Admiration from a distance
These were the wonderful 80s of Iran
By Mahsa Meshki
September 22, 2003
It was in the summer of 1985 when amid my cousin Samira's
colorful clothing, bottles of used hairspray and pink make-up
I fell in love with the wonderful 80s. Words elude me and
I am not sure whether the word "in love" captures
the nostalgia I now feel every time I travel back in time.
was the archetype of the 80s Iranian teenage girls. Let me explain. Samira
wore her long puffy hair in a ponytail and puffed her bangs with
enough hair spray until she formed
a big chunky bush of hair that stood 20 cm high. She then
thinned out a paucity of that bush with the aid of a comb and
wore that in the form of bangs hanging down her forehead. The
stark look was called the "stick-up bangs, ultra teased" otherwise
known as the infamous "kakol". Indeed, "kakol" was
an indispensable part of Iranian fashion at the time and became
the signature of every hip Iranian girl in the 1980s.
then applied her make up, making her cheeks crimson red, her
eyes light blue, and her lips fuchsia pink. She pouted
her lips flirtatiously in the mirror and then danced around to
Modern Talking while placing 3 or 4 slap bracelets next to her
As I sat on Samira's bed that particular warm summer
day, munching on slightly salted, crisp goje sabz (green gages),
was fascinated by all facets of Samira's life including
her fanciful room decoration. Michael Jackson covered the
dull pastel walls to my right while Samantha Fox, Boy George
and Madonna covered the walls to my left. Across from where
I was sitting on the bed laid her stereo with tapes making their
way in all directions. Her collection of wrist bands, lipsticks
and florescent colored hair scrunchies were placed next to bottles
of hair spray on top of her drawer, above which laid a large
Samira put on her tight acid washed jeans and laid
back on her bed and zipped up until she could no longer breathe. She
wore her off the shoulder pink top, put on her pink nike air
sneakers and tied her shoe laces in a cross over fashion around
her ankles. She then carefully put on her scarf making sure not
a strand of her kakol moves out of place. She then reached for
the kakol and carefully released it from under her scarf.
picked up her badminton racket and with one final complacent
look in the living room mirror she walked out of the house forgetting
to close the door behind her. I followed Samira out of the
house and into the street and proudly walked behind her.
met her girl friends at Dastchin, the corner ice cream store
called . Dastchin had become the most popular hang out in
Tehran at the
time with its serving of Italian ice cream. Girl-talk commenced
shortly and I was ecstatically privy to Mirdamad gossip.
spoke of Pooya, the boy who lived across the street from her
and with whom she occasionally went on a secret tryst. She
spoke of the late night conversations she had with him over the
phone and of the late hour roof top rendezvous they held. Samira
spoke of the party that was coming up at her friend Solmaz' house
in a few weeks and the girls were overwrought with the thought
of what they would wear to this party.
After a while of
desultory conversation, one of Samira's friends challenged her
to a game of badminton. Samira gladly
accepted and the two girls commenced their game while keeping
one eye out for the boys who would come and admire the girls'
sporting prowess. As the game commenced, I perched on the sidewalk
cheering on my cousin. I was simply ecstatic to be in the
presence of such celebrities.
After the badminton
game ended, the boys invited the girls to a game of vasati ("monkey
in the middle"). I remained
perched on the sidewalk curb admiring Samira from a distance.
She exuded such confidence and didn't hesitate to show
off her talent in this game. She would jump over the ball
with both legs, she would nonchalantly open one leg and allow
the ball to escape from under her, and she would catch the ball
and gain scores for her team.
At the end of the day, I followed
Samira back to the house and into her room. As I sat on
the floor of her room and put my back to her bed, I reminisced
about the wonderful day I had
had. Boy George was playing in the background and Samira
was talking to Pooya. I stayed up all night eavesdropping
and wishing to emancipate myself from the confines of my age.
were the wonderful 80s of Iran for me before the fall
of 1986 when I traveled to the West with my family. Somehow
when I became a teenager, my life never became like Samira's. I
think the 80s atmosphere that pervaded Iran at the time was an
era of its own, something that could never be recreated. Even
young boys of the time, like my brother often speak of their
break dancing competitions at family parties with immense nostalgia.
years have passed by and I still find myself sitting on the floor
with my back to the bed reminiscing about that wonderful
warm summer day at my cousin Samira's. In the end,
I salute every Samira out there who added so much spice to my
80s experience of Iran. I will always remain perched on the sidewalk
curb admiring you from a distance.
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