The Turkish Loser

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CHAPTER 7 – MY SECOND KISS

By the time my 18th birthday reared its ugly “You’re 18 and you still haven’t had a single girlfriend” head, the film department gang were already chummy with each other. A considerable amount of sexual tension was rising like a fresh loaf of horny, repressed bread among our gang of many men and two girls.

A couple of months into the freshman year, a small seismic activity of romantic interest began to shake up our circle of betas. First, Oguz started having a thing for Nazan, who already had a boyfriend at the time, a boyfriend she was having sex with. Vaginal… sex… with. And the crazy part was that she actually told us she was boning.

The first time I heard her talk about it, my head almost exploded. An unmarried Turkish girl, near my age (She was three years older than me), who admitted to being a non-virgin? There it was, right in front of me. A friend, who was a girl, who I knew was not a virgin every time I saw her, talked to her, or talked about her. Amazing.

Not only that, she went into sordid details with me about what she did and didn’t do with her boyfriend. I don’t know why she designated me as the only male harmless enough to confess to about her sexcapades but I think it had something to do with her seeing me as nothing more than friendship material, an asexual organism, neutral to the matters of men and women, kind of like Sweden of the sexual universe.

Not that I didn’t totally play into it. What was I supposed to do, imply that I was uncomfortable with all her candor and risk leaving my spank bank empty? I pretended to be interested in her sex life merely for educational reasons, with staged emotional distance that made it appear as though I was a zoologist studying the mating rituals of hyenas or something. This approach made it easier for me to ask questions about her favorite positions and their unsafe yet gloriously pornographic birth control methods.

Of course it looked like I was retaining all of this information in a purely scientific and clinical manner, to be written up in my non-existent “Sexual Behaviors of The Turkish Female” study book later when I got home. But what really happened when I got home was that I used her stories as mental lubrication for my simian-less monkey spanking sessions. I, shall we say, didn’t run out of any inspirational material during my entire freshman year, thanks to her.

I present this detail not to implicitly gross out my female readers but to warn them. That fat ugly guy who’s forever in your friend zone, who you can safely and candidly share all of your desires and secrets with, he might look like he is there for you, intently listening to your most intimate stories and sympathizing with you with the supposed emotional detachment of a professional therapist.

But rest assured that a half an hour at most after you part ways, he will be hunched over a chair in his man-cave, waxing his sad stick like a chimp on steroids while sweating like a Nazi war criminal at the Jewish Community Center, shaking as if he’s having an epileptic seizure, all the while thinking about you and your harmless stories. Sleep tight.

So Oguz was obviously trying to get with Nazan since he wouldn’t leave her sight for even a second while we were at school or anywhere else. He would hover around her so much and at such a close proximity that it looked like Nazan had an undesired moon that was now part of her gravitational pull. During this time, Nazan and I made fun of Oguz by equating him to an American Football player who was trying his hardest to find an opening to finally tackle her.

That was a time when it looked like Oguz would do anything for a night with Nazan but it wasn’t to be. Nazan liked the older, cooler boys and Oguz was younger and needier. Plus, she already had an older, cooler boyfriend. Did I mention they were boning?

Me, on the other hand, I was starting to feel a minor attraction towards Deniz, the slightly overweight (Who was I to talk?) cutie with the infectious laugh and the worst fashion sense in all of recorded history (Again, who was I to talk?). She was the romantic type, poetic and idealist. Not the perfect match for a sickeningly realist and unapologetically crass dickwad like me.

Although, I did have a romantic side brewing deep inside that was yearning to come out but was brainwashed into thinking it was nothing but a cover for pure, unbridled male libido. Anyway, I wasn’t outwardly romantic enough for her, I guess, judging by the way I once confronted her about it while walking to the bus stop from the campus.

“Why does everything have to have a layer of romanticism to you?”, I asked her.

“I don’t know. I’m a girl. I just look at everything, the sun, the night sky, the moon, and describe them in the way my heart reflects.”

“Yeah but doing it all the time, you miss the point that sometimes, it’s just the moon. You know, the fifth largest satellite in the solar system? That’s it, and that’s all it will be.”

After that, she was silent all the way to the bus stop.

But hey, you know what they say, opposites attract. They just never tell you what to do when one opposite attracts, and the other opposite runs to the hills. To be fair though, I did ease up on the dickish lectures on reality so her and I could strike up quite a close friendship. Yet whatever my feelings towards her might have been, they were always mired by the immature school boy desire to belong with my peers.

My friends, including Oguz, always made fun of Deniz’s weight, her awkward personality, her messy hair and her choice of clothes, which included almost always showing up to school wearing pink cotton pants.

After spending the majority of high school not having a specific circle of friends to call my own, I was eager to make sure that I’d have more than two friends when I reached university age and one of them could not be imaginary. So I gave in from day one and started making fun of her behind her back along with the rest of the boys.

We used to resemble Deniz to an Ewok, due to her short height, her weight and her ragged hair. We would imitate her speaking in a made up Ewok language. It sounded more like Salacious Crumb, the weird squiggly creature sitting next to Jabba the Hut with the high pitched laugh, instead of an actual Ewok. I know who Salacious Crumb was, and she was the geek? So in a way I guess my willingness to jump on board the “How Much Shit Can We Talk about Deniz?” bandwagon clouded my organically growing attraction toward her.

