A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Self-Esteem in Lebanon: “Are You Unique?”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 28, 2007

I love French English – I love the delightful malapropisms that the deceptive similarities between our two tongues engenders.

I have several French friends who are always proposing to me, because in French, “je te propose” does not mean “will you marry me” but “I suggest”, as in “I suggest we have lunch at Shamiyyat rather than Marrouche today”.

They can also be rather demanding, as “je te demande” in French means “I ask you”, not “I demand of you”.

Perhaps I love Lebanon so much because French English comes so often into play in daily life. Sometimes, though, the linguistic crossover trips me up.

Last spring I was invited for drinks by a friend of a friend. I had met him the previous weekend and he suggested coffee one morning, since my gym was near his office. Rather mysteriously, morning coffee morphed into evening drinks, and I met him at Pacifico that Thursday evening.

We had a lovely time chatting, despite his protestations that “my English is very weak”.

Suddenly, though, he asked a question that threw me utterly into confusion: “little diamond, are you unique?”

I knew what he meant – was I “une enfant unique”, an only child (or “la fille unique”, the only daughter).

I also knew that I had to say no. After all, I do have a sister, and my parents have a dog who believes that he is at least our equal, if not above us in the family hierarchy.

But I grew up in the United States, where, following our customs of good parenting, my parents told my sister and I again and again that we were utterly unique – special and irreplaceable. How I could I say no? How could I deny that I was indeed unique and special?

I choked a little as I said “no”, feeling my self-esteem wither and my inner child start to wail. Noticing my distress, he patted my hand and mumbled something comforting about how complicated family relationships can be.

They can indeed, but in this case the only complication was the tantrum being thrown by my childhood self :-).


5 Responses to “Self-Esteem in Lebanon: “Are You Unique?””

  1. […] post by adiamondinsunlight and a wordpress plugin by […]

  2. intlxpatr said

    Dying laughing, Little Diamond. Not only unique, though – sparkling and witty, clear and articulate, and drop dead gorgeous.

  3. 2h2o said

    Whence “little diamond”?

  4. intlxpatr said

    Daughter of BIG Diamond. And one of our family jewels. Brilliant, eye catching and incredibly valuable.

  5. […] wasn’t because I am special (tho of course I am!). The ISF and various other organizations send system wide sms’es from time to time, […]

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