and fell in love he was in his late twenties. I thought about him each time I watched Lamhe and The Little Mermaid. I was madly in love, he was totally oblivious. Later when I switched schools, I prank called him for a year straight and pretended to be a much older woman interested in meeting him. He finally agreed that if I could find a place for our x-rated rendezvous he was ready. Later when I told him who I was and how much I loved him, he rescinded his offer. He thought of me as nothing but a “student far too young for him.” I was heartbroken yes, but I wiped away my tears, left immediately for a boring family wedding and never looked back.
Sharjeel the Cousin
When: 8th Grade.
How: One boring night of playing chuppan chupaee with my cousins in Lahore Sharjeel and I decided to hide under the bed together. Let me be the first to say that Sharjeel was by no means attractive. He was the nerd among us cousins, the one all the other boys bullied. But under the bed that night we began to neck. It led to many frequent necking sessions. In hindsight, I was doing Sharjeel a huge favor. For a fatso kid with acne instead of skin, he was getting plenty of play from a member of the opposite sex. It began as innocent experimentation and discovery between the two of us. Both almost reaching puberty, we practiced our kissing skills on each other every chance we got. In the afternoons when everyone slept, we hid behind pillars and grazed our lips. At nights when we played hide and seek, we explored each other in dark corners. It was awkward kissing really. Rubbing of lips with eyes wide open. Trying to imitate the movies. And then somewhere along the way, I surmised that Sharjeel and I were now a couple. Immediately, I began to plan the rest of our lives together. Part of it came with the desperation of just wanting a boyfriend. I was in the 8th grade by then and so desperately needed a boyfriend. I was envious of all my other prettier friends and their boyfriends. I helped them sneak out of school to go on dates. I went to Anybodys with them to buy – yes you know it – valentine gifts. So, I decided all on my own and then told all my friends that I was dating a cousin called Sharjeel. He had no idea, till the summer of my 9th grade when Sharjeel told me about his girlfriend during one of our make out sessions.
“But I thought I was your girlfriend?” I asked like an idiot.
“No way. Why would you think that?” was the reply I received.
Crushed and heartbroken, especially because I was the cause for his self esteem boost. No longer an awkward, fat boy before, he now walked around like some sex-god who knew all about “second base”. Anyway, Sharjeel is now married to one of his many sweethearts. She is quite a looker to be honest. I attended the wedding – which took place just a few months ago - and enjoyed how all of his friend asked him about his “hot cousin” Padash. Yes my dear cousin Sharjeel, I too was once a fat, awkward girl who turned out to be a looker. Anyway, my ex/my cousin is now settled with his new wife and works a six figure job in Silicon Valley. When his bimbo wife hugs me and tells me how pretty I am, I’m tempted to turn around and say “Yeah sweetie, I taught your husband how to kiss so you can thank me for that too.” Instead I hug her back.
How: So, of course. I was not always the hot clubutaunt from the Bronx. I actually came from a modest, conservative household. My female cousins enjoyed reading Urdu digests and listening to FM 100 in their past time. I’m glad I rebelled because I do not see myself living the lives they currently live. Popping out babies after their 4-day dream wedding. A husband they had never met or slept with before. Proposed by mother-in-laws instead of men. Yet, do at Rome as the Romans do and in my Rome, girls read dumb Afsanas and giggled at 25 rupee rented Indian movies. Naturally, after reading an afsana myself, I decided to give the old, traditional Pakistani romance a try. I initiated a rooftop romance with my neighbor to kill boredom. He wasn’t that bad looking to be honest. I guess you could call him an uglier version of Salman Ahmed from Junoon. He used to live – I think it was more like house-sit – next door. He was there, I was bored. Smiles led to an exchange of phone numbers and we began to talk. (I never gave him my number, I only called him). He was quick to fall in love with me. Back then, boys and girls fell in love with voices on the phone all the time. They also embarked on serious relationships after a song dedication at some stupid school meena-bazaar. I wasn’t very proud of what I had started with this guy so I never really told any of my friends. He thought it was a full fledged relationship headed for marriage. I knew I had a mess on my hands. Still we talked on the phone regularly. He always insisted on meeting, I always made up excuses. On my O-levels farewell, as all my other girlfriends snuck out of school with their handsome boyfriends Ahmed and I planned to do the same. Instead, I danced in a sari all night with my friends and when I got home, I cancelled on him. The disappointment in his voice was pitiable but I just couldn’t bring myself to see or kiss someone I wasn’t even remotely attracted to. He moved to another neighborhood a few days later. Although he was going to send me a letter with his new phone number, he never did. I guess he realized that I really wasn’t waiting for that letter. He made it easy because I hate dumping a guy. We saw each other once again when I was on my way home from Economics tuitions and saw him on the side of the road with his car broken down. I told my driver to help him as I pretended to read a book in the backseat. From the corner of my eye, I could see Ahmed stare with his mouth open. I knew he wanted to say something but couldn’t. I preferred it that way. Once his car was fixed, I smiled and waved at him as my driver pulled away. He waved back. I can still remember that look of longing in his eyes. Sorry Ahmed, I hope you found a woman who loved you back!