Another problem was that Deniz was practically in love with Oguz. Yeah, that guy who likened her to a small race of bear-like aliens from Return of The Jedi (I know you’re gonna say “So did you!” but fuck, why did you have to bring that up!?) That’s right; we had ourselves a classic beta love triangle, with my name actually nowhere to be seen on it since Oguz liked Nazan and Deniz liked Oguz.

In fact I was so outside of that triangle that I was a single insignificant point drifting alone in a space of nothingness. You see I can romanticize, just not in the way that attracts female genitalia.

Even though Deniz was probably a better match for Oguz, he didn’t have much interest in her due to his stalking duties to Nazan.

I would love to end the previous sentence with “Which left Deniz open for me to make my move”, but I didn’t consciously pick up on that as an opportunity around that time so I wasn’t specifically focused on replacing Oguz as Deniz’s target of affection.

Why was that? Was my subconscious riddled with vastly inferior self-worth and confidence, which became this way after years of inexperience with and confusion about the female kind, trying to protect my frail psyche from any further disappointment by filling my thoughts with nothing but useless movie trivia and epic inner-monologues about what to eat next? I should have thought about her more. I should have had a game plan.

My 18th birthday was on the horizon and I wanted to throw a big party at my house to celebrate my grand entrance into adulthood, which really wasn’t going to even begin to happen until about ten years afterwards, but I thought I was crossing some sort of a maturity threshold at the time.

My mother and I lived in a large three bedroom house with a beautiful backyard. The rent was fairly low for such a mini-mansion. The only glaring downside was that we were at least two and a half hours away from everyone, which meant that a majority of my university years were spent on two-hour-long bus rides to and from school with only my trusted walkman and my mix tapes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to keep me company.

In hindsight, if I had spent all of that bus time writing instead of listening to Wish You Were Here 50.000 times, I would have probably ended up with a Turkish epic the size of Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia combined, without any intention of turning innocent minds to Christianity to boot, like that limey fuck C.S. Lewis did.

Before my birthday, I didn’t have the chance to entertain a lot of my newfound college friends at my place due to their unwillingness to participate in what I’m sure felt to them like a transatlantic bus ride from hell. But considering my birthday was a special occasion, most of them agreed to embark on the long and perilous trek. A total of nine people were coming, which doesn’t sound much to those of you well versed in average house party population studies, but it was about five times the amount of guests I had on average for any of my previous birthdays.

I wanted this party to be special, which meant filling the house full of booze and then seeing what happens. That was literally my plan for the entire party: Ten people in a room and endless beer. The overabundance of alcoholic drinks had another connotation: I was about to reach the legal drinking age. Yes, the drinking age is eighteen in Turkey, eat your heart out America!

Oguz had agreed to hang out with me at my place a day beforehand in order to help out with the party preparations. Walking from the bus stop to my house, the following conversation took place:

“The party should be fun, huh?”, I said.

Oguz nodded and said, “Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.”

After a couple of seconds of awkward silence, I said “Do you think something might happen, you know with the girls?”

“You mean like, sex?” After thinking for a while, Oguz nodded with confidence, “Yeah, it’s definitely possible.”

After more silence, I managed to say, “Should we, you know, buy something? Just in case?”

“You mean condoms?”, Oguz asked. “Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

At this point I should clarify that only three female organisms had agreed to come to my birthday: Nazan, Deniz and Vivian, the older pretty Jewish girl that everyone was in love with.

Vivian had already confirmed that she wasn’t going to stay long. Besides, she was gorgeous and more sophisticated. None of us had any chance with her and we knew it.

There was a rumor going around the university those days that Vivian not giving it up for anyone at school was because she was Jewish, she strictly dated Jewish men. I didn’t think that to be the only case, if at all. I guess everyone had to make up some excuse for failing with her.

Nazan was coming with her male cousin but she didn’t specify any timeline for when she needed to get back. Deniz, on the other hand, had to spend the night at my due to a lack of sufficient transportation back to her home in the midnight hours.

She actually told us that she got strict instructions from her mother never to accept any pills or opened bottles from any of the boys and to make sure to lock the bedroom door at night.

I guess this way, if any of the men’s inner rapists took over, she would have had an extra 30 seconds before we broke down the door and ravaged her like sex-starved wolverines. The first thing she asked me as soon as she walked in was, “Do you have a lock for my bedroom?”

It took me twenty minutes to find the skeleton key that would lock the guest bedroom or any other room in the house for that matter. We had at least two more copies of that key hidden somewhere around the house, which meant that if any of us boys happened to feel especially rapey, we could have easily opened that door. Of course this was a fact I kept from Deniz.

Later that night, Deniz had a massive migraine from drinking half of her body weight in alcohol but would not take any pills from me or any of the other guys. It was only in the morning when my mother offered her some aspirin so she could battle her hangover, she figured my mother was probably not Ted Bundy in drag and finally took it.

In the pussy department Oguz boasted as having more experience than I did. Not a very impressive quality considering a shrubbery would be more experienced than me at the time. He used to tell stories about how he made out with a total of two girls during his years of high school in Russia, that he once had a legitimate girlfriend and, get this, that he even had sex with a girl who he described as his fuck buddy, even though they apparently had sex just once.

