A match between me and my suitor
By Sanaz Salehi
October 11, 2001
"Well you see," says No. 3, "I am after all, ehmm, an
eligible bachelor and when I visit Iran, the girls are... ehmm... all over
I call him "No. 3" because he is the third serious Iranian
suitor I have had. Already, put off by his arrogance and audacity, I am
contemplating whether this game should begin at all. However, maman, khaleh,
et al., are relentlessly on my case, waiting for the match to begin. And
at nights, images of a giant aubergine torshi in a pickle jar haunt me before
I go to bed.
I decide to give in. After all the game only lasts 90 minutes (more like
90 days). I blow the whistle and the match gets under way. The audience
cheers wildly (they include my maman, khaleh and maman bozorg ). I remind
the crowd (to no avail) that the mere fact that No. 3 wears the red, green
and white of our country does not make him a worthy opponent. Secretly,
I wish my opponent is a knight in shining armour, a tactful professional,
an Ali Daei or Ali Karimi. Wishful thinking.
I must explain that I am the referee and player. Call me a control
freak, but I prefer to keep things in perspective. No. 3 is a tactless defence
player. His favourite strategy, which he himself calls "my defence
mechanism", is based on the the need to guard his feelings from those
ruthless forward attackers (Iranian girls), who are out there to get him.
But before you picture No. 3 as a shy, 20-year-old sweetheart resembling
Saeed Kangarani in Daie Jan Napelon, I assure you that he is on the
wrong side of 30, and 12 years older than myself. And no manners. At midnight
he persists on dropping me off on the opposite side of the road, instead
of in front of my door. He is constantly rude; using words such as "khafeh"
and "benaal". So I give him his first warning; a yellow card.
No. 3's tactics are all too predictable. I listen to him rant against
girls who have rejected him in favour of "materialism" and "worldly
possessions". And he goes on about his disappointment at their interest
in designer items and other luxuries. Meanwhile he is oblivious to my Gucci
shoes and handbag.
He lost his previous mating matches not because the girls were cheating.
One had "too many Arab friends", another "went to parties
and even had the audacity to smoke a cigarette in public", and the
third committed the unforgivable crime of being almost 30. Racism, sexism
and ageism rear their ugly heads as the game continues.
No. 3's no better when he leaves his defence position and goes on the
attack,. No roses, not even daffodils, no sweet notes, no wining and dining.
Instead he tries to get physical. But I have my own defensive strategy:
"I do not believe in premarital sexual conduct. No, not even a kiss.
It is completely against what my coach has trained me to do."
In an attempt to impress, Mr. Moneybags (he is actually Mr. Scrooge reborn)
is constantly bragging about his substantial bank account. I have a strong
urge to inform him that his green notes will never buy him what he most
lacks: class, dignity, and integrity.
No. 3's is coached by his maman joon and khahar joon who often sit on
the sidelines and give him directions. Like Chiro's support for our national
team, maman joon comes to her son's rescue when I remark that he had better
make use of his expensive gym or he will start looking like George from
Seinfeld. She defends his looks by insisting that her sister's neighbour's
daughter (who?) adores men with protruding guts. So that's that: Justification
of No.3's beer belly.
Ordinarily, this would not be the norm, but in this match, it is a re-occurring
situation: No. 3 financially supports his immediate family. This is why
the coach does not criticise his player because he pays her rent. God forbid
if this precious player, this star, makes an error! He would not qualify
for the World Cup.
At some point in the game, No. 3 is offside, and I abruptly raise my
flag. He asks for my hand in marriage in a chelokababi over two sikhs of
koobideh. How romantic. When I ask him, why he wants to score and win so
early in the match (we have been tackling each other for only 60 days now),
he makes a vague attempt to show affection and mumbles, "I do like
you." Na baba!
During one of our boring courting rituals, curiosity gets the better
of me, and I ask whether he has ever paid for sex . No. 3's answer: "There
is no difference between sleeping with a prostitute and sleeping with your
wife. In the end you have to pay both of them." I promptly show him
the Red Card and toss him out of the field. Game over. Yours Truly (1) -
No. 3 (0).