CHAPTER 18 – ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT! HERE’S SOME SILVER LINING
Richard Adams’ original ending to his vastly underrated novel The Plague Dogs depicted the two dogs Rowf and Snitter, runaways from an evil animal testing lab, swimming away from the authorities into the welcoming arms of the open sea.
The novel was supposed to end with an ambiguous yet pretty clear finale, ambiguous if you’re an optimist who hopes beyond hope, clear if you’re a realist. Even beyond the point of exhaustion, the dogs refuse to give up and drown. Instead, they paddle on in search of land that they more than likely will not come across.
The story begins with Rowf almost drowning in a water tank in a lab as part of some sick experiment. As the scientists working on Rowf keep increasing the time he spends in the water, it becomes clear to the reader that his days are numbered.
Yet at the end of their lengthy escape, we’re pretty sure the dogs will eventually drown, which means that Rowf will meet the exact same fate he avoided days ago right before he escaped the lab. The big difference is that this time, he chooses to end things his own way. As harsh and bleak of an ending The Plague Dogs has, especially for what was intended to be published as a kids’ book, it’s also beautiful and poetic in many ways.
Of course the powers that be could not handle such a dark and ambiguous ending. The editors of the novel, fearing that traumatizing a bunch of 12-year-old boys for life might affect paperback sales, forced Adams to shoehorn an additional final chapter into the book where the dogs actually reach an island and are adopted by Snitter’s original owner, who was supposed to be dead.
In an unprecedented move, the excellent animated feature film adaptation retains Adams’ original ending. Usually it’s the soulless, crowd-pleasing movie version that tacks on a happy ending to the depressing and uncompromising ending of the original novel.
The filmmakers behind the animated version were paid handsomely for their artistic integrity when the movie tanked upon its release in 1982 and pretty much destroyed its director Martin Rosen’s career. Remember kids, pandering to your audience and stroking their expectations will not only bring you the big bucks, it also gives you job security.
Anyway, even after being forced to write a happy ending, Richard Adams wasn’t about to go out like a punk bitch so he wrote an introduction to his book, clarifying that he had to write the final chapter if he ever wanted to see his book published and that he originally wanted to end his story with the darker finale of the previous chapter.
He urged the more realistic-minded readers to stop reading once they reached the last chapter and recommended that they push on only if they had to have some kind of closure and could not live with themselves unless they were spoon-fed a happy ending that lulled them into believing they lived in a fair and loving world.
I guess this chapter is my version of that same final chapter in Adams’ book. I wasn’t really a dog in a top secret medical testing facility, so the stories are not exactly similar, and I’m not about to tack on a happy ending that didn’t take place in real life. This chapter is just here to tell you that yes, other stuff happened during the rest of my college years.
Yes, there were a couple more attempts at romantically entangling myself with some other females and yes, they all ended with the same predictable disastrous conclusions or faded into big fat fucking nothings, not unlike the various stories depicted so far.
I could go on about these stories in more detail and further waste your time but at this point, I’d rather not bother you with yet another go on this merry-go-round of disappointments. By this time, you should be able to foresee the beginning-middle-end of any story I’d attempt to tell you. Besides, didn’t I inform you at the very beginning that I didn’t go out on a single date during four years of college? What made you think anything would change?
However, my prospects were not always so horrible. From time to time, there was some good news on the horizon:
A couple of weeks before our junior year was about to begin; I got a call from Adnan:
“Don’t freak out, but I got some good news”, he said, while probably moving his head an inch away from the phone, anticipating a howl of laughter from me that could shatter his eardrums to a million pieces.
“Really!?”, I asked, “What’s up?” At this point in my life, after a soul-crushingly dull sophomore year, even the idea of any legitimately good news was a foreign concept to me.
Adnan took a deep breath, prepared himself for impact and said, “Oguz and Neval… They’re through”.
I took a minute to process this mind-shattering information. Finally, I yelled, “You’re shitting me!”
“Nope”, Adnan responded with assurance in his voice, “They’re done. Broken up for good.”
He was interrupted by me howling with glee like a banshee running to his freedom after years of captivity. I guess it really was a good idea for him to keep a distance between his ear and the receiver.
“That’s friggin’ awesome man!”, I yelled as loud as I could.
