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February 28, 2003
The Iranian

Part 21

March 12
4:36 p.m.

Stepped out of the elevator and the inebriating scent of khoresht baademjoon immediately roped my nose in and started pulling me in its direction. Normally I hate the smell of fried food in the hallways of my apartment building but I had been driving all day non stop from Santa Barbara and I was hungry. I wondered if an Iranian family had recently moved in because as far as I could tell, the place was inhabited by young singles whose most sophisticated attempt at cooking would be to order kabaab from Kolbeh Sabz and occasionally reheat it in the microwave.

As I neared our door, the smell got stronger and my knees weaker. I was almost tempted to turn my heels and rush to the nearest kababi place. But nothing could compare to homemade khoresht. God I missed those days that I could just hop on the train and let Maamaan feed my face with her 5 star Iranian dishes.

I opened the door to my apartment and to my surprise, was greeted with the sounds of much laughter and chat coming from inside. Were my roommates having a party? Then it hit me. The khoresht smell was coming from our kitchen.

I turned the corner and saw Artie, wine glass in hand, elbow resting on the kitchen counter, talking animatedly with a stranger who had her back to me. My heart suddenly tied in knots as I examined this guest closer. That poufy mahogany hair... That flowery, ruffled dress... And most damning of all, that strong scent of Coco Chanel competing in the air with the scent of khoresht baademjoon...

-- "Maamaan????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Maamaan turned around with a big smile, and came towards me with open arms. In the same breath, she exclaimed:

-- "Vaah vaah Nazy in range-mooh chieh ? Kalleh-Annee shodi!"

(What is that hair color? It looks like shit!)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... This was a record! Usually, she allows me a few minutes of getting fuzzy and emotional before she puts in her first strike. But I guess she had really missed me. She just couldn't help herself.

-- "Actually" I said "Take your complaints to Artie, he is my colorist."

Without missing a beat, Maamaan exclaimed in her inimitable brand of Fringillissi:

-- "Artie Jaan you deed deess? Deess eess veerry butifull!"

-- "Nazanin where have you been?" Artie cried out "Your mom and I have been worried sick!"

-- "Errr... Thanks...Dad!"

-- "Somebody called me?"

-- "Baabaa!"

My dad had just emerged from the bedroom. This was a regular family reunion.

-- "What are you guys doing here? Why didn't you tell me you're coming"

-- "Aaaaaaaahhh Nazy che ghad sar be havaayee! Sad daffeh goftim daarim miyaym!"

(You are so dim-witted: I told you a hundred times that we are coming!)

-- "No mom you only mentioned something once, and you never told me when you would be coming!"

-- "Khob fekr mikardi pass key biyaym? Aroussi hafteye digasst!"

(Well, when did you think we would come? The wedding is next week!)

-- "Aroussiye ki Maamaan?"

(Whose wedding Mom?)

Maamaan just stared at me, blinking, like she had suddenly realized that she had been talking to a lunatic.

-- "Khodaa margam, kodoom aroussi? Mageh to khol shodi Nazy? Aroussiye dokhtar-khaalatteh!"

(My god, whose wedding? Have you gone nuts ? It's your cousin's wedding!)

-- "What are you talking about Maamaan, Sami is already married!"

Maamaan rolled her eyes.

-- "Not Sami! Hedieh!"

Oh. My. God. Suddenly everything made sense (or almost). Why Sami had been so distant lately. Why the sound of that party in the background when I called her? My hated nemesis of a cousin Hedieh was getting married. And the bitch had the nerve not to invite me!!!

Granted, she is my Lex Luthor, I am her Dr. Moriarty, depending on which side you want to take. Never got along with her from the start. As much as Sami has always been a sweetheart, Sami's sister Hedieh and I have since childhood got into more claws and punch and ass-kicking fights than Crystal Carrington and Alexis Colby.

When we grew up, Hedieh would always make a play for my boyfriends, up to an including my ex Peerooz who she tried to literally sexually assault last year when she saw us at my cousin Sami's wedding.

We probably haven't exchanged more than a dozen words during our entire adult life.

Okay. Fine. But god damn it!!! Not to invite me to her wedding. That cow! As if I would even accept in a million years. No, the protocol would have been to send an invite and then I could invent some excuse to decline to RSVP. Iranian families have survived for years through this meticulous passive-aggressive game of manners. But Hedieh had ruined all that. Her act was akin to a declaration of war.

My cheeks red, I admitted to my mom:

-- "I wasn't invited Maamaan."

Baabaa let out a deep sigh, knowing what was coming. Maamaan at first just went into denial. It was impossible, she said, they had gotten their invitations last month. They must have sent one to me too but with all my moving around, the invitation had probably gotten lost.

-- "Maamaan, I have been trying to speak with Sami for three weeks now and she just plays dumb."

I could start to see little clouds of steam forming at the ears of Maamaan.

She still refused to understand, saying this was a misunderstanding and she would clear it up with Khaaleh Sanam at once. She walked into the bedroom to use the phone, slamming the door behind her.

Meanwhile, I sat down to eat the rest of the khoresht baademjoon and to catch up with Baabaa joon. It was really good to see him, and even Maamaan, after all this time. What I really missed at this point was to be taken care of a little bit. No matter how good it felt to be independent and all that, sometimes, you just wanted to check out of being an adult and have your parents dote on you. Baabaa had soon cheered me up with his stories and gossip from back home. Artie was enjoying them too.

-- "By the way" I asked "Where are you and Maamaan staying?"

-- "Oh it's okay Naz," replied Artie, "they can stay in Chloe's room."

-- "Why? Where's Chloe?"

-- "Oh that's right, you disappeared on us so you never had a chance to find out: She got some gig in Hawaii or something apparently, so she went on location for a week or so. We tried to call you but you never called back."

I sheepishly admitted that I had tossed my phone out of the car window.

Artie looked at me incredulously.

-- "How are you going to survive without one?"

-- "Oh I don't know" I replied with a smile "I'll figure out something based on my previous 26 years of sans-cell experience."

A sudden noise startled all of us. It was coming from the bedroom where Maamaan was holed up.

-- "Sounds like the Exorcist in there" Artie exclaimed. Then he blushed and turned to my dad:"Oh... No offense meant, Mr..."

My dad and I just laughed it off.

The sounds of a vociferous argument were vibrating through the door.

Finally, the noise died out and Maamaan returned triumphantly from her mission.

-- "Hamoontor ke goftam... It was beeeggg messteak" She announced in English for the benefit of Artie.

-- "Forget it Maamaa, I am not going. Too humiliating!"

-- "Yani chi Nazanin! Paa shoo zood baash bayad jangui berim yek peerhane khoshkel begeerim baraat va..."

(hurry up, we have to go get your dress and...)

She started making plans for all the department stores we would visit, as she lead me out the door by the arm.

-- "But Maamaan!" I pleaded "I don't want to go there like a loser without a date while Hedieh lords it over me because she finally has been able to "khar" someone into marrying her pimply ass..."

As usual, Maamaan "Tsk Tsk"ed any of my objections.

-- "Nazanin! Allaan vaghte she ke be maadarett goosh bedi. Be man goosh bedi, kheyly movafagh mishi. Man 30 saaleh ezdevaaj kardam va to hanouz dahanett boo sheer mideh."

(It's time to listen to your mother. I have 30 years of marriage while you are still as inexperienced as a babe in arms.)

-- "Anee-veyz, I have perrrrfect date forrr you, his name is Mazyar and he is dentist...."

Oh Good Grief! Somebody help me please!


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