Firoozeh says that in her culture, “marriage … has nothing to do with romance”—parents usually arrange marriages. While many Americans find this surprising, the success rate of Iranian marriages is probably about the same as that of American marriages.
In many countries, arranged marriages are still the norm. Some studies have found that, in the case of arranged marriages, the partners’ happiness tends to go up over time, where in “Western marriages,” the partners’ happiness has a higher probability of going down.
Firoozeh’s Uncle Nematollah has been married and divorced twice. After divorce number two, he comes to visit Firoozeh’s family in Whittier. This is challenging, since Firoozeh’s house isn’t that big. Nevertheless, Kazem loves hosting other people, especially his family. Kazem and his brother Nematollah love eating and cooking food. Back in Iran, Firoozeh loved cooking special, fresh Iranian foods, but in America, much of the food is canned or frozen. Kazem and Nematollah sample various American foods. They dislike most readymade foods, but enjoy KFC and Baskin Robbins. Pretty soon, Nematollah’s clothes don’t fit him anymore.
Firoozeh’s family is big but close-knit: whenever somebody needs a place to stay, Kazem willingly opens his doors, even though his house in Whittier isn’t big at all. Also, notice that Firoozeh gently makes fun of American culture by contrasting the cheap, mass-produced American food with delicious, lovingly cooked Iranian cuisine. Even Kazem, who seems to enjoy most American pop culture, can’t force himself to enjoy canned goods.
To lose weight, Nematollah buys diet pills and a scale. Frustrated when he doesn’t get results, he buys a girdle and a shiny exercise outfit designed to help him sweat away weight. He jogs around the neighborhood, looking like an astronaut. Nematollah also buys a nylon cord and begins using it to do exercises. He begins to lose weight, and a month later, it’s time for him to go back to Iran. As he packs his suitcases, everyone wishes he could stay longer.
During the 1970s, when the scene is set, there were lots of bizarre diet and exercise fads, few of which seemed to work particularly well—and Nematollah tries many of these fads. The chapter ends on a nostalgic note, suggesting that, even if Firoozeh sometimes finds her family members weird or even irritating, she loves them deeply.