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Setareh is sitting on the floor, leaning against the closet. As usual, she is wearing spandex shorts and a tank top. She is translating the warnings and side effects of a package of diet pills that Nasrin has bought. “Are they any good?” I ask. “They’re good,” she says. “But not for Nasrin.” She continues reading. The pills work by bonding with fat to make it indigestible. Side effects include jitters, inability to concentrate, and a whole suite of unusual digestive events. I learn the Persian words for rumbling stomach and fecal urgency; I learn there are two Persian words for fart, depending on whether or not there is sound. Since Nasrin and Setareh both know some English, I slowly enunciate the phrase “silent but deadly.” They find this hilarious. The demographic situation has another curious featuresince most of the deaths in the Iran-Iraq war were male, young women in their late 20s to mid-30s now greatly outnumber men. Nasrin tells me there is a three-to-one ratio of single women to men. I don’t trust the numbers, but women do outnumber men at the universities. She came home last night, Nasrin did, all upset after visiting a friend who had been beaten up by her boyfriend. Her eyes bulging indignantly, Nasrin describes cuts, bruises, a black eye. The boyfriend is 46. The friend is 19. The boyfriend is ugly, rude, and rich. Rich enough to have several girlfriends in addition to his wife. Nasrin’s friend is twice-divorcedperfect girlfriend material since she has no virginity to protect. She met her “boyfriend” when she was waiting on the street for a taxi. He pulled his car over, and she got in. I had often wondered why random newish carsnot the hobbling white Paykans usually used as taxissometimes pulled over while I was waiting for a taxi. I thought that perhaps the drivers were newly unemployed and had only recently turned to driving. Now I know. It’s a proposition. Nasrin says she wants to marry a foreigner. She has lost hope of ever finding an Iranian boyfriend. asrin is on a diet. On Saturday she eats nothing but milk. Sunday nothing but chicken, and Monday, just lettuce. Someone has promised her she would lose 5 to 15 kilos in a week. I tell her I’m skeptical. “I think that’s for severely overweight people,” she says. “For me it will be about 3 to 4 kilos.” She seems hopeful, so I just tell her she looks perfectly thin to me. She pinches her hips and frowns. It is our friend Anne’s birthday, so we take her to an Indian restaurant and toast her with the domestic nonalcoholic beer \(tastes nothing like cakebanana, with chocolate frosting and crumbled pistachios on topand sit around our room eating it. Nasrin refuses the cake. She looks very sad. The diet lasts only a few days. By the end of the week, Nasrin and I are back at the coffee shop. Perched all around us are flocks of young women, glamorous in their cherry-red, lavender, and black silk. We critique some outfits. Some we admire. We crack up at the boy whose low-rider jeans expose several uncool inches of snowy-white undies. We slowly sip our melting milkshakes. We wish there was something better to do. We wish that something would happen. During the two months she spent in Iran, Rachel Proctor May became accustomed to being the least-chic girl in the room. She lives in Austin and continues to practice her Persian.