The Turkish Loser

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I know you’re sick of hearing about Titanic, but this is the last time, I promise. So that fateful Saturday had finally come and Oguz had purchased all of the tickets for the movie. Of course Nazan and I didn’t say a word about the fact that we’d already seen it.

It wasn’t hard to notice the smiles of anticipation glowing out of Oguz and Adnan. Oguz didn’t particularly give a shit about Titanic but was looking forward to hopefully hooking up with Gizem, and Adnan was excited about finally getting to lay eyes on all of that sweet James Cameron CGI.

“I can’t wait to see it!”, Adnan exclaimed while wiping the drool off his mouth, “You know all those long shots of the ship where people are walking around? All of those people are completely computer generated. Nothing about them is real. Can you believe that?”

Nowadays of course the audience is shocked when they find out anything is not computer generated but back then, that was a big deal. “I wonder how that’s gonna look on the big screen!?” Nazan and I shrugged, “I dunno.”

We were waiting in front of the theater for the new girls to show up. Nazan whispered to me, “Oguz looks so excited he can hardly stand still. Also, he hasn’t stalked me in the last couple of days. I mean I love being able to breathe without having to worry about him dropping into my mouth for a change but what the hell is that about?”

“He’s hopeful about making it with another girl”, I said.

“Neval!?” Nazan took a step back with obvious disgust.

“No, of course not”, I scoffed, “Gizem.”

Nazan laughed with pity, “Yeah, right. Good luck with that one.”

I laughed as well, “Honestly, I feel the same way but I don’t wanna crush his spirit. Let the little twerp dream for a while longer.”

“You’re such a good friend”, Nazan said while nudging me. I couldn’t tell if she meant it sarcastically or not.

In the distance, we could see Gizem and Neval approaching. Oguz looked so excited, if he had a tail, it would be wagging like a propeller. Gizem looked like a Mavi Jeans (A Turkish Jeans brand, I was getting tired of the Guess Jeans reference) model and Neval was wearing a child’s button-up shirt, a pencil thin skirt, and an unholy amount of makeup to cover up her Vulcan ancestry. She was obviously trying very hard to hold her balance on the twenty-inch high heels she was wearing with the hope that they will help her look taller than four feet.

While they were approaching, I must have looked kind of hopeful, which for anyone who knows me even in the least bit, was as unusual as looking into The Ark of the Covenant and staying alive.

Nazan must have picked up on this, so she whispered, “You’re not thinking about hooking up with her either one, are you? I mean, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m just trying to be your friend.”

“Yeah, thanks for the vote of confidence. No, of course I wouldn’t even dream of it.”

“Then what is it?”, Nazan asked.

I stared straight on, somewhat embarrassed. “No comment”, I answered.

Nazan thought for a second and gasped, “Oh no, not her?”

I hung my head down in shame and briefly nodded.

Nazan asked, “But, why?”

I went on the defensive, “What do you expect!? I’m desperate. It’s not like I have many options at this point.”

Nazan thought for a second, probably about the most tactful thing to say. In the end, she just gave me a pity pat on my back.

Meanwhile, the girls had reached us. After the usual two-kisses-on-the-cheek Turkish greeting (Even two men kiss each other when they greet. I know that’s the gayest thing you’ve read all week and I agree with you, unless you also read the screenplay for Top Gun this week as well), Oguz opened with an overly enthusiastic “How’s everybody doing today!? Haha!” His nervousness could be seen from space.

“Pretty good”, answered Gizem, while probably trying to pinpoint specifically what type of mental illness Oguz was suffering from.

I didn’t feel like it in the least bit, but I had to make an effort. I turned to Neval, gave my best forced smile and simply said, “Hi.”

“Hi”, Neval smiled. I saw her teeth and thought, “Oh God, are those dogteeth protruding further outward every time I see her? At this rate, they’ll be hanging in the air two feet in front of her mouth in a couple of weeks. Whatever, just try to ignore it, focus on the fact that you’re fat and desperate. Look at your bulging belly almost sticking out of your off-fashion button-up shirt that’s at least two sizes too small. That’s it, fat and desperate, fat and desperate, that’s your mantra from now on.”

