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I taught Persian language and literature at Harvard University before devoting myself to full-time writing and translating. Currently at work on an essay collection. NYC-based.

A Remarkable Child


Daniel Rafinejad | Longreads | May 2018 | 17 minutes (4,503 words)

My friend Sam makes experimental films I do not understand. Sam is an artist; I like Doritos.

Sam is tall, a little cross-eyed. He’s earnest but also contrarian and snobby. He acts like he’s the one person ever to have noticed the moon.

We met as freshmen at Columbia. I was flattered someone so cool would talk to me. Sam clothed and carried himself with a perfect carelessness, while I wore sweater vests and dropped things a lot.

I won Sam over by talking about weasel menstrual fluid.

“I like taxidermied animals, too,” I lied, as we rode the elevator up to the 11th floor of John Jay Hall one autumn afternoon. He was holding a stuffed rodent.

“It’s a weasel?” I mumbled.

“Yes,” he answered. He looked at me blinking, as if peering through a curtain of bangs, though his raven hair was combed and parted to the right of his clear, pale face. “His name is Portnoy.”

“Portnoy means ‘tailor’ in Russian,” I said. He looked down at me with a half-smile and studied my buzzed head. I continued with more confidence: “My great-grandmother, who, I think, was a witch in Iran, said that sleeping on a pillowcase stained with a she-weasel’s menstrual fluid chases away nightmares.”
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