She left the plain life because it was too restrictive, but Mr. Rock and Roll All Night And Party Every Day might be too freeing for her.
“Great. Let’s go.” He guided her out. “How’s the work going?”
“Fine, and yours?”
“Great. We’ve broken rehearsals and now it’s all R and R until the tour except for fittings. When are you going to be ready for me?”
Never. “I have one pair of pants and one shirt ready for you. I need you to try them on.”
“After dinner then.” He jabbed the call button for the elevator.
“Can’t we take the stairs?”
“Why would we do that?” The elevator doors opened and he grinned. “You scared to be in an enclosed space with me?”
“No.” Rachel stepped into the elevator. She would have preferred to take the stairs, but so far the only outlet on the first floor that she’d been able to find was wired to a fire alarm.
The inspiration behind this scene was living in the Middle East. To be clear, I lived in a very modernized, safe area, but it was also very conservative. The whole gender inequality thing can go either way. A woman on a pedestal is a woman who can’t move around on her own, but she’s got a great view. Some of my Muslim friends (all women because I had very little contact with men) were jealous of my ability to move freely and make my own decisions, especially when it came time to go on vacations and I was off to Venice while they couldn’t get permission from their fathers or husbands to go even as far as Dubai (for reference, it was a 90 minute drive.) However, some of the things that worked in my favor as a woman in the UAE:
Ladies banks. Entire branches of banks staffed by women and serving only women. They were usually empty.
Ladies grocery check out. You had your regular check out, your express check out and your ladies check out. Also not as crowded as the other lanes.
Ladies government offices. Need to get or renew a driver’s license? Bypass that mob of men waiting outside and step into a mostly empty office staffed by women where a little Indian woman asks if you would like tea while you wait. Need to get a health screening for your visa renewal? Walk past that line of men that wraps around the building and onto the street in the 100 plus degree heat and head into the waiting room where you are number 38 to have your chest x-rayed, some blood drawn and a doctor to ask you if you’ve had a cough recently. (To which you answer yes because it’s the Middle East and it’s constantly dusty.)
Pump attendants. Everybody got their gas pumped for them, but women (especially American women who were likely to tip) got their windows cleaned very thoroughly. At my regular station, the attendants would start to smile when they recognized my car and I was only tipping about a buck.
Ladies cabs. All Abu Dhabi cabs were silver, but ladies cabs had pink decorations and were only driven by women. For those days when you just don’t feel like helping an Indian guy practice his English all the way home from the mall.
And private elevators. Okay, they weren’t private, but when I first got there, several times I would step onto an elevator and the man in it would step off. After the third or fourth time I grew bold enough to ask. (It was starting to make me paranoid.) The gentleman told me that Arabic men did not like to be alone with a woman they didn’t know because they didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. Little did he know that sharing an elevator with a man made me a lot less uncomfortable than being hit on in the grocery store by men who wanted to “practice their English” or being followed down the highway. That happened a lot.