The Turkish Loser

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CHAPTER 4 – THE IRRESISTABLE ME

The Ufuk/Pinar incident suddenly opened the floodgates and I became the prime piece of entertainment for the girls in the class. Before I knew it, girls would pretend to be interested in me and professed to me how much they couldn’t live without me, I guess in order to get a rise out of me.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when this new fad began, but I distinctly remember girls sitting behind me during class on purpose, all of a sudden whispering their declarations of love for me. It would start with relatively innocent statements like “You’re a cutie pie Ergen” to downright pornographic ones, as in “I want you Ergen, I want you now”, complete with fake sexy moaning sounds.

It doesn’t sound that shocking, I know, but for 8th grade in the 90s in Turkey this was pornographic. You kids are so jaded these days, you probably start with “I’ll suck you off like a bowling ball through a smaller hose of some kind” when you introduce yourself to your church’s new pastor, as well you should.

There would even be some physical contact involved. Usually, they would gently blow at the back of my ear to get a response out of me. If they were really daring, or if they were dared by peer pressure, they would caress my shoulder like a daytime stripper looking desperately for a lap dance near the end of her shift after a slow workday.

The reasoning behind these blatant bouts of teasing was directly linked to the Ufuk-Pinar incident. Even though Ufuk didn’t get into trouble due heavily by my unfounded offering of mercy to the wicked, the popular girls in class figured that I was at fault for ratting him out when to them, he was just innocently trying to have a good time.

The fact that Ufuk was pulling the reigns on his usual class clown antics at least while the authorities were now keeping a close eye on him also deprived the class of their usual entertainment.

Therefore, in order fill that void, the girls decided to act as Ufuk’s surrogate while he was being watched by the French Feds. There was also possibly a slight revenge angle in all of this, but I’m not sure of its legitimacy.

During the same day as the meeting with the assistant principal took place, I heard some rumors that Pinar’s parents were called in by the assistant principal and they all had a long book club meeting concerning the literary significance of the notes her and Ufuk wrote. At one point, they must have discussed the ascetic fashion the author courageously compares the act of sucking on female breasts to the childhood innocence of licking ice cream.

Rumor had it that Pinar was also present during this meeting. I would have given my left nut and pawned my right one only to be present when Pinar’s dad hopefully scolded her within an inch of her life: “Why did you draw a lollipop when you clearly wrote ice cream? Are you dyslexic? We taught you better than this!”

If this meeting really did take place, the revenge angle from the girls makes even more sense. After the meeting, Pinar was probably embarrassed for a total of thirty-five and a quarter minutes and was, gasp, grounded for a day or two. Therefore, the staining of her honor as the class slut shall not have been left unpunished. Her minions would avenge her and take down the fat nerd.

My usual strategy when it came to dealing with the sudden yet wholly inauthentic sexual interest from the girls of the class was to ignore them as much as possible. I remember when I was around six and had problems with older boys teasing me, my father told me to “Ignore them so they would eventually get tired and leave me alone”.

It didn’t work. One day, I aggravated a third grader so much by ignoring all of his taunts that he stuck a marble in my nostril as far as he could. My parents had to take me to the emergency room where the marble was successfully taken out along with a considerable amount of mucus. I don’t think I had any congestion problems for a couple of years after that.

The main reason I believed the ignoring strategy would work this time was because everyone was too old to play with marbles in the eight grade. Besides, I highly doubted any girl in class would stick their fingers deep inside the nostril of any nasty boy.

Pretending that none of the girls existed during class while they teased away didn’t really antagonize them any further, yet it didn’t necessarily make them stop messing with me either. When push came to shove, I brought out my secret weapon: A subtle and too-cool-for-school exhibition of the middle finger.

It was exhibited thusly: I wouldn’t even turn my head to the girls sitting behind me. I would slowly expose my fist next my head while they were “swooning” over me. Finally, I would simply raise my middle finger and leave it there until the message was received. I’d usually get responses like “That’s not nice”, or “That’s rude. I thought you were better than that. I guess not.”

There was one girl from my class whose motivations are still unclear to me and depending on what they were, I either lost another opportunity to begin dating way earlier than I should have, or I showed another asshole girl that I was not as gullible as she thought.

Her name was Nil (Like the river Nile, pronounced “Kneel”), a ginger girl with light green eyes, which appeared brighter and more colorful while surrounded by her pale white skin. She wasn’t necessarily one of the popular girls, but she was an honorary member every now and then. It all depended on whether or not they needed an extra girl to jump rope or play ball. It wasn’t surprising to see Nil hanging out with the popular clique every now and then.

