Monday, January 24, 2022

Why everyone is reading "perfect strangers" wrong (اصحاب ولا اعز)

Before everything, no I did not see "Perfect Strangers" (or اصحاب ولا اعز) in its Arabic version.
And no I am not reeling about Mouna Zaki's underwear which apparently caused a scandal.
Or the 18 year old girl with an condom in her bag.
Or the allusion to homosexuality.
Or this or that or whatever everyone in the Arab world seems to have totally gone nuts about.
What made me wonder was - honestly, what makes anyone think they know anyone else that well? What makes anyone think they know everything there is to know about anyone else?
Seriously, the idea that someone is so intimate with you is an illusion. You project what you want to project on them. Whatever version of you that you might feel good with sharing with that specific person. I have very few friends, but even those very very few do suspect about fragments of my love life I did not want to delve in - the beauty of it they are smart enough to know these fragments exist but never tried to go there. Heck, even with family, with time, distance, experience and age, there are things you share and things you skip with them.
Even very long time friends, as in school friends - I know of four young men from school, who were so close they were godfathers to each other's children and what not. Even those four, I am sure there are things they do not know about one another (small example: I heard a story that one of them A. saw a photo of Z. with a nice girl and he A. was teasing Z. about a potential marriage, turns out the girl was already Z's ex! meaning: A missed the episode where Z. had a steady. PS: A and Z. are part of those four young men in question).
Here's an example. One of the very few friends in question is someone I whatsapp with daily several times. When his mother passed away, I skipped the funeral. What? Yes, I was even one of the first to know the news because I was in such close contact with him when she was in and out of the hospital. But for the funeral? I was not vaccinated yet and I was (and still am) limiting my movements majorly. The episode had no effect on our friendship - it was even a consensus between us that I should not show up.
But to me it is only normal. Let's face it, you do not speak about the same topics with your friends. Nor treat or socialize with them the same way. I already said this previously, but if you want to lose a friend in Lebanon, let him get married - as soon as a couple is married, all single men are no longer part of their socializing circles! And no, I am not digressing because again, the kind of friendship you are in changes and morphs when one is married.
Which brings us back to "Perfect Strangers" - the idea that there is something you are not "hiding" is baffling. All of us are. A political inclination? A personal one? A business connection? A former enemy? A sexual escapade? Whatever it is, I don't see why we should share it with our close friends. Here I cannot but go back to Gibran Khalil Gibran's "Love One Another":
"Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."
What I do not know about my family or my (very few) friends, or what they do not know about me, will hopefully not alter the course of our relation - for (as cliche as it is) what I/they do not know cannot hurt me/them. Well, even the family secret I came to know about myself on my 26th birthday turned out to have a favorable impact on my life - my mother told me that story, and thankfully there were no smartphones at the time and no close-friends-turned-perfect-strangers around dinner then. Just me and her on our living room sofa in Beirut.