To prove this, he showed me pictures of him and a friend of his from Russia with two cute Russian girls in their underwear. Of course the photos didn’t prove anything and I have trouble believing his story to this day.

Any cute poor Russian girl would have agreed to take pictures with two nerds in their underwear for 65 American cents. In any case, if there was a leader between the two of us who would safely pull us through our first condom-buying quest with valor and vindication, it was Oguz.

The only pharmacy on the way home was under a sizable neighborhood mosque. A highly appropriate location for two shy kafir (a sinner, or an unbeliever in the ways of The Qu’ran) men to buy rubber paraphernalia that would be applied by wrapping said rubber around said kafir men’s naked penises so they could have guilt-free premarital sex with as many kafir sluts as they wished.

Upon entering the pharmacy like scared kittens, we were met with our biggest nightmare: A woman behind the counter wearing a head scarf, meaning she was a practicing Muslim. Thankfully she was taking care of another customer so that gave us some time to hopefully locate the condoms, pay for them discreetly and bolt out of there before the obviously religious clerk burned a hole in our psyche with her powerful guilt rays.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that facile, for the pack of condoms we sought were trapped behind the glass counter, stacked amongst a horde of its brothers, and it only could be liberated by the headscarf lady. Fuck.

While the clerk was still taking care of the other customer, Oguz and I pretended to casually browse around the pharmacy, looking like we were interested in anything but condoms while trying really hard not to make eye contact with each other for even a second.

I think we were both afraid that if we looked at each other, we’d puss out and bolt. Our fake interest in other items in the pharmacy escalated to such absurd heights that I remember grabbing a random item off the counter and reading the instructions on how to apply it. It was Vagisil.

The dreaded time had come and the woman in the headscarf was done with the other customer. She casually made it to our side of the pharmacy and uttered four of the most terrifying words in any language: “May I help you?”

Oguz and I both stared intensely at the box of condoms visible through the glass, as if we wished Jedi powers we didn’t know we had would enable us to levitate the box into our hands. After a couple of seconds of praying the other person would rise to the occasion, Oguz finally looked up and blurted out, “Do you have any condoms!?”

Without missing a beat the woman said, “Certainly. Which brand were you looking for?”

Oguz pointed to the box we were eyeing like a toddler looking at a puppy made out of cotton candy. He hit the glass between us and the condoms so hard with his finger that I thought he was going to break it.

“How many?”, the woman asked.

“Uhmmm. One, I guess”, Oguz whispered while visibly shaking.

Oguz looked at me with the corner of his eye for confirmation. I nodded and whispered, “Yeah, it’s fine” with a broken voice. One box had twelve condoms. More than plenty unused rubbers for super-robot archeologists from the year 5031 to find during a dig out and classify as an artifact pertaining to the reproductive customs of the previous inhabitants of the planet.

The woman with the headscarf pulled out the box of condoms and declared its price as if she was talking about a pack of gum (Just as chewy, harmful if swallowed). We paid very quickly and ran out of there. I don’t remember how we got home.

I don’t think it would be much of a spoiler if I confessed that the condoms weren’t used the next day.

In fact, the majority of the condoms remain unused decades later, waiting patiently to be discovered by the super-robots from 5031. They are still hiding inside a large book about Cinema’s Greatest Directors in my mother’s house in Turkey. It’s my undeniable luck that she never had much interest in film history. Even after she moved six times since I left home, the book moved with her, along with the more than likely decomposed box of prophylactics.

I say the majority of them remain unused because I took two of them out of their wrapping, one of which I soiled, and the other I used as a prop for a joke that bombed.

The night we bought the condoms, being curious about how they would feel on my schlong, I masturbated to porn with the rubber. I remember thinking “That felt good, and there’s no mess to clean up afterwards. I should do this all the time!” And then I calculated the price of one condom multiplied by how many times I jerked off during any given week. I realized that our entire family would be bankrupt in a couple of months, so I gave up on that idea.

I unwrapped the second condom in order to use it as a joke during my birthday party. The idea was that I would be looking for a speech to commemorate my illusionary passing into adulthood and while looking into my pockets, I’d pull out a condom from my shirt pocket. After the guests’ laughter, I’d fake being shocked and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not it” and quickly cram it back into my pocket. It didn’t work.

In the middle of the party, after all of the expected guests showed up, I got up to propose a toast, for myself no less. I set up the joke with a big announcement:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, since I am taking my first steps into that dreaded minefield called adulthood, I’d like to read to you a short speech I prepared yesterday.”

Everyone sprang into attention, or they pretended to for my sake. I did the whole bit where I looked around for the speech, and then I pulled the unwrapped condom. “Oops”, I winced playfully, “That’s not it.”

Nobody laughed. They all stared at me like a bunch of cows who were just shown a Tarkovsky film. I gulped, slowly rolled up the condom and put it back in my pocket. The worst part was that I hadn’t even prepared an actual speech, so after about ten seconds of excruciating silence, I yelled out, “Cheers!”

Everyone managed to mumble their version of “Cheers” and we all sat back down. I’m not sure, but I believe some of the guests were blinking “WTF?” in Morse code.

The majority of the party went by smoothly, just a bunch of first year film students and movie buffs discussing the intricate layers of film theory as if they were already done with their PhDs. The booze provided a relaxed, talkative atmosphere and I was stoked that my first party with more than three people in attendance was going well.

