Flower delivery in Iran


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Part 4
New York, Friday September 16

9: 25 a.m.
Barely made it to work today. Full 20 minutes late. Grolpy is going to fire my ass in no time. Big stack of files on desk. Or is it? Vision still blurry. Seeing double? Head not a watermelon this time, merely a very heavy, seemingly solid steel anvil (Or whatever you call those things they beat horse shoes against). Every sound of the phone ringing makes my anvil-head vibrate. Quite painful. Rushed out this morning without my morning coffee. Thought about picking up something at Starbucks downstairs but took one look at the line and one look at my watch and decided it would be pushing it. Arrggghhhh, don't feel human without my coffee! If they made caffeine an illegal drug, I'd end up in a crack house (or caff house?) in no time.

9:35 a.m.
Ooopppss Grolpy unexpectedly before my desk, how long has he been staring at me jotting down my thoughts in my pink leather and black furry diary? No reprimand, merely more of his passive aggressive not taking it to the surface. (be rooye khodesh nayAvord). Big throat clear as only sign of disapproval. Hate this passive aggressive bit. Already have to put up with it with mAmAn. If I am going to make it through this day, better go down to Starbucks.

10:35 a.m.
Nance gave me a helpful smile on my way back. "Hang in there!" It said. I love Nance. I hate myself. Why can't I be a better person? Of course I am alluding to last night's shenanigans. Met Manny and Bruce in the lobby of my apartment and we hailed a cab. Bruce is Manny's best friend, her old roommate from college. He is an incredibly creative and humble artist who has showings in SoHo from time to time and a small group of patrons, steadily growing. As I look at him I realize I have never met anyone so handsome and insecure at the same time. On the way there, Bruce kept bitching about his love life: He suspects his boyfriend Mario of cheating on him. He wanted to stay home tonight but Manny dragged him out: "Whether he IS cheating on you or not, don't waste another night waiting for his call like a big ninny," she advises. "You have to let him know what a fabulous time you are having without him and if he wants to hold on to you he has to stop treating you like a doormat!" Bruce brightens up a little:

-- "This Sling place is really supposed to be fabulous isn't it?"

-- "Yes my love."

As predicted, we arrive in front of a warehouse-type big place in mid-town where people have already lined up on both sides of the entrance for the entire length of the block. This is one of the moments where I bask in Manny's glow. Wearing a gold top with a plunging neckline and rock star leather pants with gold chain, she catwalks to the entrance and hails Steve, the manager standing behind the velvet rope. Before she even says anything, he is already removing the rope to let us in. As for the people in line-up, they have to face the ire of big burly bouncers wearing headphones as firmly as their grim expressions. Endless corridors, hallways, stairs, followed by various rooms big and small, until we come to the very top floor (I have lost track of how many) and Steve knocks on a dirty looking door with "Storage" printed on. When the door opens, we are ushered into an incredible snow-like palace: Floors to ceilings are painted white, the walls covered with mirrors, and crystal chandeliers light up the white furniture, bar, and staff uniforms.

"Enjoy," says Steve as he leaves us on a cozy couch on the right side of the room. "Thanks Steve," I gush out, probably a little too loud by the look in Manny' s eyes. I can't help it. I am a country bumpkin at heart. I can't be blazé about these things... Not yet.

-- "I must say Naz Darling, you really outdid yourself for this last soiree of yours."

Manny is looking at me with a smirk. Well, since this is going to be the last time why not go with a bang? Manny is right, I look far different from my usual frumpy self: Gone are my favored pink pumas and track pants and instead here comes a Nicole Miller, a little black dress that always makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn. My pitch black hair is freshly washed and blow-dried and for a rare occasion, is falling over my shoulders in just the way I like. Not an expert with make-up, I decided to follow verbatim the eye-shadow instructions I found on the back of an ancient Vogue so as to bring out the blue in my eyes, which I think are my best feature next to my legs, presently stretched out before me in a pair of incredibly painful but sexy black stilettos. In other words, watch out Bette Davis, the new Jezebel has hit the town and Peerooz better put on his seat belt for the bumpy ride I have in store for him.

