CHAPTER 3 – BEAT THE GEEK
A short while after the Irem fiasco, the teasing by other boys and girls started kicking in full force, as if a cruelty switch in their heads was suddenly cranked up to eleven.
I don’t think it necessarily had anything to do with what happened with Irem, although the fact that soon afterwards I became the prime target for every bored student looking to entertain him or herself by exposing my inability to get dates made me wonder if there was some kind of a connection there.
Their plan was simple: I was clinically introverted, fat, and awkward around girls. What better way to make the time pass than to convince girls to pretend to like me, so everyone could have a good laugh? This is the type of junior high bullying that makes kids want to climb clock towers and shoot at random innocent people with a sniper rifle after they have had enough.
So why didn’t I finally snap and decided to take out a couple of random victims? Simple, there weren’t any clock towers where I lived. None that I could have just easily climbed anyway. Alternately, I could have shown up one day at school and just started blasting students away, but this was years before the shooting at Columbine inspired bullied introverted losers everywhere as their go-to solution. Damn, I would have looked awesome in a black trench coat too. After all, black is slimming, right?
The games the mean kids in my class played were the adolescent, harmless, sexually charged kind that helped pass the time for those who administered, and scarred for life for those who received. The youthful mind is fragile, especially if you were a gullible chunky kid like me.
Hey, if the following story happened to me in exactly the same way right now, I’d probably have a good laugh about it while questioning the prankster’s maturity. Yet when it happens in the 8th grade, it becomes one’s clearest memory of that year.
As it is with every class around the world, we had a class clown. Ours was a skinny short fuck with beady eyes named Ufuk (Pronounced Oofook, not U-Fuck, although he was a fuckin’ asshole). For whatever reason, Ufuk got it in his head that I had a crush on one of the cuter girls in class named, I want to say Pinar but that’s a brand of yogurt. It’d be like talking about a girl named Yoplait in The States, which doesn’t make much sense. Anyway, I’m sticking with Pinar.
No, I didn’t necessarily have a crush on Pinar. Yes, she was cute and my minimum standards regarding breathing female homosapiens definitely made her eligible but that was about it. I didn’t have wet dreams about her or didn’t think about her much while masturbating. Considering I was jerkin’ off more than an average rapist in solitary confinement back then, odds weren’t in her favor that I was particularly obsessed with her.
The amount of boys and girls in the class were pretty much even numbered. As it is with many classrooms around the world, unless you actually live inside a TV show where even the ugly geeks are played by a bunch of sevens.
About twenty percent of the girls and boys were cute, twenty percent of them were ugly or too nerdy to make themselves appear presentable, and the rest were just average. Pinar was deemed by the rest of the boys in the class as being one of the beautiful ones.
She was slender and tall, had bright blue eyes and perfectly aligned cheekbones. The fact that you could kind of make out the shape of her small perky breasts through her uniform was of course a giant plus for the males.
But I thought of her as barely making it above the average status. This had a lot to do with her personality, which I found to be condescending and cold. If boys that age could only shut off their blind libido for just one second, they could actually realize how shitty attitude and narcissistic entitlement turns a lot of cute girls unattractive. This observation goes for some adult boys too.
I thought a girl called Zeynel was cute, not only because she had the largest and the most perfectly rounded breasts in class, but also because she was actually the nicest among the popular girls. I can’t say I had a crush on her either but if I had any balls, she would have been the first girl in our class I would have asked out.
But I think that more than anything, Ufuk basically figured that Pinar was cute, and I was a nerd, so I must have been madly in love with her. So, one day in the middle of the morbidly boring French spelling class, he came up with a devious plan:
I was sitting at the front right side of the class which actually made it easier to slack off and pass the hours in half-sleep mode even more so than sitting in the back. How none of us lazy bastards couldn’t learn how to spell a simple word in French but figured out the tiniest intricacies of every teacher’s field of vision, I’ll never know.