Nazan showed up with her cousin, who was older than us but was a really cool guy. A true liberal Turkish intellectual with a long ponytail to prove it. I could say he was there to cock-block Oguz’s possible advancements toward Nazan but Nazan was actually doing a good job at that herself anyway. That didn’t stop Oguz from following her wherever she went. At one point, she had to stop Oguz to remind her that he was not allowed to follow her into the bathroom.

Deniz came with her trademark salmon cotton pants and a single braid in her hair, covered in tiny colorful beads, hanging in front of her forehead. None of us had any idea what that was about but she always proclaimed that she was obsessed with Latin culture.

I don’t think she had any idea which Latin country or which specific Latin people’s culture the look was supposed to represent. We figured that some photo she saw somewhere that did not even belong within the context of so-called Latin culture probably inspired the beads. Nevertheless, we played along.

Around one in the morning when everyone was drunk enough, someone came up with the brilliant idea of playing Spin the Bottle. Okay, it might have been me who came up with the brilliant idea.

Spin the Bottle, for those of you who are not familiar with beta male semi-sexual loopholes, is a godsend for losers around the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was invented centuries ago by a fat, pimply intellectual who was sick of watching his brawny, baby-killer soldier buddies score with chicks all the time while he got diddly.

So that man, blessed be his spirit, came up with a simple trick that allowed him to make out with girls in the guise of a party game, girls who would normally go for his hotter friends. And for that, we salute you o’ anonymous nerd.

The set-up is simple. A group of friends sit around in a circle on the floor with an empty beer bottle between them. It’s preferable for male and female members of the party to sit next to each other, alternating one female next to one male.

Someone spins the bottle in its place. When it stops, whoever the tip of the bottle points to, the person who originally spun the bottle has to kiss her or him. Afterwards, the person who the bottle was pointing to spins it again and the game continues. By the way, don’t even bother playing this unless at least three fifths of the party is comprised of females (Unless you’re gay, in which case party on!).

Unfortunately, the version we played was a hybrid of Spin the Bottle and Truth or Dare, meaning that whoever the bottle points to is asked “Truth, or Dare?” The spinnee then picks one or the other and either has to answer truthfully to a more than likely embarrassing question that’s usually sexual in nature, or has to perform a dare, which usually, hopefully involves kissing another contestant. This version considerably brings down the overall percentage of make-out possibilities and is not recommended by yours truly.

With Vivian and a couple of her stalkers gone, the battlefield was now set between Nazan and Deniz on the female side and me, Oguz and Selim on the male side. Selim was an economy major, a bona fide genius who became our friend because of his love for film. How do I know he was a genius? Even though he loved film, he elected to study something that could actually make him money some day.

Nazan’s cousin decided to “Just watch”, probably because he wasn’t from Arkansas and therefore did not like the fact that he might be asked to make out with his own cousin. Good, we had enough men as it was.

As we were setting up the game, I could imagine the tension rising between the males and the females like two bad-ass duelists from one of Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti westerns. With Ennio Morricone’s “The Trio” blaring inside my head, I could see in my mind extreme close-ups of the boys casually sizing up the girls, trying to find and exploit any weakness, and the girls suspiciously approaching the circle, thinking hard on how to find a balance between having just some harmless fun, and ending up as a geek’s number one masturbation material for years to come.

The stage was set, the time had come. It was now or never, do or die, Semper Fi. With the bottle promptly placed in the center of the circle, everyone looked at each other to see who had the balls to go first. Finally, Nazan broke the silence. She looked at me and said, “Ergen, since you’re the host of the party and it’s your birthday, why don’t you start?”

Oh great. A secret that men keep to themselves about this version of Spin the Bottle is that no guy likes to be the spinner. The main reason being that if you hit a girl and she picks “Dare”, it’s considered a dick move if you make her kiss you. I did that once and got looks from people as if I just boiled a baby. So long story short, if it’s your spin, you get no kisses.

The bottle spun and spun, and finally decided on none other than Oguz. Awesome, we were off to a great start. At least if he picked “Dare”, I could make him kiss Nazan and fulfill my duties as the best friend.

“So, Oguz”, I said with an air of fake suspense, “Truth or Dare?”

Without thinking, Oguz said, “Truth.”

That fucking idiot! By playing it safe and not saying “Dare” from the get-go, he forgot the Spin the Bottle golden rule for men: always say “Dare”, always. Even if there is an eighty percent chance that you will be ordered to do something lame and embarrassing, that still leaves you with a twenty percent chance of making out with the girl who won’t otherwise give you the time of day.

Sure, you might be humiliated in front of your peers for a minute, but at the end of the day, it’s that twenty percent that counts. Plus, now I had to think of a question that was sexually embarrassing up to a point that didn’t fully expose mankind as the freaks that we are.

I thought for a second and asked, “Have you ever had sex? And if you have, give us the details.”

Nice save. Not only was it a question that was naughty in nature, it also gave Oguz an opportunity to boast about his (Probably made-up) adventures in Russian Vaginaland.

“A Couple of years ago”, Oguz positioned himself as if about to tell a campfire story, “My father was stationed in Moscow. Me and my best friend at the time (I can’t remember his friend’s name, let’s call him Dickcheese) were hanging out at the mall when we noticed these two really smokin’ girls checking us out.”