“Yeah, I guess”, he said, bemused by my predictable excitement. Adnan never really cared for Neval either, but he didn’t hate her. He didn’t care either way if he would never spend any time with Neval again. But he knew I cared. “So it looks like you won’t have to ever see Neval again if you don’t want to”.
“That’s amazing dude. You really made my day!”
“I know. That’s why I called as soon as I found out. Don’t be a dick to Oguz though. Be nice about this. He’s pretty torn up over the breakup.”
I answered “Sure, of course. I feel really bad for him”, but I have to admit that the happiness I felt at the idea of getting Neval out of my life once and for all was completely overpowering any feeling of empathy I could have felt for Oguz at the time.
He must have been devastated but in the long run, I knew that this was the right outcome for him and that he would surely benefit from it over time. And even if he didn’t, who really gave a shit? I was free to enjoy my group of friends again! Maybe the junior year wasn’t going to be so bad.
Ahmet added, “It happened a couple of weeks ago but he didn’t tell anyone because apparently it was a painful breakup. I could only pull the information out of him when I asked him about Neval and he began sobbing over the phone”.
“Ow, poor guy”, I mock-sighed while dancing like Richard Simmons on crack in my living room. I took a breath, calmed myself down long enough to ask, “So, what happened?”
“Apparently, Neval cheated on him with another guy”.
“Shit”, I responded with genuine sympathy, “So Oguz broke up with her as soon as he found out, right?”
“No. Neval told him that he’s been with this guy for a couple of months and that she decided to be with him. She’s the one who broke it off. In fact, it sounded to me like Oguz tried to get her back even after she told him about the other guy. He didn’t tell me explicitly, but I could sense it in his voice.”
I have to say, I finally started feeling really bad for the guy and of course I called him with my sincere condolences as soon as I got off the phone with Adnan. But I could not help but feel a small amount of hope I hadn’t felt in a while. Maybe things were finally going to change. Maybe the third year was the charm and I was going to at least get somewhere with a girl that year.
Of course, it was bound to be a shitty time for Oguz for at least a semester, but maybe it was time for the ever decreasing shared pool of beta male luck to tip to my favor. At the very least, it was time for something, anything remotely exciting to happen once again.
Well, nothing extraordinary happened, but at least my junior year was a lot more eventful. First off, a couple of months after the break-up news, I bumped into a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years and let me tell you, she had grown into a tall and slender cutie.
Her name was Yesim (Pronounced “Yeah-shim”). Her mother and my mother used to be best friends while Yesim’s family was living in the Aegean coastal town my folks would visit during the summers in the 80s. After my parents divorced, my mother stopped going there and we lost touch. I hadn’t seen Yesim for almost ten years before I bumped into her.
When she saw me at that food court in the mall on that fateful day, she gave me a tight, long, heartfelt hug. I’m ashamed to admit that this was the most intimate I’d been with a female for at least a year.
While I was hugging her, a feeling of determination zapped into my brain with a kind of intensity and assurance I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. I was going to do something about this chance encounter. At the very least, I was determined to kiss her as soon as possible.
I began by asking for her number and casually talking about plans to take her with me to one of our nights out at one of the torture dungeon-like techno clubs in Taksim. Of course I told her that the idea behind my invitation was for us to catch up as childhood buddies, not for me to get her drunk and try to make out with her.
I found out from Yesim that her and her family moved to Istanbul a couple of years back and that she was working various odd jobs to support herself through college. One of those jobs was to sell cell phones in a mall closer to Adnan’s place. Of course, after telling Adnan about her, he had to see what she looked like so we made our way to the mall to pretend to bump into her while pretending to shop for overpriced Diesel jeans.
I don’t know why I needed Adnan’s approval to go after Yesim, but at the time I felt like I did. So the charade went on as planned, we struck up a generic bullshit conversation with Yesim and made plans to go out that weekend with the rest of the gang. While walking away from her, I turned to Adnan and asked with the look of a nine-year-old who was about to show his dad his science club project, “So, what do you think?”
Adnan gave me a casual yet authentic look and simply answered, “She’s cute.” With his cuteness stamp of approval, I could safely continue with my mission.
That Saturday, I made plans to meet with Yesim at a theatre to watch a rom-com (I think the movie was Notting Hill. Fuck it, who am I kidding, I know it was Notting Hill) and then meet up with the gang to go to yet another shitty club.
