Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kolbeh and Persian Party People

I’m Irish. My aunt, Molly McCloskey, moved to Ireland in her early twenties and never came back. She still lives there. She even has an accent and says things like “bloak” and “blarney.” My entire extended family likes to drink so much that many of my aunts and uncles now attend regular AA meetings. My grandparents have “happies” every day at the strike of 5pm, happy hour, and they usually dole out cocktails to friends and neighbors well into the night. Our annual gatherings are big and loud and involve card games, occasional gambling, vodka, and uncontrollable, belly-aching snorts and giggles.

Point? Irish folks love to party.

On Saturday night, though, I learned they don’t like to party nearly as much as Persians do.

It’s one of those evenings that only July knows. The air is hot and arid and smells like freshly watered grass sprinkled with efflorescence. I pull up to Kolbeh, a Persian restaurant in Lake Oswego, just as the tree-lined horizon meets the last few minutes of sunset. I’m bedecked in a new shirt and a bright blonde hairdo, and although I’m not sure whether to wear flats or heels, I decide on stilettos because I’m sure the event won’t require too much standing or dancing. It’s an engagement celebration, not a college frat party.


When the belly dancer shows up half-naked and barefoot, and the lights dim and the disco ball starts spinning, I realize I’ve never been more off the mark.

The groom’s father hands drink ticket after drink ticket to each of the 200 guests as they walk in the door, hugging and kissing them on both cheeks—regardless of whether or not he’s met them—before chuckling, purely and happily and loudly. I decide it’s simply the chuckle of a nervous yet blissful Persian man whose son is about to get married.

I order wine and Aubrey sips vodka sodas while we catch up with old friends and watch Aubrey’s sister, the bride, dance with her soon-to-be family members who stuff dollar bills in the belly dancer’s bra.

“I want to be Persian!” I whine over the music. “Why haven’t my parents ever thought to order a belly dancer?” It seems like such an obvious thing to do. My head bounces awkwardly along with the drums and keyboards, my eyes closed.

Aubrey nods sympathetically while scanning the scene, but then she smiles, knowing this is what comes with the territory when acquiring a Persian brother-in-law. Her family functions may be this way forever.

Hopefully she’ll invite me to more of them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Congratulations, Mrs. Georgia Hastings

On July 10, my friend Georgia married the man of her dreams: her college sweetheart, Eric. (Remember the wedding that I’m taking full responsibility for? Because the bride and groom met at my 20th birthday party? This is the one.)

She said her vows in a gorgeous field at Pumpkin Ridge golf course, a fitting venue, as Eric is an avid golfer. (He played for the University of Oregon and now works for Nike Golf.) The temperature hit 95 degrees that day, and later when I was asked whether Eric cried at the ceremony, I replied: “I don’t know. He just looked really sweaty.”

Beads dripped down Eric’s cheeks while the late-afternoon sun drenched his dark suit. (Yesterday, at lunch, Georgia confirmed these were drips of tears, not sweat.) The sun kissed Georgia’s skin but didn’t cause her to perspire. She looked cool and confident, ready to embark on life’s next adventure, to become part of a new little family made up of husband and wife.

At the reception, we had our choice of fish, chicken or steak along with drink after drink from the bar. We danced and ate delectable cake under a cool, crisp tent, listened to touching speeches from Eric's brothers and Georgia's maids of honor, and watched Georgia and Eric dance their first dance.

Unaware that the bridesmaids would wear black dresses and pearls (note the girls on the left in the photo below), I donned my best black dress and prettiest pearl necklace.

When it was time to send the newlyweds off, we formed a tunnel and twirled white sparklers as they ran by.

(Oh, and as for the bouquet? Georgia tossed it over her shoulder toward a very large group of single women, and it just so happened to float gently into my hands.)

(Don't let Jeff tell you otherwise.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Belated 4th of July!

I wish I had time to tell you about my long weekend, but I'm busier than ever. This week I've been focused on copy deadlines, weddings, and half-marathon training. (I'm up to 4.08 miles in 30 minutes!) (In fact, I've learned a lot from my self-training, the most important lesson being to avoid running in 97 degree heat, even if the alternative is sitting on the couch and eating potato chips. Near-fainting just isn't worth it.)

I'll see you back on the blogging scene soon. And Portlanders, stay hydrated!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Am Writer. Hear Me Roar.

I never thought having a friend in hotel marketing would pay off. But last Friday? It did. I met him for a meeting in San Francisco; he wanted to discuss a “business opportunity.” (And yes, I was in San Francisco. Again. For the second time this month.)

We met at one of his hotels on Union Square, where herds of tourists were checking in for the weekend and flocks of businessmen were checking out after a week of work-related travel. My friend told me his marketing department was in the process of revamping his hotels’ websites, and he needed someone to rewrite the copy for eleven of them.

He asked me to do it.

I like to think it’s because I’m a good writer, but maybe it's because I’m the only writer he knows. Most likely it’s because I’m young enough—and bright-eyed and eager and stupid enough—to do it for less than a fortune. In fact, when I named my price? He suggested the company pay me $200 more.

(Lesson learned. Shoot high!)

I’m no veteran. Hell, I’ve never been asked my going rate. So when I sat down this week to start writing, I felt the pressure. Suddenly I was more than just a college kid worth five cents per word (or a magazine freelancer, willing to write for an African American book for free); I was a professional! My first task was to write a copy block about the experience a businessman might have while visiting one of my friends' extended-stay hotels; it will be featured on a main page somewhere. After studying brand objectives and flipping through PowerPoints and Word documents given to me at the meeting, I worked all night. There’s lots more to do, so I’ll be extra busy this holiday weekend! (Unless the sun comes out, in which case I'll put it off until Tuesday. Obviously.)