It only seems right to end this draining week with an amusing little dispatch from the Nancy-Haifa zone. Today's installment comes from the unlikely source of Samir Atallah, the venerable Lebanese journalist. In his al-Sharq al-Awsat column today, he recounts how he finally met his match: Haifa Wehbi.
Samir Atallah - bet you thought I'd go with a picture of Haifa, didn't you!
As he tells the story, while attending a
conference recently he found himself chatting with his friend, the singer Ragheb Alama. And then Haifa Wehbi enters the room. Even though she
is dressed "extremely conservatively", every head in the room turns. Ragheb, very much the gentleman, introduces the two and sits them down next to each other. He asks Haifa if she reads him. Haifa is demure. He then "wickedly" asks Samir whether he likes the lady's music. Samir (a veteran journalist who has faced a career full of high-pressure encounters) experiences near brain-lock in her presence, starts babbling about how much her music delights him, panics, abruptly gets up,
shakes her hand ("the right one, I think"), and flees - only to be accosted by hordes of fans and photographers demanding to know what they talked about. For the rest of the day, everybody he sees ("most of them older or the same age as me") demands to know what he and Haifa talked about, and how he could possibly
have left his seat "40 centimeters from Haifa". He later asks Ragheb to apologize for his hasty departure to she of the electric eyelashes, and Ragheb told him not to worry about it. After he had left, Ragheb explained, he had asked Haifa, "did you really know who he was?" And she
replied «ولو؟ مش وزير التربية».(*)
A charming story told in a self-deprecating fashion, and for some reason it made my day.
(*) Is there some Lebanese reader who could explain exactly why this is funny - is the joke at her expense, or his? I take it as the latter, but I fear I'm missing some Lebanese in-joke.