As soon as I mentioned I’d be taking a girl to a rom-com, Oguz came up with an idea that would have been genius if we were both in the 5th grade, but was pathetic beyond belief considering we were almost college graduates. “Buy a large popcorn for the both of you”, he said with a mischievous look in his eyes, “That way, if you both go for the bag at the same time, your hands will inevitably touch.”
Man, college kids in The States were jumping from one casual, consequence free orgy to the next, as far as I could tell from watching various historical documents (i.e. Downloaded sample videos from bangcollege.com), and here we were giggling at cheap tricks an eight-year-old would have scoffed at.
Not that I didn’t take his advice. The trick worked in a purely physical sense. Yes, I got to touch her hands occasionally when we went for the bag at the same time but as far as Yesim was concerned, I think the experience was more frustrating than anything resembling romance.
Following the movie, we met with the gang at the first bar we usually went to before heading out to Magma, that oh-so-enjoyable techno palace of douchebags and migraines. Both Oguz and Adnan cornered me from both sides to get Yesim drunk. “We all have to do tequila shots”, Adnan exclaimed with fervor, “That way she’ll definitely get drunk with the rest of us.” At that point, I was so desperate to kiss her by the end of the night that I was willing to go with any idea.
So there came the tequila shots, one after the other, and another, and another, until Yesim and the rest of the troupe could barely keep their heads upright. That was the perfect time to head out to get our skulls aurally fucked by Magma’s stupendous sound system.
By the time we got to Magma, Yesim was obviously hammered and could barely see an inch in front of her face, which was apparently still not drunk enough for my friends. They kept pushing me to buy her more drinks, so I brought her a cherry-vodka.
As I got her the drink, I realized that we were standing on a pretty isolated corner of the dance floor. All of my friends had disappeared and we were finally alone. This was it, this was the moment when I had to make my move. I was either going to finally grow a pair and kiss her right then and there, or I was going to let the moment pass and lose my chance for the night, since she was literally a couple of seconds away from passing out.
As Yesim somehow found the energy to sip her drink in a near-catatonic state, I yelled in her ear, “There’s been something I wanted to do since we bumped into each other two weeks ago!”
Her neutral drunk expression didn’t change one bit. She barely even acknowledged my presence and definitely didn’t ask “Really!? What is it!?” with a playful and excited tone. Without waiting for any kind of response that would signify she still possessed at least the most basic motor skills, I yelled “THIS!” like a maniac and pressed my lips against hers for a good second or two.
When I pulled away to gauge her reaction to what felt like an awesome and unprecedented act of courage from my part, I found out that her flat expression hadn’t changed one bit. Sparks weren’t flying like I expected, but on the other hand, she didn’t exactly slap me and threw her drink at my face either.
So I did what any red-blooded boy my age would do when given absolutely no invitation through body language to continue any amorous advances: I went for another kiss. This time, gasp, she responded and kissed me back. I remember thinking, “This is happening! This is really happening!” The first couple of kisses in my life were short pecks at the most, but this time I was actually making out with a girl!
I knew at the time that this was an experience I should have at least sampled a decade before I actually did but I didn’t care, it was finally happening. The make-out session must have gone on for a good five minutes. I know this is going to sound ungrateful, but I even felt sudden short pangs of boredom in between blissful thoughts of self-fulfillment.
Possibly out of a mix of boredom and newfound gusto, I took the ongoing first base to the next level and forced my tongue down her mouth. I soon felt her rigid taste buds battling mine like two swashbuckling pirate ships. The god I don’t believe in help me, but I even remember thinking “I wonder how much longer will this go on? When’s a good time to cut it off?”
Finally, we broke it off and I eventually realized upon seeing her face again that she was about to become very, very sick. As soon as our lips separated, she clutched her stomach and zipped into the girls’ bathroom like The Roadrunner with her tail on fire.
There’s a boost of confidence for you: The first time you make out with a girl, she runs away to throw up as soon as she takes a good look at the face she just kissed. I know, I know, it was probably the alcohol and not my fat fucking face but still, it hurt a bit.
Not that I really gave a shit or lingered on it that much. Who cared how it ended? I got what I wanted and for a change, I finally achieved the very thing I set my mind to. As soon as Yesim bolted to the bathroom, my friends ran over to me, jaws agape with shock and eyes full of excitement.