But then again, she hung out with pretty much everybody. She wasn’t much of a snob and was friendlier than a lot of the other girls in class. She even hung out with me once or twice, sometimes with less than desirable results.

I remember one time when we were supposed to play coin football during recess. Coin football, or quarter soccer as Americans might call it, is a simple game. It requires only three large coins and any student’s desk. It’s played with two people, usually during the ten-minute recess in between daytime classes since it doesn’t take long to finish.

One player assumes the goalie position by creating a makeshift goal post extending his or her pinky fingers over the desk. The other player sets the three coins about an inch apart from each other at the other end of the desk. The kicker starts the game by flicking the middle coin with his or her middle finger.

After this point, the only way for the kicker to advance is if he or she can flick one of the coins to pass in between the two other coins. The kicker advances in this fashion until he or she reaches the pinky goalpost and flicks the final strike. If the coin makes it between the two pinkies, “Gooooooaaaaaaalllll!!!!” By the way, the goalie also uses his or her index finger in order to try to deflect the coin.

If one of the coins drops from the edge of the desk, the kicker loses. If the coin doesn’t pass in between the other two coins, the kicker loses. If the coin doesn’t even reach the line between the two other coins… It’s a brutal game that claimed many lives.

I remember it was during the one-hour lunch recess, which was uncharacteristic for a game of coin football, but was perfect for a best three out of five MEGA coin football tournament.

I was chatting with one of the other nerds in class, when I noticed Nil had been sitting at the edge of the teacher’s desk, dangling her feet in a rhythmic fashion, huffing and puffing in boredom to no one in particular.

“You look bored”, I uttered. She simply looked into space and nodded. “You’re not hanging out with the girls?”, I asked.

“I don’t even know where they are”, she said, “I checked the cafeteria and couldn’t find anyone. Anyway, I’m not gonna turn the whole school upside down trying to find them. That’s just pathetic. Besides, if they wanna hang with me, they should look for me.”

“Right”, I said, having stopped listening about three words in.

After an awkward pause, I muttered, “Do you wanna do something?”

She looked at me for a while as if trying to decide which would be more stimulating: Spending time with me or staring at the cracks on the wall like a mental patient. After a minute of weighing her options, she said “Sure. What do you wanna do?”

Ah, that terrifying question every man who had the balls to propose an activity to a girl but didn’t think far enough to figure out what that activity would be on the off chance she says “Yes” has to face. How do you stall for time while you think for something? You can’t just stand there and let her know how clueless you are. You don’t want her to think you’re so boring that you can’t even think of a single fun activity on the fly.

So I scrambled in my head, trying to gather visual clues around the classroom and I finally thought of the coins I left on my desk, change from the Turkish Coca-Cola knock-off I bought from the cafeteria, which tasted like caramelized battery acid.

“How about a game of coin football?” I proposed, “Best three out of five games wins”.

Nil thought for a second. She shrugged and said, “Why not?”. She jumped down from the table and made her way around the teacher’s desk. “You’re on!”, she said with a dash more enthusiasm.

I grabbed the three coins and made my way to the desk. I thought of countering with something akin to “Prepare to have you ass handed to you!” but realized that any mention of her ass would make me sound like a creep, regardless of the context. I bet you boys these days say “I’m gonna fuck you in your unyielding asshole and cream all over your lower torso” before playing paper football with a girl, as well you should. But again, this was Turkey, and a different time.

I must have said something like “Get ready to lose” without any conviction in my voice whatsoever. In fact, I probably sounded like the zit-faced nerd from The Simpsons.

“We’ll see about that!”, Nil responded as she bent over and formed the goalpost with her pinkies. Now that I think about it at this age, there’s something overtly sexual in playing this game with a girl as the goalie. After all, you are scoring your coin in between her hole.

I carefully aligned the coins at the other end of the desk. But right when I was about to play my starting flick, Nil took a step back with a disgusted look on her face.

“Ew! What’s wrong with your fingers?”, she asked.

With a confused face, I looked down at my fingers and immediately realized what she was referring to.

As a means of dealing with the stress of living in a broken family and the boredom of spending long stretches of the recess alone due to being an undesirable, I used to chew my fingernails.

In some cases, if I ran out of fingernails and there was still some time to kill, I would bite off the little bits of skin at the top of my fingers. I wouldn’t bleed or anything, the biting would just create tiny craters on my fingers until they healed and regained their smooth round shape again. What else should I have done? Sit alone at an isolated corner of the field, feeling sorry for myself, without biting the skin off my fingers?

