From within the confines of the kitchen, laughter erupts. An all-female choir of Baristas yodels ecstatically. I am in a world of serving ladies in a coffee shop for the Sultan where favoritism turns girls into jealous women of the night.
The next round for the chorus is from the sound of music. But in this faraway palace they sing, “The dunes are red with the color of sunset.”
She approaches me holding my bagel. “Take the food from my hands,” she says with the huskiness of a Garbo ordering whiskey.
Upon transfer of the ring of bread, she bends like a reed close enough to kiss the floor. My gaze dreams of what lies beneath the tightly packaged gift of her derriere. Suddenly she leaps into the cookery with giggles of girl power on the run. “Oh my God,” bounces off the walls like feminine lightning, and then the ensuing chorus of laughter.
Her muse is wild and she undoes her Hijab, her hair for me to understand as a man does a woman.
“Though I can’t count every strand the maker can and he must have a heck of a time when you shed. If you were a French Muslim the headgear would be prohibited by law.”
She says, “Peekaboo,” with a smile. “There should be mystery in life. What is hidden makes you curious. Grant a girl some secrecy. Those French are fanatics.”
“Here in Saudi Arabia, you are not required to wear that excessive modesty.”
“I choose to of my own free will. What you call excessive I call proper dress that becomes a young lady. A woman’s hair can seduce a man despite his best intentions. That is our power that out of mercy we should not inflict on the susceptible male gender.”
“Isn’t it degrading to cover your face so that men will not be tempted?”
“I want men to be tempted. Scantily clad women on an American beach are flaunting themselves. The art of the tease is to leave much to be imagined.”
While scrubbing the counter she harmonizes with a tune from the radio like a mellifluous nightingale. “Now that I’ve been given a glimpse into your covert femininity can you ever look me straight in the face?”
“Only if you have coffee with me and never tell what I revealed.”
“By Muslim standards, you are a brassy girl.
Such wanton brazenness gives me cause to investigate the source of this power you have over me.”
“Come to my quarters at midnight and find out just how far from a shrinking violet I am.”