“I told Dickcheese that the girls are looking at us and that we should do something. He was kinda shy, so I had to make the first move. We hung out with the girls for a while. My parents were out of town so I invited them to my place. The rest is, as they say, history.”

A well-told bullshit story. Vague, but to the point. I’d have given him a standing ovation if I could.

“What were their names?” Nazan asked inquisitively.

Oguz tilted his head to the ceiling, “Mine was named… Tatiana. I don’t remember the other girl’s name.”

Good thing he didn’t pick Natasha, the Turkish code word for a Russian prostitute.

Nazan nodded, satisfied with the answer. Both of the girls looked impressed, which made me think that my mission in making my friend look like a proper ladies’ man might have blown up in my face, making me look like the big loser in the room if I would ever be asked the same question. How was I to answer? I didn’t even have a bullshit story ready.

It was Oguz’s time to spin the bottle. He grinned like The Cheshire Cat and gave the bottle a whirl. The bottle spun, and spun, and it pointed to… Selim. Oh fuck, another dude!

“Truth, or dare?”, Oguz asked.

Without even missing a beat, Selim said, “Dare.” Good boy.

This presented a tricky dilemma for Oguz. He certainly wasn’t going to ask another man to kiss Nazan, which left Deniz as a consolation prize. He didn’t know that I had a thing for Deniz (I didn’t even know I had a thing for Deniz), but we both knew that Selim was part of the ever growing line of boys who were in love with Vivian, therefore she probably didn’t care much about Deniz.

Oguz thought hard for a while and came up with a devilish plan: “Call Vivian and tell her that you’re in love with her.” This was going to be interesting.

Selim immediately went on the defensive, “I’m not in love with Vivian, what?” He looked at the girls to make sure they weren’t suspecting anything, “I don’t know where you heard that, but…”

No one was buying it, least of all the girls, who judgingly stared at Selim like he was a deluded alcoholic. Selim sprung up, “Fuck you, I’m not doing it!”

“You picked Dare. You have to do what we tell you”, I said, “Those are the rules.”

“There’s no fucking way I’m doing that”, Selim looked down on Oguz to intimidate him, “You better pick something else.”

“The rules are the rules.” Oguz wouldn’t budge.

“Alright then, I’m leaving.” Selim pretended to gather his stuff. Oh no, one less male player out of the game, what were we to do? Yet we couldn’t jump on this opportunity in fear of looking like a pair of insensitive dicks. Also, there’s always the danger that he might have rallied the girls to quit.

“Come on man, don’t be like that”, I retorted in my best chummy voice. “Besides, where are you gonna go?”

“To bed?”, Selim said.

“Don’t be a party pooper”, Oguz said.

“Okay, what about this?”, Nazan interjected, “Since he’s not willing to do the dare, what if he walks out to the backyard and screams ‘I’m a big, fat, giant pussy!’ five times in a row at the top of his lungs?” Leave it to a girl to water down a brilliant dare into something a five-year-old with turrets can do on a daily basis.

Selim immediately ran outside, looked up at the sky and yelled “I’M A BIG, FAT GIANT PUSSY!! I’M A BIG, FAT GIANT PUSSY!! I’M A BIG, FAT GIANT PUSSY!! I’M A BIG, FAT GIANT PUSSY!! I’M A BIG, FAT GIANT PUSSY!!!” He then slowly walked back in, sat back at his spot and said, “There, are you satisfied?”

Now it was Selim’s turn to bring the pain. I’m sure that while that bottle was spinning, he was praying it would land on Oguz. But alas, it was to be Nazan. Finally, a girl! Even though statistically girls mostly pick “Truth”, the answer is rarely dull. I’m giving you one guess as to what Nazan picked.

Selim thought for a second about a question that was risqué enough without being too creepy. “What’s your favorite sexual position?”, he asked.

A master move by Selim. We all knew she was playing “Hide the sucuk” (A spicier Turkish type of salami) with her beau, so he knew her answer couldn’t be that of a virginal prude.

In this instance, Nazan had two choices on how to answer. Either pretend as if she’s offended and refuse to answer, or act like it’s no big deal, like someone just asked her favorite color or something. Look like a respectable lady or a powerful independent woman. Both ways, she comes off on top.

So Nazan casually shrugged and said, “I dunno. When I’m on top, I guess.” Door number two, well played.

“That’s it?”, Selim asked.

“Yeah”, Nazan said.

“You don’t wanna give any other, details?”

“No. Eww.”

Don’t push it Selim, this much intel was enough. Our filthy male minds could fill in the rest when needed.

Before more questions about her sex life darted out of the other men, Nazan grabbed the bottle and gave it a strong whirl. The bottle spun, and it spun, and landed on Oguz again.

“Truth or Dare?”, Nazan asked. Oguz picked “Truth” again. This time I was rather relieved that he picked Truth. If he said “Dare”, Nazan more than likely wasn’t going to order Oguz to make out with her. And deep inside, I didn’t want anyone else to kiss Deniz.

“Where was the weirdest place you masturbated?” Nazan asked with a malicious grin.

Oguz laughed like a shy schoolgirl. After thinking for a minute, he said, “You know the term Mile High Club?” Everyone nodded, even if some of us didn’t really know what it meant. “Well”, he said with a red face, “technically, I’m not a member. But I did try to get in, how should I say, by myself.”

