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I watched Navid’s new car pull up into the driveway and disappear into the garage below our townhouse. My heart pounded as I paced around the living room looking for a speck of dirt, a misplaced item. I’d worked all day on making sure our place looked perfect. I was so worried about messing this up. His parents were everything to him and this was the first time they were visiting him here in California. They came to see him graduate and I had no idea how they would react to me in person.
I cracked open the front door and heard them open the trunk amid a flurry of happy conversation in Persian. I wondered if I should go down there and help or wait here at the door and smile. Should I have bottles of water waiting? Maybe I should have put on music.
I definitely should have worn a nicer shirt. I had on a new pair of red shorts and a small white polo shirt. It’s what Navid picked out this morning when I begged him to choose something acceptable for meeting his parents. He’d left early to get to the airport and wait on their flight.
I started to close the door so I could dash upstairs and change, but then I realized that in my pensive state they’d finished gathering items from the car and were headed up! I panicked and left the door ajar as I fled upstairs to the guest bedroom. We would be sleeping in there while his parents took the big room.
The guest bedroom was supposed to be my room since as far as they knew Navid was just giving me a place to stay and taking care of a wayward white boy. Navid and I had spent time decorating it to make it look like I slept in there and moving my clothes and things over to it. He let me pick out some posters for the walls and we gathered pictures of me with other friends and family for a big collage frame. We even got a new blanket and sheets for the bed with a stars and planets theme. I pointed out that I was too old for the look, but he liked them.
We had made a pretty convincing space and it felt like a knife to the chest to separate my life and items from his. I fought hard not to cry when I saw my drawers empty out from “his” room. When he had to dig through the underwear drawer to separate mine and his into two piles, he felt it too. I caught the stunned look in his eyes, but when he saw me watching he made a brave attempt at a smile. I realized this was hurting him too, so I trudged on without complaint.
He’d hidden all of the pictures he had of us in compromising positions including the big canvas print of him holding me in front of the marina that hung over our bed. Our relationship had been scrubbed clean so his parents would feel comfortable here. Navid had brought in the last piece this morning before he’d left, our toothbrushes would stay together, but in the guest bathroom.
Just as I heard their happy voices approach the front door, I made it into the guest bedroom. The voices stopped suddenly, and then they continued in a tone of alarm.
“Noah!” I heard Navid yell. “Noah! What the hell?” He sounded pissed off and I heard a thud as he pushed through the front door. I heard him toss the bags on the living room floor and then heavy footsteps as he ran up the stairs.
“Noah!” His panic widened, but I was still frozen in fear behind the guest bedroom door.
“Noah! Fuck!” I heard his voice inches from me and then saw his head pop into the guest bedroom. He didn’t see me at first, his face was red and his eyes full of terror.
“Hi,” I whispered and Navid jumped back.
He stared into me as his chest heaved with breath. We looked at each other for a moment and then he turned back towards the hallway and called down something to his parents in his language.
“Noah, what the fuck?” He whispered to me and came into the guest bedroom. He closed the door and pushed me against the wall to slide his arms around me and kiss me.
“You scare the fuck out of me. What is wrong with you? I come home and see front door open and no one answer me! I so panic for you! This is not time for game, Noah!” He was calming from the panic of me being in danger but awaking to the anger of me causing his panic.
“I’m sorry! I was waiting by the door and I freaked out and thought maybe I should change my shirt and what if they don’t like me or what if they look at me and decide I am not right for you,” I unleashed a rapid fire of confusing explanation.
Navid’s anger melted into a sad look of understanding.
“I’m know, my love. This make so difficult for you. But they will love you as I love you! You are perfect in all ways. They see this soon, but first they need meet you!!” Navid pulled my arm and led me out of the room. He paused at the top of the staircase and turned to me again.
“You will be ok. I am here,” Navid said and pushed back my hair. He gave me one last soft kiss, careful to not make a smacking noise.
I nodded and followed him down the stairs. His father was sitting on the couch, but rose when he saw us come down. His face lit up bahçelievler escort with a warm smile as he watched me slink in nervously behind his son. He said something to Navid in his language as he looked at me. I recognized him from the video chat I’d seen when Navid was visiting with them in Italy over Christmas break. He was even more handsome in person. I hoped Navid would grow to look like him at that age.
