23.2.10 - 23.2.10 13 °C
I always pictured my first time being fondled in Turkey as a dramatic scene of injustice followed by an uprising of support for gender equality, perhaps with an Islamic movement for social change taking shape in its wake - a 'tear down the Berlin Wall' moment, if you will. In actuality the event was completely nondescript and much more of a 'Canada signed a free-trade agreement with Iceland' moment. Yawwn.
He was a tissue-seller, I was a naïve student more interested in my iPod and getting a seat on the bus than guarding my Sedin twins. He opened with the standard move of a street vendor: shaking a box of tissues at me, perhaps to demonstrate their durability. I followed with the standard move of an uninterested foreigner: repetition of the word for NO, hayır, countless times and in every language I could think of. It turns out using variations of no in English is not helpful with people who only speak Turkish. Fat chance, Def not, Scram or I only use 3-ply will get you no where. He indicated that buying just one pack was what the doctor ordered by holding up one finger and shaking it. Bir. Bir. (One. One.) Apparently he wanted me to know that his finger was also quite durable. Being clever, I made a circle with my fingers and thumb, looked at him through it, and said sıfır - zero. It seemed like we were having a real conversation, going back and forth politely: Bir, bir. Hayır, sıfır. Bir. Hayır. Bir, bir, bir. haiiiii-urrrr. I was getting bored and the cute old man waiting for the bus beside me looked oblivious (and therefore non-English speaking) so I told Shakey McTurk an opportune joke to amuse myself: How do you make a tissue dance? Put a little boogie in it! Surely my charm and wit would make this annoying man respect me and leave. He laughed and patted my arm but alas stayed put.
In fact, Captain Persistent had misinterpreted my get lost-joke as an invitation for friendship and reached out to shake my hand. Can you get hepatitis from a handshake? I hope not. I uncomfortably obliged, and all the creepiness he had been suppressing came oozing out. He tried to hold onto my hand and his laugh turned into an evil chuckle. The machinery of his brain visibly changed gears from Lira to leering. He offered me a cigarette but of course I declined, this time trying very hard not to be charming.
The cute old man beside me seemed sympathetic to my plight. Since he (thankfully) did not understand English I pleaded with my eyes for him to use some colourful Turkish to tell CreepyPants to hit the road. Before he could say or do anything, however, Chuckles casually reached out to pat my arm again - so I thought! - but instead gave Henrick a solid bounce and meandered away to shake his tissues at other people, as if it were a normal parting gesture. Gobsmacked, it took a second for the wave of revulsion to pass and the familiar tendency toward comedy to take it's place. This was expedited by the cute old man beside me who leaned over with a twinkle in his eye and said, in unfaltering English, 'I think he wanted to do business with you.'