(As I write this piece this evening with my itchy fingers at their worst longing, I wonder whether my younger son, The Traveler, would object to my telling you about it. If you are reading this, it means that he has given me his permission.) My children were growing up in Tehran, two of millions of their baby boomer generation, learning to negotiate their way in the Iranian society, dodging and avoiding the tightly enforced laws governing social behavior of all, and particularly of the opposite sex together. He was 12 and in sixth grade (Avval-e Rahnamaee). I had started noticing that he is chatting with someone on Yahoo. And he had started receiving telephone calls from this girl. He had also started to become self-conscious about his appearance, and would take hours sometimes getting dressed. I asked him casually one time about the girl’s name and what grade she was, and he said she is the same age and same grade. Another time I asked him if she was pretty, and he said he had never met her! I asked him how he had come to know her then, and I was astounded when he said that one time he and his friends were walking by a girls school bus after school, and faced with the excitement of the girls inside paying attention to them, the boys had all thrown their scribbled phone numbers into the school bus, each of them receiving phone calls the next day! To my way of thinking, a girl his age knew more about many things, on a faster track to puberty and adulthood, as young girls invariably are as compared to young boys. Looking at my skinny son with that smooth skin and not a hair in sight on his face, I was worried but never said anything, just keeping an eye on the situation. One time he said that he had made a date with her in Darband (the outskirts of Damavand, where people went mountain climbing in Tehran). He said that she was going to come with several of her friends, and he was going to join them. The image of a bunch of 12-year-old girls whose potential collective jokes and comments could be lethal to any male “joining” them, with my scrawny son in the middle of them, left me worried for him, but other than some general remarks about this, I kept quiet. Then he said the date had been cancelled. Phew, I was relieved! The instant messaging and telephone calls continued. One day right after the summer break started, he told me if that girl calls, I was to tell her he was not home. Having always been respectful to their privacies, I said fine, but was dying to know what was up and how I could help him. Finally, he told me that he had had a date with the girl one day at 10 a.m. in Vanak Square. He had overslept and had woken up at 9:45, having no access to the girl and knowing that his “getting ready” would take more than an hour, and there was no way he could make it. So, he had called his friend, Shervin, who lived just by Vanak Square, explaining the situation to him, asking him to go meet the girl and, get this, tell her that my son had been in a car accident and couldn’t make it! Shervin had dutifully gone, met the girl and told her the story. The unfortunate piece of news was that upon return from the rendez vous, Shervin told my son that the girl wasn’t pretty at all. So in their gullibility and requisite silliness of that age, they had decided that this relationship wasn’t going to go anywhere and had to be ended! So when the poor girl kept calling my son, he wouldn’t answer. When, one time, she did manage to catch him on the phone, he had obviously sounded aloof and disinterested in talking. She had asked him what was going on, and in his infinite wisdom, to let her down easily I guess, he had said that during the car accident, he had been hit in the head and had developed amnesia as a result! So, he couldn’t remember that much about his past, including her! Summer days were dragging by and my son and his wise friend, Shervin, had started going to Enghelab Sports Complex for day camp. One day when he came home he couldn’t wait to tell me the story of what had happened that day. He said that as he and Shervin were walking on the main entrance road of the sports complex, a taxi had passed them by with two girls in it. He said one of the girls waved at Shervin as they passed, and Shervin told my son: “Shit, that’s the girl!” So, as their unbelieving eyes watched, the taxi stopped and started to turn around towards them. He said all he could think about at that time (this is true, believe me) was how he looked sleepy and disheveled (worthy of a bunch of other sleepy 12-year old guys he was going to see in class) and he was not ready to meet any girl looking like that! So, he told me, he quickly jumped behind a bush, pulled his shirt out of his pants, unbuttoned it, spat into his hands (no gel available, right?) bent over to toss his hair and put the spit in it to make it fluffy and more presentable! By this time the cab returned and let the two girls out, and my son got to meet that girl for the first time. I asked him if she was ugly like Shervin had said, and he said no, she was really pretty! Go figure! He then started dating this girl, his first girlfriend ever, for a while.