“Noah had stomach problem. He does not feel good before. He needed to run to restroom, but all is ok now… right, Noah?” Navid turned and clapped his hand to my shoulder. I nodded and looked down at his father’s shoes.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you feel better soon, Noah,” Navid’s father said in a light British tone. It was interesting to hear him speak with better English than his son. I remembered Navid telling me that he had studied in England for many years.
“Thank you, Mr. Naseri. I’m better now,” I said in a soft voice. I looked up at him timidly as I rubbed my stomach to corroborate Navid’s story. He was lighter than Navid, but with those same oversized brown eyes and impossibly long lashes his son had. I knew the power those eyes held, they made people do whatever he wanted.
He focused on me with a warm smile that said he sensed I was nervous and on edge. He came towards me and offered a hug to allay my fears. He slid his arms around my waist and lifted me up an inch off the ground as he hugged me against his chest. He had his son’s strength, but his stomach was more filled out than Navid’s shredded, gym-worked frame.
“He’s so thin. Your mother will stuff him with food the moment she sees him,” his father joked and rubbed my hair.
“He does not eat! Doctor tell him same thing! I try and try. Maybe she help him,” Navid joked back.
“He is still just a boy. He will grow when it is time,” his father said and pushed back my bangs.
Navid said something in Persian and they both laughed as they eyed me appraisingly.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Naseri,” I said and bowed my head slightly.
“You as well. I hope my son is providing a good home for you. If he isn’t treating you well, let me know… I have other sons! You look like a very nice boy,” he said and smiled like he meant it. I heard the water running in the downstairs bathroom and knew his mother would be out soon. I felt a nervous wave wash over me again and I looked to Navid with concern.
“She’s coming out!” I whispered to Navid with panic as I smoothed my shirt.
“Don’t worry, Noah,” his father spoke first and put his hand on my shoulder for support. “She left her knives at home. The most she will do is try to feed you to death.” He laughed and pulled me into his side to let me know, to let her know that I was already approved. He was a little taller than Navid and his hold on me was more fatherly, more sure of himself.
I let the warmth of his body and his personality put me at ease. He gave me a tight side hug as the door from the bathroom opened. His mother was shorter than I thought she’d be. She was about my height and looked thinner than she had when I saw her in the video chat. She looked like she could be one of those rich Persian ladies who drove their Mercedes up and down Ventura Boulevard. She had big hair, big jewelry, a simple black dress, and a lot of makeup.
“No-AH!” She said my name like the second syllable surprised her. It was the only thing she said that I understood since her language was not mine. She rattled through some Persian expressions as her arms went out to embrace me. She knocked her husband’s hand off of my shoulder and pulled me into her perfumed aura.
I’d never had much female attention so I didn’t really know what to do as she squeezed the life out of me. She pulled back with a smile that mirrored my own and exclaimed some things in Persian as she pet my cheek and combed her fingers through my light hair.
“She says you are perfect American boy,” Navid began to translate as his mother praised me. “With the light hair and skin just like a boy from movies… But you are so thin… I must not do too good a job to feed you… I starve to keep you prisoner here… she is jokes of course!”
“Tell her thank you. She’s beautiful!” I said with sincerity. As she backed away, Mr. Naseri squeezed my shoulder again.
“I told you, she is harmless,” he said to me with a wink.
“We should go soon!” Navid said suddenly as he thumbed through his phone. We were taking them to an “American” restaurant. I wasn’t sure what that meant. It was a semi-upscale chain place in Warner Center that had locations across the country and served regular food. Navid said his parents had requested it since they ate at one in Dubai a few years before.
He said something to his mother in Persian and she pulled a scarf out of her purse that was speckled with red, white, and blue stars and stripes. It was tasteful, but very American. She held it up bahçeşehir escort for me to see and smiled proudly.
“Ahhh-meh-dee-kuh! Joo-Ess-Ay!” She laughed and adjusted it around her neck. She was very happy to be here.
