If there is one thing that growing up in Iran did not prepare me for, it was how to deal romantically with the women of American type!
You see, in Iran teenage boys and girls don’t mingle that much. My understanding of the romance with the opposite sex came from watching Lando Buzzanca movies, the one girl in our neighborhood who liked boys and dancing cheek-to-cheek at my female cousins’ birthdays with some of their high school classmates (Je T’aime).
There was a girl in our neighborhood who used to brush her long brown hair while standing naked in front of the mirror. One of the neighborhood boys once took a couple of us to the rooftop and told us about her. With her back to the window, she stood naked in front of the mirror and brushed her hair. We just sat there quietly and watched her. I knew that she could see us in the mirror, but she never said anything or covered herself. A couple of years later, whenever her parents were not home, she would let some of us into her house for a brief encounter. But before things could heat up too much, she would kick you out of the house, “Quick! Get out of here! My parents are back!” Totally frustrating!
There were a couple of older guys in our 9th grade class who were repeating the class for the 3rd time. Occasionally, they would share a few experiences with the rest of us. One time, sitting in the back of the class during Religious Studies (Talimaat Dini) they both pulled their things out and showed them to the guys around them. The teacher saw what was going on and kicked them out of school for the rest of the day. The two guys then got on the bus and went to Shahr e No (Tehran’s Mustang Ranch!). The next day they had so many stories to tell us!
When I was leaving Iran, at Mehrabad Airport, one of my classmates, as he was squeezing a box of pistachios into my bag said, “Let me tell you this. When you arrive at your university a blonde and a brunette will great you! American girls are in love with us! Just make sure that you eat a lot of bananas and coconuts to be able to satisfy them!”
Somebody must have got my blonde and brunette by mistake!
By luck, I ended up in a coed dormitory with guys on some floors and girls on the others and a coed cafeteria. Right from the beginning, my two Iranian buddies and I struggled on how to get dates with the girls. Language was definitely a problem, but the biggest problem was what to say and what to do. We just couldn’t see the signals that the girls were sending and couldn’t read the body language. A girl could have hit me on the head, and I would have thought that she was asking for help with her calculus homework!
At the freshman parties some of the American guys were getting all the attention while the three of us were standing around trying to figure out the right approach. One time I got so excited about getting a telephone number from a girl that by the end of the night I completely forgot the number! One of my uncles once gave me a good piece of advice about dating. He said that dating women is like flying pigeons! The more pigeons you have, the more pigeons they bring in!
پسر جون، دختر بازی مثل کفتر بازیه! کفتر کفتر میاره
Then one day, sitting at the cafeteria all by myself and trying to figure out how to eat the Sloppy Joe sandwich, a nice looking blonde said hi and sat at my table. Thank you god! We talked for a little while until I got my courage up and asked her for a date on Saturday night. She quickly agreed. Later on she told me that she liked me because I was so different. Only American girls say things like that. Of course I was different. I came from halfway around the world, couldn’t quite speak the language and had no idea what to do next.
My buddies and I had a bet on who would be the first to get some action. I was so thrilled that I had a shot at winning the bet. On Saturday night before I went on the date they were giving me all kinds of advice on what to do and what to say. It was like Angelo Dundee telling Muhammad Ali how to beat Joe Frazer or Clemenza telling Michael Corleone how to drop the gun after shooting Sollozzo and the police chief!
“After dinner, tell her that you want to show her your picture album. That’s a good excuse to bring her to your room. Then tell her that you are homesick and put your head on her shoulder. Once you are there, slowly kiss her ears. Girls love that!”
“No, no, no. Just try to be cool! Let her make the move. Also remember that some bras open from the front! Don’t pull too hard on the back of the bra!” My other buddy said.
My buddies were going to play poker with a few other Iranian guys but asked me to call them and give them a progress report, no matter how late it was going to be. As a famous philosopher once said, “Sex is about 20% for your own pleasure, and the other 80% is to tell your friends about it!”
I took my date to a local college hangout. After having a pizza and a pitcher of Schlitz we headed back towards the dormitory. My geeky American roommate had already gone home for the weekend, so the coast was clear. I asked my date if she wanted to play backgammon on a fancy set that I had brought from Iran. She said “Sure.”
I taught her how to play backgammon and after playing a set, I came up with a brilliant idea! “Do you want to play strip backgammon? Every time you lose a piece, you take a piece of clothing off!” She just laughed and said yes. Well, after playing for a while and leaving most of my pieces wide open so that she could take them at will, we cut to the chase!
“Why do you press your lips so hard? Let me show you how to do it. Just relax your lips and follow me!” She said it with authority. I guess watching Humphrey Bogart kissing Ingrid Bergman was not much help! It became quite clear after a few minutes that at the age of 19, she was a lot more experienced than I was and knew exactly where everything was!
Once we were done, I couldn’t wait to call my buddies and report back. But I didn’t think that she was planning on leaving any time soon. So I just grabbed the phone.
“Who are you calling?” She asked.
“Oh, my buddies are playing poker. I want to know who is winning!”
I gave the good news to my friend who answered the phone and he shouted it out to the rest of the poker players.
“Doo…Doo…Doo…Doo…Doo, Iran! Doo…Doo…Doo…Doo…Doo, Iran!” They guys were shouting in the background, doing their best imitation of Mammad Booghi!
We dated for a few months, but I just wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. And she just did not grasp my four guiding principals of Friends, Fun (covers dating, but not serious relationship), Football (soccer) and Food (any kind)!
One thing that I truly appreciate about her was that she never said anything about how naive and unprepared I was and how she played along so not to bruise my ego. And for that I am eternally grateful to her.