“Holy shit! Holy shit!”, Nazan slapped me in the back, “That was amazing!”
Oguz grabbed me and shook me with all of his might, “Good job buddy!”
Adnan couldn’t break his fake-cool because of the remote possibility of appearing like an actual human being around all of those fly honeys in the club, so he calmly said, “Dude, you were going at it so hot and heavy, I thought you were gonna impregnate her.”
The congratulations lasted another minute or so and I finally felt like I actually succeeded in something, as sad as that sounds. This is the closest you’ll get to a “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!!!” moment in the entirety of this book.
The rest of the night was an absolute nightmare. First, I got news from Nazan that Yesim was puking her guts out in the bathroom. It took at least an hour for her to stop so they could finally hand her over to me so I could take her home.
The girls gave Yesim a plastic bag for the ride home and our one-sided conversations were strictly limited to her throwing up half of her body weight into the bag during the hour-long drive back to the European side of Istanbul.
When we got to her place, for some reason her mother didn’t hear the ringing of the doorbell and I offered to let her stay at my place. She reluctantly agreed and I put her up in my bed while I slept in the living room like a true gentleman.
A bit of a self-congratulatory statement I know, but I also have to confess that before I passed out on our gauche green living room couch, the only thought in my mind was wishing I was more of a dick so I wouldn’t think twice about taking advantage of her fragile drunkenness in order to finally lose my virginity.
The next morning, Yesim and I hung out like casual friends. I could tell that she was uncomfortable talking about what happened between us the previous night. While eating breakfast, I finally gathered up the courage to ask her what she felt about our kiss the previous night.
At first, she pretended to not remember. Then, when she finally fessed up to vaguely recollecting making out with a walrus-like creature under a drunken stupor, she didn’t really react one way or the other. Of course in my insane mind, this non-reaction meant that I finally had a girlfriend!
On my way to driving her back to her place, I missed many opportunities to kiss her due to simple, straightforward cowardice. Finally, right when we were about to kiss goodbye, she leaned over to kiss me on the cheek, like a friend. I stopped and looked into her eyes through my peripheral gaze. After contemplating the situation for a second, she tilted her face back up to let me kiss her on the lips.
Considering how our “relationship” ended, I think she must have already decided that day that nothing further was going to happen between us. I believe that she agreed to the quick sober mouth kiss before we parted ways in the morning because she was already tired and didn’t want to explain her position after seeing my inevitable disappointed face upon a friendly kiss on the cheek.
For the next week or so, I was on cloud nine fully believing that I now officially had a girlfriend, even though I hadn’t seen her or even really talked to her since the previous weekend.
When my mother found out I reconnected with Yesim, she immediately made plans to hang out with her mother so we went to their place for dinner on a Wednesday, a week and a half after that fateful make-out weekend. That’s not awkward at all is it? Visiting the girl you made out with a little over a week ago with your mother in tow? Well, it’s about to get a lot worse.
As our mothers were chatting it up in the living room, I approached Yesim while she washed dishes in the kitchen. I could swear that I actually used a line as lame as “Do you think they can see us from the living room?” as a prelude to ask her if we could kiss. However, I might be wrong about that detail. I think my mind blocked that memory for fear that fully remembering it might result in an automatic self-destruct sequence.
In a cold and serious tone, Yesim stopped doing the dishes and said, “I need to talk to you.” Uh-oh.
She turned to me, took a deep breath and said, “We can’t continue doing this, you know, like boyfriend and girlfriend.” She went on to explain in great detail how she’s not looking to date anyone for a while, how she recently got out of a bad relationship and how us being childhood friends made this whole endeavor feel wrong, although I must admit that I stopped paying attention after her first sentence.
When a doctor informs you right off the bat that you have some fatal disease, you kind of tend to block out the part afterwards where he goes into great detail giving you a bunch of pointless reasons why you got it and how hopeless your situation is.
Needless to say I was devastated. Once again, I buried myself in my movies and shut out the outside world the best I could. For some masochistic reason, I kept hanging out with Yesim from time to time after the “break-up”, but I was never as friendly to her as I was during the first couple of weeks of our reunion. I think she picked up on that as well and after a while she kind of faded away from my life. I have no idea what happened to her after that.