The girls let out a collective “Eeew!” The boys were impressed.

“Must have been a boring flight”, I said.

“Oh yeah” Oguz said, “Moscow to Ankara. “The in-flight movie was Yentl”

Oguz spun the bottle. The next target was Deniz. Yes! If she picked Dare, I was set!

Time slowed down. Deniz’s lips opened slightly. I was following her every move, leaning in so close to her mouth that I could fall in. Her lips aided her in forming the word “Truth”. Fuck, fuck, tittyfucking fuck, motherfucker!!

“Hmm…”, Oguz contemplated, “I can’t really think of a question, so I’m just gonna relay the one I was asked. Where was the weirdest placed you, how to say, pleasured yourself?”

Deniz’s face immediately turned so red, it became crimson. She peeked at us one by one to see, to her absolute horror, that we were anxiously awaiting her answer. I was expecting her to go into an overdrive of her trademark uncomfortable giggle but she was absolutely silent.

After thirty seconds or so of tension-filled silence, she whispered under her breath, “Ca-oe.”

“What?”, we all asked, leaning in to hear better.

“A canoe!”, she yelled out.

Suddenly, we were all stunned, unable to talk. I think it was because there were so many questions to be asked that our motherboards were fried due to overheating.

“A couple of years ago, I was at summer vacation in Kusadasi (A coastal town near the Aegean sea) with my parents”, Deniz whispered, “One day my friends and I decided to rent canoes and go for a ride in the sea. My friends were faster than me. About half an hour in, they were so far ahead of me that I could barely see them in the horizon. I stopped to take a breather. After a while, I got, you know, bored. I looked around and there was no one for like a kilometer. So I just, did it.”

Fascinating. Just, fascinating. Listening to that story, I had a sensation akin to the feeling of clarity a holy man achieves after years of solitary soul searching, or a bunch of pseudo-intellectual men-children cheat their way into with a weekend at the woods and a butt load of magic mushrooms. My third eye of self-induced orgasm was opened.

Before that, I always imagined that girls rarely masturbated and when they did, it was after days of planning, preparing a hot bath with pitch perfect temperature, rose petals scattered all over the place, moisture and steam culminating into a perfect orgy of sensual decadence and soft-focus photography. I guess I watched a lot of The Playboy Channel back then.

But the story of a girl who got bored in the middle of the sea and casually decided to just, rub one out? I did my fair share of jacking off in the most unusual and uncomfortable places and situations, the where and how never to be divulged in fear of a shit load of people tracking me down and beating me to death, but even I never pleasured myself in a canoe.

“How did you manage to do it?”, Nazan asked, “Wasn’t the canoe too cramped?”

“It was, uncomfortable at first. But after a while, I, umm, found a way to manage it.” She let out her trademark uncomfortable giggle. I think her self-awareness finally caught up with her and reminded her what she just talked about in front of a bunch of people who were complete strangers to her only a couple of months ago. “I can’t believe I’m talking about this in front of you”, she giggled, “I feel so embarrassed.”

While still giggling, Deniz grabbed the bottle and gave it a weak spin. It stopped pointing at Oguz again. This time, he finally wised up and picked Dare. Not that it was gonna do him any good.

Even though one should do it regardless, picking “Dare” when your executor is female never ends in an entirely stimulating result on your end. It’s always something dumb like “Lick the door knob” or “Cluck like a chicken.”

Deniz said, “I want you to kiss Nazan.”

What!? Now this was a considerable upset. However, although this was unexpected, it wasn’t exactly revolutionary. Let me explain to you what I mean.

Nazan and Deniz were engaged in an inter-hormonal cold war since the day they met, which got worse once Deniz realized that Oguz had a thing for Nazan. But the cause of the rivalry went deeper than that. I think Deniz was mostly jealous of Nazan’s honest sexuality and her experience above hers. We were pretty certain, nay, fucking crystal clear that Deniz was a virgin. The whole world knew Nazan wasn’t.

This created quite a pathetic attempt by Deniz at one-upmanship or at least a desperate grab for catching up to Nazan’s status. Whatever depraved yet delicious-sounding act of carnal pleasure Nazan confessed to amongst friends, Deniz always jumped in afterwards with a comment about her relevant experience. The dialogue below given as an example, that happened in, let’s say a bar, wasn’t an uncommon occurrence:

I don’t remember how the conversation got to this point, but it begins with Nazan exclaiming, “God, I hate giving blowjobs.”

All of the guys were, of course, hanging on to her every word. We didn’t really care about where she stood in fellatio-politics, we just wanted her to go into more detail.

“I just detest the way… it, tastes, you know?”, Nazan said while making a lemon-eating face, “Also, I feel like I’m choking every single time.”

“Yeah, me too”, Deniz jumped in.

Everyone’s reaction went from shock to utter disbelief in 0.2 seconds. But just to humor her and entertain the rest of us, Nazan played along.

“Really? Who did you do it to?”

“One, or two, of my ex’s”, Deniz said with a fabricated aura of pretend-casual, “If I really love the person, if I really feel like they’re special, I’ll do it. It just needs to feel, romantic, you know?”

