International Writers Magazine:
On the way to
Iran, John M. Edwards wonders if they play Uncle Wiggly in Tehran
Once I met this
rather good-looking and plucky Swiss adventurer who repeatedly kept
trying to convince me to travel to Iran. He said he was treated
very well there, and that as an American (like myself), who had
pretty much traveled everywhere on the planet, that they might in
fact actually be interested in meeting me. He said, in so many words,
Jah, of course dey party, but then paused with an appraising
look and suggested that I get my haircut first.
What if I
tied my hair back into a ponytail? I responded glumly.
It is just not polite, was his unsatisfactory explanation.
Hey, can you drink and stuff there? I asked hopefully,
carefully looking over his shoulder and hoping nobody was listening
Uh, alcohol? I think there are some discreet establishments.
Anyway, seized by the powerful provocative
mythos of Ancient Persia, I came this close to actually going. Im
sorry, but its almost impossible to sustain pretending to be Canadian
abroad that long while playing The Pathfinder.
I thought it indeed lame that the two American drecks, with overt personality
disorders, lying on the deck of the Mediterranean cargo ship we were
on, had actually had the audacity to sew Maple Leaf patches on their
Ah, you ask where we were heading on this
Mediterranean cargo ship under a crisp cobalt sky punctuated by a spiky
red sun seemingly bound for nowhere? That would be telling.
Come on, Im a proud American citizen.
Even my blood is red, white, and blue. Although Id love to down
nice cold cokes, or its domestic imitation equivalent, in a souk somewhere
with a bearded gentlemen in rapture, fiddling with Parchesi pieces amidst
the ululating whine of the muezzin, in the back of my mind I would ultimately
wonder whether I could land upon a private party of gorgeous veiled
women shyly flitting about like harem flies.
My face a Grand Vizier mask, breath redolent
of the heady incense of frankenberry and myrr, I would think about Barbara
Eden from I Dream of Jeannie, and, that étrange made-for-TV
movie she was in, where she is a painter canvassing an alien landscape
and speaking in tongues, ready, with one greasy rub of the bottle, to
instruct me in the art of Oriental angle bumpybefore the dream
fades and the suddenly grim-faced locals flat-out find out Im
I dropped a couple travel-pack-sized Alka
Seltzer discs into my water bottle, which dissolved like Hamurabi Code
tablets in the strained sunshine. My caravanserai gaming partners
vaguely alert expression would suddenly shift to anger flash. He now
looks as vain and cruel as the sandblasted visage of Ozymandius.
So you are American, are you, and what
are you doing here, and what do you think of your mean president Mr.
George Bush the second? my private bodyguard and energetic translator
might have whispered what he had just said in an otherworldly dialect
Uh, Im vacationing here,
I guess was always in the end the best response.
Anyway, Alexander the Great dug it.
Edwards May 2008
Editor's note: PS: Go see Persian soon before Hilary 'obliterates it'.
Bio: John M. Edwards has traveled worldwidely (five continents plus).
His work has appeared in such magazines as CNN Traveller, Missouri Review,
Salon.com, Grand Tour, Islands, Escape, Endless Vacation, Literal Latté,
Coffee Journal, Artdirect, Verge, Slab, Stellar, BootsnAll, Hack Writers,
Poetry Motel, Richmond Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Michigan Quarterly
Review, and North American Review. He recently won a NATJA (North American
Travel Journalists Association) Award and a Solas Award. His travel
zine, Unpleasant Vacations, went belly up. He lives in a loft in New
York City, nicknamed the time capsule. His future bestsellers,
Move and Fluid Borders, have not been released yet.
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