After finishing my freshman year in college with relatively good grades and with much persistence, my parents agreed to let me come back to Tehran for a short summer visit. Before I came, my mother gently reminded me that all those relatives that showed up at Mehrabad with boxes of pistachios when I left Iran will show up again when I arrive in the middle of the night, expecting a decent souvenir! So I’d better get them something! I obliged and filled my suitcases with T-shirts, cassettes and all kinds of other stuff.
I didn’t know if it was the souvenirs or my ten months stay in the US that made me so popular with my friends and relatives. Aside from getting invited to many parties and restaurants, I got the full use of my mother’s car and the companionship of one of my older cousins who had finished college in Tehran and was working.
A few days after my arrival and in the true spirit of Iranian hospitality, my father offered to fix me up with his secretary’s younger sister! Actually, it wasn’t an offer. It was more like an order! I don’t know what it was about the Iranian secretaries of those days, but they all looked great in mini skirts and smelled heavenly. My mom was not at all pleased with the secretary but had accepted it as something that came with the job. I grudgingly accepted the offer and called my date. A few days later, I took her to Chattanooga for lunch. She was totally beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous and turned many heads, but unfortunately at the age of 19 she was way too mature and advanced for me. She probably wanted a man in his 30’s or 40’s, not a college kid. The whole date felt like that I was out with an older sister!
A few days later one of my relatives offered to fix me up with one of his friends’ sisters who was in high school! That was a complete insult. Here I was just back from the US with what I thought was a great romantic experience with a couple of decent looking girlfriends and a few dates in between and other stuff and lots of pictures to prove my case and these folks were trying to set me up with friends and family!
Finally, my cousin came to the rescue and offered to take me out with his buddies for a wild night out in Tehran! I was really curious to know what he had planned for me. His only conditions were that I could never tell anybody anything and secondly, I should bring my picture album with all the pictures of the girls in the dormitory, the girlfriends and others and show them to his friends! I guess that was the price of the admission to their private club!
He picked me up after work and we headed to his friend’s house. His friend quickly took us to the basement away from his parents. The basement was decorated like a bachelor’s pad with stereo system and a cooler full of beers. There was another friend waiting for us there. We had a few beers and I told them about the college life in the US and those kinds of things. But they were more interested in the pictures and wanted to know who was who in the album. So I didn’t disappoint them and made up all kinds of stories about me and the girls. You could tell that they were daydreaming. Not to be outdone by me, they said that a Pakistani doctor lived down the street and during the day his wife was available for some fun and action! Again, in the true spirit of hospitality they offered me a visit to her house later on that week. But I politely said thanks.
We then left the house and drove to a bar in Yusef Abad. There were Iranian cocktail waitresses walking around in skimpy clothes. I asked my cousin what the deal was with the ladies. He said that the girls would talk to us if we buy a Jeton (casino chips) and you can take it from there!
این دخترهای اینجا ژتونین یعنی فیش میخورن
This was definitely the first time that I had seen anything like this in Tehran. After a round of drinks and a few Jeton for the lovely lady we left and promised to be back again.
The next stop was at another friend’s house and another basement! He brought us some beers and then asked me, “My grandpa who lives with us upstairs just got his monthly ration of opium! Would you be interested in some?” I politely said thank you.
جیره تریاک آقا جون
Only in Iran the elderly are entitled to their monthly ration of opium with all the required paperwork and the ID card!
We said goodbye to the friend and headed out to Shemroon on Pahlavi Avenue. The car stereo was blasting with Gilbert O'Sullivan’s Alone Again and the guys were singing along and once in a while would ask me for a translation. All of a sudden the guy who was sitting in the passenger seat told the guy who was driving to stop and pull over! He had spotted a hooker! My cousin had told me how this guy was good at spotting hookers on the streets! According to my cousin, he had a nice girlfriend that liked horseback riding, but she was not into any action of any kind! So they were in this on and off relationship. But more importantly, her father didn’t like him at all and would never allow his daughter to marry him.
The driver pulled over and the guys started arguing about if she was or was not a hooker. My cousin’s friend didn’t listen to anyone and just got out of the car and started running towards the woman. She kept walking as he was talking and then she went inside a drugstore with him in pursuit. We sat in the car for a few minutes wondering what was going on. Finally, I decided to go inside the drugstore and check. I was convinced that the lady was probably hitting him on the head with her purse and somebody would be calling the police. Instead, I saw both of them laughing and joking in front of the make up counter, surrounded by other women waiting to pay the cashier.
He waved at me. I went closer as the girl was laughing. “Faramarz, this is Forooz. I am buying her a red lipstick! What do you think? Faramarz goes to college in the US.”
The whole scene was so unreal. The guy with a big mustache was holding a small tube of lipstick while the few housewives in the line were trying to figure out what was going on.
I went back to the car and told the guys that all was well inside the drugstore! A few minutes later they came out laughing and joking. My cousin quickly told me to let her sit in between us in the back. After she sat in the car, she leaned forward with her head almost in between the guys in the front. My cousin later on told me that when a woman sits like that in a car it is called the “Jendeh Position!” That’s how the hooker gives equal attention to all the passengers in the car!
She then asked all our names again, but she didn’t like any of them. So she gave us new names! She called me Kambiz. I guess I looked like a Kambiz to her! She said that she was madly in love with the famous Iranian actor, Naser Malak Motiei and has been calling his house and sending love letters to him. She then said,” Guys, I don’t want to go to your place right now. I want to have fun. Let’s go to Darband!”
بچه ها من الان خونه برو نیستم، میخوام یک مدتی باهاتون حال کنم. بزن بریم دربند
We got to Darband and went to a nice and very crowded family restaurant. Forooz ordered some Joojeh Kabob and vodka and was having the time of her life, laughing and joking. I was trying to keep a low profile in case a friend or a relative was at the restaurant. Most of the men in the restaurant could tell what the four of us were up to! Once in a while they would take a quick look and smile before their wives could notice.
By the time we were done eating it was past midnight. We got back in the car and the guys started looking for a pay phone to make calls to their friends and see who has an empty house for the night. They also told me what to do and say in case we were stopped by the night police.
As they were making calls from a pay phone I knew that I have had enough fun for one night. Also my parents were up waiting for me. So I grabbed my picture album, hailed a taxi and headed home.
Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again
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