Of course there’s a lot more detail to this story. In fact, it could have filled up almost another half of this book but like I said before, what would really be the point of dredging up yet another one of these cycles when by this time, you should be able to predict how everything’s going to end? The only major difference with this story is that this time, I managed to kiss the girl in question for much longer than Zeynep 1 and Deniz. Whoop-de-fuckin-do.
The last time I kissed a girl before the end of college was when I visited my aunt in Izmir, a metropolitan city on the Aegean coast, two months after the Magma make-out session. Don’t worry; this one will be over quicker.
The first night of our visit, we met up with a middle-aged woman with two daughters, one an insecure artistic type in middle school, the other an airhead high school senior. As hard as I think back, even though her image and the memories about her are ingrained in my mind, I can’t remember her or her sister’s name. I also don’t fully recollect our connection to their mother, but I think she used to be the ex-wife of one of my dad’s friends from college years.
Anyway, I seemed to be hitting things off with the airhead senior even though we had absolutely nothing in common. I think she was interested in me simply because I was in college and me being a huge nerd didn’t matter to her. It definitely would have if we were the same age, because she was definitely one of those girls I knew in high school who would have never given me the time of day otherwise.
Could it be possible that I was about to bag the kind of girl I couldn’t even dream about getting with just because I was now a couple of years older than her? Amazing how much seniority and experience matters to some people.
However, there was one obstacle. Throughout the evening, she kept talking about her boyfriend, who was in the same class as her. Great, just my luck, but I wasn’t about to give up so easily. The dogged determination I felt a couple months before had paid off handsomely (And ended disastrously, but I wasn’t about focus on that part), so with my newfound confidence, I decided to give this one a shot as well, boyfriend or not.
So I asked her and her little sister out to the movies over the weekend, you know, as an innocent get-together with family friends. Their mother thought it was a great idea and I think my father knew my inferior intentions but he must have been at least a little proud that my testicles grew even by a millimeter.
That Saturday, we went to see The Sixth Sense. I had already seen it the week before in Istanbul but this was before we knew M. Night Shyamalan was a hack who got lucky and made two decent films (I actually think Unbreakable is very good) before turning into a running joke among film folk, so I didn’t mind watching it again if only to deconstruct the “brilliant” twist at the end.
Hell, who am I kidding? I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but the title of the movie didn’t matter. We could have been set to watch one of those terrible Turkish comedies (Believe me, you don’t want me to elaborate on their quality) and I’d be down, even though I’d normally threaten to slit my wrists if my friends in Istanbul dragged me to see one of them. The point was to get to know the girl better and the film was just an excuse.
I remember thinking at the time, “What the hell is happening to me? I don’t care about the movie I’m about to watch? I’m only using it as an excuse to hook-up with some girl, like %99.9 of Turkish men do? Am I turning into one of those, guys? Am I selling myself out, exchanging my lifelong geek card for remote chances to fulfill my natural evolutionary needs?”
I didn’t have an answer to any of those questions and I honestly didn’t care much. For the first time in my life, I was simply going with the flow. So, I guess that’s what it felt like to be just another “guy”.
Before the movie started, the airhead did that annoying thing all girls you want to hook up with who happen to have boyfriends do, she had one of those cutesy, overly-playful conversations with her boyfriend on her cell phone. At the end, for some reason, she held the cell phone up in the air while she covered her ears with all of her might.
When I asked her what the hell that was about, she said that her boyfriend was about to reveal the big plot twist so she didn’t have any other choice but to act like a deranged chimp. This was the level of intelligence and sophistication I was dealing with and I still didn’t care.
After the movie we went to McDonald’s. Around the time we were munching on our Big Macs, I realized that this girl did nothing but complain about his boyfriend, how he was never there for her, how he was always rude to her, how he was… Honestly, I didn’t listen to the details. What mattered was that this was the perfect situation for me.
She was already in a fragile state with her high school relationship and less than a year ago I would have been careful to not take advantage of her for my own seedy benefits but this was the new me and I wasn’t going to let any moral code stop me from getting what I knew I needed.
Not that I needed to do much to convince her either, because I had a feeling that she was about to use me to get back at her boyfriend and I didn’t have a sliver of a problem with that. The first clue was when her younger sister curiously split from us even though we were technically going the same way, allowing the airhead to walk me to my aunt’s place. The second clue was when she immediately put her arms in mine as soon as her sister disappeared among the crowd across the street. I was definitely in.
