A rewarding (or disappointing) thing about living
abroad is what the experience teaches you.
For example, being an "otar" in Armenia
has taught me that I:
Am a victim of Americanized social studies.
Have a confused sense of the difference between
necessity and excess.
Can shave using cold water, and so on.
This week I learned that I am a homosexual polygamist.
If I've told you more than you wanted to know,
turn the page. Otherwise, let me explain . . .
One of our staff became engaged this week. In
keeping with an Armenian tradition, he brought
to the newsroom "tarosik" (from "taros
dzez", meaning "the same to you").
Tarosik is packets of things - sometimes sweets,
etc. - that a newly engaged hands out to single
friends who he or she wishes to find a mate.
(It was not until after my tarosik experience
that I learned that the tradition is intended
for single Armenian girls - not, certainly, for
middle-aged Irish-American males of questionable
The deal is, the person who receives the tarosik
is to place it under her pillow, and it should
make her see her future husband in her dreams.
Last night (after checking the bed for scorpions),
I put the tarosik under my pillow and drifted
off, hopeful that I would not dream of my mother,
thus subjecting myself to unknown amounts of psychiatric
counseling for damage control.
In case I've not made it clear, allow me a sidebar
in this cultural position paper to say this: Armenian
women are the most beautiful in any world I've
ever spent time in and offer reason why a normal
man should happily spend his days here. I, it
turns out, am not a normal man.
Going to sleep in a city where, everyday, I feel
like a warthog in a paradise of swans, I figured
even my chances were pretty good of scoring
underserved good fortune with a packet of Armenian
tradition as my dream catcher.
Was there a Gayane, an Anahit, an Armine out
there somewhere, needing only the power of the
quasi-voodoo tarosik to reveal her?
No. There was a Pointer and a Red. They are my
two best friends - both of whom I love dearly
but, well, not that way. Besides, Pointer's
Pointer, who can't point because he chopped off
his index finger, and I became pals while he was
recovering from a surgery. Red, who is sort of
black, and I go back to a time when we were both
recovering from something worse than surgery.
In the dream, the three of us were doing what
we used to do before I left their land for this
one: hanging out, playing music, behaving poorly
and generally avoiding, as men do, revealing anything
honest about ourselves to each other. In other
words: Having a great time.
It was as if I'd never left. But it wasn't like
what I'd want in a marriage. Or maybe . . . If
there has to be a "till death do us part"
so far I haven't found other mates who've managed
to be so durable.
Whatever. Having learned that I've probably abused
some revered pagan-esque ritual by putting a girl's
crystal ball of good intention to this bastardized
use, I fear I might have angered the gods of happily
Or maybe, like I said, living as an outsider
in Armenia can teach a person a lot about himself.
It was great to spend time with Pointer and Red,
if only in my dreams. Still, tonight I'm going
to put the tarosik at the foot of my bed and
see if I have any better luck . . .