One of the biggest compliments an Iranian can give regarding someone’s physical appearance is this: “Boo-reh.” As in, he or she has blond hair. Or a fair skin tone.
The term “blond” is used rather loosely here. It can run the gamut from Nicole Kidman level of fairness to Penelope Cruz level of fairness. (Why I chose two former Tom Cruise flames, I have no idea.)
Wait a second, you’re thinking. Penelope Cruz isn’t blond! Or fair! Well, sometimes she gets highlights. And even those count as blondness in the Iranian realm of “boor.”
Iranians are obsessed with blonds. Italians are a bit better, but not by much.
A and I are by no means strangers to this phenomenon. Before we were married, everyone we dated was blond. Before I met A (definitely a brunette), I was pretty sure that my husband would be 6’0”-6’3” tall, blond, with green or blue eyes. Our children would have brown hair and green eyes.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my sister and I learned to speak English by watching CHIPS. While everyone drooled over Panch’s tall, dark, and handsome looks, we were completely in love with John’s floppy golden hair. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with Stefan Edberg and Darien Hatcher, two athletes who are as blond as you can get. A Swedish flag adorned my school binder, and I even convinced myself that I loved Wasa crackers (aka tree bark).
So far, P doesn’t seem to be immune to this infatuation with blondness. When she was a little over six months old, we took her to a bar in the middle of the day to watch a World Cup game (get all the judgments out of your system now). We were sitting next to a blond woman, who was also watching the game. Most of the 90-minute game was spent trying to pry P off the poor woman, who was being subjected to aggressive caressing by a six-month old. Time and again, P would start attacking the woman’s hair.
Has she inherited our fascination with blondies? It’s very little evidence to go on, but interesting to note nonetheless.
Once in a while, when we’re outside and the sunlight is hitting her at just the right angle, P’s brown hair shimmers with shades of red, undoubtedly inherited from A, who had white blond hair as a baby. And when I see P in those moments, I think to myself, “Boo-reh.”