As Bruce, Manny and I are laughing and chatting, a waitress approaches. However she is not here to take our order, she is bringing us a bottle of champagne. Expensive. The only kind they sell here. Waitress has a message too: "From the gentleman across the room. Wishing you a happy birthday." It is me she is addressing. I am flabbergasted and turn my head faster than you can say "whiplash". I knew it! It's Peerooz. Though he is not facing me, I recognize his back, the way he holds his cell, the way one hand rests on his knee, and his foot gently taps the floor in rhythm with the music. He is sitting with a group of friends, several suited men who are probably traders like him, and a bevy of blond and redheaded beauties all chain-smoking and practicing their "bored" look. I am torn between feeling flattered and disgusted. Only Peerooz would be rude enough to pass this gesture off as friendly. Really! Like he couldn't have come over himself to wish me a simple happy birthday and say he's sorry for being almost a week late? And he doesn't even turn around at that! All these little gestures and mind games designed to look innocent and spontaneous but really so carefully processed in that little evil mind of his. And yet I feel my cheeks getting flushed and my knees weaken as all images of the strong-willed Bette Davis vanish from my mind. Instead, the mere sight of Peerooz's back has turned me into a panting Ann-Margret.

"Oh really!" Manny's statement has startled me out my daydream. She is looking in the direction of Peerooz too with a murderous gleam in her eyes. "Well then please do me a favor as well," She tells the waitress. And before I can protest (or even approve), Manny has instructed the waitress to take an even more expensive bottle of champagne to Peerooz with the simple message "Happy Independence Day". We are in September.

I watch with equal horror and glee as the waitress approaches Peerooz and bends down to his ear holding the Crystal bottle in its bucket. There. She must have communicated the message. I could swear I distinguish an almost imperceptible movement in Peerooz' shoulder blades. He continues talking on his cell for a few seconds then snaps it shut and in one motion, turns around, with the most devilishly handsome smile I could ever dread. Like a horrible fever-induced nightmare, I see him walking towards us in slow motion. What am I going to say, how am I going to react? Teach HIM a lesson? For god's sake, I can't even detach my tongue from my palate at this point. Fortunately Bruce takes my hand and squeezes it, in show if support. I snap out of my trance, and give him a thankful look. Manny gets up and Peerooz kisses her on the cheek. I am about to do the same when Peerooz takes my hand, bends down to my level, and gives it a light brush of his lips. From that slight touch, I feel as much electricity in my body as Tim McVeigh must have in the last minutes of his life.

-- "Tavalodetoon mobArak nAz khAnoom."

-- "...Merssi... Heyf shod nayoomadin... jAttoon kheili khAli bood."

We continued to chat and as the night progressed, and many champagne flutes were consumed all around, the atmosphere became more and more relaxed. In between our laughter and conversation, I didn't even realize til later that Manny and Bruce had moved on to their various acquaintances and friends in the club, and Peerooz and I were left on that cozy white couch all by our lonesome.

Of course it had to all end and not quite as cheerfully as I thought, given the ambiance of the evening so far. As Peerooz finally asked me the question I wanted to hear: "Can I call you sometime?" a perfectly French-manicured hand appeared out of nowhere on his shoulder. I looked at the hand and noticed it was connected to a wrist, and further up, an arm, until I looked fully up and there was standing there a tall lanky blonde, so pale in color she could almost have passed for albino. Model type. Without acknowledging me, she whined in a grating nasal voice: "Peeeeeter, can we go? This place is so NOT there anymore." Peerooz did not seem phased at all. He did not miss one beat. Flashing me another killer smile, he told me in fArssi: "Pass bett zang meezanam... Goodnight!" and led the Albino-Woman out of sight.

There's just one thing left for me to do then. Go home and pretend not to be waiting for his call.

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