That week must have been an especially tough one for me and my fingernails to endure. Maybe I was picked on more times than usual, I don’t know. All I know is that when Nil looked down at my fingers, they looked like the surface of the moon.

To the “What’s wrong with your fingers!?” question, all I could come up with as a response was to stutter for a couple of seconds and say “Sometimes I eat my fingers, so what?”

Nil took another step back. She was now leaning flat against the white board, acting like a trapped victim in a bad 50s horror movie with nowhere to run from The Abominable Crater Fingers. “That’s disgusting!” she yelled while covering her eyes, “Go away!”

I was hurt and a little confused. I thought to myself, “Why couldn’t she look beyond something that was obviously a bad habit and try to ignore the bumpy nature of my fingers?”

So I sat back at my desk with my head facing the floor in shame like a fat Charlie Brown. If I had any space left on my fingertips to chew, I probably would have gone to town on them. In the meantime, Nil eventually caught up with the other girls so they could offer another innocent sacrifice to Beelzebub while repeatedly stabbing themselves in the crotch with wooden crucifixes, or whatever 15-year-old girls did when boys weren’t around.

A couple of weeks after this unfortunate memory that apparently still float around in my ocean of self-hatred, I actually had a nice time with Nil. After being scolded by her about my unusual chewing habits, I had made it a point to stop torturing my fingertips in an ill-advised attempt at a ceasefire between my fingers and my teeth. This UN-sanctioned time of peace did not last very long, but at least I had smooth, humanoid-looking hands for a short while.

Of course this decision had a lot to do with being shamed into changing this disgusting habit by Nil. It didn’t last long, but at least something got through my thick skull deep enough to actually, positively, albeit temporarily, affect my self-destructive behavior. I always gave a bunch of shit to the popular girls in my class for being mean, but I wonder if they were a lot more brutally honest about my weight, my bad posture and my poor hygiene, would I have turned out semi-OK?

It’s funny how I remember every single excruciating detail about my embarrassing coin football experience with Nil, but cannot seem to recall the details of the good time I had sharing lunch with her during a mid-day recess.

I don’t remember how I ended up sitting beside her on a bench next to the soccer field, sharing food and having a lovely conversation. I don’t even remember if it was a clear day or if it was cloudy. It probably wasn’t pouring down with rain since we were outside. Were we?

I respect you too much to bullshit you with a made-up meet-cute straight out of a rom-com starring an obese John Cusack and a ginger Meg Ryan. Let’s just say that for now, I noticed Nil sitting alone on the bench and letting my smooth, uneaten fingertips lead my sudden burst of confidence into walking over and asking her if I could join her for lunch.

No, that doesn’t sound right. If I had experienced this kind of an uncharacteristic boost of confidence, a moment which would have been accompanied with superhero music blasting the brass section of The London Philharmonic if this was the tale of a hapless nerd overcoming his fears in order to get the girl of his dreams, I certainly would have remembered it since I only had about two or three of those moments in my entire life.

So maybe she was the one who approached me after she saw me sitting alone and miserable, pretending to enjoy my lunch. Yet this doesn’t make much sense either. Do I really expect to make myself believe that she would give me another chance at a one-on-one encounter after the coin football disaster?

Maybe the field was full and the only place to sit was the space directly next to me. Maybe she was wearing especially uncomfortable shoes that day, which made her choose between excruciating foot pain and social suicide.

Whatever the reason was, there we were, sitting next to each other. I think after gossiping about our classmates for a short period of time, I might have offered to share my food with her, and she did the same in return. I don’t remember what we were each eating, but in all probability, it must have been some of these top three most popular menu items found within school grounds:

Simit (Pronounced “See-Mitt”): A thinner version of a sesame bagel, very crunchy and almost burnt on the outside, soft and spongy on the inside.

Tost (Pronounced “Tust”): Although it’s literally the same word as Toast, it’s not merely a toasted piece of bread, but more of a grilled cheese sandwich. As well as being served with a thick slice of very cheap generic melted cheese in between two pieces of dry white bread, it can also be ordered with some thin slices of Turkish pepperoni called Sucuk (Pronounced “Sou-jouk”). For more variations, consult the “How to Order Tost?” section of your Travel Guide to Turkey.