I was on my second daydream eating Big Macs with Gizmo from Gremlins when I had a girl sitting behind me tap my shoulder. I turned around to see the face of the reluctant messenger holding a folded note.
“From Pinar”, she whispered and went back to pretend to care about the class. I opened the note with a surprisingly nonchalant attitude to found “I LOVE YOU ERGEN” written in pink with giant hearts around it. I swiftly looked behind me but Pinar wasn’t within my field of vision.
I decided to ignore the note. It was clearly a joke. Still, there was a faint voice in my head that whispered, “What if it’s not a joke? What if she really likes you, even, gasp, loves you like she wrote in her note? You don’t want to ignore it, not do anything in response and live through a repeat of what happened last time, do you?”
“How do you know she even wrote that note?”, I responded to the voice, “Why would one of the so-called cute girls in the class would fall in love with a gnome like me?”
“Who knows?”, the voice whispered again, “Maybe she lost all of her mental faculties. Maybe she’s been blind and deaf all along and somehow managed to hide it from everyone. Who are you to judge the validity of the pure intentions of an insane deaf-blind girl?”
“Fuck off!”, I told off the voice, “You know none of that is true, it’s nothing but wishful thinking from your end, whatever part of the last remaining smidgen of hopeful thought in my mind you might be. It’s just a prank played on me by the cool kids because they are tired of trying to make sense of why the accent on the letter ‘e’ has to face one way on some French words and the other way on other words for seemingly no fucking reason whatsoever. Look, I’ll prove it.”
I pretended to look at the note again and turned to face the back of the class. Immediately, I heard some faint snickering arising from a small group hiding behind the blank faces sitting near the middle seats. Assured of my suspicions, I turned to face the class once again.
“You see?”, I said grinning to the voice in my head.
“You were right”, the voice intoned. I could hear it tearing up a little bit.
“Don’t cry”, I said in my best consoling voice, “You knew this was the case. I know you were hoping for something else, something miraculous, but sooner or later we all have to face reality.”
“Okay”, the voice said, “I’m going to drain out of your mind now to leave room for less hope. It was nice knowing you.”
“You too”, I told yet another one of my last voices of hope, “Bye.”
Meanwhile, I crumpled up the note and stuck it in the thin shelf space under my desk. I proceeded to ignore the note in order to stealthily ignore the ongoing class.
Suddenly, I felt another tap on my shoulder. The girl sitting behind me was handing me another note. “Another note from Pinar”, she grunted, obviously annoyed.
I reluctantly accepted the note, mainly because of a curiosity to see where this charade would lead to next. It read, in bigger pink letters, “I THINK YOU’RE GORGEOUS”.
Now I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was a prank, not a particularly intelligent or well-researched one either I might add. If this ruse was executed with any thought or clever planning behind it, they could have fooled me by pointing out some of my possibly interesting or attractive qualities.
If the note had read “I THINK THE FACT THAT YOU CAN TRANCRIBE THE LYRICS TO PINK FLOYD THE WALL IN ITS ENTIRETY OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD IS REALLY COOL” or “I FIND YOUR ABILITY TO RECITE ENDLESS AMOUNT OF USELESS MOVIE TRIVIA AT THE DROP OF A HAT INCREDIBLY SEXY”, I might have maybe fallen for it.
But “I THINK YOU’RE GORGEOUS”? Really? Hard facts about my physical appearance aside, I knew that she specifically didn’t find me remotely attractive. A couple of weeks prior, she laughed the hardest when a boy in class made the observation that “I had bigger tits than Pinar”.
Just like the first note, I shelved this one under my desk. I might be wrong, but I think I heard a faint disappointed sigh coming from the back of the classroom. I resumed pretending to give a shit about the French language.
A couple of minutes later, I felt that same tap on my shoulder, which was becoming all too familiar to me. The girl sitting behind me was holding another note with a look of disdain. “Guess who?” she said in a snarky tone.
