“Give me your phone, we need to call mum!” Amr says in a rush the moment we are standing outside Bian. “My keys are in mum’s bag! And she already left with her car.”
I give Amr my phone then realize we aren’t alone. One of the new guys at salsa is standing in front of us. And he is looking at me, looking at Amr, and then at me, and then at Amr, and then at me. And it’s weird, because I mean, he is really looking at me. This time he catches me looking back at him. I immediately looked away for comfort.
God, Amr, when are you going to finish talking to mum? This guy is still looking at me and our ping-pong match at looking at each other is getting awfully awkward!
“Mum’s on the way.” Amr says to me, but for some reason, it feels like he isn’t just saying it to me.
A minute passes and Amr’s mum still hasn’t come.
“Mum’s car is red, right?” I ask as I try to look on the streets for a familiar red car.
“No, it’s green!” Amr says.
How can I possibly forget that Amr’s mum’s car is green? Amr and his mum are probably the two people I genuinely love and enjoy seeing at salsa. They are this mother-and-son tandem who always attend salsa parties. They dance with each other, they attend salsa workshops together, they watch salsa shows together, and I think that their relationship as mother and son is much, much sweeter than a kilo of basbousa.
I think I’ve seen mum dance a few times with this new guy who is, strangely enough, still looking at me. And if this new guy has danced with mum, and mum has danced with him, then I shouldn’t feel awkward that he is still standing in front of me and making me more aware than usual that he is still watching me. I trust mum’s judgment in character.
Another minute passes. When is this guy going to flinch? He doesn’t move, except when he starts talking to Amr in Arabic. I don’t like him talking to Amr in Arabic because I feel left out. I feel a void, a lull, a gap, a hole. It’s like I’m here but I’m not here with them. It’s like I know what to do but I can’t do anything other than stand here. So, I reach for my phone and pretend to be engaged to whatever happens to be so interesting on my phone even though I ran out of mobile data and therefore cannot do anything other than stare at an empty blank screen.
I think I could also trust Amr’s judgment in character. So, if he is talking to this new guy too, then this new guy could potentially be on my guys-who-I-say-yes-to list, if only he asks me to dance. Which I don’t think he ever did.
Another minute and the three of us have all gone silent. Amr’s looking out on the street for Mummy, this new boy is still looking at me, I am still trying to not look at him. I wish I can just look out on the street but this new boy is blocking my view of the street.
Another vague minute, and someone just has to talk or I will go deaf in this awkward silence. I decide to make eye contact and before I can stop my mouth, the words are already out. “I see you at salsa but we never danced together.”
“Really?” Amr interrupts before the new boy can say anything. “Pamela is a perfect dancer!”
“Do you think I don’t know that?” The new boy says looking at Amr instead of at me. Amr looks back at the new boy and nods his head.
“How come you never danced with her?” Amr asks over the honking of the cars on the now crowded street.
The new boy looks at me, and then looks back at Amr. “I don’t dance with her, but that doesn’t make me blind.”
We hear more repeated honking before we realize that the honking is directed to us. There on the street is a green car, inside it is Mummy waving Amr’s keys. So, Amr sets off to mum’s side of the road, leaving me on my side of the road, alone, with this new boy.
“How come you never asked me to dance?” I ask again. It’s my turn to make him feel uncomfortable after the looking and the going. I am not going to be easy on him.
“I don’t know. Maybe because I don’t know you, and maybe because every time I try to dance with you, you are already dancing with someone else? How come you don’t ask me to dance?” The new boy says in one casual breath.
“Because like you said, I am always dancing with someone else. And because I don’t know you as well.” I say truthfully.
“Tamer.” The new boy says as he extends his hand to my direction.
“Pamela.” I say as I shake his hand with mine.
“Guys, yalla!” Amr says as he flings his right arm on Tamer’s shoulder and the other on mine.
“Tamer, are you coming with us?” I ask the new boy as I call him by his name for the very first time.