Navid’s new car was a loaner. Karim had given it to him for half the cost of the lease since Navid was driving around LA doing his business. It was a black luxury car with white leather seats and the latest equipment. Navid’s older sports car, his pride and joy, was parked in Karim’s garage and wouldn’t be seen while his parents were in town. He wanted to show them he was making something of himself, getting established with success here. He didn’t want to go home.
I sat with his mom in the backseat while Navid drove and pointed out interesting places along Ventura Blvd. They all spoke in Persian while I just sat behind him and occasionally caught his stare in the rearview mirror. I offered a happy smile every time his eyes found mine. I was ok.
The restaurant was just starting to get busy, but we only waited a moment while they got a nice corner booth for us. Navid sweet-talked the hostess and told her it was his parents’ dream to come to the US and eat here. She giggled happily and batted her eyelashes as his ray of attention shone on her. The people behind us in line got those buzzing coasters and wandered outside while the hostess showed us to our booth. Persians hate to wait.
Navid and his father translated the menu for his mom, and then did the ordering when the waiter came. He ordered mozzarella sticks and some little chicken tacos to start with while he and his dad tried some fancy beer. His mom had a glass of wine and Navid ordered a lemonade for me. He ordered lots of meat and sides, heavy food, for the main course. Our table was soon filled with plates and we all shared things. His mother kept putting more of everything on my plate and pushing it towards me with an urging smile.
“See what I told you? She feeds everyone! Just eat what you want though. She didn’t make this so she won’t be offended,” Navid’s father told me.
I ate what I could, but I hate that feeling of food sitting in my stomach and we don’t usually eat things that are this heavy. We never went to restaurants like this and even when we got pizza, I would just have a little and some salad to balance it.
I looked at Navid helplessly. I didn’t want to upset anyone when things were going well and his parents seemed to like me. Navid bit his lip and looked at my plate nervously every now and then. I know he wanted to show them that he could take care of me, but he also didn’t want to push me when I was in an already uncomfortable situation. When his mother wasn’t looking, he would steal a forkful of something from my plate and eat it or put it on his.
It felt ridiculous, but I really needed them to like me. I needed their world to accept me. I needed Navid to see that I fit.
We made it through the meal and then Navid and his father argued over who would pay the check. His father had a large wad of bills and he kept trying to slide some of them towards Navid. They argued lightly in Persian until Navid agreed to let him leave a twenty for the tip. For a moment I thought of pulling out my own wallet and offering to pay, but I only had the debit card Navid gave me for emergencies or food on campus. I wasn’t sure how much was on there.
After dinner, we went to a chain coffee place and got everyone drinks. That’s a key to fitting-in in Los Angeles. You should always have a cup of coffee or a bottle of water in your hands. We love to hydrate. If you’re really cool, you’ll have a fancy $10 juice or something homemade in a fancy jar.
I got a hot lemon tea to sip and Navid took us on a night tour of the city lights. We drove up into the hills above Sherman Oaks and then down Mulholland which runs along the many summits of the Hollywood Hills towards the 101.
We stopped at a place on the right side of the road where you can see the whole LA basin with tall glimmering towers. We stopped at a place on the left side of the road where you can see the ordered grid of the San Fernando Valley along with the various movie studios of Burbank and Studio City. Navid had taken me up there many times and he loved to find out the names of the towers and what happened in them. He loved real estate and started pointing towards projects and buildings he was working on promoting or leasing to clients.
By the time we made it home, his parents were ready for bed. Navid changed into pajamas and then went into the room with them to talk. I went to the guest room and played around on my phone to give him some quality time with his family. He came in as I was yawning and settling into bed. He was so happy to have them here with us. He said he was so proud of me and hoped I wasn’t too uncomfortable with them. We got ready for bed together and he held me while he told me the news from back home in Iran. bakırköy escort I fell asleep listening to some story about a cousin who is unhappy with his wife.