I felt like I had enough at that point. “Send it back”, I said.
“I can’t send it back, I’ll get in trouble with the teacher”, she whispered nervously.
“You won’t get caught”, I whispered, “All you have to do is turn around and give the note back to whoever’s behind you.”
“That takes too much time”, the girl whispered, “I’m already risking getting caught by giving this note to you from your precious new girlfriend. I can’t afford the risk of sending it back.”
“Do you realize that during this whole time we’re having this argument, you could have returned that note fifty fucking times!?” I whispered intently.
“Just take the fucking note!”, she snarled between her teeth.
I snatched the note from her hand with a clear stare showing her that I wasn’t satisfied with her services as an unwilling in-class mail delivery person.
I slowly unfolded the note with dread. This time, it read “I WANT YOU TO KISS ME”, with luscious thick lips drawn around the word “KISS”. I immediately turned around to catch some of the merry pranksters in the act of leering at their circus geek. As soon as I turned, I saw a bunch of heads retracting back into their hiding place. I couldn’t make out exactly who they were but Pinar was among them, of course.
I had had it at that point. If they were going to keep fucking with me, I had to do something drastic to show them that I was one nerd you best thought twice before you pretended to like romantically in order to temporarily amuse your boredom. I had to go directly to GEEKCON 4, the secret weapon, the doomsday device that would blow this whole thing sky high: I had to snitch to the teacher.
I don’t remember the teacher’s name, so I’ll call her Madame Baiseur, which means Miss Fucker. I called the teacher over, “Madame Baiseur, s’il vous plait?”
“Oui, Monsieur Celik?”, Madame Baiseur asked. Fuck it, the rest of the dialogue is in English, just pretend whatever is said between Miss Fucker and I and whatever Miss Fucker says to the rest of the class is in French. I can’t spend the next two hours digging into the gooiest crevices of my long-forgotten French and combine it with Google auto-translate.
“I have something for you”, I told Madame Baiseur, holding the notes in my hand.
I heard someone at the back of the class audibly gasp, followed by another student crying “Shit!” Fortunately for him, he said it in Turkish and the teacher was French. Although, I had a feeling she understood the word and let it slide.
“I think you might find these interesting”, I said.
Madame Baiser pulled the notes from my hand and carefully read them one by one. She was probably taking her time soaking in the complexity of the artwork as well.
At the back of the class, worried murmurs started to escalate. I could hardly make out the words: “Fuck…”, “What are we gonna…”, “Shut up…”, “Fuck it…”
“Shut up!”, Madame Baiseur put them into place. “Thank you, Mister Celik”, she turned to me and smiled. She then proceeded to realize the prankster’s worst nightmare: She slid the notes inside the back pocket of her skirt. Even Nixon’s men at the prime of their Watergate glory had no chance of retrieving those documents now.
Madame Baiseur had a habit of underestimating the girth of her sizable derriere and constantly wore skirts that were at least a couple of sizes too small, which made her ass stick to every part of the skirt like cellophane on a turkey leg. The only way to get hold of the notes was to literally grab Madame Baiseur’s ass and no one, not even Ufuk, had the balls to do that.
“Fuck it!”, I heard someone exclaim again from the back of the class, this time even louder. I could definitely tell that the voice belonged to Ufuk. Yet I decided to ignore him. Fuck them, I thought, the whole thing is in the hands of the authorities now. That was one of my first lessons in why people should rarely trust in authority figures.
I thought for sure that the whole ugly mess was behind me and continued with my daydreams. Five or ten minutes later, I was proven wrong with another tap on my shoulder.
I turned around to see the girl sitting behind me foaming at the mouth. “This is the last one!”, she growled, “I quit!”
Could it be possible? Were these kids really that bored, that desperate to make fun of me, that they would ignore the fact that I just blatantly ratted them out and would likely do it again?
