My father was born in Iran. He moved to the US when he was eighteen and I came along shortly after that, as my father says, “if I even touch a woman she gets pregnant, it’s a gift, mostly.” Judging from the size and complexity of our family I would say he’s right on the money. My step-mother has said “Freud must have been on to something because Francesco is really similar to your dad,” which is totally creepy. They do have a lot of similarities like an outlandish amount of body hair and both of them put their adjectives after their nouns. Oh, and neither of them can pronounce “th”. My family wasn’t diverse enough with a father who says things like, “yair ent she got ta ded married at eleven I dink,” and, “yair intelligent because of yair persian genes. You make deh mistakes because yair half of deh white, baby,” so I had to also move to a foreign country and marry an Italian guy. I obviously like things to be complicated.
My father visited Iran last week to see our family that still lives there. F and I Skyped with him during a party they were throwing for my father there. My 3,457,689 relatives sat the computer down in a corner and danced for us while taking turns to introduce themselves. They crowded the computer and yelled, “I love you!” “Yair beautiful” and “your dad is beautiful,” while blowing me kisses and waiving maniacally at my husband who tried to take it all in. The meeting our massive family, the belly dancing, and the random shots of alcohol, all at once. But Iranians live under an oppressive regime of Muslim extremists! You say? You’ve clearly not spent much time inside the closed doors of a persian household. Persians know how to party. When my father left Iran a few days later to go back to the USA he stopped in Rome to visit me. F and I picked him up from the Rome Fiumicino airport and brought him to Cassino for dinner at Francesco’s parents house. My dad and them get along well even though F’s parents can’t speak English because they all have the, “I’m old, traditional, and come from a village,” thing in common, mixed with, “look at her being a silly American!” thing. Oh, and the, “I say whatever I think without a filter and then make Francesco translate it for us,” thing. We walked into their apartment. Everyone greeted with kisses. F’s parents luckily remembered that persians kiss 3 times when they greet. Italians only kiss twice. The last time my dad was here, the confusion over the number of cheek kisses resulted in our dads pretty much making out. After the kissing my dad said, “Francesco’s dad looks really old this time.” I took a deep breathe and translated, “my dad is so happy to see everyone!” Francesco’s mother came next to me and said, “Your dad looks fat this time.” I breathed in, shrugged, and changed the subject to dinner. “But he looks OLD!” my dad repeated himself. “He looks FAT! He gained WEIGHT!” F’s mom repeated even louder and pointed menacingly at my dad’s stomach. Finally I turned. “She says you look fat. He says you look old.” Everyone blushed and laughed. I’ll never understand these people.
Francesco’s mom made enough food for a small army. We started with grilled peppers and artichokes, then pasta pomodoro, followed by grilled shrimp and tuna (that my father in law caught himself), and then they ate fresh mozzarella made that afternoon, fruit, and grappa. We drank red wine that my father-in-law made just this year, and bread with hot peppers immersed in olive oil that the father also grew and canned himself. The carbon footprint that these people leave behind is so small, it’s amazing and inspiring. I prefer to eat a vegetarian diet with fish here and there. I’m not good with fish, though. I eat slowly and have a fear that if I swallow a bone IT WILL PUNCTURE MY INSIDES AND MY GUTS WILL FALL OUT AND I WILL DIE OR BECOME MAIMED FOR LIFE. So, I chew slowly, my hand constantly searches my lips for a tiny, prickling thing that my tongue has ejected forward. It pisses everyone the fuck off. “Eat your goddamn food like a normal person!” My father-in-law yelled while sucking on a fish head. “Misty, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU! JUST EAT THE BONE!” My dad chimed in. Francesco giggled. His mom smirked and I screamed, “No, ME DIE! NO ME WANT TO DIE! Leave ME TO BE! Eat your head. Gross, are you!” While I molested my food. And speaking of heads.
Father-in-law: I love heads! I eat lamb heads! SO GOOD!
My dad: I LOVE LAMB HEADS TOO! It’s so good! And the brains! Delicious!
Mother-in-law: She (gesturing to me) doesn’t eat lamb. She says it’s mean. It’s mean. They kill the baby lambs! It’s true. It’s mean.
My dad: Humans are so selfish it’s disgusting. But seriously, lamb head is delicious
Father-in-law: Oh my god, like totally. Like, mmm, love it. Can I get a “BOO-YA!”*
My dad: Raise the roof bitches.*
After they talked about gross stuff for a really long time my dad disapeared and came back with two giant bags of pistachios from Iran and Gaz (candy). “These are pistachios from Iran. They are way better than the stuff you guys have. Italian pistachios suck.” I shook my head and sighed.
We went to bed because we had to wake up at 5 a.m. to take my dad to the airport so he could MISS HIS FLIGHT. But this is already long so I’ll post the other half tomorrow.
*Some of that conversation might have been exaggerated to sound like two teenage girls. Because that’s what they reminded me of.
- Dad, It’s Nice To Meet You, From My Memoir (in the works), The Dichotomy Of Crazy (dirtyfilthythings.wordpress.com)
- Ancient Persian Kings Beyond Classical Points of View (history.answers.com)
- Persian and Urban (1001nightsatbu.wordpress.com)
- Iran’s Supreme Leader runs business empire worth £60bn (independent.co.uk)
- Iran launches first submarine for tourists in Persian Gulf waters (theguardian.com)