My first real boyfriend Akbar
How: Before Akbar, I had never really dated a guy. Lord knows I wanted to, I just couldn’t meet someone. I was told I had a very pretty face but was always on the heavy side. Although I rebelled from my conservative family by sneaking out to dance parties and Muddy’s Café with my group of pretty and popular female friends, I was forever single. That finally changed in my A-levels. I met Akbar through my friend Afia. Afia (There is a whole story there) maybe someday I will share it. Anyway, she was the one who introduced me to Akbar. She had met him on the internet and quickly decided he did not take home enough income to be worthy of her gorgeous looks. Instead she passed him on to me. I fell for Akbar when we all met for dinner (I fell for most guys I met at the time.) Akbar was cute. Not anyone I would write home about but apparently he immediately recognized me. His father had once worked for my father. Apparently, my father had used his contacts to find Akbar a job as a favor to his dad. Once when they sat in the drawing room buttering up my father for his connections, I had walked in to inform my father that I was going out with my friends. One year later, he sat on a table with me and immediately jumped at the possibility of dating the fat girl with the rich father. Maybe he thought it would open more doors in his career. Who knows? I was young and stupid. We began talking on the phone and immediately became a couple. Our relationship lasted a total of nine months. Those nine months included a total of 6 dates (dinner, gifts and heavy making out in his Suzuki on a dark street, at least it wasn’t a Vespa). It also included my first attempt of loosing my virginity but Akbar had some…let’s just say…short comings he had to deal with. It was not long before he began to get on my nerves. He claimed he loved me. I, on the other hand had only jumped at the prospect of having a man to call my boyfriend. Nine months and many arguments later, he finally dumped me for another internet girl. I was not heartbroken at all. Good riddance. Afia told me over cigarettes later that night that Akbar was an infamous internet whore. He had been on several dates with hotchick17, cruisergal64 and the list just went on. I laughed it off. The next time I ran into him was at a party many years later. It was junior year of college and I was home for the holidays. By then I had also lost all my weight and had become quite the hottie. Our conversation at the party was very cordial – almost cold from my side, his words filled with lust – as he continued to compliment me and begged to see me again. When I politely declined, he left the party to take his wife out for their second wedding anniversary. Men are dogs…that’s why I only keep them around as pets.
The Married Politician
When: A-levels second year.
How: Not going to say much here. Although he is no longer married, he is still a politician. I know there is no such thing as a scandal for a public figure in Pakistan. I mean look at Zardari – he nearly boinked all of Lollywood – and he is still running or crashing our country. So I will make this one short. His son was a year junior to me in school. Once when he came to pick his son up from school, I flirted. He flirted back. I got his Paktel number. (Remember those big old mobiles) When we finally spoke on the phone, I freaked out. I had just finished reading “My Feudal Lord” By Tehmina Durrani and was in no mood to be a battered woman right before leaving for an excellent liberal arts college in the States. He liked his women barely legal and with a few extra pounds. Duh, I was a dream girl for him. The week before I headed off to the states for college, his emails bordered on the verge of begging. To be honest, the fact that he was married was never a deterrent for me. If anything, that was the intrigue. Besides, his wife was a spoilt begum who had looked me up and down with disdain during a parent-teacher meeting. The affair was payback. Two days before I headed off to college, I agreed to meet him. He took me to a room at PC and we made love. We also spent the next two hours talking. He was a nice man trapped in an unhappy marriage. He wanted to shower me with gifts and I would have liked that but I was on a plane headed off to a new life. We emailed back and forth and he even made plans to come see me in America. But by then, I had embarked on a new life, so I set him up with Afia who got a brand new wardrobe out of it. She apparently also broke his heart. Although I am sure, there were plenty of other young, chubby girls because his infidelities eventually led to a divorce from snooty begum. He and I are still good friends. He thinks I am now utterly gorgeous but hates that I have lost all my weight. Still, we are good platonic friends and always meet up for coffee or dinner when I am home. We even share relationship advice.
Mike from Philly
When: Freshman year of college.
