Friday, August 9, 2013

my big fat persian reunion

DM once told me that he used to think he could only marry an Iranian girl, because no one else would understand the culture and values that he was brought up with. Lucky for me he changed his mind :)

I pointed out to him at the time, and was reminded again during the prodigious Persian powwow this weekend, that, perhaps counterintuitively, there are actually quite a few similarities between his large first- and second-generation immigrant Iranian family, and my large Midwestern family that can trace its roots back to the Mayflower, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and according to my grandma, the Bible ;)

Examples (a.k.a. blunt stereotypes) -

* Strange and delicious idiosyncratic foodstuffs (ground balogna, kashk-e bademjan).

* They say certain words funny (crick, pop, ehstarbucks, lentin). (Speaking of vernacular, have you seen these maps? So funny and so true!)

* They buy a new car every three years (buicks or beemers).

* "The Elders" start asking about grandchildren on your wedding day.

* Coffee/tea any time/all the time.

* Family gatherings revolve around food.

* You're either eating, or planning the next meal. (Seriously.)

* You can't escape without seconds and thirds at any meal, and there's no such thing as "just a little more", or "just a tiny slice."

* There's still a "kids table," and we refer to our parents and grandparents as "the adults" and/or "the grown ups" even though we're in our 30 (and 40s!)

* Vegetarian - what?

          - Our first visit back to Kalamazoo, Michigan (yes, there really is a Kalamazoo!) after I decided to become a vegetarian, we had a backyard BBQ, and my mom wondered aloud if there was anywhere in town you could get veggie burgers (keep in mind this was 1993). One of my uncles replied, "Veggie WHAT? If she were my kid, I'd tell her, 'You're eatin' a hamburger, or you're goin' hungry!'" And every time I'm back, the food conversation goes something like this "Well, you can just pick the meat out, right?"

          - Likewise, the first time I met my inlaws, we made our introductions, and then my future father-in-law announced that we had reservations at the Brazilian BBQ place - yes, one of those places where they have chunks of various varieties of charred animal flesh on human-sized skewers and they carve it off onto your plate two inches from your face. "You're not a vegetarian* or anything like that, are you?" Wellllll, about that... Ha! Luckily, they had a salad on the menu. And family gatherings are exactly like that scene in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where the aunt says, "Oh you're a vegetarian? That's okay. I make lamb!" Actually, this time, with the "kids" more or less running the show, many of whom are vegetarians themselves, there was more than enough for my carb-a-tarian self to eat :)

[*Imagine "vegetarian" spoken with the same disdain as "serial baby killer," or maybe, more accurately, like "fingernail-a-tarian" :)]

* Feminist - what?

          - Reportedly, when I was wee, one of my aunts and uncles came to visit while my aunt was pregnant. My uncle kept referring to the baby as "he" and "him". My dad asked my uncle, "What if it's a girl?" and my uncle said, "Then I'll put it back in till it's done!" (It was a boy, by the way. The first of two. I guess they cooked long enough. On that note, I am SO happy Colby came out three weeks early, before she could grow a penis. :))

          - After five years of marriage, my father-in-law still doesn't quite seem to grasp the fact that I kept my last name. :)

* Gay - Oh it's probably just a phase!

* They don't think they're racist (but they kind of are (referring generally to the elders again)).

* You are somehow related to almost everyone you meet there.

* Growing up, your cousins were some of your best friends, which made it extra weird when the elders suggested you marry them. [Editor's note - This is mostly just the hub's family. I don't actually think anyone in my family suggested marriage, though my mom did tell me a story once that brought new meaning to the term "kissin cousins."]

* You also have lots of "cousins" and "aunts" and "uncles" that don't strictly fit the geneological definition of the title. But someone (Grandma?) knows the entire family tree.

* It takes a whole entire park to host a family reunion.

* It takes an hour to say hello to everyone and two hours to say goodbye.

* Your family is it's own large, high speed communication/gossip network.

This last one is how the conversation came up again recently. DM told me that one of the reasons he decided he didn't necessarily want/need to marry a Persian girl is because nothing is private or secret, ever.

Oops. :)

But before you start feeling too sorry for the guy - please note - he isn't exactly a vault. In "real life," I'm actually way more private than he is. Or at least, I used to be. Something about pooping on the delivery table really brings down those walls. :)

Exhibit A: DM drops this into the conversation: "Oh, So-and-So and Whatshisnuts were totally surprised to find out you had fake boobs so I guess the doctor did a good job." Me: "Hmmm. And how did they "find out" that I have "fake boobs", as you so eloquently put it?" DM: "Uhh, I maybe might have sort of told them?" (Not that it's a secret. Obviously. But still.) Also. Ahem. You guess they did a good job? ;) (If you are just finding this out for the first time - Surprise! I did not, in fact, sprout C-cups at 18.)

Exhibit B: Years ago, when asked by a friend (who was a fairly new friend at the time) why we were late to a gathering, DM replied "Well, Mack was taking a pregnancy test. But it was negative. Phew! High five! Let's do shots!"

On a side note, DM said to me the other day, "If you don't want me to read your blog, I won't." I was like, "What? That's ridiculous. If you said you were going to have a secret blog I couldn't read I would divorce you. [Though, in the "old days," I guess, "secret blog your wife can't read" was called "male friends."] Anyway, no, that's dumb, of course you can read it. I'm not saying anything on there I that I don't already say to your face." Also, I can pretty much guarantee you that he does not read beyond the third paragraph of anything I write (kind of like me with voicemails) so I'll just save the good stuff until the end :)


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