Yes, giving bottomless blowjobs always score high on lists of things women find most romantic. Right after “An intimate dinner on the beach under the moonlight” and “Walking into an entire house full of rare flowers” is always “Grabbing a mutated rubbery mushroom that smells like an abandoned processing plant and sucking it until it spits out half a cup of a substance that can only be described as pureed jellyfish.”

I’m sure that at this point Nazan wanted to probe deeper to expose Deniz as a liar, but she must have known that none of us wanted to see this situation go from amusing to downright sad.

Anyway, back to spin-the-bottle.

Nazan looked at Deniz as if saying, “Bitch, I’ma kill you!” Oguz got up from his spot to prepare himself. This was a big moment for him, yet he couldn’t waste too much time, otherwise he would have just looked pathetic.

After the moment you are tapped for a kiss, you can savor it but not up to the point where you’d let the girl know that you’re really as sad as someone looking forward to a forced drunken kiss as a result of a spin-the-bottle dare.

Oguz tried to fake his body language in order to make himself appear like this wasn’t a big deal and might have even been a bit inconvenient for a hunk like him. First came the nonchalant shrug, as if saying, “Eh, whaddaya gonna do?” Then the slumped, matter-of-fact walk up to the plate. As careful as he was to look cool, one thing completely gave him away: The gargantuan smile on his face.

Meanwhile, Nazan stayed sitting down, looking like she was literally trying to burn a hole in Deniz’s chest. As Oguz came closer, Nazan tightly closed her eyes and puckered up to get the whole nasty ordeal over with. Oguz bent down and voila, the deed was done.

After a quick, two second kiss (He might have even gotten away with a quick third second) and Oguz strutted back to his spot, happy as a pedophile on Bring Your Kid to Work Day.

Nazan picked up the bottle, all the while staring at Deniz with vengeance in her eyes, and spun as hard as she could. Finally, the bottle pointed at yours truly. Does the fact that I said “Dare” surprise anyone?

Nazan smiled the smile of sweet revenge and said, “I want you to kiss Deniz.” Awesome, my first dare and I got exactly what I wanted! Thank heaven for female spite!

Finally, this was my moment, and I wasn’t about to screw it up by waiting too long or risk looking overzealous and needy. So as soon as I heard Nazan’s dare, I turned to face Deniz and she was, smiling?

What was this? She was happy to kiss me? Nazan’s retribution plans for Deniz making her kiss the last person on earth she should be kissing were thwarted. Nazan wanted to make Deniz just as uncomfortable as she was a moment ago but Deniz was fine with it. Not only that, she even seemed happy that I was given this dare.

So I just went for it and to my surprise, so did she. As if we practiced this moment days ago, both of us got on our hands and knees in unison and crawled to meet each other in the middle like baby calves reaching for milk. The meeting of our lips only lasted a brief second yet it was one of those moments that is forever frozen in my memory.

It was like an image out of some of the best classic Hollywood rom-coms. The boy and the girl, both wisecracking loners, kiss by circumstance in the middle of an adoring crowd and the sparks fly! The only thing missing was the slow-clap afterwards. Of course I’m not talking about the venereal disease. You know, the cliché clapping performed by the spectators who are so proud you managed to kiss a member of the opposite sex?

A second after the kiss, we crawled back to our spots without hesitation. We kept smiling at each other for a minute in what should have been an awkward moment for everyone else. And then, the moment was over. The game, along with life, resumed.

You’d think that after this moment our story really begins with the seemingly never-ending on-again, off-again relationship between our two protagonists, conveniently peppered with amusing situations and easily resolvable conflicts, like the scene where the girl listens in on the boy’s conversation at the exact wrong point and thinks that he hates her, or that he’s sleeping with someone else when he really isn’t, etcetera, etcetera. This is where we really begin, where things start to become really exciting and titilating, right? Wrong.

Why? Because real life is a series of plot points without convenient resolutions. It’s a lonely and confusing place where things don’t end with a bang or a whimper, they just gradually fizzle out of existence until years later you ask yourself, “Hey! What happened with that thing I was supposed to do in conjunction with that other thing?”

The downfall began a couple of hours after the game was finished. Buzzed from the alcohol and drunk from the kiss, I was pumped with a strange feeling of confidence that I knew wasn’t going to last very long.

It was time to seize the day, or the drunken hours of the early morning, and let my newfound infatuation lead the way. I browsed the living room and found Deniz sitting alone on the couch with a beer in her hand. God couldn’t have laid out a more perfect setup. I didn’t have a game plan. In hindsight I probably should have but I just went for it anyway.

I sat next to Deniz and without missing a beat, put my arm around her shoulder. My conscious mind immediately jumped in and screamed into my brain, “What the fuck are you doing!!?”

But my raging confidence and my starving libido showed up holding a baseball bat and a two-by-four, respectively, and proceeded to beat my consciousness to a pulp. They then turned to my arm and said “You better stay there asshole, or you’re next!” My arm cowered, “Sure boss, whatever you say boss.”

With what I hoped was a piercing gaze, I looked at Deniz and said “Hi” in my best raspy whispering seductive voice. It certainly needed more practice before being released to the outside world but it was all I had at the moment.

She immediately tensed up and her defense mechanism thought the best idea to deal with this uncomfortable situation was to avoid eye contact by looking forward and smiling with unease. Not that I picked up on it. She said “Hi” back, letting out a smidgen of her shy giggle at the end.