How: Mike was a holiday romance. A summer fling. The best. The kind we always dreamt of and read about in cheesy Danielle Steel novels. It was the summer after my freshman year. My aunt lived in Philadelphia and I would often stay with her during breaks. That summer, my parents had decided to come up to the States too. We were to road trip across the country and see all our old, distant relatives. My mother and Khala would often get on my nerves when they sat and talked about family gossip, tried recipes and drama endings. For me it was all so boring and trite. Instead, I would hop on one of the septa buses and head down to a café on South Street. There, I would read a book, people watch and enjoy a latte of every different flavor. I met Mike at that café. Busy reading James Joyce’s “The Dead” he looked up and smiled a few times. I flirted right back. We talked about my book: “The Road” by Jack Kerouac and then he asked if I would like to meet him for coffee. I didn’t get a chance to meet him for a while since my parents and I were embarking on our little road trip but I promised I would email him as soon as I got back. That road trip sure started off rough. My first private conversation with Mama resulted in her bursting into tears because she had discovered all my old love letters from Akbar. I denied it all and promised her that it was a big misunderstanding. She believed me or just wanted to. Still, I battled with the guilt and instead of becoming the pious little girl I promised her I would become; I immediately emailed Mike when I got home. I just needed someone to talk to. I was also sure that Mike and I would not go beyond a first date. On that first date, I showed up dressed in a tank top and leather pants while he wore a polo and Khaki shorts. Mismatched terribly, we still went to the Ritz and watched “East is East”. Later we grabbed pizza slices and made out in the rain. He was the perfect distraction from my guilty misery so we dated the entire summer. Every Wednesday, I would lie to my parents that I was going out with Donna. (Donna helped me with the lie) and I would go on a date with Mike. We watched some great movies “Croupier”, “Groove” and “My Beautiful Launderette”. Some evenings, we even spent the entire evening in his bed. It was a little awkward at times because he still shared the condo with his ex-girlfriend. Anyway, the relationship ended with the summer. I returned to college many pounds lighter, a new haircut and a fresh start. There were many more interesting interactions between the two of us after but I cant go into much detail since it would take too many pages. Some filmy drama, lets just say. Regardless, every now and then we will meet at Samosa; our favorite Indian restaurant in Philly to catch up on our lives. He is much older and gray now. He was in a very serious relationship with a Thai girl for a while. However the last time I met him, he said he was about to end it. I wish him the best always.
Christian the playboy
When: Junior year of college
How: This lasted only a semester. We never really dated but slept with each other a lot. I liked him. My friends hated him. He also slept with every girl he met. I still see him around because he too lives in NYC now. He has since tamed down. Old age maybe? Still he tries to bed me every time he sees me. But after that one time when I had gone back to his “place” only to be interrupted by a realtor to realize it wasn’t his “place” after all; I keep our greetings formal and distant. He was never the speechwriter for the president he claimed to be either. His career involves waiting on tables and writing orders instead of speeches. I always knew he lied but he was just so damn good in bed!
Mustafa My First Heartbreak
When: Junior year of college also. (A tough year for me).
How: It always happens when you least expect it. When life is perfect and you think you have it all. A man comes right over and messes it all up. Breaks your heart into pieces and leaves you angry and bitter. Why? Before him, I never needed a man. After him, I always knew there would be a crack in my heart. I am beginning to sound pathetic now, so I’ll get straight to the point. He was a Pakistani. I usually don’t date my own kind since I am least attracted to Pakistani men. Yet, a Pakistani man broke my heart. The irony of it all. His name was Mustaffa and I knew him slightly when I was a kid. He was my older cousin’s friend in Fsc when I was merely a fifth grader. I was the cute, chubby cousin they used to tease. Somewhere along the way many years later, I heard from my cousin that he had left for the states for an MBA. I neither knew nor cared. He was always just Mustafa bhai to me. Fast forward to junior year of college. My best friends Jenny and Julie (sound like quite a pair don’t they?) had come over to visit me in Philly during fall break. I was excited to see them and we were out at a club when I ran into Mustafa after all those years. He was checking me out for a long time and wondering if I was a Pakistani just like him. When we finally recognized each other, he could not stop saying “Oh my God, Look at you. Are you really that little Padash I used to bug? You have grown up so much. You really grew up to be quiet a beauty?” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wasn’t complaining. In fact, I myself was amazed with how handsome he now was. Our relationship began that December when I was home from college. In just the few days, I had fallen madly in love. Not a great feeling, I tell you. Makes you weak and makes you do dumb things. I was such a mess in love. Visited him a few times hoping it would all fall into place till finally one day we had the talk. “He loved me but he was not in love with me.” Shattered, it took me years to get back on my feet with many rebounds in the process. I think I am now officially over him only because I have not seen him for several years. According to his facebook page (which I did stalk, don’t judge) he is now married to a cousin and has two kids. NEXT!
Richard the Morman
When: Age 23.
