On Crescent Street in Montréal there is a two story building with two spacious outdoor balconies. One is an extension of a well appointed dining room which takes up the entire top floor; the other, an extension of the first floor Cheers-like bar, only bigger. Beneath it all is a night club where disco went to die, and found a new lease on life.
The building, the restaurant, the bar and the disco is called Thursdays or in French "Les Beaux Jeudis", but even its French clientele call it Thursdays.
Thursdays, at opening time, welcomed a handful of young female free-lancers in the sex trade into its basement disco. This was to give the impression to passing males that the dance bar was a place frequented by young women. In return, these young ladies were allowed to tactfully practice their trade – no active solicitation allowed.
Thursdays is where I met Mary.
It was late Tuesday night and the place was not very busy. It was not because it was Tuesday at Thursdays. Thursdays was usually busy every day of the week, but there was a raging snow storm outside when she walked in, the most stunning black woman I had ever seen.
There was the white of her eyes as they searched the semi-darkness that was Thursdays' disco; then there was her long braided black hair that swung back and forth as she made her way to the bar where I was sitting.
I must have been blind, for there was that body with nothing but curves wrapped in a short, tight, white satin-like dress covered with a white mesh-like material that ended in fringes that brushed against and stroked her skin as she walked.
My eyes were still working their way down when she sat down two stools to the left of me and crossed her legs showing a muscular blacker-than-coal thigh straining against the white mesh. My eyes started back in the opposite direction.
Her dress was square cut along the top with only the crest of her ample perfectly round breasts showing – so close together that you couldn’t have slipped a piece of paper between them.
It was only a matter of time before our eyes met, and when they did, I said hi, she said hello. I said bonjour, she said bonsoir. She asked if she could move closer. I said bien sur.
She spoke near perfect French, not that high pitch hysterical pretentious French spoken by Parisian snobs and garcons de café, but a happy, melodious French, not unlike in tone to the English that you might hear on a beach in Jamaica.
With so few of us in the bar the DJ didn’t mind, after I slipped him a few dollars, playing a few tunes from my disco days. I asked Mary if she would join me on one of Thursdays’ two dance floors. She chose the one with the disco ball and the circular rotating platform.
I couldn’t dance then and still couldn’t, but that was okay, Mary did enough dancing for the both of us. I was quite happy just to stand there shuffling my feet and watching her.
She danced wildly, she danced gracefully, she danced seductively, moving around the entire space never taking her eyes off me.
Eventually, still swaying her hips in that sensual sideways motion with just a hint of back and forth action, she moved closer and closer until she was close enough to wrap her hands around the back of my neck and thrust those hips forward so hard that I thought she might have broken something.
When it was time to leave I offered to walk her to her car. When we got outside the snow had really piled up. My hotel was just across the street. She asked if she could park her car in the underground parking lot of the Chateau Royale and spend the night. I agreed.
I think it was when we were alone in the elevator that she mentioned that if we got to know each other better, there would be a price to pay. The relationship would mature, but not necessarily the way that is already being played out in your minds.
I wanted to know about the world she left behind. I remember the first time I asked her about her home in Africa. We were having dinner at Thursdays' second floor restaurant, outside, on the patio, on a warm summer evening. I wanted to hear about the lions, the tigers, the tropical rain forest, the endless summers ...
She laughed. Her country was not like that at all. It was dirt roads, arid dusty fields, no wildlife to speak of and, as far as the tropical forest was concerned, there was almost none left.
At other times, not that night, she talked about her family. Her father and mother remained in Africa. She hinted at a relationship which seems to have been her prime motivator in immigrating to Canada and that was to escape a marriage in the Islamic tradition, which she once described as "god-sanctioned rape."
Years later, I remembered what she had said about this Allah when I walked into my local Chapters book store and spotted a pyramid of Korans on sale. On the back cover Publishers Weekly wrote: "Succeeds in expressing the meanings of the original Arabic in simple readable English.”
Out of curiosity mostly I purchased a copy of Majid Fakhry's Al-Azhar approved "English Translation of the Meanings".
A first reading more than lived up to Thomas Carlyle's [1795 – 1881] description of the Koran as “a confused, jumble, crude, incondite (disorderly), endless iteration". No wonder few non-Muslims know anything about the Book.
The Koran is a short book by holy book standards: an English translation will run to about 77,700 words; the approximate size of a typical 300 page book.
It was then that I decided to use my training and twenty years of experience in systems analysis to bring order to Islam's core religious text so that anyone could, in a few minutes or at the most an hour or two, find out all that Allah has to say on any subject. Pain, Pleasure and Prejudice was the result.