My friend Kaveh bought a new house in the suburbs several years ago. Actually, Kaveh’s wife was the mastermind behind the move. It was a tract home in a new subdivision with a large backyard. She fell in love with it the second she set foot in the house.
“If you buy this house for me, I promise that I will never ask for anything else again.” She said. Most married men have heard that line before, and if you believed it, then I have a bridge to sell you!
“I love the backyard. I can plant all kinds of fruit trees like Persian sour cherries, quince (Beh), persimmons (Khormaloo), Persian pomegranates and, this corner here will be my vegetable garden. It is going to be exactly like our house in Shemroon. We used to have chickens running around. Oh god, how I miss those days!” She said.
A few weeks after they moved into the new house, Kaveh called me. “I have been turned into a weekend gardener by my wife! Every Saturday morning she gives me a to-do-list and things to buy from the nursery; Persian this, Persian that. The guys at the nursery haven’t heard of these things. And if I manage to find them, I have to spend the whole weekend digging holes and do the gardening.”
“Congratulations on your promotion to a Baaghboon (gardener) from a handy man! Your career is blossoming!” I laughed. “Women make the best project managers. They are good at assigning tasks to their husbands and keep track of the timelines and the progress. And if they only had access to Microsoft Project software, your updated task plan with all the critical dates would have been put on the refrigerator door daily!”
Kaveh then said, “They used to have a large home in Shemroon with fruit trees and chickens and cats and dogs. She is trying to recreate all of that here. It is driving me crazy! Yesterday my wife and my daughter were talking about getting some chickens so that they can run around the backyard. They have teamed up on me. There is two of them and one of me. I have already lost the battle. They even have a name for the chicken. It is JooJoo! We are going to the Vietnamese farmers’ market on Saturday to buy a little chick.”
“If you get a goat, then I promise that I will come to your house more often! I like the way their beards move when they are chewing something. And their eyes are so kind and passionate!” I teased him. But Kaveh was not amused. I was going to suggest that maybe he should try to have a second child, a son, to even things out at home. But I knew that the whole sex thing was a sore topic for him.
JooJoo arrived with much fanfare. He was a young rooster with shiny black and red feathers. Kaveh tied one of JooJoo’s legs to a long string so he could walk around the backyard without getting lost. In a matter of days the rooster was old enough to jump up and sit on the fence. And then one early morning at around 4 AM, the rooster jumped on the fence and proudly sang, “Ghoo Ghooli Ghoo Ghoo!” He kept singing the same thing for about 10 minutes! Kaveh got up immediately. He woke up his wife and said, “The damn rooster is waking everybody up. What are we going to do about it?”
His wife just said, “Go back to sleep. Don’t worry.”
Kaveh ran downstairs and went to the yard. He told the rooster, “Shhh, be quiet!” JooJoo ignored him completely.
The singing in the morning went on for a few more days before the neighbors started to complain. This was an upscale neighborhood with many soccer moms. A couple of them came to Kaveh’s house and told his wife that the kids are waking up at 4 AM by the rooster and they were very unhappy about it. Ashley’s mom was the pack leader of all the soccer moms in the cul-de-sac. She drove the biggest SUV and always organized activities for the kids. So when she complained about JooJoo’s singing at 4 AM, something had to be done immediately.
As soon as Kaveh came home that evening, his wife started complaining about the rooster. She said that the rooster had to go. ‘What am I supposed to do with him? This was your idea.” Kaveh said. “Why don’t you cut his head off? My dad used to do it. It is really easy. It takes less than a minute and we can have a nice roasted chicken for the weekend.” His wife said.
“Do I look like a butcher to you? I have never killed an animal in my life. I am a manager at an important software company and you want me to slaughter a rooster?”
They were both getting very upset. So Kaveh just grabbed a knife and went to the yard. He held the rooster down, put his knee gently on his body, stretched his neck out and put the knife on it. Kaveh was so nervous that he didn’t realize that he was using the dull side of the knife as he was slowly pushing the knife back and forth.
It was a chaotic scene! Kaveh’s daughter was behind the kitchen window crying, “Mommy, JooJoo, Mommy, JooJoo!” His wife was just issuing instructions, “Make sure that the neck comes out in one piece!” And the poor rooster was in pain, but not hurt, “Ghoo Ghoo Ghoo”, he was screaming, but couldn’t quite finish his sentence. The whole thing lasted only 20 seconds.
Kaveh dropped the knife and shouted, “I am not a butcher. We don’t live in some small village in Iran with cows and sheep running around!”
“Dahaati Khodeti! We lived in a nice villa in Shemroon, not some small village.” His wife protested.
It was all quiet at the dinner table that night and the poor rooster was so traumatized that he did not sing for a few days. On Saturday morning when Kaveh saw Jose, the Mexican landscaper for one of his neighbors, he knew what he had to do. He gave the guy a $10 bill and showed him JooJoo. Jose quickly grabbed him, tied his feet with a string and threw him in his truck. It was all over.
By the time the evening sun set on the west coast, peace and tranquility have been restored to the suburbs; Kaveh’s wife and the soccer moms were united again. Kaveh was no longer called by his neighbors as the I-ran-ian guy with the rooster. Kaveh’s daughter was excited to hear that JooJoo was now living happily in a big Mexican farm with a bunch of chickens and other animals. And Jose’s family was having a delicious Arroz con Pollo for dinner!