Doner Sandwich (Pronounced “Dough-near”): This is a specialty item, introduced to the cafeteria menu near the beginning of seventh grade with much fanfare by both the school staff and the students. Doner is basically the Turkish version of a Gyro or Shawarma and since it requires a time-consuming preparation method, mounting the hundred pounds of beef on an expensive Doner spit and meticulously cutting thin slices of the cooked meat while constantly spinning it at just the right speed for it to cook evenly, everyone was proud of the one decision both the teachers and students thought was a splendid idea, bringing Doner to the school menu. Anyway, a Doner sandwich is exactly what you think it is, a couple of slices of Doner stuffed in between two pieces of crunchy sourdough bread with some lettuce, tomato slices and chopped onions. If you ever visit Turkey and are offered a Doner sandwich without onions, spit on their faces and ask for your money back. Tell them I said to do so.

Anyway, Nil and I had a nice time for three quarters of an hour that day and I didn’t think much about it afterwards, until the following happened a week later:

I was sitting in front of some girls who were in the middle of their faux-seduction session in order to get a reaction out of me. I think it was math class, which of course had to be in French, since a school full of Turkish kids would definitely benefit from learning how to multiply in a ridiculous accent some time in the future.

I was stonewalling them, as usual. Nil, who was sitting in front of me, turned around and whispered “Hi.” She was, smiling?

“Hi”, I replied back like a shy schoolgirl. Why was she so nice all of a sudden? Did she hear the girls making fun of me and felt bad for me? Did she take it upon herself to become my emotional bodyguard, protecting me from these wretched young females?

While still smiling and looking into my eyes with her bright green peepers, she asked, “Would you like to go out sometime?”

I didn’t know how to react, let alone answer. The inner conflict was obvious: Was this just another trick to fool me into even more public embarrassment, or did she really want to spend more time with me? Did she still find me disgusting because I ate my finger-meats and was trying to extract a little bit of entertainment from the boring class, or did our impromptu lunch date from the previous week actually made her feel a modicum of attraction towards me?

I immediately peeked at my fingernails. They were still clean, thank god I don’t believe in. So I did stand a chance. I turned to look at the girls sitting behind me, who looked just as bewildered by Nil’s proposal as I was. So, this was not a conspiracy after all. Nil, if she was trying to fuck with me, was in full rogue mode, a single shooter, acting independently from the class’ Ergen hit squad.

The girls also looked clueless as to whether or not Nil was genuinely asking me out. They looked at me with an uncertainty that read “You’re on your own pal.” I turned back around to face Nil. I didn’t have much time to make this fateful decision. Her smile was already turning into an awkward grin of hesitation.

“Sure, why not?”, I whimpered. In the end, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. If the whole thing turned out to be a ruse, how much more self-respect was I looking forward to lose anyway? How can you lose more of something that didn’t exist anymore?

What if she was being truthful and there wasn’t a hint of irony or sarcasm in her proposal? Then, my friends, this would have been my first date, my first step into manhood. When other boys would talk shit about the girls in my class, I could tell them confidently with a baritone voice “Hey fellas, be careful who you’re talking about, since I am currently dating one of those lovely young ladies.”

Other kids in class would talk about us. If this was the early 2000s and not the mid-90s, they could have even come up with a Bennifer or Brangelina-type name for us: “Hey, did you see what Ergenil is up to lately?”

“Cool”, Nil said, “Do you wanna go see a movie this weekend?”

“S… Sure”, I blurted.

Nil looked at the teacher, who was giving her the stink-eye. “We can discuss the details later”, she whispered and turned to face the class.

“Of course. L… Later” was all I managed to utter.

The talk about the details never took place, neither did the date. I don’t know why, but the following day, right before class, Nil stormed into the classroom. She looked somewhat hurt and definitely angry.

“About our date”, she huffed, “Let’s forget about it. Okay?”

“O… Okay”, I answered, confused.

She then proceeded to storm out of the room exactly the way she came in.

I looked around and saw a bunch of students staring down at me. So I did the most mature thing I could have done in a moment of personal hurt and heartbreak:

“I’m free!” I yelled out with my hands up in air as if I just single-handedly won The World Cup, followed by a Homer Simpson-esque “Whoo-hoo!” Oh yes, I was the great pretender.

The students dispersed, since the class was about to start. A handful of them were probably calling me an insensitive jackass under their breaths.

To this day I still have no idea why Nil was so angry with me and why she decided to call off our date. I wasn’t even certain if she actually wanted to go out with me. But if this was a joke like any of the others, why didn’t she plan a more creative way of humiliating me instead of making me look like the biggest jerk on the planet?

