I probably seem like the shittiest influence possible, but that’s only because I’ve been through too much and had to learn to cope. I picked up my first cigarette at 14 because my then-boyfriend was a senior who was made of more nicotine than human flesh. I never drank, but that’s only because I’m a control freak who hated the idea of being on something or doing something that would leave them unaware of their surroundings. I first shayyesht when I was 15, I remember that day especially well because I was with my 4 best friends at Pottery Cafe (the one in CFC because almost every single teen at that time would hookah there), we ordered too much red bull and poutine and shared a KiwiManga sheesha, getting hooked instantly.
So, I’m a perfectionist, yes? Y’all know that by now, you’ve been reading my writings for over 2 years, I’m obsessed with knowing and perfecting everything. I also used to be a heavy smoker, my high school years consisted of nicotine and coffee for breakfast, mostly. Hiding that from my overly strict conservative Egyptian parents was a nightmare, but, as cliche as it is to bring a tumblr post into this conversation, strict parents do create the sneakiest children. I quickly became my shella’s version of a Mary Poppins, but the one with the bad decisions. I walked around carrying the strongest perfumes, packs of mint gum, an extra shirt, packs of every kind of cigarette (I was super farfoora and would only smoke Davidoffs, which no one else did). I had lighters of every kind, too. When I didn’t have lighters, I had “emergency” kabreet. Oh, and the trusty Labello cherry chapstick. I still have no idea how I smoked like a chimney for almost 4 years and never got caught. It’s mostly because I was always prepared, to be quite honest, for being caught, and had a hundred and one excuses ready.
My parents are the ones that ask me where I’m going, with who, how, why and proceed to pick my outfits out AND call me every half an hour. My curfew was at 9 pm. I was a miserable teen. So, sneaking out became my thing, I started going out in huge malls so I could easily lie about where I was, even when P90 became a thing and our outings switched there, it was still big enough for me to sneak around and wreck havoc. I loved winter most because it meant I could wear my tight shirts and skinny jeans beneath loose sweatpants and huge jumpers that my parents approved of. Once I reached wherever we were going out, I would take the frumpy clothing off and strut around in clothing that I felt super sexy in (read: clothes my parents would disown me if they found out I wore in public). I also genuinely believed that Johnson’s makeup removing wipes were a god send. My parents wouldn’t let me out of the house wearing makeup and I was first an emo-chick then a wannabe-barbie, so in both phases, I had a thing for heavy makeup. I would apply my makeup in the mall bathrooms and remove it in the car on my way home. Sometimes, I think my parents knew, because I always had a smudge of red lipstick left on my lips, no matter how hard I wiped.
Our sheesha dates were completely safe, we’d sit somewhere cute-sy, we’d have already made friends with the entire staff, so they helped us cover our tracks, all we had to do was yell out their names and scream “kabsa”, they’d fly over and take our shishas away before our parents (or their friends) caught us. The lovely thing about shisha is that it doesn’t have a clinging smell, the bad thing? They show up worse than cigarettes on blood tests. You’re also at a higher risk of being found out, but you know, a rebel teen’s gotta do what they gotta do.
Obviously, boys are the next topic of discussion. I had too many of those, not that I dated any of them, I would be interested, we’d talk all day for 2 weeks straight, I’d get bored, and walk away. I had a fuckgirl phase after my first boyfriend traumatized me, please don’t judge, thanks. I’d tell my parents I’m going out with my girls, my girls (wonderful devils they are) would cover for me while I went and had a date with the guy of the week. The week after, I’d be covering for my girls, but that’s what friendship is all about, covering each others’ asses while we make the shittiest decisions of our lives. If my mom ever called and heard a guy’s voice next to me, I’d pretend that the line went silent while I joined one of my besties on the call and she’d tell her we’re having an amazing time together being polite innocent 16 year olds who’d rather die than look at a boy. It made me laugh every single time. Also, 500 was (and still is) a universal code red, meaning, once someone yells out “khomsomeyya” we gather our shit, hide evidence of whatever moseeba we were doing, regroup, sit at a random cute restaurant, wipe off makeup, get re-dressed and turn into mint-gum chubby bunnies. “Khomsomeyya” isn’t just a “save my ass” thing, it’s also warning of a kabsa, which often happened with ALL our parents.
Going to parties was harder, mostly because most underage parties started at 7 and my curfew was at 9, I wasn’t allowed to sleepover at anyone’s or be even a minute late home. However, my other friends were lucky bitches whose parents would let them sleepover, so parties were suddenly a thing and sleeping over at Malak’s actually meant sleeping over at Mohammed’s and getting drunk and/or high was perfectly fine because you and your friend with the neglectful or “chill” parents could stumble home at 4 AM 3ady. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of hashish because that shit stinks, smoking up is something most of us are used to though, not because we do it, but because more often than not, our somethings or boyfriends do 24/7. It’s a reality, specifically, it’s our reality. It’s kinda funny how we spend so many years living double lives, doing things we might not even like, just because they meant we felt free from the fucking shackles our parents had wrapped around our limbs and throat.