Monday, 11 May 2009
A long, long time ago, I fancied a boy. He had the longest eyelashes I had ever seen and was sexy in the way Prince used to be (in his younger days) - slender and slightly feminine, but somehow, definitely not gay.
That by itself was not the problem.
The problem was that I also fancied his best friend.
The friend was very different, quite manly and strong. They were both attractive-in different ways. Eventually, after a few months of glances, flirt and innuendoes, I started going out with the boy no 2. However, this interest towards the first boy with long eye lashes did not just go away. That’s how, one day, a year later, we ended up in quite a complicated situation that almost led to me cheating on my boyfriend with his friend. So as you can imagine, not a good situation.
Fortunately, (for reasons that lie outside this posting) nothing happened then.
And now, many years after, I met the eyelashes boy for lunch, back in Baku. He looked pretty different now: older, wiser, with less hair. Of course, I myself looked pretty different too: older, larger, and definitely,wiser.
It was nice to catch up with the ghost from the past. We had a chat about life, our children and spouses. About his business in Baku, and about plans for future.
It was all very pleasant and civilized. A kind of chat I would be having in the UK. However, not quite. Knowing what Azeri men are like when it comes to relationships and married life, I asked him if he had a mistress. He has an expensive car, his own business, and he lives in Baku- a set of attributes that almost guarantee he has some naughty stories to tell.
But my old friend reassured me he was not a "typical Azeri".
He reminded me, that for a successful Baku businessman like himself, not cheating on his wife was almost embarrassing. His business partners and friends might think he is gay or an impotent. (or bring him a goat). So, for ten or so years of being in a happy marriage to a very pretty young lady, and having fathered a few children, he managed to remain faithful, he claimed. Despite many challenging situations he had to work hard to get out of.
As I chewed on my steak, nodding away, and contemplating whether to believe his story, he added casually, that he did, however, have an experience with a Chinese prostitute last time he was on a business trip.
So we ended up talking about Azeri men and cheating. Come on, he said- you surely don’t think only Azeri men cheat?!
I assured him I was not that naive. However, the difference is: where I live now, it is not a sort of thing married men casually chat about.
I tried to imagine two businessmen at a game of golf somewhere near us:
- Nice weather, isn’t it, Andy? (has to start somewhere, and English people famously discuss weather all the time)
- Yes pretty good, pretty good indeed… Let’s have another beer…
- Cheers… How did your trip to China go last month?
- Oh, great. The flight was good and the food was pretty decent… Had some time to do some sightseeing and oh, yes…had a prostitute visit me in my hotel room one night. It is good to be back home though.
- Oh, great, good for you. So what are you guys up to this weekend?
Of course, cheating happens everywhere. However, what amazes me is the ease with which some Azeri men brag about their “secret” affairs. The pride they take in it. What part of its complicated past made Azeri society so tolerant of the whole thing? Surely, it is not the strict Soviet days where every naughty husband, whether it was drinking or cheating he was guilty of, was facing an open shaming and firing procedure in front of everyone at work. And it can’t be the religious traditions that are not too keen of such behavior either.
So how come it is the norm for Azeri men to do (and then happily discuss!) something a lot of western men only fantasize about? Or, at the very least, bother to keep a secret?
I am pleased nothing serious happened with either of those boys from a long, long time ago. The one with long eye lashes thinks a Chinese prostitute does not quite qualify as a serious cheating, whereas the other one, unfortunately, died in a nasty car crash. I heard he was with his mistress at the time, while his heavily pregnant wife was waiting at home- just another typical story with a sad ending.