I took her body language signifying blatant disinterest as a sign for moving forward. So I moved my head closer to her face and said, “Are you enjoying the party?”

Frozen in place, Deniz kept staring at the antique vase across the room, the one my mother bought during her business trip to Moscow. She managed to whisper, “Yesss?”

Time to bring out the “I’m too cool” guns. I broke my gaze from her and looked around the room like a self-appointed kingpin. “Cool, cool”, I said, “I’m glad you’re having a good time.”

I looked back at her and tilted my head closer. “You know,” I said, “It’s very important to me that you’re enjoying the party.”

She said “O-kay.” She switched her gaze from the vase to the ceiling.

As far as I was concerned, this was the moment to make a move. The obvious signs trying to download itself into the analytical part of my mind so it would finally get a clue was of no use since my confidence and my libido broke my analytical mind’s arm and stuck him into the distant and long forgotten crevices of my brain where useless information such as intermediate math skills and French grammar laid. So I leaned in closer and whispered in her ear, “You know, you look really beautiful tonight.”

Deniz could do nothing but giggle uncomfortably. “Thank you, I guess”, she managed to blurt out.

I think my next move was to go for a kiss, although I’m not sure about that. I don’t believe I was consciously planning on it but I think my body would have been willing to find a way if I just gave it that slight push. Anyway, I was obviously not confident enough to take advantage of the moment.

To make matters worse, within the nanosecond a thousand different thoughts swarmed in my cranium on what to do next, my conscious mind, despite the fact that it sported two broken legs and a cracked skull, managed to crawl itself to the “SHE’S NOT INTERESTED! BAIL OUT NOW!” alarm while my libido was too busy estimating the sensual softness of a kiss longer than the one from the truth-or-dare game.

Alas, the alarm was pulled, stopping me on my tracks. Without saying a single word, I stopped my pathetic playa act and retraced my steps back to sexual obscurity.

A couple of hours later, I spotted Deniz sizing herself up in front of the body mirror in my room. I didn’t ask for that damn mirror, it came attached to the closet my mother bought at an age when women are confident enough about their bodies to purchase a closet with a body mirror.

As her middle age progressed despite all protest, she must have decided that looking at herself naked was not the best pick-me-up she needed in the morning, so I got stuck with the body mirror/closet. As if I was riveted at the idea of being able to watch myself masturbate so I could finally find out what a walrus looked like when it played with itself.

Anyway, Deniz was in my room, alone, in the dark. She looked suspiciously insecure about her body, the way a lot of women are after looking at themselves in the mirror for longer than, say, three seconds. The target was vulnerable, the trap was set. This was my moment to make a move…

Or was it? The memory of the earlier shut down was already on its way to the other sad memories of rejected or unrequited love so it could join the support group where they could share horrid memories of battles lost while crying like babies. My memories were pussies. As much as the situation was perfect for someone with enough drive and unchecked testosterone to take advantage of, my confidence was shut. Yet I still walked in, expecting nothing but disappointment.

Now, since I finished the last sentence with a dramatic expectation, the rules of literature states that maybe this is the narrator setting up a surprising twist in the way of the protagonist expecting abject failure and thereby being flabbergasted by the fact that he ends up succeeding. Nope, not here. I expected to fail, and fail I did.

I opened with a killer line: “Are you… Are you having a, uh, good time?”

Not batting an eye from her body in the mirror, Deniz asked, “Do you think I look fat?”

She tugged the back of her shirt to let the front stick to her belly, in order to see the outline of her stomach. “I mean,” she said, “This is not so bad. Right?”

I took the momentum and immediately hugged her from behind, caressing my hands over her stomach, the part of her body that was causing most of her insecurities, hoping to imply that for me, she was perfect.

Just to make sure that the message got through I said, “For me, you’re perfect.”

We stayed that way for a couple of seconds. She kept looking at her body. She smiled politely and said, “Thanks.” Then she left. That was the last time I touched her perfect belly.

Everyone passed out at random corners of my house by the crack of dawn. The next morning, my mother had to embark on several trips to the pharmacy in order to keep up with the high demand for these fizzy headache relievers that were a miracle of a hangover cure.

Before we all left to grab lunch, I must have been playful with Deniz in front of my mom, which prompted her to ask me if Deniz and I were dating when we went out for dinner two weeks later. In order to save face I said “Yes.” During the following six months or so, I gave my mother occasional updates on how my fictional relationship with Deniz was progressing.

Two months after the dinner I told my mother, “We’re doing just fine.” Four months later I told her, “Maybe we’re not as compatible as I thought.” (Not as compatible? At that point I would be willing to date a slightly decomposed corpse if it would have me) Six months later we “broke up”.

Do you really have to ask me why I stooped so low as to lying to my mother about a made-up a relationship with a girl? Could it have something to do with not wanting her to think her son, her only child was a complete loser?

It’s not like the lies helped. A decade and a half later, my therapist asked my mother what she thought about my non-existing love life while I was growing up and she finally confessed that for a couple of months back when I was in college, she thought I was gay since I never seemed to have a girlfriend. “I wish I was gay,” I finally confessed, “At least that would have meant I was anything other than an unwillingly asexual blob.”

As for Deniz, I kept trying. Losers never say die.

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