One of the most defining moments in a teenager's life is when her father tells her, “Honey, I think I found the car for you!”
I remember it all so very clearly: my eyes lit up as we drove together to a very nice and tidy Lexus dealership where all the cars look like a tall glass of doogh in the middle of the desert. I saw my dream machine, the $62,000 hardtop convertible, and I asked whether we were close to it.
No, my father nodded.
We kept on walking further into the lot and when we reached the SUVs. I said, “Are these what you had in mind daddy?!”
No, he nodded again.
And we walked on. I was a college kid on a mission and I walked like a soldier, ready to claim my new territory. About what seemed like ten miles into the lot, I saw IT standing before me. It wasn't gold, shiny and new like I had expected it to be. It wasn't even a Lexus. The $1,890 Honda Civic looked homeless and tattered. No thanks! I ran out of there as fast as I could.
Next, we went down to check out Hyundai SUVs and all I could think as I was test driving was, “If I put another couple of thousand bucks on this, I could get a new VW Jetta.”
I drove back to the dealership as fast as my shitty engine would take me and we went next door to Volkswagon. Yay! What cute cars. But, deep inside my heart, I knew I would never be content with this second-class car as long as there was a BMW out there with my name on it. What more could it cost me? A couple of thousand?
But wait a second, I thought to myself. A BMW will not state my individuality. It will only label me as a Persian-wannabe. I know! A Benz is the car for me! What's an extra couple of thousand on the BMW? Nothing, right?
And so we were introduced into a new level of car dealershipping. The kind of place where Iranian men with names like Michael and Bobby bring you cold sodas while you wait on credit reports and other insignificant technicalities.
“Madam, if you want to purchase this car on finance,” He told me, never pronouncing my name right even though I knew his garlicky breath proved his heritage, “You'll need an extra… $700 a month!”
My eyes nearly popped out of my head, “Ohhh really?” I said, getting up to shake his hairy hand, “Then I will be back tomorrow to sign the deal.”
And I went off to secure my purchase. I had the perfect plan.
Picking up the phone, I dialed the 818 number, knowing that this was the answer to my problems. I had watched the program many many times, laughing and getting angry every night as people would call to tell the host that they couldn't pay the rent or that their bad checks had bounced or that their husbands were in jail on drug offenses or that all they needed was money and help from caring and heartbroken “Ghorbat-nesheens”.
I thought to myself, hey, I'm a good girl. I go about my business and study and help out the local gedaa on the street corner. I am a good candidate for the “Help Your Hamvatans” program on the local Iranian TV station. So I called.
“Hi, I am eighteen-years old and I love my country and there are so many selfish people who call in and ask for dumb things like house payments. I go to school, and I study because one day I plan on entering the world of politics. When I do, I know you will all be kissing up to me and wishing you had helped me way back when. So, can you please help me raise money for something really important? I want a shiny silver Benz!”
They thanked me for my call and took down my phone number.
No one has called back.
You know how the saying goes, “Don't call us, we'll call you..”
“Taa vaghti komak koni, we like you. Vaghti komak bekhaay, we don't know you anymore…”