Only the children of immigrants in the U.S. can understand that it is ok to get beaten by your parents once in a while without it qualifying as child abuse. Sharing stories in the schoolyard also proved that large pockets of black children can also relate since their parents believe less in the power of ‘time-outs’ than their whiter counterparts. The key to avoiding child protective services is to keep it indoors.
Damage control about the rumors of slap-happy immigrant parents can usually be quelled by accusing nosy neighbors of racism. I mean, seriously, immigrant kids are rarely beaten up, and if they are then that is a serious problem, but a slap on the face or a beating with a spaghetti sauce covered spatula (my mother did this once) is the stuff great soap operas are made of. The only difference is the American culture reserves slapping for women to women or women to man scenarios, where immigrant parents will slap anything that annoys them.
You Know You’re in Trouble When…
So, on a late summer evening as a tween, as I stood on my street corner in my predominantly white suburban neighborhood and saw my father fast walking towards me with fury in his eyes, I knew the scene would not end well.
I considered making a run for it. Not for my own sake, of course, and not because I was scared of the public humiliation my father was about to bestow up me; I wanted to run to protect him! With an ignorance of the societal role of Child Protective Services, I knew he was about to do something that could possibly relieve him, and my mother, of their rights as parents. Thinking about it now, perhaps that was his aim.
In either case, if immigrant parents stopped to ask questions before assuming the worst about their seemingly socially retarded children, perhaps there would be a few less hand-printed red faces in the third world.
Minutes earlier, my father had watched his 12-year-old daughter hop out of the passenger seat of a big black truck around a corner hidden from the house. By an unidentifiable man. Who was in his 40’s. And I was in the car alone with him.
Hours earlier, my parents commissioned a neighborhood-wide search party which included the derelict drunk couple across the street to look for me, their daughter, who had been missing since morning.
Just Gimme A Minute to Explain…
I know the circumstances look bad. If I stopped the story here, perhaps you, like my father, would agree that I deserved what came to me.
I knew there was no point explaining anything to him at that point since he already had a bad case of the crazy eye. I, genetically encoded with the Lebanese gene of denial thought to myself, ok, there is no way he would beat me in the street, he’s just going to scare me a little and this can all be settled as soon as we get…BOOM, suddenly, his enormous bear-like hands cupped my head and knocked me to the floor. Upon seeing my pathetic form lying on the ground, he kicked my legs to get up just as my mother was pleading with us to take it inside. I might have agreed that it was good advice had he not commenced my ass-whooping outside. Now the neighbors were left to their imaginations for what happened next. I mean, in their mind, I was being tortured in a way Arab men know how (they’re trained from an early age in the art of torture, right?). In reality I just got a ferociously angry rant followed by a long stare with flared nostrils, a few shoves about what the hell I was doing in a strange man’s car, and of course, a slap or two.
I was not, as I assume my father assumed, remaking a real-life version of Lolita. As you may know from my previous blog post, I had a hard time making friends in the early years in America, so when a girl named Billie-Sue started coming around, I ignored her Riff Raff aesthetic and befriended her until my parents forbade me from doing so. I mean, it’s not her fault that she lives in the weirdo house on the block with her negligent father who rents out the extra rooms in the house for beer money. It’s not her fault that she was literally covered in fleas from taking in all the stray cats in the neighborhood. Ok, well maybe that is her fault, but she was just looking for love in all the wrong places!
I rejected my parents’ ban on her and ended up hanging out at her friend’s house until I realized I had been gone all day and needed, urgently, to go home. Since her friends’ house was a bit far away from mine, her father offered to drop me off, and I, in my infinite wisdom, told him to drop me off on the corner so my parents would not talk to him and find out I was hanging with Billie-Sue.
No Further Comments at This Time…
After the Slapgate scandal, I avoided going outside for a couple of days, mostly because I was too young to wear make-up and my face was still a little rouge. On my first day out, I was asked by not one, but three parents in the neighborhood if there was anything I wanted to ‘talk’ about. Yeah, as a matter of fact there is. Does anyone know how to make friends that don’t smell weird in this god-forsaken place??
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[SPOILER ALERT: watch video first!]
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Watch them in concert this Saturday
…and don’t forget your life jacket!
Ich was going to become famous by solving a world problem! But which one? Clooney’s got Darfur, Sting’s got the Amazon, and Bono’s got AIDS! Luckily, there was still one shithole left to fix: the Middle Earth. – Brüno
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