Wasn’t the point of this game to perform a cruel bait-and-switch, pretending to be interested in me and then exposing me in front of everyone as how disgusting and fat I was, and how no one in their right mind would even consider the thought of being seen together with me? If it was a game, why turn the class pariah into the class jerk, the kind of douche bag who shares Doner sandwiches with a girl and not call her the next week?

And if her expression of anger and hurt was simply the tail end of a grand performance, it was the kind that would have made Meryl Streep melt down all of her Oscars into a giant gold necklace that read “FUCK SOPHIE’S CHOICE! DID YOU SEE NIL BEFORE GEOMETRY CLASS?”

Instead of acting like an entitled asshole, I should have run after her in order to find out what she was so upset about. Had I said something awful about her the day before? It is likely, knowing intimately well how much of a happy-go-lucky fuck-up I was, but I don’t remember talking about her to anyone else.

Maybe I was telling the other girls in class with a smug tone about how much I didn’t really want to go out with her and that I was actually doing HER a favor, but that would be a pathetic attempt for me to protect myself from further emotional harm. Any idiot could see through that, right? Besides, I don’t know if I ever said anything like that.

However, clearly remembering my desperate call-for-help reaction after she called off the date, pretending as if I was ecstatic about the fact that I would not kick-start my journey into sexual maturity and manhood for another decade does not bode well for me in terms of how I could have acted the day before or what I could have said, no matter how much my subconscious protects me by not remembering.

Being a giant pussy who would do anything to avoid an awkward and uncomfortable situation, even at the expense of building a lifetime of crippling lack of self-esteem that would make the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz chastise me to finally grow some balls, I never found out what got Nil so upset.

Near the end of the 8th grade, my mother got a promotion as the assistant to the CEO of a major construction company. Not too shabby for a woman in a predominantly male industry, especially in a country that still held onto many Muslim traditions, including a giddy acceptance of blatant misogyny. However, the position was in Istanbul, which meant that we would have to relocate.

I was failing all of the classes that were taught in French. In short, I was failing all of my classes. But we made a deal with the school: They assured me that they would let me graduate junior high, as long as I promised them that I would not go to any school that even dared serve French fries to their students, let alone teaching them anything in French.

I told them that I had no intention of ever learning or speaking French as long as I lived and they, relieved at the thought that they would never have to hear me desecrate their beloved language, kicked me out with barely passing grades.

Before I could begin my new life in the land that literally brings Europe and Asia together, I of course had to fuck everything up once again by finding myself conveniently sandwiched in between two speeding cars while crossing a busy street in Ankara.

The accident left me with a punctured lung, a shattered knee, a kidney as useless as a gay republican and a five-day-long coma which doctors gave me a one percent chance to ever come out of. C-3PO had better odds of survival through an asteroid field, yet I was able to come out of the come after five days.

By the way, if you replied to that last sentence with “C-3PO’s actual odds for surviving an asteroid field was three-thousand seven-hundred and twenty to one”, get a fucking life.

Nobody could explain how I could have survived this certain death situation, but perhaps I was able to credit all of my unused good luck towards a once-in-lifetime mega-deal with the god I don’t believe in, which could actually explain my further disastrous experiences with the opposite sex. Who am I kidding, I was probably looking down the barrel of further suckitude with or without divine intervention on my side.

The point behind all of this exposition regarding the car crash that kept me crippled for months and made me miss an entire semester of high school, which will more than likely not feature anywhere else during the rest of my story, is the following:

After I was discharged from the hospital, where the chronic excruciating physical pain I felt all day long was nothing compared to being exposed to the twenty-four-hour music network ear-raping me with an endless catalog of terrible Turkish pop songs blaring from the communal TV next to my room, I stayed at my father’s house, confined to a wheelchair.

Since the ADA regulations didn’t really apply to Turkey (Why would they? It’s called the AMERICAN Disabilities Act), it was really hard to take a stroll with my wheelchair on the bumpy and underdeveloped sidewalks of Ankara. This meant that I was mostly stuck at my dad’s place, spending most of that time trying to come up with more excuses to go to the bathroom and rub one out.

Since my quote-unquote private room in the hospital was kept separate from the other hospital beds via nothing but a glass wall, it was really hard to partake in the solitary activity of pleasuring thyself, which was an activity I was practically addicted to before the accident. Apart from the obvious problem that the hundreds of patients and hospital staff could see me jerking off through the glass, any sudden movements in my broken left leg resulted in debilitating pain shooting up to my brain like instant shock therapy.

