April 5, 2003
Sizdeh-Bedar in Mason Park (in Irvine, Orange County) was like
a fashion show put on by asylum lunatics. Seventy five year old
women wore hip huggers the same shade of blue as their oversized
mosquito type sunglasses. Children masqueraded as J.Lo, Britney
or Shania. Vuitton purses and stiletto heels were de rigueur
on the damp, muddy grass. An 89 year old man who looked high
was wearing a "katkhoda" costume and people were snapping
pictures of him as if they were at the zoo and observing an exotic,
curious-looking animal. People had brought Persian rugs to lay
on the grass so they could play takhteh and eat their kabaab
in peace while their kids exchanged numbers and ghered to Mansour
and Siavash and Naghi and Taghi etc.
That being said, it was the greatest fashion show put on by asylum
lunatics on the face of the earth and I wouldn't have missed it
for the world. With Sami and Behn, we circled Mason Park about
800 times before we could find any parking. I didn't mind. The
spectacle outside the windows was something I had never seen before
in my life and I couldn't get enough.
Finally, we found a parking space located only about 1200 blocks
away. Thank god I had put on my pumas or else I may as well have
walked on my hands. My cousins and I finally reached the park,
where I got a little claustrophobic. There were throngs...I mean
throngs of people out here. Sami told me even people from Hell-Ay
come all the way down here to celebrate Sizdeh-Bedar. I believed
it. I was one of them.
A plane was flying around the park, with banners promoting everything
from free Iranian CDs to a special Cabaret night at the local nightclub.
Other people were there for their own agendas as well. The Iranian
Church had a kiosk and was blasting a stereo of persian women singing
Hallelujah with a strong persian accent (sounds like "Haaleh-
Others were handing pamphlets about some politician candidates
for the presidential election.
But 90% of the people were there for the music, the gher and the
I couldn't help it. Part of why I was stretching my neck here
and there was the thought of maybe seeing Ali here. My heart even
fluttered at one point when I thought I recognized the back of
his neck. Like an idiot, I called out "Ali!" to which
112 people turned around at the same time. Sadly, none of them
was my Ali.
After a couple of hours, the atmosphere was getting a little tiresome
so we decided to retreat to Sami and Behn's place for some cooling
drinks. In between numerous refreshing bottles of Corona, Sami
and I got to gossiping.
-- "You know... My sister's marriage is... well... over..."
-- "What???!!!! What has it been? Not even a month!"
-- "Hon, they didn't even make it through their honeymoon!"
I was in shock. I knew Hedieh and Peerooz's marriage was in trouble
when I caught a glimpse of Peerooz getting it on with his own wedding
singer but my god! I was sad for Hedieh, no matter how much I reviled
her as a person.
-- "So she caught him cheating on her uh?"
Sami looked at me bewildered:
-- "No hon! She left him... for their Hawaian scuba diving
" PPPPppppppppppfffffffftttttttttttttt" was the sound
of the Corona beer spat out of my mouth and on Sami's potted geraniums.
I nearly fell off my chair, I was laughing so hard.
I guess these two deserved each other after all.
-- "So...what happened? Did she stay in Hawai?"
-- "And Peerooz?"
-- "Aaakhh... That loon. He has been calling me almost every
day crying into the phone and pleading with me to reason with my
sister. As if I could ever get to her!"
Hmmmm... Peerooz the cheater had been cheated on. The ultimate
So why didn't I feel vindicated? The only thing I felt was depression.
Again, all my thoughts led me back to Ali. Had I unfairly accused
him? What had he really done exactly? Had he mentally cheated on
me? I never had any proof that anything happened between him and
Shohreh. Other than her manipulations, there was nothing else I
could stand on. Was I letting my mistrust in men brought on by
previous romantic disasters sabotage the best relationship of my
Maybe this physical proximity to him was making me think this
way. He was only a short drive away. Back in Laguna Beach. Our
little domestic nest that we had created together.
I felt immense longing for him. It was around 6 pm. He would be
sitting in his little office, typing away on his old-fashioned
typewriter, the smoke of his cigar filling the room.
He probably hadn't eaten. Hadn't shaved. Most likely, he would
be wearing his Cowboys T-shirt and faded jeans. I liked him best
that way, better than when he was all suited up.