I always wake up first, and usually snuggle into Navid’s arms and play quietly on my phone. I was just rousing though when I heard the doorknob turn slowly. I was on Navid’s chest and didn’t awaken to the fact that someone was coming in until I saw the door crack open and his father’s head peak in. Navid was sound asleep and snoring heavily. He has a loud, rhythmic snore that my mind finds comforting for whatever reason.
The bed wasn’t too far from the door since this was the smaller bedroom. In my daze, I just looked up at him as he took in the room. His eyes found mine and I realized what he was seeing. I started to push off of Navid, but he shook his head like he didn’t want to wake up his son. He didn’t seem at all surprised to find his son shirtless and holding a shirtless blonde boy against his chest.
A small smile crossed his lips as though he thought we looked sweet. I was stunned and didn’t know how to react. I was sure my face looked full of fear. I didn’t move.
“Go back to sleep. I didn’t mean to wake you,” his father said to me.
“I’m awake. I was just cold and he’s so… warm,” I tried to sound convincing as though our embrace was borne of necessity or was something I had done without Navid’s knowledge or participation.
“We cannot figure out his coffee machine,” his father responded, again ignoring my compromising state.
“Oh! I’ll come down. Just let me put some clothes on,” I whispered. Navid had one of those expensive machines where you put the little pod in and then it makes a fresh cup of whatever you want. He loved it and it was one of the few things he did in the kitchen.
“Don’t rush! We will survive,” he whispered and laughed. He was completely comfortable with what he saw. Was that just how Middle Eastern culture was? Guys were so comfortable with each other that they even slept in each other’s arms? That couldn’t be it. He closed the door and I gave Navid’s furry chest a light scratch. I was amazed he had slept through all of this just snoring happily.
I went to wiggle out of his arms though and he stirred from his sleep. His body knew when I was on the move and it always woke him.
“Baby what problems?” he said in a foggy yawn.
“Nothing. I’m going to go help your parents with the coffee maker. I hear them moving around,” I whispered and pet his chest soothingly.
“Ok, you very sweet my love. You help me so much,” Navid praised. He closed his eyes and pursed his lips to await my morning kiss. I gave it to him and then got out of bed and found some clothes to pull on. He rolled over onto his stomach and hugged my pillow. His snoring returned within seconds.
I didn’t tell him about his father coming in and finding us like that. I remembered how angry he was back when I told him I thought his father suspected we were together after the video chat over the Christmas break. For him, his parents finding out he loved a boy was the end of the world. He fought so hard for their approval. It was everything to him and I didn’t know how far he’d crack if his armor was ever pierced. It wasn’t like with my father who had figured me out early and worked hard to make sure I was ok with who I was.
I went downstairs to find them holding empty coffee cups and chatting happily. Navid had put out some of the local Persian language newspapers and magazines for them and his mother was thumbing through one. She smiled when she saw me and said something in her language. She held up her coffee cup hopefully as I came towards them.
I showed them how to turn on the machine and wait for it to heat up. I showed her the variety of specialty coffees Navid had ordered for them from the internet. She found one pod and held it up excitedly and said something. Navid’s dad translated that it was a coffee she had loved in Italy. I’m sure Navid had remembered that and gotten it for her. I showed them how to put the pod in and then what buttons to press. Soon enough, she was inhaling the aroma with a big grin as it poured out into her cup.
I took out the box of Persian pastries Navid had bought at the bakery for them. I set it out alongside a bowl of fruit I had cut up. Lastly, I pulled out a plate of cheeses and jams for the pastries. Navid helped me pick out the things they would eat when we went to the store. Our part of LA has so many Persians and Armenians that even the mainstream grocers carry a selection of their preferred items.
His parents picked through the box with delight and I breathed a sigh of relief. I brought them plates and silverware while they chose what they wanted. As they tucked in, I stepped back like a waiter and tried to think of what else they may need.
“Noah, please,” Mr. Naseri said. “Sit, eat. My lazy son won’t be up for awhile. Tell us about your studies.”
I felt my heart pounding again. Conversation was NOT my strong point with strange people from a foreign land. I got a plate for myself and sat across from them. I put some fruit on my plate and a small piece of bread with some almonds baked into it. I popped a grape into my mouth and prepared to be grilled by them.
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