I grabbed the note, which had a message written on the outside fold. Kind of a cover letter to the real note. It read “DO NOT GIVE THIS ONE TO THE TEACHER!!!!” Any note that has a warning followed by four exclamation marks deserves one’s full attention, even if the person who wrote it is an entitled drama queen, or an overzealous asshole.
I opened the note as if it was an envelope full of Anthrax. Inside was a sentence I will always remember word-by-word for the rest of my life: “I’LL LET YOU LICK MY BREASTS LIKE ICE CREAM”
The piece of paper was covered in glitter and the usual random placement of hearts. There was, quite surprisingly, a rather crude representation of a lollipop drawn at the edge of the paper.
Why a lollipop? After all, Pinar or whoever wrote this note did specifically refer to the act of licking breasts as being similar to consuming ice cream, not a lollipop. It made me wonder if the writer and the art director of these notes were two different dickheads, and something got lost in translation? I’m afraid the lollipop-ice cream mystery will never be solved.
Before we move any further, a word of advice to 8th grade boys: If you ever get a note from a girl with this exact same phrasing, a boy wrote it. And if you have any balls, you’ll beat the living shit out of him. I didn’t, and I didn’t.
After reading the note, without missing a beat, I called for Madame Baiser again. She noticed the note in my hand and said, “Ah, the plot thickens”. At the back of the class, someone yelled, “You gotta be fucking kidding me!” This time it was clear who it was.
The culprit was finally brought to light. I would love to offer an Agatha Christie style twist and tell you that the mastermind behind this whole operation was someone none of us could have ever expected, but that wouldn’t be the bland truth. The perpetrator was predictably and inevitably, Ufuk.
“What did you say!?”, Madame Baiser raised her voice for the whole class to hear.
“Nothing Madame” Ufuk squeaked and hid behind his posse like the insecure pussy that he was.
I wanted to savor every reaction on Madame Baiser’s face as she read the note. First, there was a look of utter shock. Then, a slight confusion. My guess was that she might have also been baffled by the blatant discrepancy between the ice cream text and the lollipop drawing.
Finally, I think I caught a brief smirk before she stuck the note next to all the others that were suffocating in her ass pocket. I don’t know if the smirk was because she found the image of licking breasts in the same style of eating ice cream amusing, or because she knew she finally got the son of a bitch who made her class a living hell since the beginning of the semester.
After the class ended, nothing happened in regard to the notes. The teacher did not call on me for a special one-on-one to talk about the birds and the bees and how some bees can be callous douche bags.
I didn’t confront Ufuk because I was a pacifist who didn’t want to escalate the already tense situation into physical violence, which never really solves anything. Of course that was a bunch of shit and the reason I didn’t do anything was because I was a giant pussy who was afraid of getting beat up after school. So I let the whole thing go.
About a week after the incident, I was called into the vice principal’s office.
The vice principal was, in the purest sense, a classic old Turkish hag. She was a doppelganger for the mother caricature drawn for the Pink Floyd The Wall artwork by Gerald Scarfe. Go check the inside flap of your double LP and you’ll se what I mean. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Anyway, I tapped on the door of the vice principal’s office. “Come on in Ergen”, she said with fake empathy that years of practice made perfect so she could pretend to give a shit about our social problems. I awkwardly made my way inside the room.
I noticed that Ufuk was already seated across from the vice principal, faking shame like a Tony winning actor. The vice principal leaned her wide and short body on the edge of the table and looked straight at me with pity in her eyes.
She put her hand on my shoulder, settling into an empathetic position all teachers around the world are trained to compose when they’re about to tell a student that their mom has died, or that they’ve been fucked over by their asshole classmate.
“Ergen”, she said, “It looks like your friend Ufuk played a very cruel joke on you.”
Before I could figure out what she was talking about, she pulled out the notes from Pinar.
“Do you remember these notes?”, she asked.
“S… Sure, I guess”, I whispered.
