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October 25, 2002
The Iranian

Part 4

November 21

Turned on the persian radio out of curiosity this morning and almost drove into a tree, I was so in shock.

It was some kind of call in show with a guest doctor answering questions and this lady called in asking about her "buttocks."

I swear! It went something like:

-- "Aghaye doctor, mikhasstam az shomaa yek soaali baraye 'buttocks'-am beporssam."

(Doctor, I wanted to ask you a question about my buttocks)

-- "Baleh befarmayeen khanoom... Man 'ess-specialty'-yam hamoon 'buttocks' hasst. Soaaletoon chi hasst?"

(Yes go ahead Ma'am... My ess-specialty is buttocks. What is your question?)

I couldn't believe it. No matter how americanized we have become as a community, I was astounded that someone's buttocks could be considered polite conversation on a local persian radio show. I could just imagine maamaan if she was here, choking on the sugar cube she usually takes with her tea if she heard this.

"Vaah...vaah...vaah!" She would say, " Ajab bitarbiatan inaa!"

(How rude they are!)

I listened for a few more minutes as the conversation became weirder and weirder.

-- "Aghaye Doctor... Baraye in jariaan-e 'buttocks' shomaa cheghad charge mikonin? Va chandtaa 'sessions' hasstesh?"

(Doctor... How much do you charge for this buttocks thing? And how many sessions would it take?)

Man!!! I always wondered what kind of person would choose proctology as his or her specialty. Butts, along with feet, are the two areas that I just can't believe would inspire anyone to devote their forty year medical career to...But I guess this guy was some piece of work...

-- "Basstegi daareh khanoom..." The good doctor was saying, "Shomaa kojaa in buttocks ro mikhayn inject konin?"

(It depends Madam on where you would like to inject this buttocks.)


Uh??? What the???

The sound of a car horn snapped me out of my daze. I had veered into the left lane without noticing it, so fascinated I was by this radio show.

I decided I'd better turn off the station altogether if I wanted to make it alive to lunch with Samira.

Later on, over Chinese chicken salad at the Cheesecake Factory, Sami was howling with laughter at my story.

-- "Nazanine khar! They were talking about butox, not buttocks!"

-- "That's what I said... buttocks..."

-- "No you dumm-dumm... B-U-T-O-X..."

-- "What the hell is that?"

-- "Oh..some kind of chemical they use to get rid of your wrinkles..."

-- "But...that's impossible...That's the oldest trick in the world... You can never get rid of your wrinkles...Unless you find a time machine that takes you back in the past...That's such a load of bullshit!"

-- "I know I know... But this is more like... It kind of freezes your nerves or something... Giving the appearance of a smoother firmer skin... at least temporarily until your next treatment. They inject it into you with a syringe... right into your temple or forehead or wherever... And, I think they also use it as rat poison..."

-- "Ewwwww.... Why would anyone do that to themselves! Are they nuts?"

Sami rolled her eyes.

-- "Welcome to Hell-Ay Nazanin!"

Hell-Ay... Mmmmm... I don't know... I mean sure this place has its weird quirks but... It has also got its charms.

At first, everything felt so magical, as if Ali and I had gone off to a far away exotic spot, for a dream vacation. But now, it's funny to say, especially for such a deeply rooted New-Yorker like me, but I have started to feel at home. This place has grown on me.

Now, I have been to California several times before. Of course, there were the obligatory family vacations, when I got to experience long lines under the hot sun (Disneyland, Universal Studios), weird "wheat/tofu" health food that cost more and satisfied less than a 10 ounce top sirloin would have done, atrociously inaccessible shopping landmarks (Rodeo Drive), deed-o-baaz-deed baazi (Cabaret Tehran) etc...

And of course, when I got a wee bit older and shed the restricting shadow of my duenna (a.k.a. maamaan!), my best friend Manny and I came a few times to party here. I swear, all I remember from those trips were dark nightclubs where everything throbbed (lights, music, and hearts alike). But I think I never got time to "stop and smell the roses" or in my case "the beach".

Of course it doesn't hurt that Ali and I have settled into what I believe to be the single most beautiful place on earth: Laguna Beach. Listen, don't laugh, you know I have been to many places, from the stinky, pebble-filled "plages" of Nice, to nudy colonies on obscure Greek Islands... For me all other beaches stopped existing when I got acquainted with Laguna Beach.

A small artsy town filled with local art galleries, shops and cafes and yet not so tourist-filled as to become plastic. You can see the influence of the locals here, and feel like you live as part of a real close-knit community.

It is the perfect place for Ali to do what he always dreamed of: Write his "Great Iranian-American Novel." His life as a free-lance journalist covering events all over the globe certainly deserves to be written about although he wants to keep in the fictional mode. After years of covering gritty journalistic stories, he told me he felt like he was burning out...especially after September 11. I am ultimately glad he had the courage to recognize and prevent his impending breakdown. Now is the time that I can take care of him after always being the one in the past who sought refuge in his strong arms.

Mornings usually start at Diedrich's where we get our coffee and danishes to go and head for our barefoot walk on the sand. This time of the day is always my favorite.

Afterwards, Ali gets down to work. Seated at his old-fashioned typewriter, facing the ocean, he works between 4 to 6 hours. Meanwhile, I explore our town as well as the surrounding beach resorts. And you won't believe it: I have taken to cooking! Oh horrors of horror! I feel myself growing almost maternal to my Ali, like some Hausfrau from the 50s. I have centered my life around being the perfect little homemaker and what is most frightening... I like it!

I know I have to start going on auditions though if I ever want to make something of my flimsy acting career ...and where better to kick-start my career than in Hollywood right? (Even though it is nearly 2 hours away from Laguna Beach!) I just wonder if I'll have to inject myself with butox or other chemical substances (bleach, saline, or ...?....) to make it out here.


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