I was wandering around aimlessly last night when my friend Esphawnee called to invite me and Ben N. to an Esphawnee family dinner celebrating his sister's birthday.
For the uninitiated, let me explain: Esfehan was Iran's ancient capital, and they still haven't gotten over it. They have beautiful buildings, and the people are known for being light-skinned and sneaky. Esphawnee Jews are known for being extra-sneaky.
Stepping into an Esphawnee household is like entering an alternate universe; the last are first, and the world turns upside-down. The very adjective "Esphawnee" - a grave insult in a Hamedooni home like mine - becomes the highest compliment.
Needless to say, after 8 years of friendship, meeting Esphawnee's family was an encounter of Dickensian proportion. Meeting his dad, whom I've quoted on this blog, was epic: completely bald, yet arguably the best-looking man I have ever seen, with piercing, baby-blue eyes.
For the birthday cake ceremony, after singing the song in English and Persian, the entire family produced a deafening hum that grew louder and louder over the course of five minutes, ending with an uncle smearing a healthy dollop of chocolate frosting on the birthday girl's nose. Apparently this was something they did all the time. It was all really cute, I felt like Margaret Meade.
As for Esphawnee's sister, well, I shouldn't say too much; it was only her 18th birthday. But you can imagine...quite pretty. My favorite part was that she wore a t-shirt, black tights and ballet slippers, with everyone else in coats and ties. And she sat on her brother's lap for all of tea, attentively listening to him go on about the pitfalls of adjustable-rate commercial mortgages.