New York, Saturday December 4
Winter is here and there's no going back. While November kept wavering between
mild and cool, December has finally brought snow and a biting, freezing
wind. It is the strangest thing how the first snow always sneaks up on you.
It always comes overnight and when you wake up in the morning and stick
your nose against your window, you can't believe how white everything's
gotten. This immaculate sea however doesn't last long, soon to turn into
muddy slush, which I hate.
Another sign of winter is that we have all been feeling quite lethargic
lately. I don't feel like clubbing but I enjoy those warm house parties
with crackling fires (or at least with the TV switched on to the "roaring
fireplace" channel) and flowing eggnog. Despite the often inhuman temperatures,
I love strolling through midtown at this time of year, amidst the giant
nutcrackers of Radio City Hall and the skaters of Rockefeller Center. Even
the cheesiest of Christmas carol renditions (like the Chipmunks version
of Silent Night) find me humming along. Yesterday, Peerooz and I
stood looking at the huge Christmas tree they put up every year in front
of the NBC studios. It just felt so good to stand there, hand in hand (or
at least glove in glove) with my honey. I swear, I could not even feel the
cold, not even when icicles started forming on the tip of my nose!
Wednesday December 8
Grolpy, that bastard! Memo circulating on the firm's desk. Business has
been lax and there will be no Christmas bonus this year. Damn him! Instead
"a nominal amount" will be donated in your name to the Society
for Tri-State area Birdwatchers." I re-read it just to make sure this
isn't some joke.
Sunday December 12
Peerooz just dropped me off after Sunday brunch. We went to this French
place in Soho called Pain Quotidien. Quite cute. Communal benches, jovial
atmosphere, and yummy bread and butter and jam... Mmmmm.... Guess he had
to butter me up to tell me the bad news. He has to go on business to London
and won't be here with me for Christmas. I know I know I'm Iranian so I
shouldn't care about Christmas. But you can't help it. You can be a non-Christian
(actually I am a non-everything) and still share in the magical aura around
this time. And to think this would have been the first time in four years
I would have a boyfriend to kiss on the stroke of midnight on New Year's
Eve!... sigh... Oh well, can't blame him, though I'll miss him. "I,'l
miss you too," he whispers in my ear before kissing me.
Saturday December 18
Wanted to drop Peerooz off at the airport but he insisted not to. Hates
airports and hates good-byes so he doesn't like putting the two together.
The sweetheart. All of a sudden I am nervous about airplane accidents. Peerooz
just smiles and squeezes my hand and says he'll call me as soon as he arrives
at Heathrow. Feeling quite melancholy and miserable. Just finished watching
Charlie Brown's Christmas on T.V. and actually started crying at
the part where the little boy makes the speech defending the paltry tree
as a metaphor for the spirit of Christmas. Maaaan, I'm in bad shape. Got
the holiday bluuuuueeeeesss.
Sunday December 26
Phewwww finally back home after spending Christmas week-end at my parents'
house. Manny and Bruce were my guests. Usual persian rug auction-like mayhem
with required number of crazy and/or nosy guests at my house. Dead poultry
stews inside the pots and pans while live poultry walks to and fro, dressed
in faux Chanel suits and Susan Lucci earrings. The neighbourhood hens (friends
of my mom's) continue their tradition of poking one on the shoulder and
asking about impeding marriages. The only difference is now they have Manny
to torture as well. I thank the Lord for Bruce not understanding persian
as they bombard us with their innuendos about settling down with "shohare
khAreji". (Why is it we are the immigrants but the Americans are the
"khArejis"?!) The fact that Bruce is gay does not seem to deter
anyone, least of all my mom. "Gay... May... In harfA chieh nAzanin,
masskhareh kardi?", she utters in between chomping a sugar cube and
sipping her tea, "Reekhte gay-hA ro nadAreh." I sigh and decide
not to get into our hundredth argument about this subject. In her mind,
homosexuals are all supposed to look like that famous cross-dressing Iranian
guy who sells videos of his belly-dancing in his I-dream-of-Jeannie costumes.
Bruce, with his square-jawed milk-fed American boy handsomeness, and sober
outfits straight out of the latest A&F catalogue, is too "masculine"
looking to be gay in her eyes. MAmAn just refuses to believe us and thinks
Manny and I have been trying to put a hat on her (Saresho kolA bezAreem)
for the past half-decade!