Of course the whole way, about a mile or so across the serene Izmir coast, she further complained about her boyfriend while I tried, possibly too hard considering she couldn’t have possibly sent me more signals concerning her intentions about me, to come up with the least lame excuses to kiss her. And fuck, before I knew it we were near my aunt’s building and it was time to say goodbye.
That was when I panicked and shuffled my mind to come up with something, anything to say to her to kiss her on the lips before parting ways. I was damned if I was going to let this end with yet another innocent kiss on the cheeks. And finally, I had it:
It was a pitiable plan of attack if I ever had one but I only had mere seconds left in the game and my options were rapidly running out.
“I guess this is it”, she said, biting her lip and looking down to contain the embarrassment that she wanted me to make a move (I might have made up that last part to make myself sound much more desirable for some reason).
I took a deep breath, looked her in the eyes and with my best imitation of a suave man said, “You know, there is a way you can get back at your boyfriend.”
“Really?”, she looked up at me like one of those playfully glib characters from X-rated anime comics that creepy grown men like to jerk off to so much, “What’s that?”
This was my cue, so I bent down and gave her a quick peck on the lips. To my amazement, she responded by raising her head to kiss me back a second time. The whole thing was over very quickly and she immediately hugged me as tight as she could.
The hug communicated to me an intense need within her for sincere tenderness from a man, a tenderness that was unrelated to sexual desire. It was in this moment that I realized that this girl, whose father had left when she was at a very young age, needed nothing more than a father figure in her life and as much as she was old enough to date someone my age, she still wasn’t mature enough to handle the complex hardships and intricacies of a romantic relationship. And you know what? Maybe I wasn’t either.
Maybe the direct folly of my ways was bypassing certain steps in basic maturity and simply pining after any random physical connection with any random female without a single thought as to why I desired that connection with that specific person in the first place.
It was as if women were unattainable toys for me to play with, put on shelves too high for my five-year-old mind to reach, a five-year-old who operated on nothing but pure ego and entitlement, never once thinking whether or not he was ready for any one of those “toys”, if he really wanted any one of them in the first place, or if he even knew how to play the game once he got his tiny hands on one. For the god that I don’t believe in’s sake, I was still a child, no matter how old my driver’s license said I was.
I’d love to tell you that with that bit of important sudden revelation into my soul, I immediately became a wiser person and said goodbye to the airhead like a proper friend, without trying to make out with her even further than the short kidd we had just shared.
However, she was already ten steps ahead of me. She looked away as she whispered to herself, “I finally cheated on my boyfriend.” I remember thinking, “If you want to really cheat on her, we can go upstairs.” What can I say, I guess there aren’t any lessons to learn here, not really. But if it’s going to make you feel better, I never actually said what I thought.
And then, as if nothing happened between us, she kissed me on the cheek like a casual friend, shouted “See ya later!” and ran away. All I could have time to do in that moment was to wave her goodbye with a confused yet satisfied smile on my face.
Again, I would have loved to tell you that during the following week I spent in Izmir, the airhead and I had a fleeting yet potent love affair but to be perfectly honest with you, I never saw her again after that day.
I called her once, a couple of days later. The conversation was weird an uncomfortable; as if we both knew whatever happened between us wasn’t going to go anywhere. I remember asking her out to a bar, hoping that perhaps getting her drunk would lead to at least another shot at first base, but she just answered “Yeah, sure, I’ll call you” with a monotone voice and hung up soon afterwards.
I’d love to think that my lack of drive in trying to convince her to go out with me once more had something to do with subconsciously knowing that I, or any other guy trying so hard to hook up with her simply because of the way she looked, was the last thing she needed in her life and that I was giving her the respect and space she deserved to grow emotionally as a human being. I doubt that was the case, but who knows?
For the last time, I would love to tell you that the sudden surge of kissing action during the first semester of my junior year was merely the catalyst for a bevy of sexual conquests during the final year-and-a-half of college and that from that point on I transformed into your veritable pussy hound.
But if you’ve been paying attention so far, you’d know that I’m only going to disappoint you again, fortunately for the last time. You did see that I began the Izmir airhead story with “The last time I kissed a girl during college…”, right?
Yep, coming back from Izmir to begin my second semester of junior year I had my hopes up that the romantic experiences from the previous semester were just the beginning of a sexual renaissance that was surely about to take place.
