I have been in a bad mood for the last seven years. A nasty divorce, bitter custody battles, failed business, bankruptcy, and other dramatic events have taken a toll on my patience. Chasing the American dream has knocked me on my rear end and the man upstairs hasn't been kind either. I basically have no appetite for other people's pains and miseries. I have enough of my own.
My life is like one of them kid-movies that have been circulating out of Iran lately. I have reached my limit of social tolerance and prefer to stay away from people as much as I possibly can; I sincerely can't stand people. My attention span is nowhere to be found and sarcasm has been an effective means of communication. I listen to people talk and all I hear is the sound of the wind generated by the flapping of their mouths.
My ex-wife called the other day. She wanted me to sign more papers prepared by her lawyers. I don't care anymore. I don't even ask; just bring it on. She gave me her typical indifferent attitude and rash of guilt trip. The woman has taken my house, my car, my kid, my savings accounts and everything else, and she still manages to make me feel guilty.
She wanted me to meet her at this trendy coffee shop on New York's Fifth Avenue to sign the papers. This is the place where Iranian Generation Xers get together once a month and read poetry. Then they talk about their cultural mishaps and confusing lives as Iranian-Americans. Girls bitch about their families not letting them experiment with sex and drugs or date Puerto Ricans and guys talk about their confusing ideals and cultural clashes with their American girlfriends. Big fricken deal. Get a life.
I got myself some Prozac and washed it down with three shots of Vodka. I took the subway to Third Avenue — walked two blocks down and entered the coffee shop. You couldn't help but noticing the BMWs parked up front. The Iranians are in the house. The coffee shop was packed with people. I elbowed my way to the back where I found my ex-wife sitting at a table with her boyfriend Kayvan. They were both listening to some skinny guy reading a poem. His poem was in Farsi; but every time he ran out of rhyme, he used an English word. This guy had mesmerized my ex-wife and her boyfriend. They didn't even notice me standing in front of them. I listened to the poem for a few minutes. I couldn't help it. I laughed out laud and yelled, “Hafez is turning in his grave.”
Everyone in the room turned around and looked at me with their eyes wide open. My ex shook her head and said, “I should have known better to ask you to come here.”
The skinny poet stared at me momentarily and said, “How ironic. Now this is what I was talking about in my poem. Persian baby boomers who refuse to accept change and modify their ways.”
I smiled. “First of all,” I said, “I'm not Persian. I'm Iranian and I'm still looking for a country called Persia on the map. I'm not a baby and the only thing booming are my hemorrhoids. I tell you what's ironic. It's my ex-wife and her latte-drinking boyfriend sitting here and listening to your crap while my child is being looked after by some stranger called the babysitter.”
The poet stood up, looked at the crowd and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a fortysomething Persian man who has difficulties adjusting to his environment. This man still thinks his ex-wife is his maid and even though she's not his wife any more, he has problems accepting the fact that she's with someone else. As a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA, I call this PMS or Persian Male Syndrome.”
The poet looked at me and continued, “My friend, you are in America. Women here are not life-long properties of their husbands. You need to let go.” He got a standing ovation from the crowed.
I looked at my ex-wife. She was jumping up and down and clapping. I waited till the crowd was calm and quiet. I walked slowly towards the poet. I stopped five feet away from him and calmly said, “You are wrong; what you have here is not a fortysomething Persian man whose got PMS. What you got yourself here is a fortysomething Iranian man whose going to kick your ass.”
I ran and jumped on him like a wounded animal. I landed a head butt right in his nose followed by an uppercut. The skinny poet made a weak buzzing sound and passed out. All of a sudden, hell broke loose and every body was on top of me. The crowed pulled me off the poet who was horizontally motionless.
A few more punches and kicks were exchanged between me and the angry crowed. The Generation Xers could fight. I was surprised. But they underestimated the shamelessness of a man who has nothing to lose. The fight eventually moved to the street. A few pedestrians and bystanders joined in and it became a full-blown rumble. Everybody was punching everybody. People were bumping into BMWs setting off security alarms. The owners were running around screaming — trying to push people off their cars.
Then I spotted my ex-wife's boyfriend Kayvan. He was running away like an old woman. I ran behind him and tackled him. We both hit the pavement hard. I got on top of him. I grabbed his hair with one hand and slapped him on the face a few times. With each slap, I shouted, “This one is for sleeping with my ex-wife… This one is for telling my kid to call you daddy… This one is for driving my car… This one is for spending my money… “
About forty minutes and a few slaps later, I found myself handcuffed standing in front of the 12th Street police station. I walked up the stairs escorted by two cops. I stepped inside the station and was led to the front desk. The officer in charge looked at me from behind the desk and said, “It's you again. The Iranian Mohammed Ali. I hear you took on the entire dead poet society by yourself this time.”
“I didn't like the poem,” I replied.
“Book his ass.”