“Well”, she said, “These were written by Ufuk”.
“No shit Sherlock! Is it possible that The Pope defecates around areas where there is a high quantity of lumber too?”, I thought.
“Oh”, I managed to whisper, pretending as if I had no idea. If I had any sense, I would have pimp slapped Ufuk right then and there. Just to see the vice principal’s reaction would have been priceless.
I was furious, to say the least, but I wasn’t really bitter, pimp slap fantasies aside. I don’t know why, I think I felt like no matter how much of a dick he was, Ufuk was still just another kid. Even back then I had a kind of insight into people that most kids that age didn’t have. I couldn’t rely on my looks, body odor, physical strength or social skills, but I could always look at someone and figure out instantly why they were acting the way they were.
I’m not going to give you that Schoolhouse Rock bullshit about how bullies are actually insecure and frightened little children deep inside and that they are trying to compensate for their frustrations that stem from abusive, broken and poor families by lashing out to the rest of society in equally abusive and aggressive ways. I doubt that Ufuk was raised in an abusive household.
Although the thought of Ufuk’s father making him wear a sheep costume while forcing him to play Aqualung on the flute as he mercilessly cornholed him into the wee hours of the night would have certainly put a smile on my face, he was raised by an intellectual, quite possibly secular upper-middle class family just like the rest of the students. There was no obvious reason I could find that explained why he did what did. He was a boy, and class was boring.
In his eyes, I didn’t even register as a human being. To him, he was so above me in the social circle that I wasn’t even a living creature with feelings. I was just a tool to provide distraction and let time pass by faster, like a yo-yo or a Gameboy. That was it; I was Ufuk’s Gameboy, and no amount of mandatory sensitivity training could change his view of me.
So what can you even do with someone like that? You let them go on their miserable lives, ignore them as much as possible and find solace in the fact that sooner or later the smart-ass shtick will wear thin and that they will be left alone without a single real human relationship around them. There are really only two career options for someone like that: Politician or modern artist.
As a politician, he might become successful until he tries to have anonymous gay sex in an airport bathroom and be forced to go to anti-homosexual rehab where they will “wash the gay away”, which doesn’t sound like fun. As a modern artist, he’d probably wish he became a politician. Or literally anything else.
I looked directly at Ufuk. His performance of faking genuine regret was worthy of a standing ovation. He looked at me with artificial puppy dog eyes and said, “I’m sorry Ergen. Can you ever forgive me?” A standing ovation for the hard-at-work thespian ladies and gentlemen!
I didn’t say anything back. I just stared at him with a look of disbelief.
The vice-principal did something that was very unusual for someone who takes pleasure out of the power she wields on 15-year-olds. For once, she gave me the reigns of the punishment wagon. She looked at me and asked “What do you think Ergen? Do you want Ufuk to be punished? I leave the decision to you.”
I thought for a second, what good would that do? I was mad that I’ve been played with and humiliated in front of my peers who already did not have such a high opinion of me, but would Ufuk even feel any discomfort from the repercussions of his actions?
This was a strict French school, yes, but one that got quite a hefty tuition from rich parents, therefore an old school beat down with a splintery paddle was out of the question. He would probably get a little bit of detention and even earn some street cred with the older boys for getting into trouble.
“Fuck it, let it be.” I didn’t say that of course, but my response was similar. I might have even said that I forgave him. If I did, I regret saying that.
When we got back to class, Ufuk declared to everyone, “Guys, don’t fuck with Ergen, the vice-principal tears you a new one.” That was the lesson he got from the whole experience and continued acting like a twat wrapped around a douche until the end of the year, which was when my mother found a lucrative job in Istanbul and we moved there from Ankara.
A couple of years ago, I became Facebook friends with Ufuk (Fuck if I know why) and found out that he was in a deep depression, drinking himself to sleep every night because the love of his life had recently dumped him. I had a slight smirk on my face and casually moved on to read movie reviews.