Elderly Iranian couples are very amusing! They argue, they complain, they talk past each other, but at the end, somehow they get along and rely on each other. I recently took advantage of some down time and paid a visit to my elderly uncle and aunt down south. The interactions between the two of them on the routine, day-to-day chores created some funny moments!
When I arrived, they told me that they were having one of their regular parties on the weekend which always stresses out my aunt. She is the commanding general in charge of the kitchen, the food and everything else that’s related to the parties. She won’t let you help out, but she always complains about the work, the cooking and washing tea glasses. As my uncle sarcastically says, “Whenever there is a party here, the whole house is under martial law and the nightly curfew is in effect for a week!”
My aunt has the list of the things to do and the things to buy that she meticulously follows, and heaven forbid if you offer a slight suggestion or variation! Since the party was taking place a week before their 50 something anniversary, my uncle made an innocent suggestion.
“How about if we buy a cake and surprise the guests with the anniversary announcement!” My aunt immediately shot the whole thing down. “I don’t want it. They are going to ask me how long we have been married and quickly guess how old I am! You know, my parents married me off to you when I was a young, innocent girl! I am not like Monir Khanoom who doesn’t do anything, sleeps till noon and claims that she is 20 years younger than her husband!”
“Well, you were 21 years old when we came for Khastegari. That was not that young back then!” My uncle pushed his luck! “Why don’t you go and clean the garage and make sure that we have all the cleaning stuff for the maids tomorrow!” My aunt cut him off and reminded him that the maids were coming to clean the house the next day.
The next morning I was awakened very early by all the noise that my uncle was making in the house. I came out of the guest room and there they were; the mops, the brooms, the duster, the vacuum, Windex, Pledge and a whole bunch of other cleaning stuff ready for action. My uncle had already got everything ready for a busy morning. I became suspicious when he started cleaning the glass table with Windex! As far as I could remember he never lifted a finger or did any work around the house.
“Why are you cleaning the table? Aren’t the maids coming today?” I asked.
“I just don’t want them to think that we are not very clean and stop coming here. Good help is very hard to come theses days!” He replied.
I could tell that he was very excited about the maids and what lied ahead.
My aunt looked at the clock and just complained about how the maids were always late and then went to the backyard to water her plants. At around 9 or so there was a knock on the door and there walked in the three relatively young maids. Their leader was a nice looking Latin woman in her early 30’s. She was the only one that spoke English. The three of them were just laughing and talking in Spanish as they brought their stuff inside the house. The leader wore jeans and a nice tight top that showed her bra straps.
There is something very sexy about an attractive woman that shows her bra straps. It sends a message to the masculine world, “There is hope for you. There is a chance. There are possibilities. Give it a shot!”
My uncle said a couple of things in his broken Spanish to the maids. The maid were just laughing and giggling and having a good time with his Spanish. My uncle then told them where to start and began following them around the house as they went from one room to another scrubbing, vacuuming and dusting! He was as busy as they were!
I took my laptop outside and sat in the shade. An hour or so later my aunt who was putting a few zucchinis and some mint and basil in her basket asked me if I could go inside and check on my uncle. I went to the kitchen and there they were, my uncle and the three maids on their morning break, laughing and joking as my uncle was serving them 7-Up and juice. It looked like the happy hour at el Cholo Bar without the margaritas and the chips and salsa!
I just laughed and went outside and told my aunt that the maids were on a break and were drinking 7-Up. She got really upset. “The 7-Up is for the guests on Saturday. Why is your uncle doing this to me? Now he has to go to Costco again and get more 7-Ups. But see, whenever your uncle goes to Costco, he buys all these other stuff. The garage is full of stuff from Costco! He says that, “I am an elderly gentleman. I used to have an important position. I can’t just go to Costco and buy one thing! My shopping cart has to be at least half full!”
من آدم متشخصی هستم، برای خودم مقام مهمی داشتم. نمیشه که سبدم خالی باشه
“Well, I have noticed the stacks of paper towels and Tide and other things in your garage. It almost looks like a backup warehouse for Costco! If they run out of merchandize, they can send their customers here!” I tried to humor the situation but my aunt was not amused.
Just before noon, my uncle asked the maids what they wanted for lunch and had the leader write it down for him. He then headed out to the local Taqueria to pick up the taco and the burrito order. When he got back my aunt had already set up three trays with fruits, 7-Up and some chips. The maids took their lunches outside, sat in the shade, ate, talked and laughed!
After lunch, my uncle and I were sitting in the living room watching CNN when I came up with what I thought was a great idea. “Why don’t you ask one of the maids to come here and help out with the chores on Saturday? She can wash the glasses and clean the pots and pans. She’ll make a few bucks and take some leftovers home. That would relieve my aunt from the kitchen and she can enjoy the guests.” Before I could finish my sentence, my uncle was already on his way to discuss the offer with the leader!
He got back all smiles and said that Saturdays would work for her. Then all of a sudden he went quiet and remembered something. He slowly walked outside to get my aunt’s permission for this unauthorized act. I could hear them argue for a while. “Absolutely not! I don’t want anybody in my kitchen. None of the other wives have help when it’s their turn. Why don’t you let me have peace and quiet in the kitchen?”
تو زندگی همین یک دلخوشی رو دارم که تو آشپز خونه بپلکم، اونم میخوای از من بگیری
As a last resort, my uncle came to me and asked if I could mediate so that the maid can come on Saturday. But I knew that it was not going to work. This was as primal as it gets. This was all about the territory, the control and all the fancy things that you read in relationship books. I completely stayed out of this one. I told him to tell the maid that he had made a mistake and the party was next month and he will let her know if they needed help.
My uncle looked like a kid who had just dropped his scoop of ice cream on the ground!
When the maids were done in the early afternoon, he paid their leader and gave her a good tip on the way out. They all laughed and giggled and got into their small car.
Inside the house, my uncle looked at me seriously and said, “I still believe that we should clean the house every week. Would you please talk to your aunt?”