With an Iranian feminist
By Siamack Baniameri
October 17, 2000
Okay, it's a blind date. Not exactly my style but I figured what the
heck? Things haven't been going my way lately. I'm getting older. My self-esteem
is low. The front of my hair is getting closer to the back of my neck;
belly's pushing down on the belt, and there's hair growing on parts of
my body that would even make a monkey laugh. I admit it; I'm growing out
of style. I'm not exactly Brad Pitt. Who am I kidding? I'm not even Danny
"So, is she good looking?" I asked Nasser.
"That all depends on your definition of good looking."
"Well, let me rephrase the question. Does she have more hair on
her face than I do?"
"Yeah, but it's softer than yours."
Nasser, an old pal is setting me up with this Iranian woman who is a
friend of a friend. Anyhow, girls are not exactly lined up at my door at
the moment. I can't even remember the last time I went on a date.
"So how did you describe me to her?" I asked Nasser.
"You know, I told her you have a great personality."
"Thanks. Now she thinks I am ugly."
"You ARE ugly!" Nasser said, laughing.
All right, the man is honest. But I'm not going to allow my physical
imperfections have a negative effect on my personality. I'm determined
to show this woman what a great, fun-loving and smart guy I am. That's
right, I'm The Man.
Well, deep inside, I know that I don't have much of a personality. I'm
actually pretty gutless. Big guys terrify me. Okay I'm lying. Almost all
guys terrify me. I'm also aware that I lack intellect. And as far as fun
goes, I can't even remember the last time I had fun.
God, my life sucks.
We are meeting in a coffee shop at the corner of 3rd and Broadway. It's
a New Yorker thing to do. I'm nervous. What if she's smart and beautiful?
What if she expects me to recite Khayyam? What if she talks politics? Should
I speak Farsi or English? What if she's The One?
I intentionally got there early. I needed to find a perfect spot where
I could have my back against the wall. I didn't want her to accidentally
catch a glimpse at my bald spots. (Okay, I'm insecure, so shoot me.) As
I was adjusting the strategic location of my chair and looking around for
the waitress, all of a sudden, a guy sat down on the chair in front of
"Excuse me sir, but this chair is taken. I'm expecting someone,"
"I'm not a SIR you ignorant Iranian man," he shouted back
as he sat on the chair.
I looked closer. What the hell...? It's not a guy. It's a woman and
it's my date. A little, bleached-blond woman with a very short hair cut,
wearing a long white T-shirt, baggy jeans, and sneakers. I have a date
with Slim Shady.
She continued: "I don't do blind dates. I'm only here because I
owe Nasser a favor. And I'm not your typical Iranian woman. I'm an assistant
director of a successful off-Broadway show; I'm very much a New Yorker.
I don't take shit from no one especially, from chauvinist Iranian men who
think women belong to the kitchen. I refuse to become a second class citizen.
I find Iranian men incapable of expressing themselves emotionally and artistically.
I find Iranian men a bunch of single-minded hooligans who are like puppets
controlled by their mothers. I find that extremely revolting. I'm an artist.
I contribute to the beautification of minds."
"Ooh... Would you like some coffee?" I asked, hesitantly.
"No, I buy my own coffee. I don't want you to pay for my coffee.
You probably think I'm a poor and helpless Iranian woman who needs protection.
You're probably going to stand up on the table and start banging on your
hairy chest like Tarzan. I don't need you. I don't need anybody."
Holy cow. I'm sitting in front of the most militant Iranian feminist
in New York City. I'm convinced now that god is playing a bad joke on me.
What crimes could I have possibly committed to deserve this?
"Sooo, what's the name of the Broadway show you're directing?"
"I'm not a director. I'm an assistant director of an off-Broadway
show. You are a typical Iranian man. You have no listening skills. You
have no concentration when it comes to women's careers. If I were talking
about football or stupid wrestling, you would have remembered every word.
But no! God forbid I talk about my career, dreams and aspirations. You
make me sick."
I can't get a break from this woman. I crash and burn on every word
that comes out of my mouth.
"And by the way," she went on, "I really don't care what
you do for a living. I find Iranian men conservative and boring when it
comes to choosing a profession. Why is it that you never meet an Iranian
stuntman, a skydiving instructor, a river guide, or a model? Why do they
have to always pick these boring professions like engineering, selling
cars , or dentistry?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe it's because the money is decent?" I
"Money is all you Iranian men think about. You have to make the
money so you can drive your stupid BMWs around and showoff with loud techno
music blasting out of your cars. It's all about money for you guys. You're
I'm getting pissed off now. That's it. She insulted me and my mom. That
was fine. But nobody insults my BMW.
"Listen lady, will you get off my back? You may be right. Maybe
Iranian men are chauvinists, materialistic, and insensitive. Maybe we're
controlled by our mothers. Maybe we don't have listening skills and can't
concentrate for more than five seconds. But at least we're what we have
always been. At least we didn't lose our identity and change to a rude
and selfish New Yorker with an attitude. At least we didn't bleach our
hair and dress like a boy rap star. No, YOU make me sick."
I stood up, picked up my jacket like a tough-guy and walked away. As
I was passing her, I heard her say, "So, are you gonna call me?"