Out Of Print
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Patricia was the managing editor of Muslimwakeup.com, America's most popular Muslim online magazine from 2003-2008. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College where she also teaches. Her writing has appeared in Global City Review - where she edited the post-9-11 International Issue - Salon.com, Women's eNews, The Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice, The Nation, and L.A. Weekly, among other publications.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
This isn't my first visit to the Mayflower Police Station. The last time I was here, Mom brought me with her to register a complaint about a pothole. It was the size of a quarter, but Mom insisted it was dangerous to drive over when she had a child in her car. I was thirteen.
This time, I'm at the Mayflower Police Station as a criminal. Sixteen (well, almost sixteen), and I'm behind bars. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. It's not as if I'm locked up with serial killers or slashers, but I'm in a cell. Deanna's with me, along with about thirty other underage girls who were also at the party and didn't run away in time or convince the police to let them go.
As we piled into squad cars, I watched these girls (and even a few guys) put on all the moves-crying, flirting, screaming, fainting, even begging-to get out of the arrest, but none of it worked.
I have to say Deanna gave it her best. Not being able to crack a smile really worked to her advantage when the officer in charge said to her that he was glad someone was taking the situation seriously. She wasn't kidding when she said she was a great litigator like her mom. When the cop found me hiding in the bathtub with the shower curtain drawn (could I have picked a more obvious place?) and dragged me downstairs with the rest of the crowd, there was Deanna, telling the police we shouldn't be responsible for the actions of some stupid guys who brought beer to the party. She almost had one cop convinced to let us go when Karen, the bane of my existence, stepped forward and threw up on his shoes.
All through elementary school and middle school, Karen and her drone Beth talked trash about me and my family. Their favorite insults were that my dad was in Al-Qaeda and my mom was only one of his many wives.
At least she's not in our cell. They put her, and all the other vomiting kids, in a separate cell-with buckets.
Still, it stinks in here. I stick my nose between the bars, trying to breathe air that doesn't smell like puke, beer, or raw fish. Who has an open sushi bar at a high school party? Then again, what would I know about parties? This is the only party I've been to since first grade.
"Come on, Mar. It's not that bad." Deanna pushes against my shoulder. I don't budge. I don't say anything.
"Funny how we started the night trying to break into the party, and now we just want to get out." Deanna stands closer to me, but I can't even look at her. If I do, I'll start to cry. And I'm already the biggest freak at school.
"Look, I know you're flipping out here, but everything will be okay."
"Are you kidding me?" I turn to her and lower my voice. "I'm in jail. Do you know how happy this is going to make my parents?"
"Now they can feel totally justified when they never let me leave our apartment again."
Relax? We've just been arrested! We are in a holding cell with girls who have picked on me-or, worse yet, ignored me-since kindergarten. On top of that, my parents are going to kill me! Why did I let Deanna talk me into going to this party?
Okay, the truth: she didn't have to talk me into anything. I wanted to go. I would've done anything, even lie to my parents, to crash a party. I knew I wasn't invited and that I'd probably be kicked out as soon as someone saw me. But forcibly removed-by the police? That I didn't expect.
Still, I shouldn't blame Deanna for helping me get what I wanted. But I do. It was an amazing night of music and dancing. Yes, I danced with three guys! And nobody made jokes about my dad being a towel-head or my uncle being Bin Laden.
Ever since those people tried to build their mosque near Ground Zero and there was all that controversy, my life has been worse than ever. The kids at school treat me like I'm one of those people. But I'm not. My family may be Muslim, but I don't think they should put a mosque so close to Ground Zero either. I mean, I believe in freedom of religion and all, and I know Muslims died at Ground Zero too, but why would they want to be where they're not wanted? I don't get it. If it's causing so much trouble, why not just build their mosque somewhere else? It's selfish to cause so many problems.
But tonight I was dancing and laughing. I wasn't a freak or a weirdo; I was just another girl having fun.
"Actually," I say, turning to Deanna, "thanks."
"You're thanking me?" she asks.
"Hey, I know I'm in big trouble but tonight was an adventure-probably the last one I'll have until I'm thirty."
"Don't mention it," she says. Most people would say she has no expression on her face, but I can tell she's smiling.
When I met Deanna last summer, she'd just moved to Mayflower from San Francisco with her mom. I was the first person she told about her face. I Googled it to try to better understand why her face doesn't make expressions like most people's, but after reading pages and pages of medical blah, blah, blah, it really just boils down to what Deanna told me about it: "The muscles in my face don't work."
"Does my hair look okay?" some voice behind me asks. "Do I have anything in my teeth?"
Another voice says, "No, but do I have anything in my teeth? Is my mascara smeared?"
"Are they kidding?" Deanna asks me. "We're in a jail cell, and they're worried about their makeup. It's like we go to Airhead High."
"Shush," I tell her.
"Mar, no one is listening to us. They're all too busy hearing themselves not think."
The only reason Deanna even wanted to crash the party was so she could show me what I wasn't missing. But look at these girls: not one seems the least bit freaked out. Are their parents that laid-back? Maybe that's the secret to their coolness-cool parents. If that's true, I don't stand a chance.
"Well, it could be worse," she says.
"Oh crap," she says. An officer unlocks the large cell door. There stand Beth and Karen-the Mayflower Mean Girls.
"In you go," the officer says.
Deanna looks at me. "We're going to be locked in here with them."
Karen stares at me. "Who're you supposed to be? Cleopatra?"
I rub my eyes. Black eyeliner wipes off on my fingers. I'd forgotten Deanna had done my makeup before we went to the party. "You look like an Egyptian queen," Deanna had said. But not just any Egyptian queen. She insisted I was Hatshepsut, the queen who ruled Egypt for more than twenty years. Deanna says Hatshepsut was the queen who was king. Deanna loves anything Egyptian, which is probably why she's friends with me. But I don't want to look like an Egyptian queen, even if she was incredibly powerful. I don't want to look like an Egyptian anything. I rub my eyes some more.
"Back off," Deanna says, moving between Karen and me. Karen is a half-foot taller than Deanna, but my bet is on Deanna.
Karen steps back, then smirks. "Hey, Beth. I just realized why these two are best friends."
"They come from the same place," Beth says, like the two of them had rehearsed this scene. Now everyone is listening. "Cleopatra and the Sphinx."
"You mean Sphinx Face." Karen laughs.
"She did not just say that," someone whispers loudly from the other side of our cell.
"Yes, she did," someone else says.
Beth lifts her hand to high-five Karen, but Deanna grabs both their wrists and, like a professional wrestler, pulls their arms behind their backs.
"Fight, fight!" people shout around us.
"Get off me," Beth shrieks, struggling. Karen winces.
"Apologize." Deanna pulls their arms harder.
"You're hurting me!" Beth stops struggling.
"Apologize," Deanna demands.
"Fine. Fine. I apologize."
Deanna lets them both go. "Get out of my face."
Beth scrambles to the other side of the cell. "You're crazy," she says, but it's obvious she's trying to save face with everyone watching. I know Deanna hears this, but she doesn't take her eyes off Karen. Karen opens her mouth, but before anything comes out, she closes it and walks over to Beth.
"You okay?" Deanna asks me.
I nod, but I have never felt lamer. She stood up to both of them, and I just stood there. They called her Sphinx Face, and I didn't do or say anything. And she wants to know if I'm okay?
"You'll get it next time," she says, like she's just treated me to a mocha cappuccino.
I force a smile. I can't imagine being as courageous as Deanna.
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