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Cheghadr chaagh shodi!
Most ancient put-down of Iranian ladies

February 4, 2003
The Iranian

I knew it was too good to be true. I should have had my guard up. I should have known better. But once again, I entered the lion's den with a sunny optimism and glowing self-confidence.

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning; 95 degree-temperature in January! For a Canadian transplant, it was simply heaven. Once again, I felt so good about having made the move to California.

I wore a new dress that was feminine, flirty, a real girl's dress. I had bought it shortly after my honeymoon but this was the first occasion when I felt like wearing it. It reflected my cheery disposition at starting this beautiful day.

When my husband and I arrived at the party, my feelings of joy continued. Children were roaming free and laughing. Fresh fruit and gourmet cheese was set out for eager nibblers. "Rengui" Iranian music put a smile on all our faces. I felt so happy and content.

Then of course it happened.

-- "Bah bahÖ Niki KhaanoomÖ Ezdevaaj kheeeeeeeyyyyylllliii behett saakhtehÖ"

I looked up at the "lady" sitting on the couch facing me, who had uttered these words. I hardly knew her but since she was elderly, I always showed the utmost civility. The comment kind of came out of the blue but as a newlywed, I am used to people making nosy comments about my private life such as :"How's married life treating you?", "Is your husband being nice to you?", or "Are you pregnant yet?" It's funny no one would ever think of asking a divorced person: "SoÖ how's divorced life treating you?" Or a single gal: "So, when's the last time you got some?" But I digress.

Now, my knowledge of zaboon-e farsi is limited. But it gets even worse when Iranian ladies talk to me in farsi because they have a sub-language of their own: The language of "neesh" i.e. a snake's nest of double-entendres, subtle put-downs, and double-edged swords as cutting as that ginsu knife set from the late night infomercials.

What the "lady" in question said to me roughly translates as "My my, marriage becomes you." (I think). Dumb-ass that I am, I initially thought well, maybe she is giving me a compliment.

I nodded half-smiling at the "lady" who had uttered what I thought to be charming words to me. She kept nodding at me also, as if she was waiting for an expression on my face to materialize but it never did. So she figured out that I needed the point driven more forcefully. She repeated: "BaaallleehhhÖ Khoob ezdejvaaj behett saakhtehÖ" and then she added the kick to the groin: "Khoob chaagh shodi!"

At what must have been my decrepit facial expression, my nemesis smiled widely with satisfaction. Her job was done and well-done at that. I sighed with admiration at her skill in handling one of the most ancient and famous put-downs of Iranian ladies in the world. "CHEGHADR CHAAGH SHODI!"

It is the most classic, the most cited. It rolls off the tongue of Iranian ladies more poetically than a Shakepearean sonnet. The funniest part is it is always uttered by the fattest blob in the room. My case was no exception. That "lady" had the lardiest ass in the vicinity and she had the gall to comment about my size 8 figure!

Iranian ladies are a real mystery to me. One minute, they are criticizing your fat intake, the next they are trying to shove food in your mouth. (Bokhor bokhor maamaan jaan, bokhor kabaab khoobeh!)

It was really naïve of me to think an Iranian lady could give me a compliment. I mean when is the last time I got a compliment from one of these harpies? It's always criticism. When I was studying, it was "Heyvouni doost pessar balad nisst begeereh." When I went out on a date, "BahÖ Digeh darss marssam tamoom shod, gozaashte kenaar, rafte donbaale pessar baazi!" When I graduated, it was "In hameh darss, taazeh kaaram nemitooneh peyda koneh!" When I started working, "Khob maamaan jaan akheh in hameh zahmat mikhay bekeshi ke zood peer beshi?" On and on and ON AND ONÖ

I went home early that day from the party and put the dress I was so proud of back in the closet. I don't know when I am going to get the nerve to wear it again :o(

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