BAbA joon is sweet as always. He has gotten me a little Christmas present
which he gives me in secret. It is a little music box in which a ballerina
twirls around to the sound of Joseph Haydn, a composer he remembers I worshipped
during my short-lived career as a child piano prodigy. I hug him in thanks
then pull back in worry. Has he lost weight? His frame seems even smaller
and more fragile than usual. "Na Azizam", he replies softly, "Zemestooneh...Ye
zareh hAlatte sarmA khordegi dAram. EshtehAmo koor kardeh hamin." I
cuddle him and tell him to take his vitamins, aspirins etc. I check the
medicine cabinet to make sure that he has not run out of anything and warn
him to better take care of himself if he doesn't want me to put mAmAn on
his case. He laughs and leads me back downstairs to the guests.
Wow I think I must have gained 100 pounds. Damn my mom's amazing cooking.
Our Christmas dinner is a bizarre mix of American and Iranian traditions.
The turkey is there sure enough, but instead of usual trimmings of cranberry
sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, we have mirza-ghassemi, two kinds
of pollo to serve with the turkey (zereshk Polo and sabzi polo), sAlAd shirazi,
mAsst-o-khiAr, and for dessert: Basstanni Akbar Mashti, faloudeh, and chocolate
cake. Bruce skips the turkey (He is a vegetarian who has always abhorred
his family,s vegetarian-challenged holiday dinners) and serves himself giant
portions of all the tasty pollo and mAsst. In honour of my mom, he has learned
to pronounce a few words in Persian: "Khanoom aziz, dasstee-toon dard
nakoneh" which come out of his mouth sounding like "K,num ziz
dasstoon door na-cone". My mom, who has never been able to pronounce
"School" without preceding it with the extra syllable "Es"
(Es-School) bursts in laughter and states in persian: "VAh vAh vAh
Sunday January 2
Head fills like curdled yogurt left out in the sun for too long. Woke up
a couple of hours ago at the sound of Quasimodo ringing the bell of Notre-Dame
Cathedral... Well really it was just my phone, but my hang-over had painfully
distorted my senses... After making the mistake of picking up the phone,
I realized I couldn,t utter a single word, due to my vocal chords having
been put through a meat grinder (at least they felt that way). After listening
to my mother yelping on the other line for a few seconds (Allo?... .Alllllooooo?...
..AAAAAllo?) I simply put the receiver down and unhooked the cord. Body
still in process of ingesting all the nicotine and alcohol inflicted on
my body last night as well as... errrr... some (unfortunately not very)
controlled substance that I would rather not mention on paper just in case
the FBI decides to conduct a midnight raid on my apartment and seize my
diary as hard evidence of my contribution to the Columbian drug Cartel.
Wasn't a bad night at all, don't get me wrong! Actually, it was quite
fantastic with Peerooz (the darling!) surprising me by flying in for New
Year's! He made it on time to catch Manny, Bruce and I on our way to a New
Year's bash at this nightclub called Nitro. Was so happy to see him! We
all piled into the limo rented for the occasion and Peerooz asked us mysteriously
if he could stop by another place before we reached the club. Soon enough
the limo stopped in front of this suspicious seedy building in the Lower
East side. It looked abandoned and the site for squatters if not for a curious
plaque on the entrance door advertising Chez Andre: Beauty Salon for Poodles.
After a few minutes, Peerooz came back, not with a perfectly coiffed canine,
but with what he called his "belated" Christmas gift to all of
us... Well... The rest better be censored... (refer to FBI comment above).
Once we got to the club, I remember vaguely turning into an unstoppable
chatting machine, talking the ears of poor Bruce who had quite by contrast
turned into the living dead, with only a vacant stare to greet my unstoppable
flow of words. Manny and Peerooz, who didn't seem affected like us, quickly
took the situation in control, dragging us onto the dance floor. The strategy
worked like magic and I spent the rest of the night dancing in Peerooz's
arms, screaming the words to what suddenly seemed like all my favorite songs.
Even Bruce came out of his catatonic state and a good time was had by all
in the end.
The party ended in the wee hours of the morning. By that time our limo
driver had gone AWOL and this being the coldest day in New York in 40 years,
Bruce's scalp was turning dangerously from a red to a purple shade. He kept
screaming at the passing cabs to "Take me home! My head is going to
explode!" Despite all of us freezing to death, we were also doubled
over laughing. Peerooz was embracing me hard and rubbing my arms up and
down to save me from hypothermia. Finally Manny rescued us by reluctantly
doing an old batting-the-eyelashes routine with Pedro, this slimy Argentinian
"entrepreneur" who had been unsuccessfully trying to woo her all
night. She talked Pedro into letting us squeeze into his minuscule two-seater
sports car (Manny on his lap while he was driving, and the three of us SOMEHOW
piled up like sardines into the passenger seat). "You owe me big",
she said to us later on, "I promised a date to that guy in exchange
for our rescue!"