“Are you excited about finally seeing Titanic?”, I asked Neval.

“Naah!”, she said doing her best Fran Drescher, “I don’t really care about this movie. To be honest, I’m looking forward to clubbing later on.”

You know that famous trope in movies where our protagonist reacts out of character to someone he or she cannot stand? You’ve known that person to be pretty timid up until that point and then suddenly, they blow up! They start beating the shit out of the asshole frat boy who tortured them during college while yelling at him the type of obscenities that would make a Wall Street broker blush.

Of course we then cut back to him acting like a pussy as usual and the whole thing had been a fantasy he concocted to deal with his insecurities all along. It’s usually a cheap gotcha moment shamelessly utilized by screenwriters to pad up the running time. I wouldn’t even dream of suckering you into that so I’m foreshadowing it right now.

At this point, I just wanted to yell into her face, “You don’t really care about this movie!? First of all, Titanic is not just a fucking movie! It’s a goddamn media and pop culture event! Where the fuck have been hiding under the last year or so, The Merry Elf Forest where anything from the outside world can’t penetrate!!? Even if you’re one of the literally handful of people left on this planet who could not give two shits about Titanic, why the fuck did you apply for film school!? And what money hungry whore of an admissions officer let you in knowing full well you didn’t have an iota of interest in what is nothing short of an undying passion for most of the rest of us!?”

Of course after witnessing me handing Neval’s own tiny ten-year-old-boy-ass back to her, spitting all kinds of spit and bile to her face, causing her makeup to run off like a more disturbed than usual Joker impersonator, we smash cut back to me trying my best to hold my rage in while smiling and merely saying, “Cool, I’m looking forward to, uh, clubbing too.”

Meanwhile, Oguz was obviously striking out with Gizem. I couldn’t really hear what they were talking about from twenty feet away, but their body language stunk of an Oguz-Nazan retread, with Oguz acting like an overly-eager puppy while Gizem looking like she’s listing excuses in her head regarding the reasons why her and Oguz shouldn’t sit next to each other during the three-and-a-half-hour movie.

Like a true nerd, Adnan promptly cut off our festival of unsure and awkward behavior by reminding everyone that “We should all start walking in otherwise we will miss the all-important trailers.” Who was I to point fingers? Back then, I wouldn’t miss the trailers before a movie for a four-song lap dance for the price of two.

“Shall we?”, I offered my arm to Neval like an old-fashioned gentleman about to lead his sweetheart into the grand ballroom. She didn’t take my arm and decided to walk in by herself, but at least I got a genuine smile of affection out of her. It felt genuine, since she didn’t try hard enough to cover her vampire teeth with her hands. Look at that, maybe I was on the right track.

Watching Titanic for the second time, I could not help but feel sad at witnessing such a simple love story between two fictional teenagers that rather organically (compared to a generic Hollywood movie anyway) play out in the midst of some of the most groundbreaking special effects of the time. And here I was, being fed pure romantic mulch while thinking about how I could even begin to go out with a girl I didn’t even find remotely attractive, inside or outside. My prospects were paper-thin.

Somehow I ended up sitting between Adnan and Nazan. I didn’t make any obvious attempts trying to sit next to Neval. Watching Oguz jump hoops to come up with any reason to sit next to Gizem presented such a sad picture that I would do anything to avoid comparisons with him in that moment. At one point when he ran out of excuses, Oguz realized that Gizem liked sitting near the aisle, so he said he might be overcome by an intense desire to go for a popcorn run, therefore he had to be closer to aisle as well.

In the end, his wish was granted and he ended up sandwiched between Gizem and Neval.

Nazan sat next to me and cackled, “I’m sorry I couldn’t figure out a way for you to sit next to your giiiirlfriend!”

The “girlfriend” joke alone made me throw up in mouth a little. Nazan winked and smiled at me. She whispered “This feels familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

I turned to her, put my finger on my lips and whispered “Shhhhh.” I wish I had to balls the place my finger on her lips like a macho asshole from a 50s Hollywood movie. Her smile and the feelings that arose from the playful evening we had the previous week spun me back into a state of hopeless melancholy, which was definitely not the emotional state I should have found myself in that day.

