As I told you last time, my Iranian dad is hella mazhabi (Trans.: religious). To the point where it’s not even funny. I mean, it’s kind of funny, because it’s just absurd, but it also makes my relationship with him very painful. Most of the disagreements we have seem impossible to solve because, coming from two different worlds, he and I just can’t see eye-to-eye.
I called him to tell him I would be home for Eid/Nowruz. It’s a beloved holiday for us, one of the few things he and I can share without cultural, generational, or ideological complications that plague the rest of our interactions. Telling him of my surprise plans to fly back to L.A. for a few days at the end of March should have been an opportunity for cheerfulness and lighthearted planning.
But we didn’t get to have such a conversation. Instead, after a few pleasantries, a khubi? here and a ghorboonet bream there…
he launched into berating me for what he’d found on my Facebook page.
I’m savvy enough, just barely, to have most of it on private lockdown, but I’ve left my profile pictures public. There are two reasons I didn’t think this was much of a problem, at least as far as my relationship with Baba jan is concerned: (1) I don’t post racy profile pictures (anymore, at least — it’s good to be out of college) and (2) even if I did, Dad doesn’t even understand the concept of the Internet well enough to know whether it’s a dump truck or a series of tubes, let alone to find my Facebook profile. Right?
Well…not exactly. This is the guy who tried to fix my Super Nintendo’s connection to his TV when I was 11 years old by pressing every button on the controller and seeing if the picture had cleared up. Yet somehow, I underestimated him on both fronts mentioned above: he apparently does know how to find my Facebook page, and…
my dad’s idea of a racy profile picture is pretty different from mine.
In one of the pictures, I’m sitting with a big group of friends after a mid-October potluck brunch. In the picture, I’m sitting beside my male — yes, male! — friend; his arm is around me and my hand is in his. He and I are good friends, so this posture felt completely natural and platonic — to me, anyway — at the time.
Clearly disturbed by the sight of this, though, Baba jan goes, “Rast nist ke (it’s not right) I sent you to Islamic school on the weekends when you were a child and now you’re living in Washington, D.C. and posting pictures of yourself holding hands with a guy you’re not married to. You’re hurting me, Julie.”
As he went on to describe how his own pride was at stake should one of his friends see the photo in question and conclude that Agha Reza’s daughter is a jendeh, I had to pull the phone away from my face to keep from laughing right into the receiver.
“I just hope you aren’t like these millions of American girls who have gotten pregnant and killed their babies.”
Just imagine the irony, joonies, or the absurdity; I don’t know what you want to call it, but the main reason I can assure Baba jan that the guy in the picture isn’t my boyfriend, and that I’ve never had either a child or an abortion, is that I’m gay.
I was so taken aback by his line of insinuation that I almost told him right then and there that…
I date women, not men.
But he was clearly in a sensitive state of mind, and from all this guilt-tripping I was starting to enter one, too, so best not to drop the L-bomb on this conversation.
But…seriously, he was asking for it. Maybe next time. And I still haven’t even told him I’ll be home for Eid.
TWEET AT JULIE: @JERSHADI
ghorboonetoon beram elahi boos boos et cetera…
JULIE JOON جولی