How: My second major heartbreak. I was working my first job in New York City. An insignificant administrative assistant for an ad exec hoping to work my way up the management ladder. I had my eyes set on the personal assistant position, which allowed more travel, more respect and less menial tasks. Still I had a job, I looked beautiful, loved my friends and was having the time of my life. Once again, another man enters and ruins it all. This time it was Richard and I had no idea he was a Mormon. An attractive man but not someone who would immediately catch my attention. Too blonde hair, blue eyes, farmer boy for me. I like my men a little more rough around the edges. But you know what they say, you always fall for the ones that are never physically your type. To be honest he wasn’t even mentally my type. One of the most conservative men I had ever met, when we first talked he told me he dumped his Latin girlfriend of 3 years for dancing on a speaker at a club. “Who does she think she is? A stripper?” I decided never to share my past professions with him. He would often see me out at bars and at parties. He had told many of his friends how he thought I was the sexiest thing he had ever laid eyes on and that he was too shy to introduce himself. For a girl, who had spent a majority of her life as the fat asexual best friend to pretty, popular girls in high school school; a comment like that means the world. Still, I wasn’t at all interested in a boring, old-fashioned blonde. I only enjoyed the attention. Milked it for a year until we began to talk and I fell immediately head over heels. He dumped his Latina girlfriend the day after meeting me. After that, I followed him around like an idiot and on valentines day 2004 – that evil, evil day – I confessed my love for him. I should have known better. Within days, he was back with his ex. I was devastated. The next day I was promoted and spent the next year traveling all around the country. But at every subway, metro, Marta, every airport waiting lounge, on every five-star hotel bed; I just couldn’t keep him out of my mind. I still see him around and we never say a word to each other. It is awkward and still hurts. Long story, will get into details some other time. But for now he is dating another Latina. She is nowhere near as foxy as I am and is probably miserable in love. I would much rather be single than wake up confused and in love with a man like Richard. Peace out!
Dickie My longest Relationship
When: The past 3 years
How: At first, he was simply one of the many rebounds from Richard. After the heartbreak, I distracted myself in the arms of strangers from clubs and bars. Most of it was to break another’s heart. As bad as it sounds but that’s what made it easier. I broke heart after heart. A vicious cycle, but that’s how it happens. They go on to break other hearts out of spite and soon you have the entire city walking around with broken hearts. Richard was going to be just another one-night stand, nothing else. I walked into a bar with my friends. He seemed semi-attractive. We spent the next sixteen hours in bed and when he dropped me home the next evening, he gave me his number. I gave him mine too even though I had no intention of ever calling him back. A week later, we met for pancakes on a night I came home hungry from clubbing. We ended up back at his place, calling in sick at work and staying in bed. This continued for a while. He was a man always at my beck and call. It didn’t matter when I called him or for what. He was there to oblige. The first year I did not commit. He stayed strong and had already confessed he had fallen for me. Two years and several dinner dates later, we finally became a couple. It was a good two years and I got used to having him around. Our Saturday and Sunday brunches when we sleepily woke up together in the afternoons. Going to concerts. Reading the paper in bed together. He was always there to help me with everything I ever needed. He often prefaced it by saying “what I wouldn’t do for you.” But soon it became strained. He was older and ready for the next steps in his life. Steps which involved moving in, marriage, meeting families. I liked my own space, I’m definitely not ready for marriage and my parents would die if I brought home a white man. So, on New Years Eve 2007, we decided to end it. I have nothing but love for him. We are still on good terms. However, I have told him that we should meet as less as possible because you just cant jump into a platonic friendship after three years of dating. I think he is seeing a new girl now too. The bimbo I saw him with a week after we broke up. Recently he invited me to a party at his house. I went and enjoyed the hungry attention from all his male friends. I made sure not to flirt back though because I’m classy not trashy. I really did not want to hurt Dickie. The girl ran around his house clearing up tables (something I never did when we were dating). It’s obvious they are dating, I just don’t know why he continues to insist that he is not. Maybe he thinks it will hurt me. Maybe he doesn’t want to ruin any chances of us getting back together. But it’s too late now. I wish him all the best.
So here I am. Out of town on a work conference with my boss. In yet another comfy bed. The large windows on my hotel room paint a pretty picture of downtown Seattle. Bright, enticing. Full of single men, who I can meet and flirt with and satiate their fantasies for exotic woman. When I get back home, I have a date with a man whom I have met him a few times. Recently I agreed to go on a date with him. The only problem is that I can’t remember his name for the life of me. If his name doesn’t come to me by next weekend, I am cancelling the date. There is no polite way to ask your date what his name is. What do I say? I forgot? Suggestions dear readers? Anyway, it is now 10pm. I have found a new surge of energy in me. I am in a new city. No one knows me here. I don’t have to be up till nine tomorrow and even then, I have stocked my hotel room fridge with enough Red Bull to keep me going. So now, I am going to jump in the shower, get dressed in my sexy black mini-skirt, call a cab and head over to a downtown bar. Maybe I won’t come home alone tonight. Maybe this bed wont be empty tonight. When morning comes, I will tell the man to leave and throw his number in the trash. An end to another great relationship. The drama free kind. No heartbreaks. ;)