Cafés line the streets here, one spilling on to the other; rows and rows of plastic chairs all lined up facing the same direction–streetward. I like to call it sitting Moroccan style. You know, next to your pal, instead of facing them.
Urban Dictionary refers to these kinds of people as same side sitters. Their definition is as follows:
People who, for some reason unknown to humankind, choose to voluntarily sit on the same side of a booth or table at a restaurant, leaving the other side completely vacant.
For those of us accustomed to café culture in the United States, you know that same side sitters are awkward. What’s normal is to sit opposite your rendez-vous, not next to them. Ask your chiropractor, they’ll tell you that craning your neck to gossip with a friend or make small talk with a date is bad form and highly unappreciated by your C1-C7 vertebrae.
So why is it that here in Morocco same side sitters are a dime a dozen? I’ll tell you why….Because “shoofing” is a national sport.
*Note: the verb “shoof,” in Darija, means to look. Therefore, shoofing, is the Arab-ish (Arabic+ English) present continuous form.
I speak from my own personal opinion when I say that many Moroccan men have been trained since birth in the art of the invasive stare. The look– the good ol’ up n’ down–happens on the regular. It’s so common in fact, that I’ve taken to walking with an air of disdain, feigning disinterest in their eyes when I walk alone. I walk with purpose. No smiles. So not me.
Truly, it’s a self defense mechanism that I’ve adopted in order to stride past the same side sitters sipping their mint teas and smoking Marlboros in their plastic café chairs. But a look is just a look. And admittedly, a narcissistic ego boost.
The cat call on the other hand is a whole other ball game. In general, it’s one of my all time favorite things to analyze, because it has to be the most highly ineffective way of picking up chicks. For some reason, however, the “ssssssst ssssssssst” seems to be the Moroccan translation for “Can I have yo numba? Can I, can I?”
No offense bros, but that is a terrible tactic. I’m telling you straight up, go get a puppy…or a baby. But you shouldn’t hiss at me like that. You’re not a snake, and I don’t speak Parseltongue.