As soon as I stepped into Nasser's jet black Chevrolet Tahoe I smelled the sweet smell of him. The beautiful mix of dihin 3ood, ward, and perfume filled my lungs and triggered this feeling of total relaxation, the way lavender's supposed to. I sunk into the cushion of my seat and said, "Hello Nassoor." Nasser looked at me, smiled the goofiest smile and said, "Sh7alat-ha wallah." I turned away so as not to let him see me turn a bright tomato red, flushed with embarrassment.
"Hahahahaha!! Shda3wa mesta7ya La6oof? Haha sh7alatich wallah, babyy!"
"Hey!! Shnu baby inta?! Ana 3omri 20 okay?! Far from baby if you ask me!"
"Haha embala intay baby. 3shreen lail7een z'3eera tara, intay baby, tawich ."
"3alaqal mo 3ayooz mithlik!!"
"Hahaha!! Shayeb ya la6oof mo 3ayooz!!"
"Chab zain!! Yalla! Let's hear you try to talk english! I speak english very best! Yalla! Yalla 5anesma3!!"
"Haha chub a3arif bas ma7eb ..."
"Ee 9a7!" I said with a smile, "Inzain, Nassoor .. etdil? Wela adaleek?"
"9ob sheraton 9a7?"
"Ee .. tara ana akil wayid mate5ayal shkithr"
"Ee zain, 5eft no3ich teste7een takleen jidami"
"Umbay 7adda lae!! 7adi ya3ni 5anzeera haha .. etha akil jidami madri 3an nafsi .. "
"Haha ya7lailha baby"
Whenever Naser called me baby it was annoying, yes, but he said it with a genuine smile, a little laugh. The way he said it made me tingle all over and smile from deep within and I coulda sworn the muscles in my heart were tightning, the way my cheeks do when I smile. We parked in the parking space and steppped into the crummy little elevator. The elevator ride was so awkward for me, it was the size of a shoe and I had to stand so close to Nasser. I have this thing where I can't look at a person in the eye for fear that they'd see all my flaws and imperfections, I just couldn't let anyone see that part of me.
"Shda3wa lail7een mista7ya?"
I didn't want him to know about my insecurities so I shyly said, "Hehe ee .."
"Haha cute baby"
"Inzain bas chub .. Did you press the button?"
"Lae. Ma3aref ai floor"
"Nasser al7een 9arlina sina bil elevator o you didn't press the button?! Shga3d etsawi?!"
"Inzain bas! Ma7eb walla!" as I squeezed past him and pressed the M button for Mezzanine.
"3ala ra7tich La6oof .. sorry"
"3adi walla bas madry ma7eb, asti7i .."
*ping* as the doors open we're greeted by seven stinky Indians waiting to get onto the elevator.
Nasser and I look at each other and smiled, both holding in our laughter at the unpleasant smell of the laborers that desperately needed a trip home to the shower. As we walk into the restaurant we're welcomed with the pleasant medley of spices and light clanking of pots and pans coming from the kitchen.
"Allah! Ree7atna bet9eer hindi!!"
"Haha ushh Nassoor layesme3oona!!"
Nasser and I sat down in the beautifully colorful booth, on opposite sides of the table. I looked up at Nasser for a split second and then looked away, for fear he may notice my abnormal nose or my imperfect left eyebrow. Nasser ordered for the two of us and he ordered in abundance. Nasser ordered Mutton Curry, Chicken Curry, Lamb Curry, white rice, saffron rice, Rotti, and the infamous butter naan. Naan reminds me so much of my trip to India a few years back, which I ate on a daily basis accompanied with mint chutney. At the time I felt like naan was the safest option, and most always was very delicious. To finish off our meal we asked for two orders each of ras malai and gulab jamun, my favorite Indian desserts. Ras malai are sweet flat balls made with ricotta or cottage cheese, soaked in rich sweetened milk; it is one of my most favorite desserts ever. Gulab jamun is similar to ras malai, as they're sweet balls, made with milk, and soaked in a sugary cardamom saffron mixture. Nasser watched me as I passionately pressed my spoon into the gooey ras malai and allowed it to sit on my tongue and trigger my taste buds, sending a feeling of ultimate satisfaction through my body. I finished up my ras malai and had just pierced my gulab jamun with my spoon when I could feel a smile radiating from Nasser, "Tara 7adich etshawgeen laman takleen shai et7ebeena," he said.
"Umm .. sij? Mo chinni baloo3a?"
"Hahahaha!! 3ayal a7la baloo3a bidinya!"
"Haha I'll take that as a compliment!!"
Nasser looked down at his phone and said,"Oh La6oof tara esa3a 3ashr o ne9 .. mo met2a5ra 3al bait?"
"Oh shit!! Oh shit ma kan qazdi agool oh shit! Oh shit I just did it again! Ohh walla sorry!! Tara masib chithi bas ya3ni madry 6la3at bel '3ala6!!" Lie!! I swore everytime I was excited or frustrated or tremendously happy.
"Heh La6oof 3adee shda3waa .. Ha? Namshi? Tabeen a6leblich ba3ad gulab jamun o rasmalai take away?"
"Tabeeni anfejer wela shnu?"
"Ya3ni still bitkoneen 7elwa .. "
"Umm .. thanks .." I managed to say, just as I was about to turn 6oma6a red. Shortly after, the hospitable Indian waiter arrived with the check, which Nasser paid for although I offered to. He replied saying it was 3aib that I even suggested it. I liked that in a man, it's what a gentleman does. We proceeded to the cramped elevator, which we ended up sharing with a man dressed in a dishdasha. Nasser and I looked at the elevator door and we both knew exactly what we were doing, we were both trying so hard not to smile and at the same time act as 6abee3i as possible. As we stepped out of the elevator the man in the dishdasha followed us and walked to the other side of the parking lot. As soon as we got into Nasser's car, we started laughing, and the funny part is, it wasn't very funny! That's the thing about Nasser and me, we laughed at nothing, and always had a good time.
The drive back home was quiet, except for the sound of my sudden heart palpitations when Nasser reached for my hand. I looked at him, smiled a shy smile, and looked away, so obviously blushing a crimson red with embarassment. We finally reached my block, took the u-turn, and drove up my driveway. Nasser turned to me and said, "La6oof... bagoolich shai"
"Hala Nasser .."
"Tara waihich eraye7ni .. wayid arta7 laman ashof waihich, inshallah dom ashofich warta7 chithi"
I let out a "hehe" but in my heart I prayed, I prayed "inshallah ya rab, inshallah dom Nasser wida eshoofni, inshallah ya rab."
I closed my eyes and felt something, something I've never felt before.