Let me introduce myself: I’m a sports-car-driving, cellphone-carrying, club-hopping, chauvinist pig. I’m no doctor but I am a telecommunications engineer. I’m also an Iranian man. So fasten your “longs” (public bath towels) and get ready for a real good “leef” (scrub).
Until three years ago I knew only a few Iranians, all male, except for one tiny, ugly, girl with a big fat butt and an I’m-the-most-beautiful-girl-on-earth attitude. Then I slipped into the Iranian community in Zurich and, to my surprise, had a few Iranian girlfriends. So I know what I’m talking about.
The questions Iranian girls ask you when they first meet you are always the same: age, level of education, number of years outside Iran, and marital status. If you’re married or engaged or ugly, you’re history. If not, the next question is: why are you still single? If you don’t have an answer that fits perfectly into their Euro-Iranian mentality, you’re stamped as an “ayyaash” (reveller) and their beautiful “najib” (chaste) sister in Iran goes down the waterline.
But if you’re naive enough to admit that you haven’t yet found the right one, sooner or later you get a lecture about a beautiful sister or an educated cousin who in no way is willing to get married but MIGHT consider it if you go on your knees and read Hafez to her. Well, if you can’t read Hafez, having a good salary would do.
Let’s face it: A mobile-phone-carrying, disco-going chauvinist who has pigged around in a foreign country for two decades is not a match for a “cheshm-o-goosh basteh” (eyes-and-ears-closed) sister in Iran or a “najib” cousin in Sweden. (But let this be our little secret: Their eyes and ears might well be closed, but be sure there’s been traffic through other cavities.)
Those are the simple cases. The tough ones are the girls in their mid-thirties — the “torshideh” (pickled) ones — who have left Iran for political reasons. And don’t you dare thinking they’ve left in biological panic to fish for a sports-car-driving engineer or a cell-phone-carrying chauvinist pig. For some strange reason they try to present themselves as both “khaaki” (down to earth) and intellectual at the same time. They can discuss the disadvantages of neofederalism and tell you a few dirty jokes in between. They are fans of Shahram Nazeri and Shahram K at the same time. They believe in God but you can use their mini-skirt as a pouchet.
There’s nothing in this world that’s more important to the “torshidehs” than their studies. Their job is holier than their three pounds of make up and hair spray. But the very next day they would give up their studies and job — and friends on top of it — if you promise to marry them. They value independence but want to stay the sweat little girl for “baabaa maamaan.”
Loving an Iranian girl? How can you possibly love a girl when you know that her whole life is driven by her biological clock, and it doesn’t make a damn difference to her who you are but WHAT you are? How can you say “yes” to a girl when you know an I-don’t-know-whether-I’m-American-or-Iranian girl will be a lousy mother to your kids? And why don’t they understand that “I’m not going to marry” does not mean “I’m not going to marry at all” but “I’m not going to marry YOU”? And why are you introduced to their friends and family as their “naamzad” (fiance)?
The interesting part of all this is the Cold War between the “torshideh” army and your sister’s Liberation Front for Single Brothers. The liberation frontiers stick to cultural values and advise you not to show up in public with a “torshideh” soldier; it could ruin your image and she’s not the right one for you anyway. The others are ready to jump out their bunkers and call you “ommol” (bum) if you consider marrying one of those cousins or sisters. And don’t think you can get out of this war by turning up with a non-Iranian girlfriend; they just don’t take the foreign girls seriously.
This all might sound familiar to you if you’re a club-hopping pig. But I have an extra problem too. I’m going to uncover three personal secrets here: First, I have a Persian radio program and almost every Iranian here knows me. Not me as a person but my voice. There are some Iranian girls who think they’re in love with me. Actually they’re in love with my voice, and I let them — after all it fits my chauvinist pighood. But the truth is, I sound like a sheep in a washing machine. When I moderate a program, I use the equalizer to make my voice sound warm. In fact, I can make any voice sound good if I equalize it with my mixer. Imagine how “aabaki” (shallow) their love is, when they fall for a voice that’s not even real.
And how do I know about these admirers? Here comes the second secret: I get private phone calls from female listeners almost every day. I don’t want to get into details of the wide range of subjects they talk about, just this much that it goes from love poems to questions about the length and shape of my dingdong. What the poor creatures don’t know, is that I have an ISDN computer line at home which is not very common here in Switzerland, and the caller ID is a default ISDN service. That means I see who’s calling me.
I have never experienced anything as fascinating as these phone calls. They think they’re anonymous and I know exactly who they are. I usually ask the operator who the number belongs to and then ask the few sources I have who know every Iranian in Switzerland and get a “shajarehnaameh” (dossier) of the caller. Some of the callers are married and I guess they’re just bored. They pretend to be interested in me and want to meet me. The single ones talk about having a serious relationship but give me a false name from the beginning. And while they’re telling their lies I wonder from which comic book they’ve jumped out.
Iranian boys with obscene Persian vocabulary are at least honest. They’re rude but what they say is what they feel. My false “anonymous” lovers are a bunch of liars. Once I saw one of them at a Shojaee concert. A few hours prior to that she was throwing a lot of “qorboon sadaqeh” (affection) at my private parts on the phone, and at the concert she wouldn’t even say hello. I was very close to tapping on her shoulder and telling her that she’s not as anonymous as she thinks. How can one love these girls? Loving an Iranian man might be a war of conquest but loving an Iranian girl is pure suicide.
And here’s the third secret: I’m in love with my cousin and I’d do anything to make her marry me.