Who knew, maybe I was going to end the year with an actual girlfriend, made of flesh and bone, a girlfriend who not only didn’t mind being seen in public with yours truly, but actually professed to liking me enough to let me date her.
Yet this hypothetical person never materialized and I gradually gave up hope again while I buried myself in the interminable joy of my own miserable company. Eventually, the crippling self-doubt and self-loathing creeped themselves back into my mind and this time they decided to take out a mortgage instead of signing a yearly lease.
This was a wise financial decision for doubt and loathing since after the addition of years of disappointment to cement their existence even further, they obviously didn’t intend to move out anytime soon.
So I spent the rest of my college days focusing on my work. I wrote a bunch of short screenplays and directed a couple of them. They were all very ambitious projects since I was determined to create longer shorts, if that makes any sense, with engaging characters and dialogue, instead of the experimental art-house crap my classmates were trudging out. Most of those films looked like what you’d expect from the stereotype of a pretentious student film but at least they were mercifully five to ten minutes long.
My projects, on the other hand, were going to end up with twenty to thirty minute running times. These were going to be complex films with multiple characters and storylines. I knew I was well over my head but I felt like I had to do something crazy and exasperating to keep my sexual frustration under control, which were already rising to catastrophic levels.
I directed my first twenty-plus minute film as part of a directing class assignment during the end of my junior year. It was going to be a light comedy about two Star Wars nerds. For better or worse, the production went smoothly and I was able to finish the short. It actually got a surprising amount of laughs when it was screened as part of a cavalcade of student films at the end of the year and for a brief moment I was actually the center of attention in the film department.
The following year I decided to attempt a much more complicated project which eventually crashed and burned so horribly, that I spent the final semester of the senior year of college under a deep depression and barely left my bedroom. How’s that for a climax?
Encouraged by the success of my junior year effort, I decided to helm a thirty-five page screenplay full of multiple speaking parts, complex physical jokes and a butt-load of background extras, all for a budget of exactly zero dollars. It could have worked if everything just fell into place but in this case, absolutely nothing did.
Before production was supposed to begin, I spread myself so thin that I failed to put together a decent crew and had to light and shoot most of the project myself. As a strictly theory-minded person, I still knew fuck-all about lighting and could not operate a camera to save my life. Eventually, pretty much all of the footage turned out to be utter incomprehensible shit, so I had to shut the movie down midway into the production and I sent everyone home.
The main cast was disappointed in me at first but when they somehow got their hands on the tapes with the footage from the film at a house party one of them threw for his other actor friends, they all agreed that it was in their best interest that none of it ever saw the light of day.
The failure of the film as well as my four-year-long disastrous attempts to connect with the opposite sex had finally taken their toll on me and I locked myself in my room, only to materialize at college when there was important test or a meeting. I missed out on so much school during the last semester that it’s a miracle I managed to graduate that year.
At first, my friends tried to bring me out of my shell but then they completely gave up when they realized that I was probably more in need of a professional’s help than a friend who was willing to fake interest in my problems just to make sure I didn’t turn into Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Adnan tried his best to convince me to finish my film, no matter how shitty the final product might have ended up. To him, it was the integrity and self-respect that counted. He had a point, but so did I, since I saw the footage and he hadn’t.
Nazan didn’t really get in touch with me or interfered much with my predictable downfall, since she was also going through some heavy shit with her own over-ambitious thesis film. To be fair, she did approach me at school from time to time to see how I was doing.
I generally answered her by shrugging and telling her that I was doing fine. I was probably less convincing of an actor than Sophia Coppola in Godfather Part III but Nazan had more important matters to worry about so she usually just patted me on the back and moved on.
Oguz, on the other hand, really tried to pull me out of my funk as the always-considerate friend that he was. Every time I showed up at the campus, which was a rare occasion, he always asked if I was doing any better while making sure to keep me company.
This was a time when everyone were busy finishing their thesis films, so I couldn’t blame Oguz or any of my other friends for not being there for me all the time. Besides, this was a period in my life when I probably sucked out all happiness and hope from anyone around me within a five hundred feet radius like a sponge of despair.
Gradually, I pulled myself out of my depression long enough to proudly attend my graduation ceremony even though I was failing two classes and had to work on an alternate thesis project over the summer.
