The Turkish Loser

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And on that high note, my adventures of trying to find any female human to date me during my first year of college had reached its inevitable anti-climactic finale.

During the following year and a half, I was stuck inside a perpetually self-repeating nightmare, a constant loop of acting as an often ignored, perhaps not very desired background extra to inconsequential get-togethers with friends I still cared about, plus one person I couldn’t stand but had to pretend to get along with because I didn’t have a back-up circle of friends waiting in the wings to swoop me up in case I got kicked out of this one.

Who was I kidding? With my blatant disregard for Turkish social norms and my penchant for telling dick jokes and for engaging in frank conversations about human sexuality around female company meant that I was already hanging on by a thread when it came to still existing as part of this group or any other gang.

If it ever got to an “It’s either Neval or me!” kind of a situation, I knew that I didn’t stand a chance in hell. As much as the others did not enjoy Neval’s delightful company, she was Oguz’s girlfriend and for some reason there was always an unspoken sacred pact among social circles which stipulated that any boyfriend or girlfriend of a buddy in a tight group was automatically considered to be a dear and irreplaceable friend as well, no matter how obnoxious and irritating he or she acted.

As long as Oguz and Neval’s relationship lasted on their own accord, I had to pretend to like Neval and could not say anything bad about her. It was as if the fact that she was with Oguz gave her a sort of social immunity. She was one of the untouchables now, just like the millions of other irritating girlfriends or boyfriends of best friends all around the world.

The final couple of months of my freshman year, as well as my sophomore year in its entirety, was kind of a repetitive blur full of boring film history classes, going to mostly inconsequential movies with the gang, followed by dinner at an American franchise fast food joint or a café with a cutesy name in French that probably meant Armpit, all the while pretending as if I didn’t daydream about strangling Neval the entire time.

Every day and every week were identical to the last, without even a single hope for becoming romantically involved with a member of the opposite sex. Forget about going out on a date or flirting with anyone, or even having anyone to obsess over, I don’t think I even had a single interaction with a girl aside from Nazan and Neval. We all know how I felt about Neval, and Nazan was a ship that had sailed a long time ago. In fact, I don’t think it ever even sailed close to the dock.

I think the longest conversation I had with another girl during that entire year-and-a-half period was when one of my female classmates, can’t even remember which one, asked to study with me for an hour before a cinematography test. I think the reason she chose me was because all of the other seats in the library were taken at the time.

I became such an introvert when it came to girls that even my best friends stopped asking me about my desires of the flesh and treated me as if I gradually became an asexual organism as we inched closer to the end of the freshman year.

During the first half of my freshman year, Nazan or Oguz would at least ask if I was dating anyone or if I fancied someone from time to time. They didn’t ask very frequently and they always knew the answer to the dating question but they bothered to go through with it anyway.

As an example, we would be sitting at the cafeteria and a hot girl would walk by. I would steal a quick gaze and before I knew it, Nazan would lean over and whisper, “She’s cute, huh?”

I would shrug and say, “She’d never go for me”.

That’s when Nazan would nudge my shoulder, wink and say, “Hey, you never know.” Of course she knew that whichever proverbial girl we were talking about wouldn’t go for me, but at least her attempt to instill the tiniest bit of hope in me through the same predictable banter gave me some comfort.

I would reciprocate similar sentiments when a good-looking guy would catch Nazan’s eye, the only difference being that most of those men would have definitely gone for Nazan. Hell, they would have gone for The Elephant Man’s uglier half-sister if they were promised consequence-free sex in Turkish society, and Nazan was actually attractive by normal standards.

Near the end of the year, those small moments that hinted at the possibility of a normal life stopped and did not come back for almost two years. Oguz and I used to engage in some of those long typical conversations men love jumping headfirst into the moment any female presence disappeared. We’d openly fantasize about how we’d love to bury our faces into the butt cheeks of any given female stranger we fancied. You know, standard guy stuff.

But even those conversations dried up in time. Soon, Oguz and I started focusing entirely on movie nerd talk and left the pervy conversations to those who were smooth enough to pull them off without a hint of irony.

Apart from my newfound depressive outlook towards the possibility of any romantic relationship with the opposite sex, which sucked out any grain of fun out of the equation, I think another reason we let go of the typical pervy guy talk was because Oguz was deathly afraid of Neval and wouldn’t profess to any interest in other forms of booty (i.e. actual booty). This fear was evident even in private company while Neval was miles and miles away, just in case there was a microscopic chance she might hear of it.

But I think the real reason for my unofficial vow of sexual silence had a lot more to do with the simple fact that I had finally given up, and it showed. After enduring one failure after another during my freshman year, I finally buckled and gave up all hope that I would ever meet anyone willing to go out with me.

I’d never been good with hiding my true feelings. So as hard as I tried, my melancholy revolving around my many failures must have been externalized on my face no matter how mildly contented I pretended to be.

I think my friends picked up on this and mostly left me alone when it came to discussing matters of the heart. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I probably looked downright suicidal whenever anyone engaged me in even the most innocent and bland conversation about relationships.

I think my friends picked up on this over time and decided not to even mention the R-word around me in order to not have to be tasked with removing all razors out of my bathroom cabinet.

I also stopped reciprocating the same kind of language. My days of pointing out a hunky dude in the school’s cafeteria to Nazan were over, because I couldn’t stand to even think about what it would look like if she actually hooked up with any of those dudes, which was always a real possibility.

I also actively stopped talking about various forms of newly encountered hotties to Oguz and stuck to strictly talking about the two Davids, Lynch and Bowie, whenever I was alone with him.

I’m sure they also noticed my supposed lack of interest in their own romantic lives and in true no-tit-for-tat fashion, decided to not bring mine up to me as well.

So, after about eight months of wacky sex adventures where I kissed a total of two girls, one who had to do it on screen and regretted it immediately, and the other who was also forced to do it during a Spin The Bottle game, seemed to enjoy it in the moment and then decided she could probably do better, actively or passive-aggressively pursued four girls, none of whom even remotely worked out, I spent almost the next two years without even a mention of any girl and I in the same sentence.

I simply focused on other aspects of my life and tried to make the best of them. The repetitive nature of my existence and my hatred for Neval was definitely bearing down on my already broken spirit, but there were also some positive events during my sophomore year.

For example, I really enjoyed our screenwriting class. An American, a struggling screenwriter who actually understood story structure, taught it. I enjoyed that class so much that by the end of the year, I was the only student there who actually produced a polished feature screenplay.

The script was total shit and borderline unproducable, but I found the mere fact that I completed it to be quite an accomplishment back then. Anyway, I think that was the class that convinced me to stick more to the theory and storytelling side of filmmaking. Also, I was terrible with lighting and camerawork. Aside from the screenwriting class being a positive experience, there was also… Well, to be honest, nothing else comes to mind.

Look, I know that after all of this, it’s a bummer to be told that the sum of my adventures resulted in abject failure and that I finished my freshman adventure with even more of a sense of defeat than when I begun it.

I wish I could have ended my story by meeting a nerdy cute girl who shared the same interests as me, who also had a meet-cute crush on me the second we met and that sparks flew in that very moment of contact, but that wouldn’t be honest, and I respect you too much to lie to you.

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