Ms. Wisdom Shuts Up
She cries. I ask her what the matter is. She cries harder. She looks really Western today, chic clothes, nice boots, manicured nails, gorgeous loose curls of auburn hair all around her lovely pale face; yet she sounds so Iranian, not just the accent, but what she says sounds so old world to me today. In between sobs and tears and silences where her shoulders shake and her face rests in her wet hands, she talks about the “incident of intimacy,” her words not mine. I try to understand what has her so miserable. So, first I try to find out if she has been hurt in any way. She shakes her head “no.” Relieved, I try to soothe her by saying that things happen. I say it’s natural for things to sometimes progress in a relationship, and that could be O.K. I say that between two free, consenting adults…. She shakes her head “no,” again…. I’m stumped. I keep quiet. I wonder whether she has a cultural difficulty in accepting something considered natural and acceptable in a relationship in these parts. She says: “I was so surprised…,” more sobs. My heart is breaking for my friend, but I don’t even understand the problem to start offering solace. She says: “…after…..he didn’t even walk me to my car. He never called me again... .” What can I say? Break into a tirade against men? Too pathetic and stereotypical, so I won’t do it. Console her by saying that he will call her, thinking of excuses about the man’s abysmal behavior and disappearance? How can I defend something indefensible about a person I have never met? I can’t appease my friend on unfounded hope. I am quiet, but I reach for my sad friend and give her a big hug, holding her in my arms for a long time, rocking her, giving her my silent love and reassurance about her womanhood and dignity. Ms. Wisdom is quiet for a change.