I eventually shot a silly little comedy skit that took me an afternoon to shoot and a day to edit. I shamelessly presented that as my thesis project and wouldn’t you know it, they actually let me pass and I was finally the proud owner of a useless BA!
So, I guess this is the end, at least for now. I don’t know what you expected but this story was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god (That I don’t believe in).
I guess the only thing left to do is to finish things up, wrap ’em up in pretty little bows in the form of one of those obligatory “Where are they now?” title cards everyone remembers fondly from the ends of such classics as American Graffiti and Animal House.
You know, “After graduating high school, Dougie went to Vietnam and died a horrible death”, or “Dingleberry Duckfuck became a US senator and spent the rest of his days as a shell of his former self” etcetera, etcetera… Anyway, here’s my version of that:
As I mentioned before, after graduation, Deniz lost some weight and turned into kind of an intellectual hottie. As far as I know, she’s still single, waiting for her perfect romantic mate to come along. I’ll always bid her good luck with that.
Nazan eventually got married to an actor and was the first from our gang to become a parent. In between trying to hold a family together, which is no easy task no matter who you are, I believe she still attempts to make short films here and there. I’ve never seen any of them but I hear they deal with strong feminist themes. I wouldn’t have expected otherwise.
I have no idea what happened to Neval. I heard that she got married to some poor sucker dumb enough to even attempt to spend the rest of his soon-to-be miserable life with her. Other than that I don’t know anything about how she ended up, and I don’t want to know.
Adnan finally realized his dreams of at least being perceived as an alpha male when he landed an internship in The States as an editor for movie and video game trailers and turned that opportunity into a high-paying job.
He now spends most of his free time exactly the way he wished he could during his female-dry college years: Putting on stylish clothes, jumping from club to club and banging the occasional vapid-minded hot chick. You might think it’s a bit pathetic to act like a horny spring breaker in your 30s but give him a break, he’s finally realizing the dream he so desperately wanted to realize during college.
Oguz stayed in Istanbul as he jumped from one low-paying, soul-sucking, go-nowhere TV job to another as he kept himself busy putting together some kind of trippy, new-age audio-visual show for his fellow hipsters to enjoy. He doesn’t get paid much for that work (Who the hell does?), but I heard that he enjoyed a modicum of success. He even got to see Moscow again when his show was invited there to be part of some techno festival. No information on whether or not he finally, “actually” got laid there. He’s had a decent, non-vampire girlfriend for a couple of years now and I hear they’re doing great.
Finally, we get to your humble narrator. I’m not going to pull a fast one on you by using the precious last couple of paragraphs of my story to introduce myself to the woman who would turn out to be my soul mate.
You know, after being taught a lesson on the hardships of romance, our hapless protagonist meets an unassuming, shy and warm-hearted yet conventionally attractive girl ten seconds before the movie ends. This cynical fake out communicates a last-ditch attempt by the studio to leave the audience with an artificial and all-too-easy feeling of hope, no matter how unrealistic.
After all, you can’t let them go home without knowing everything’s going to be all right for the protagonist after all. As George Carlin once said so eloquently, “People don’t want to hear the truth. People would rather stroke themselves, and one another.”
Here’s what really happened: After graduation, I gradually pulled myself out of depression long enough to apply for some master’s programs in The States and ended up studying film yet again at a mid-level art school on the West Coast. With my lack of sexual experience in my early twenties coupled with the inevitable culture shock, I had even more frustrating and absurd experiences with women.
I finally broke the dating glass ceiling and had my first official date at the age of twenty-four, which led to a disastrously confusing and frustrating relationship that lasted a full 46 days. Better late than never, I guess.
Over time, I went out with a number of other girls, and even managed to have sex with a couple of them. Talk about a major achievement in your mid-twenties, huh?
Eventually, I fell in love with the absolute right woman for me, got married and had a beautiful baby girl, all the while hopefully transforming into less of a clueless asshole in the process.
Now of course I’m not going to feed you some new-age bullshit line like “Everything happens for a reason.” Yuck. Of course I’m not trying to say that if I didn’t live through so much heartbreak, disappointment, confusion and self-doubt, I wouldn’t have had my own version of a happy ending. But then again, who knows?
As Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon once said, “That’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.”
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Oktay Ege KozakWrite a Review