They met, as was quite common in the early 80s, at a night club. Samantha’s friend Kimberley had warned her that Annabel’s in Edinburgh was popular with foreign students but as she was only staying with Kim for the weekend that didn’t seem to be significant. It was the kind of place that let pretty girls in free and charged everyone else. It was a badge of honour to get past the bouncers and to be “allowed” to check in one’s coat. Arabs felt right at home because of all the gilt mirrors and red velvet which reminded them of despotic photo opportunities so outnumbered the local men. As Sam and Kim danced provocatively to “Body Talk” the most handsome man she had ever seen in her life came over and asked her to dance. His hair and mustache were a glossy black, his smiling eyes large and brown and his skin lightly tanned. Predictably his name was Mohammed, just like every other guy in the place. Dancing amidst mirrors, fairy lights, marble and handbags on the floor it seemed quite glamorous to be smiled at on the dancefloor by a handsome stranger with little English. Fuelled by Pina Coladas and the sheer charisma of the man, Sam agreed to let him drive them home and then come back the next morning to take her out to breakfast.
Sam was 22 and the kind of girl who was attractive precisely because she didn’t appear to do that much to augment her looks. Her shoulder length layered blonde hair got a cursory comb through in the morning and she got her eyelashes dyed so that a dollop of Vaseline was all that she needed to add interest to her eyes. She usually walked everywhere she needed to go locally and she had a mad, daft Retriever called Bracken who got a couple of hours of attention a day which meant that her size 12 jeans were on the loose side and her cheeks had a healthy, rosy glow. Her biggest asset though was that she smiled readily and that lit up her face. She was a primary teacher in a small town which kept her busy during the week but allowed her to keep in contact with her city friends at the weekend.
Mohammed on the other hand was the son of a rich Middle Eastern businessman who had sent his second youngest son overseas for two reasons. Firstly it would do the family construction business some good in the long run to have someone with a civil engineering degree to augment the vast experience that he and his other sons had amassed and secondly, it got Mohammed safely out of the way of the compulsory call up to the army which was currently involved in a rather bloody cross border dispute. Mohammed had acquired the trappings of the man about town, a fast car, a questionable college place to learn English and money to burn. He was used to chatting up the local girls and had chosen to approach Sam not just because she looked good in her red and gold dress but also because he had never seen her in Annabel’s before. He had that casual disregard of Western conventions and if he liked a girl pursued her right away rather than letting her stew for a couple of days. It served him well.
He took her to a cafeteria on the North Bridge on the Sunday morning because it was close to Waverley and her return train to the sticks. In the cold light of day he was every bit as handsome as she remembered. Mohammed seemed unconcerned at her faux pas choice of bacon and eggs and they chatted amiably enough although his range of vocabulary was limited. He had obviously mastered the ability to make small chat and give compliments to beautiful girls and Sam, who had been on the rebound, was quite charmed. He made her feel special. Sam agreed to come through to Edinburgh in two weeks time to meet his brother and stay in a house he would be renting for his brother’s visit. Kim thought her quite mad when she told her about it later.
Of course he sealed the deal by taking her out to dinner in the local eatery in-between those two weekends and even Brcken seemed to like him and Mohammed seemed not to mind the dog hairs on his suit and slobbery tongue licking his hand. It made her quite hopeful that this might be a relationship worth pursuing. It didn’t harm his cause that his kissing was promisingly passionate and his twinkling eyes seemed to be only for her.
It came as something of a surprise therefore that his brother was so overweight and course featured when she met him the next Saturday. The rented property in Currie was the typical three bedroomed suburban semi found on the outskirts of Edinburgh apart from the filth on the enamel of the bath which looked as if no-one had cleaned it, ever. Sam asked for a scourer and Vim so that she could have a shower before they went out and about in the city to show Yas the glamorous life his brother now lived in the West. Yas was surly and uncommunicative, and mostly sat nursing his whisky, but had no English which might have explained it. He was much older than Mohammed and rather overweight. His suit was badly fitted and his hygiene questionable. After the restaurant and night club they went to a private club which gave no clue it was a strip joint on the outside. It was the first time Sam had ever been inside one and her prudish Presbyterian side came out. The burlesque nature of the entertainment slightly shocked her so she sat with her back to the girls in all their glory and gave her attention to what little conversation went on at the table. Oddly, Yas didn’t seem impressed by the dancers either so they went back to the house for what remained of the night.
Mohammed joked that it was just a bit of fun and she must be jealous but Sam said that it displayed a serious lack of respect and so began their first fight. Sam left early the next day and in her haste lost a pair of her favourite high heels. Mohammed phoned often however, being back to his charming self, and came to her cottage as soon as his brother went back home. Soon they fell into the comfortable habit of spending time together at weekends and speaking on the phone during the week. However, Mohammed dropped the bombshell that he was going to go to America as they recognised his baccalaureate as entry into university without having to do more catch up exams as he needed to in Scotland. Sam assumed that their relationship would die a natural death when he moved but that they should make the most of what time they had left together. Besides, at only 23, she was still married.
Sam had married almost straight out of school for all the wrong reasons. She had of course been in love and in the throes of passion with no place to get alone time. In those days and in that type of family a girl was expected to wait until she married before she gave “it” away. While it was alright to go youth hosteling with her boyfriend or to a bed and breakfast, her mother had embarrassingly phoned the places in advance of their arrivals to ensure separate accommodation. Engagement at 18 and marriage at 21 were expected and to be fair desirable but moving from being daughter to wife was not an easy transition. Dave was great fun and a terrific boyfriend but pinning him down to be a husband and take some responsibility was much harder than she anticipated. So when Dave said he didn’t want to be married any more she let him go without much of a fight and resolved to move on and enjoy being single for the first time since she was 15. It was just ironic that she met Mohammed on her first weekend out with Kim after splitting with Dave.