The lack of Internet and therefore Internet porn during that period didn’t help much either. I think I tried to go through with it once, around three in the morning, when the night nurse left on an unusually long coffee break and all of the other patients were sleeping. It must have taken me almost an hour to meticulously work myself up to a half-erection while trying desperately to ignore the pain. Alas, I failed.

The need to use the bathroom for “personal needs” a lot more often than usual was also due to the fact that I didn’t have a lot of visitors. At the hospital, there were relatives and family friends who came by from time to time, even some of my mom’s high-school friends’ attractive yet snooty daughters showed up, obviously by force from their parents. Regardless, my mental image of their visits came in very handy during my single attempt at hospitalized masturbation.

But no one from my class visited. None of them even called after I was released. Except during one night, a couple of weeks after I was discharged, the phone rang. My father answered and just when I was certain it was another family friend who wanted to offer his or her help in this time of need, he turned to me and said, “It’s for you.”

“For moi!?”, I said in my head with an accent that would have shamed Pepe LePeu and picked up the phone with incredulous anticipation. “Hello?”, I said into the receiver with anticipation.

“Hi”, a tender voice responded from the other end. It was a girl! What the fuck?

“It’s Nil”, she clarified after a couple of seconds of dead air from my side. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised that she was calling. Up to that point, even the nerds I considered to be my best friends didn’t even bother to call or visit. Yet this girl, this ginger cutie, took the time to call me?

“Hi,” I finally answered, “It’s so nice to hear your voice.” Smooth Ergen, smooth.

“Thank you”, she said, “It’s nice to hear your voice too. How are you feeling?”

“I… I’m okay, you know, considering. I’m guessing you heard about the accident.”

“Yes. That’s why I’m calling.” Surprisingly, there wasn’t a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

“Oh yeah, of course.” I said.

“So, are you feeling better, or…”

“Yeah, I’m doing better. I got out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago. I’m still in a wheelchair, wasting time at my dad’s place.”

While I was talking, I saw my dad desperately mouthing something. “Excuse me a second”, I told Nil and covered the mouthpiece. I turned to my dad and whispered “What!?”

“Invite her over!”, my father whispered. An actual female willing to have a conversation with me? I had just hit the jackpot as far as he was concerned.

“I don’t know”, I whispered back, “We’ll see.” Before he could call me a pussy for the fortieth time that week, I turned my attention back to the phone.

“Sorry about that”, I said.

“That’s okay. I’m sorry I couldn’t visit you while you were in the hospital. I was really busy preparing for high school.”

“That’s all good, I had a lot of visitors anyway.” From the corner of my eye, I could see my father mouthing “You lying sack of shit.”

This was now or never, I had to make a move. “Maybe you can come by later. My dad’s place is in the middle of Tunali Hilmi Street (Practically downtown Ankara).”

“Maybe, we’ll see. I’m just really busy with school these days.” That did not sound promising. “So, I’m guessing you don’t even have to go to school”, she added.

“Yeah. I’m missing an entire semester. After that, I’m gonna start school in Istanbul.”

“You’re lucky”, she sighed, “High school sucks.” Yes, I felt really lucky confined to a wheelchair without a single friend, living twenty-four-seven with a father who thought a/v nerds at an all-boys school got more pussy than I did. What stung the most was that he was right.

“Okay then, I guess I’ll talk to you soon”, she said.

“Okay. Bye?”, I blurted.

“Bye.”

She hung up. That was the last time I ever talked to Nil. Of course she didn’t visit, she had better things to do, developing an actual social life with girls and boys within her social class. She might have even been dating some dude at the time for all I knew.

Maybe you’re on my father’s side and thought I should have tried harder. Or maybe you thought this was a lost cause anyway. Either case, at least this time I had the balls to invite this girl I semi-liked to see me in my most vulnerable state. Could it have earned me some well-deserved sympathy points, and maybe even my first kiss? Maybe.

I’m not denying how romantic that moment could have been. My father’s place was a small penthouse apartment with a large terrace overlooking downtown Ankara, so it was a prime location for a first kiss.

If she were to visit after school, which would be around six or seven PM, I could have made my move and kissed her under the bright orange haze of the Turkish sunset. The music swells up, cut to a close-up of my father tearing up and performing the John Hughes slow-clap as we fade out.

But in reality, I spent a lot more time watching Aladdin over and over again, since it was the only movie I owned at the time, and visiting the bathroom more often than a geriatric who drinks two gallons of Gatorade every hour.

I have no idea what happened to Nil.

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