in iran, the weekend begins on thursday night and lasts through friday. you've got approximately 24-hours to make the best of it and for me and the cousins this weekend it meant a slumber party, persian style.
all of us have gathered, at one point or another, with our little friends and had our sweet little sleep-overs replete with rented movies, board games, pranks phone calls, and the junkiest of junk food. but they were only whispers of a slumber party compared to how it's done over here.
first of all, no need to invite any friends, they already come built-in as cousins (in my case there are 6 of them, ranging from 15-30). and where else would we all crash but at auntie's house? done.
next, comes the entertainment. sure, people in iran love dvds (they usually have the same bootlegs of current hollywood blockbusters that you would find on the streets of new york, plus a VAST collection of bollywood favorites), and we could sit around and gossip all night (no one does it quite like persians do), but oh, my dear readers, there is SO much more to be done!
for us it began with an improptu dance party, though not the kind you're thinking of. in this case, someone throws on a cd (usually some persian pop) and the bravest takes the floor, rolling his hips and twisting his hands in the air, as the rest of us, in a circle around the room, clap and hoot to the beat. the most savory part is when someone grabs hold of the shyest of the bunch and mercilessly drags them into the center to dance (this is usually me).
we transition with improv comedy courtesy of the most rascaly cousins, who, with unbelievable precision, imitate our ridiculous distant relatives, sending us all into a tizzy of laughter.
as the night drags on, a deck of cards (which are “illegal”, by the way) eventually materializes and we once again circle up to play one or all of three games: 21, the animal game (heyvoon bahzee), or bonjour madam (salaam bibi). 21 is pretty much blackjack infused with smack-talking, alliances, and cheating. the other two are a bit more complicated, so I’ll cover only my favorite, the animal game.
players select an animal sound that for the rest of the game is associated only with them. for instance: i am out-muscled by my cousin to be the donkey of the bunch, I have to settle for being a sheep, so my sound is “baaaaaah.” The deck is distributed evenly and one-by-one we flip cards over in front of us. at some point, your card will match another’s in the circle and the goal is to imitate the other player’s animal before they get yours. a simple “baaah” or “meow,” in our desperate haste to be first, winds up a frenzied barrage of noises that no earthly animal would ever produce. in other words, it’s hilarious. for my family, it’s a full-body-contact sport as each person flails wildly and lunges across the floor at her opponent in an attempt to, if not conjure the appropriate animal sound, then at least to shock the other player into forgetfulness. man, i love the animal game.
aside from the fun-making, food also features prominently in the night. forget pizza and popcorn. we have tokhmeh (sunflower seeds), shirini (persian pastries), pohfak (cheese puffs), dried sour cherries, and lots and LOTS of tea.
at the end of it all, we lay out blankets and huddle together on the floor (boys and girls in separate rooms, of course) talking and giggling into the early morning hours and as we drift to sleep we are sound in the knowledge that we have made the best of our one weekend night, slumber partying like persian rock stars. ;)