April 16 “EEE eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee EEEEEEEEEEE eeeeeeeeeeeee EEEEEEEEE eeeeeeeeeeee!”
No, that screeching sound that makes dogs freeze in their tracks, birds fall off their nests, and car windows break into thousands of pieces is not from the legendary Yeti finally descending from his Himalaya mountains to heap destruction on our world. It is what two female humans utter upon sight after not having seen each other for a long time.
My best friend Manny is visiting from New York and we have just spotted each other at LAX airport.
After the “EEeeeeEEEee” sound subsides, it gives way to a rapid staccato rhythm dialogue uttered by Manny and me simulatneously. We are trying to catch up on everything all at once in the space of seconds:
— “Omigod….” — “Naz!!! I can't be…” — “Manny I have so mm…” — “…lieve it final…” — “..uch to tell y…” — “…ly, I'm here…” — “…ou…”
Get the picture?
A few hours later, after luggage is dropped off at home, we are sitting in the very “Eye-ranian” patio of the Starbucks on Hayvenhurst and Ventura: Where else can two gals really do justice to “coffee talk” and at the same time scope out the opposite gender?
Starbucks coffee shops in Hell-Ay are a very interesting phenomenon. They seem to be populated night and day by Iranians, which always makes me wonder when do all these “doctors” find time to see patients? Girls come here overly made-up and in the latest Prada, Gucci or whatever, then proceed to sit down with a pile of books and pretend they are very focused and not noticing the deafening noise and various members of the opposite genders checking them out from afar. Men usually come in packs, maybe 3, 4, 5. They loudly discuss “bee-zee-ness deals” and bray on their cell phones… while of course checking out the overly made-up female student nearby who's got one eyelash pointed to Nietszche's And Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and the other pointed flirtatiously at her potential suitor.
The older male Iranian crowd usually sits inside the Satrbucks and engages in chess or backgammon games for hours on end. Their wives meanwhile are inside the usually adjacent Barnes and Noble, Starbucks cappucino in hand, browsing the shelves and annoying real readers with their loud cell phone conversations (“Maryam joon! Kojayee, pashoo biya inja?”). Oh, and don't think the kids are being left out! They are set free in the kiddie section of the aforementioned Barnes and Noble where they proceed to mercilessly manhandle every toy, book, or gizmo available, to the great annoyance of the other patrons.
If you think I sound bitter, I am not. Over the months I have spent here on the West Coast, I have observed in fascination my compatriots's mating rituals and other social endeavours, not unlike an anthropologist discovering for the first time the secrets of the Maori tribes.
But back to Manny and me.
— “So….” — “Yup…So…” This is like two runners just getting warmed up for their marathon. — “You go first…” — “No you…” Iranian tarof!!! — “Okay, well…”
And it's on. Even though Manny and I have kept in touch all these months through email, and quick phone calls, it just is better to dish in person. So I re-confirm to her that Ali and I are, yes, over. Dating scene? Complete disaster as usual. The Gavin guy, I haven't heard from since Artie's birthday. On-the-Dot Dariush has for the first time broken his on-the-dot schedule of calling me every day at the same time. Actually, he has completely ceased his communication altogether, ever since I saved him from choking on a fishbone at dinner, which makes me feel both relieved and at the same time annoyed: I mean, how ungrateful can you be?
As for Manny, well, the more successful she gets at her job (she does PR for Manhattan's glitziest party spots), the more she hates it.
— “It's all so… PHONY! I hate it, Naz…”
Her music, which she considers her true calling, is getting nowhere, so she has decided to come to the West Coast and browse through her contacts here to see if there is any better opportunities in Tinseltown. That would thrill me to no end, not only because I think she is truly talented musician and singer, but I would get to have my best friend back!
For tonight though, our only plan is to party, party, party…Just like the old times!!!
I usually hate Sunset Boulevard. It is so touristy and plastic, not to mention I feel like an ancient grandmother compared to the young and beautiful 12 year olds hanging out at Miyagi's, Dublin, and all the other hot spots.
And traffic, forget it! I am sorry, but I am done with the whole cruising thing. My idea of fun is not to be stuck beside a two seater car filled with 9 Latino guys with the same gelled back hair, making kissy noises (and other more obscene gestures) at me.
Manny's energy is irrepressible though. And at least, with her, I am not worried about any line-ups or other bothersome things. She just walks her stiletto boots up to the bouncer and plants that smile of hers on him… Bam! We're in!
At 4 a.m., as we are staggering back to the apartment, consumed with giggles over the events of the night, I suddenly feel so melancholy and begin to cry.
— “Naz, what's wrong hon???” Manny quickly sits by me, her comforting arms around me. — “I don't know, Manny joon, sometimes, I feel that… I don't know… Life is passing me by, you know?”
She smiles with understanding.
— “Believe me, I know. But right now, I think you just need to get some sleep okay? We will talk about it in the morning.”