As a child I had been entranced the the legend of the magic carpet. My mother thought I was funny sitting on the carpet in the living room, trying to fly it like a plane. I was not kidding, so when my father came home from work in April of 1965 to say that his company, Ma Bell, had offered him a transfer to Iran.
"They call it Iran now."
The oil-rich country needed skilled communication engineers and my father was one of the best in New England. He sat down my mother and his six children at the kitchen table and proposed that we go overseas for several years.
"It will be a unique experience and the money will be better than here."
"When do we go?" My enthusiasm was sparked by having read THE RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM and the Arabian Nights as well as my eternal desire to get the hell out of the suburbs and dreamed of flying on a magic carpet. Iran used to be Persia. The ruler was called the Shah. The religion was Islam. We would be infidels, which was fine by me.
"We'd leave in the summer." My father unloosened his tie and looked to my mother.
"What about school?"
She had okayed our move from Maine to be closer to her family and have us attended parochial schools.
"There are first-class schools set up for Americans. There are tens of thousands of us there."
My father liked to travel. Every other weekend he packed us into the family station wagon for a trip to an historical site or mountain or beach.
"What about our friends?" my older brother asked the question which I had been fearing.
My younger sisters and brothers chorused the same demand.
"You won't remember your friends in five years," I shouted at them. I was the biggest son. My older brother was only older.
"Like you forgot Shane." This was a cruel blow. My older brother knew how to play dirty.
"That's different." Shane and I were best friends. He had drowned five years ago in Sebago Lake. We had vowed never to go swimming if we weren't together. I had yet to forgive myself.
"No different. Friends are friends." My older brother liked our hometown. He was attending the best all-boy's parochial high school next year. "I didn't get straight As to go to a school half way across the world.".
"I know." My mother expected the same from me. She wanted me to be a priest. I had yet to tell anyone that I was an atheist.
"But Dad said the schools are very good in Iran."
I looked to the Maine native for a dictatorial mandate, except my father had fought in WWII to save democracy and he said, "All those in favor of going to Iran, raise their right hand."
My father and I were the only two in favor.
"All those opposed?"
My mother, brothers, and sisters formed a bloc of five. My father refused to veto the majority vote and he put down my mother's arm. She was never going to leave Boston. The change of season was in her blood and our family finished out the19 60s on the South Shore.
My first excursion off the North American continent was to London in 1978. My girlfriend was a blonde model from Buffalo. Some nights she stayed out late with the fashion photographers. My next-door neighbor was an Iranian. His father had been executed by Savak. Mustaf and I drank beer at a bar in Fulham. His friends educated me to the evils of the Shah. I joined them in demonstrations against his regime without telling my girlfriend. Lisa didn't like Muslims, because their mistreatment of women. Mustaf was a communist. He believed in rights for everyone.
I believed the same, until the Shah was overthrown and the student radicals seized hostages at the US embassy in Teheran.
America was America and I was an American.
The Pentagon tried to free the hostages and failed in the desert.
Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan, who had backdoored an agreement with the mullahs to withhold release of the hostages, so that he could win the presidency.
"We do not deal with terrorists." Old Dutch swore to the country, as his underlings sold arms to the Revolutionary Guards, while supporting Saddam in a desert war.
GW Bush declared Iran to be an Axis of Evil and their president's constant barrage of threat against Israel has racketed the tension of war in the Gulf to a code red danger zone. CNN, NBC, Fox News and all the other right-wing news organization are reporting the build-up of forces to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear bomb, as if Armageddon was a fait accompli.
"We have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready... We are ready today," Vice Admiral Mark Fox said at the headquarters of the 5th Fleet in Manama on Sunday.
"We were ready yesterday." Iran countered on their TV.
And the price of oil soared over the $100/barrel mark enriching Big Oil.
There is no such thing as a free magic carpet ride, although Steppenwolf came close in the late 60s.
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