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Part 10
New York, Wednesday October 20

3:12 p.m.
Still haven't heard from Peerooz. Been almost two weeks now. Oh well. Guess he moved on to better things. I don't care. Fun phone flirtation while it lasted. Didn't make a fool of myself at least. Kept him at bay.

3:15 p.m.
Maybe I kept him too much at bay. I mean, really! Playing hard to get? That is the stupidest trick in the world. He must have seen right through that. He must have wanted to teach me a lesson. Burn me. Hate him. If I never hear from him again, it will be too soon. Concentrate on my work!

5: 48 p.m.
Came home. No messages. From anyone. Now it's not even only Peerooz rejecting me. I must be repelling the whole world. Feeling quite depressed. Will I die alone? Will they bury me in a giant pickle jar and have people pass me at the wake whispering "Heyvooni dokhtare torshideh."

6:15 p.m.
God, mAmAn must have a sixth sense to pick the exact time when I am at my weakest. She just called me to set up a blind date for me. Now under any other circumstances, I would have laughed her off. The one or two khAsstegArs I agreed to see to please her have been disasters. One guy took me to the movies and fell asleep in the theater. The other, when he came to pick me up at my apartment, screamed into the buzzer: "Zood bAsh biyA pAyeen, gheyre ghAnouni park kardam." I just marched downstairs and told him very sweetly to go find another girl with a driveway in her home so that he wouldn't have parking problems and marched myself right back upstairs. But sad to say, I was feeling so low that mAmAn didn't even have to persuade me that long. "Yeah yeah", I said into the phone, "Whatever you set up will be fine." Now I have a date on Saturday with "Fereydoun" (already the name turns me off for some odd reason). He is apparently a builder. An Iranian builder. How original! Why can't I get set up with an Iranian sky-diver for a change?

Saturday October 23

9:23 p.m.
Well, that date didn't last very long did it? All of 45 minutes by my calculation. Fereydoun came to pick me up at 8 p.m. Not bad looking man though not my type. Way too tall and lanky, with poufy hair (looks like pompadour) and sideburns, which I hate. Wearing a very grandfatherly looking conservative suit and tie, which makes him look older than his 35.

I couldn't believe the plan he had in store for us. Since our dinner reservation was at 8:30, he was going to kill the time by driving me to various neighbourhoods where he had built houses! I stared at him in disbelief but shut my mouth and braced myself. So we drove around for 20 minutes and he kept pointing out:"In Khoonaro man sAkhtam!", and "In Khoonaro hafteye peesh foroukhtam." I did my best to look interested on the outside and on the inside I kept picturing myself on a tropical beach with Jude Law feeding me grapes one by refreshing one.

Finally at 8:30 we were at the restaurant, this pretentious French joint called L'Auberge. We sat at our table and ordered some drinks. He tried some chit-chat while we were looking at the menu. "Ewwwww," he exclaimed loudly, "Frog legs???? Disgusting!" A few diners turned around to look at us. I was mortified. "Well, you don't have to order them," I whispered. But he wouldn't change the subject.

-- "tAllA ghoorbAgheh khordi?"

-- (sigh) ..."Ummm...balleh..."

-- "EEEEWWWWWWW...chetori mitoonesti???" (More diners turning around, waitress brings us our drinks with frowning expression. How old is this guy, 3?)

-- "bA ammam boodam. Goft khoobeh, try kon. Manam try kardam. Bad nabood. It's a delicacy."

-- "EWWWWWWWW... Badbakht shohare Ammat!"

-- (sigh)... "Ammeye-man shohar nadAreh."


At this point, I looked at my wine glass, then looked at his head. I had a strong urge to bring the two together. But I did the next best thing. I excused myself to go to the ladies room and walked straight out of the restaurant and into the nearest subway entry.

On my return home, a huge basket wrapped up in colorful paper and topped by a bow was awaiting me at the concierge's desk. I took it upstairs with jubilation. What was it?

Once behind my door, I ripped the paper open and found the following things to my great astonishment: A bouquet of my favorite flowers (fuscia-colored tiger lilies); A box of my favorite chocolates (Godiva); A bottle of my favorite perfume (Jean Patou's Joy); An original edition of my favorite book (J.D. Salinger's Franny & Zooey), and a handwritten card with my favorite poem that brings tears to my eyes every time I read it:

by Paul Verlaine

Your soul is like a painter's landscape where
charming masks in shepherd mummeries
are playing lutes and dancing with an air
of being sad in their fantastic guise.
Even while they sing, all in a minor key,
of love triumphant and life's careless boon,
they seem in doubt of their felicity,
their song melts in the calm light of the moon,
the lovely melancholy light that sets
the little birds to dreaming in the tree
and among the statues makes the jets
of slender fountains sob with ecstasy.

The card was signed "Peerooz".

I was floored. How? When? HOW? Is this what he had been scheming for the past weeks? Did he hire a private investigator? Unbelievable... What was even more unbelievable was I didn't care how or why or when he did it. I made up my mind quite matter-of-factly. I walked over and picked up the receiver, dialed the familiar number.

-- "Hi it's me."

-- "Hi Sweetheart."

We are going on our first date.

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