When I arrived at the bar, DR introduced me to his friend, Dan. The two of them had met a few years ago when DR worked at Deloitte. Dan was still employed there, and while I’m usually skeptical of anyone who stays in public accounting for longer than four years, he seemed nice enough. I asked DR where his other friends were, and he said that they would be meeting us at the movie theater. He then confessed that they weren’t really his friends, as he had just met them on Friday night at the bars – talk about a vetting process! Regardless, I was excited to meet more people.
When we met up with DR’s friends outside of the theater, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were of a different nationality. At the risk of sounding like the whitest person in the world, I’ve always wanted to broaden my social circle by incorporating other cultures into my group of friends. Alas, South Bend (and Notre Dame) is not really known for its diversity. LA, on the other hand, is one of the most diverse cities in the United States so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to branch out. I attempted to make small talk with my new friends as everyone purchased their tickets. They introduced themselves to me as Zara, Mena and K-1. At least I thought that I had heard him correctly. After about ten minutes of calling him by the wrong name, he finally corrected me and said, “It’s Kevon, like Kevin.”
I waited at least ten minutes before asking these people where they were from, as I was already daydreaming about future vacations across the world to visit my new friends’ hometowns. I was secretly hoping they would tell me that they were from some small village in Europe, but in unison, they all replied, “Tehran.” Come again? As I previously mentioned, South Bend is not full of diversity, so I had never actually met anyone from Tehran before this evening. Just then, I vaguely recalled DR telling me that he had met a Persian girl at the bar on Friday night, but I didn’t really know where Persia was located. I had once watched an episode of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? called “The Persian Incursion,” but that was several years ago. Besides, my only take away from that episode was that Persians created nice art which that bitch, Carmen Sandiego, attempted to steal. I didn’t actually remember that Persia was part of an ancient kingdom within Iran. Conversely, the only two things that I knew about Tehran were that it was the location of the Iran hostage crisis in the film Argo, and that it was home to former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who presumably loathed the United States).
I became a little uneasy, but I tried to overcompensate for my unfounded anxiety by asking a million random questions, some of which had ulterior motives behind them. For example, in an effort to determine their allegiance to their homeland, I asked each one of them whether they missed Iran and how long they had been living in America. Mena replied that she was a “tourist” and that she had only been visiting for “about 3 or 4 months.” Months?! I’ve only been here three weeks and I already consider myself a Californian. How does someone visit a country for three of four months without being employed or in school? This was not calming my nerves. I also asked my new friends in about twenty different ways if they were enjoying their time in the United States or whether they had plans to return home to Iran in the near future. When I sensed that they were becoming suspicious of my questioning, I threw in curve balls, like, “What’s the weather like this time of year in Iran?” For those of you wondering, Iran, like Indiana, has four distinct seasons.
I decided to cease with my interrogation, and instead, enjoy their company. They were actually quite interesting characters, and I found that the more I got to know them, the better I liked them. Zara’s background was in fashion design, and she was currently designing shoes for her cousin’s company. Although Mena didn’t add much to the conversation, she was very sweet and I was glad that she was enjoying her "visit" to America. In my opinion, Kevon was the most intriguing. He eluded my questions all night about his profession (I still have no idea what he does for a living), and the only piece of personal information that he elected to share with me was that he absolutely hated all animated movies. He followed up this disconcerting statement with the fact that he loved the film, Frozen, which I found quite amusing. Unfortunately, Kevon’s love for Frozen didn’t transfer to The Lego Movie - he was sound sleep within the first twenty minutes of the film. After we woke up Kevon, we continued to converse outside of the theater for about fifteen minutes. During that discussion, Kevon mentioned that he enjoys playing tennis and would like to get together to hit sometime in the upcoming weeks. I wasn’t aware that tennis was a huge sport in Tehran. Nonetheless, I was excited to have a new hitting partner.
At the end of the night, I gave my new friends a hug goodbye, and I was happy that I had gotten to know them. Who knows? Perhaps this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship? Probably not, as I'm fairly certain that they found my cross-examination both annoying and meddlesome. Excuse me for being inquisitive. Going forward, I will try my best to leave any preconceived notions that I might have about future friends' birthplaces at the door. Unless they're from North Korea...I don't care what Dennis Rodman thinks, those guys have some explaining to do!
Update: I met some college friends at a restaurant in West Hollywood tonight (3/18), and the one and only Kevon walked past my table! When we made eye contact, I think it took him a second to place me, but then he continued to walk on by. Well, that friendship was short-lived.