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Friday Five: January 27, 2023
big momma thang
Happy Friday, consumers.
It’s currently 4:03am and I’m putting the finishing touches on this piece. I’m jet-lagged with spikes of energy and fatigue striking me at all hours of the day, feeling delirious and simultaneously eager to get back into the New York Groove.
Today would have been my Grandmother’s birthday, so this Friday Five is a tribute to her. Grandma in Farsi is ‘Maman Bozorg,’ which literally translates to ‘Big Momma.’ My Grandma was indeed big: she was tall, powerful, and had a booming presence. She would tell jokes that would make an entire room erupt with laughter, had a quick wit well into old age, and had the most beautiful dewy, glowing skin her whole life. I miss her all the time — it’s been six years without her and the grief doesn’t feel any lighter, I just feel I’ve learned to cope and live with it.
Moisturizer: I seldom include ‘things’ in the Friday Five because we shouldn’t need to purchase anything to feel good. With that caveat in mind, this moisturizer was always by Maman Bozorg’s side and I can’t write about her without mentioning it: Nivea Creme. She believed the Nivea Creme produced in Germany was superior to all other versions, and had blue tins and containers in all of her luggage. She slathered this thick, emollient creme on her face, décolletage, and arms morning and night. I can smell it’s soft baby-like fragrance just writing this. She felt that using this alongside sunscreen was what kept her skin in such great shape, and I’d have to agree.
Beauty Treatment: In addition to Nivea Creme, Maman Bozorg was all about the DIY, homegrown beauty hacks made in the kitchen. My Grandfather regularly simmered almonds for hours to make her sweet almond oil from scratch. As if that wasn’t romantic enough, he would also lovingly massage the oil into her face and neck. This is the real love Mary J. Blige sang about.
For nearly every fruit or vegetable she ate, she’d place the peels on her face to keep it bright (acids!) and/or hydrated. Her go-to on a weekly basis would be cucumber peels: we would snack on cucumbers and salt (try it with Tajin if you’re feeling zesty) in the afternoon, and she’d use a paring knife to delicately strip the peels. The peels would go on our faces, chests, arms, really any patch of exposed skin, and stay there for twenty minutes. We’d follow that up with moisturizer, rubbing any of the liquid into our skin. I don’t know if cucumber peels make much of an impact, but this practice feels meditative and grounding. I’ll continue to do it for the rest of my life.
English Lesson: There are a lot of funny Maman Bozorg stories I wanted to share here, but I’ve narrowed it down to just this one. She traveled between Iran and the US throughout the year, taking long flights with layovers often in Germany. After one of those flights, she noted that the man beside her, who wasn’t Iranian, kept talking about some man named Ismael, particularly throughout turbulent portions of the flight. She asked us if we knew any Ismael’s, wondering why this strange man was asking her about him. It took us several hours to realize that this kind stranger was telling her to SMILE, because she was not having a great time on the bumpy flight. Ed Note: She also thought the Harry Potter book series was called ‘Heli Copter.’
Song: If Maman Bozorg had her way, the song of this week would be “What if God Was One of Us?,"which despite her working knowledge of the English language (see above), she loved. Unfortunately for everyone here, this is my newsletter, so the song of the week is Lorde’s “Ribs.”
‘Ribs’ is a song about growing up, being afraid of getting older, nostalgia for simpler times and ‘sharing beds like little kids.’ I miss sharing a bedroom with my Grandma when she visited’ I miss sharing beds with my best friends for sleepovers where we’d ‘laugh until our ribs get sore.’ It truly always ‘feels so scary getting old.’ This song is happy and heartfelt all at once and my tender, sentimental heart has to listen to it weekly.
Joyful Internet Content: Thank you Chris, Ariana, and Elly for sharing this thread on musical misunderstandings from writer Emily Nussbaum that’s been making the rounds recently. Some highlights below…
I definitely thought TLC was singing “Go, go Jason Waterfalls” and thought Jason Waterfalls was a basketball player they were cheering on. I also thought Michael Jackson was singing “Billie Jean is at my door,” which still holds up with the rest of the lyrics. I’d love to hear your musical misunderstandings and potentially include them in an upcoming Friday Five - please send them my way.
Omw to buy a Jason Waterfalls jersey,