Growing up in a conservative Middle Eastern household my father was very strict about casual relationships with the opposite sex. Being that as a young girl I always strived to make my daddy proud of me-I obeyed. This has left a lasting impact on me into adulthood. I was often shy around guys who I perceived to be potential.
When I was around 9 years old my dad took me to a family picnic that the community used to hold often when I was growing up. I was playing a game Red Rover with a bunch of other kids my age. If you're not familiar with this game, first of all you're missing out! It basically involves two teams with the members tightly embraced hand-in-hand making a human rope. One person is picked to try to run through the other team's rope and break the bond of hands. If that person is unsuccessful they must join the new team. We started out boys against girls and somehome I ended up being the first girl on the boys team. So I was holding hands with a guy on either side of me.
At one point my father walked into view and I became very self-conscious. I knew he would be disappointed to see me playing with the boys-much less holding hands. He just glanced over a few times then went away.
“Good Muslim girls don't hold hands with boys,” was all my father said to me in the car during the drive home. “Ok” I said.