I was supposed to be the “Throw caution to the wind and party hardy” Clubber Ergen, the fun and carefree Ergen, the Ergen that didn’t mind the obvious callous stupidity of a bunch of drunk-ass teenagers trying to pretend to communicate with each other so the male side could trick the female side into how jovial it would be for both parties if he could just feel her up for twenty-eight minutes straight while a so-called music that sounds like a banshee fucking a nutcracker at 148-beats-per-minute blared out of the speakers, ensuring the early deafness of an entire generation. You know, an Ergen that could not exist no matter how hard I tried.

I could do nothing but grin back at Nazan, thinking, “Why can’t you just be mine? Things would be so much simpler then. Here I would be sitting next to my girlfriend, not having to worry about how I would even begin to attract an anorexic vampire.”

Before the movie began, Adnan performed a quick mental measure of the distance between him and the theatre speakers. He carefully analyzed the positioning of each speaker in relation to where he was seated.

“This should be the perfect spot to fully appreciate the surround experience”, he said, “This is a good theatre for sound too. I remember watching Face/Off here, they kept the volume very high at all times and there was no distortion.” You must imagine him talking with the voice of the zit-faced nerd from The Simpsons, but actually Adnan had a fairly deep and commanding voice, which made it that much funnier to hear such dorky trivia emerging out of such smooth pipes.

After the movie, all of us made our way to one of the many pubs that offered beer and Turkish fast food on Istiklal Avenue. It was nightfall by the time we came out and Taksim was already bustling with youth fervor full of old fashioned “Either get any kind of pussy or drink-till-you-puke” gusto.

Adnan’s eyes were glazed over by the sheer awesomeness of the movie. “I take it you liked it?”, I asked.

Adnan tried to keep his cool and not let his inner geek shine. This was understandable, since we were on our way to a night of “normal people” clubbing and there was no room for actual film related excitement. “Yeah, it was good. A little long, you know. But the special effects were pretty amazing”, Adnan responded with reserved enthusiasm.

“You hated the love story, huh?”, Nazan asked.

“It was necessary, I guess”, Adnan said, “You need something to appeal to the girls in the audience.”

As a strong feminist, I could see Nazan having trouble letting Adnan’s clearly misogynistic yet naïve comment slide, but she did anyway. I, on the other hand, could not help but imagine how god awful and condescending any romantic sub-plot in an Adnan-helmed actioner would look like. Of course these days there’s no need to use our imaginations when thinking about such a movie, all we need to do is to rent any Michael Bay masterpiece.

I casually made my way next to Neval, who was doing her best as a buffer between Gizem and Oguz. Oguz obviously kept trying to find a way into Gizem’s orbit but his intellectual, cultured and sensitive man-rays were impenetrable through Gizem’s shield of vapid hotness.

Out of necessity to prevent her friend from having to fraternize with figures more embarrassingly out of her league, Neval was stuck with talking to Oguz. In a weird way, they looked like they were getting along. I hoped this didn’t mean my hopes were cock-blocked. Naah, Oguz would never be as desperate as I was to actually go for Neval.

I gently squeezed myself in between Oguz and Neval, which could otherwise be seen as a dick move, if I wasn’t so certain Oguz had absolutely no interest in Neval. Also, maybe me chatting Neval up would free Oguz to buzz around Gizem some more, not that it would do any good on his end.

“So, what did you think of the movie?”, I asked Neval.

“It was good”, Neval answered with the emotional depth of a recently rebooted HAL 9000. It was followed by a long, uncomfortable silence between us since it took me a while to realize that maybe I should talk about anything else other than movies and even longer for me to find anything else but movies to talk about.

Finally, I blurted out “So, are you looking forward to a night of partying!?” with so much fake enthusiasm, I must have looked like a marionette controlled by an alcoholic puppeteer in the middle of his delirium tremens.

Neval answered, “I guess. I’ve never been to this club. What’s it called?”

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