Some of Sami's friends called her up and invited us to go to Sera's
that night. Oh no! Not Sera's. Ali and I had spent countless nights
at this hip little nightclub in Laguna Beach, with an eclectic
mix of Arabic, Persian and Anglo music. It was the Iranian hang-out!
I debated whether I should go or whether I had better hightail
it back to Hell-Ay but Sami pleaded with me to come along. After
all, I had planned to stay over for a couple of days. The Corona
had given me a slow, pleasurable buzz and the thought of dancing
away was appealing, no matter what memories Sera's would bring
I should have followed my first instinct.
When we got there, the place was packed. My cousins'friends immediately
spotted us and called us over to the bar, where everybody was having
tequila slammers. The whole point of slammers is that the bartender
pours a fizzy drink, usually seven-up, in a tequila shot then slams
it down hard in the counter, making it fizz up. Then, you are supposed
to pick up the shot and down it as fast as you can before it spills
over. The result is that you drink a large quantity of alcohol
over a short period of time, and the seven-up masks the potency
of the tequila, making you believe you can absorb much more than
I don't know why people drink alcohol to get more hyper and dance
at nightclubs. I mean, alcohol is a depressant. And boy did I ever
find out that night.
At first, everything was okay. I was dancing away with Sami, Behn
and their friends. At one point, some completely strange dude showed
up in front of me. He was wearing a white turtle neck under a checkered
sports jacket, and sported an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Bean,
of the famed BBC series. All he did was he kept clapping his hand
and hop around me in a circle while screaming out "Damet garm!
Eventually, the pace slowed down and they played a very rare love
song. It was the end of the night, probably 4 in the morning, and
they wanted to close. As all the couples got out on the dance floor
and started hugging and kissing, I suddenly felt like I was back
in junior high, with my awkward stage (frizzy hair, pre-puberty
boyish bod), and no one was gonna ask me to dance. Feeling my eyes
moisten, I asked Mr. Bean if I could borrow his cell phone, to
which he gladly complied. Damesh garm!!!
I went out on the patio where I committed the biggest No No in
the history of male female relationships i.e. the Drunken Phone
Call to the Ex.
Damn! 28 years and I had steered clear of such embarrassing displays:
A Perfect Record ruined by one night of Sizdeh-Bedar.
The phone rang once.
A third time.
Ali must have been sound asleep.
Then I heard someone pick up the receiver. Yoohooo!!! He was awake.
-- "Shhhh.... Shhhwwaaallliii... Shhhh'aaaallliiii?" I
hopelessly slurred into the phone.
-- "Hu... Hullo?" A groggy male voice answered.
-- "Shhhhh'aallliii, it'ssshhhhh meeee... Hoooww aaaarrreee
-- "Nazanin?" Ali asked incredulously, his voice a little
more awake now. "Are you okay? What's happened?"
I started chuckling.
-- "Shhhhh... you sheeeellleee beeeeleeee.... I chhhhjjjjust....
-- "...Naz?... Naz are you there?"
I suddenly woke up from his voice. I had momentarily fallen asleep
standing up, my cheek pressed against the window of Sera's.
-- "Aaalllli.... I... I... I chhhjjjusssttt... "
-- "Just what? Naz, you just what ? Where are you?"
-- "I called...to shaaayyyy... that I ...."
-- "Heyyyyyy Hu-ney! Verrr have you bean?"
Damn it! Mr. Bean had found me.
I put my finger on my mouth, motioning him to shut up but he wouldn't
-- "Come on come on, berim beraghssim. Ajab gher-haayee midaadi
oon too. Damet garm! Damet garm!" He chuckled, loudly enough
for Ali to hear.
-- "Nazanin, what is going on? Where are you? Are you calling
me from some guy's house?"
-- "Nnnnnnnooooo....." I protested but before I could
explain, Mr. Bean had snapped the cell phone out of my hand and
was dragging me back to the dance floor.
Suddenly sober, I extricated myself from his iron grip and went
to Sami, to whom I explained the whole situation.
Mortified, she handed me her cell phone and I dialed Ali frantically.
But it was too late. He wouldn't pick up.
TO BE CONTINUED.