In Adonis, beauty institutes are as abundant as light poles on the streets. The competition is tight, but La Bella Donna remains, by far, the most popular salon in town. Simon, high priest in this prestigious temple of beauty, owes his reputation not only to his expertise in hair and nail matters, but also to his unmatchable tact with estro- gen. To most of Adonis' dames and damsels, Simon is a best friend and confidant, and his institute is their little corner of heaven.
The salon is located on the ground floor of a middle-class residential building. There used to be a butcher's shop adjacent to it. While some found it practical to sit through their morning beauty rituals right after placing their orders on a fresh filet, others complained about the foul smell of the gutted cows and the disturbing sight of the suspended corpses that swung in the backgrounds of their mirrors. The butcher was appalled: his cows weren't exactly thrilled with the sight of middle-aged women squealing under the sting of bikini wax treatments either. In the end, a petition requesting the beef to move was signed by Donna's devotees (and their husbands) and submitted to the municipality; and so the butcher was forced to relocate farther down the street. His vacated shop was replaced by a morgue.
Adonis tragically died in the arms of Venus, his life-long lover, after being ambushed by a wild boar during a hunting trip. Villagers in Athens commemorate his death in mid-summer by sowing grains of wheat and barley in their fields. The ephemeral plants spring up soon and whither quickly, and, with time, Adonis became celebrated as the god of vegetation and fertility.
Shanti is pregnant. 'It's Shaaban', she told her employer as tears of fear and shame strolled down her pale cheeks. Samia couldn't believe it. It was him again, the notori- ous Egyptian concierge that had impregnated half of Adonis' domestic staff last winter, and had been consequently thrown out of the window-less basement that he occu- pied in the prominent Belle-Vue building. Shanti confessed to her employer that Shaaban furtively returns to the neighborhood from time to time for some action, luring his lovers into a moist pump room or into the back of an underground parking. In a spasm of threats improvised with the few English words that came to her, Samia locked Shanti in the kitchen. It was extremely critical to quickly conceal this incident (and extract its outcome out of her maid's guts) before rumors start spreading. But that could wait. For now, all she could think about was finding Shaaban. She had missed him terribly, and, at this moment, desired nothing more than him waiting for her in the shadows of a cryptic pump room, waiting to take her in his arms and make her feel like a woman once again.
Adonis is dull. It might as well be the dullest town on earth. All the balconies of all the kitchens are closed off with the same black aluminum and glass profiles, and adorned with a washing machine and dryer. All shops located within a two kilometers' radius of a church carry the name of that church. All the engines of the school buses that fill the streets with their heavenly aroma at sunrise roar at the same pitch. All the dogs have the same leaches and shit in the same spots. Adonis is the anti-Beirut. It is a world that feeds on resemblances and patterns rather than on polarities. All tensions are dissolved in slow coffee sips and democratic smiles. It is a place where rhythm is created not from the erratic bangs of street gunshots, but from the regular padding of a housewife on a dirty carpet. Away from theatrical gestures and mannerisms, the magic of the everyday starts piercing through the dullness of the most impersonal streetlight, through the flatness of the most uninspiring building facade. Chained to its inescapable physical dimension, bound like to a curse to its things and places, Adonis is where the ordinary hasn't yet been exotisized under intellectual pretenses, where kitsch belongs back to the world of gestures and effects, to the world of forgotten intentions, and where music is neither reaction nor protest, but a simple celebration of the beauty and the magic of the everyday.