|Jasmine Wrestling Alligators|
One day I want to write a tell-all memoir about the marriage of an American southerner to a Turkish Kurd. If I follow the advice of the many agents I have been rejected by, the story will be flashy, eye catching, hooky—and that doesn’t mean filled with hookers though that would be hooky. It means, it will read like a book made entirely of back covers. (I just read the back cover of a book about Turkey at a friend’s house-‘and he ends up swimming to Armenia in his underwear!’ it says. Who cares if the writing is good—that sentence is a best seller!)
‘Thrill as Jeff and Delal (name change—something people can relate to--Bubba and Jasmine!) flee Turkish secret agents and then have sex in a cave guarded by PKK militia men who shoot at them as they come out for a stretch. Bubba loses a testicle and struggles heroically against mono-testicular prejudice.’
Of course it will need humor too—that absurd smirky kind of situational humor on par with the cross border underwear swim.
‘While visiting the US South, Bubba and Jasemine learn to wrestle alligators and work for a while at Gator Jungle to raise money for the guerilla movement back in Kurdistan. At the famous Florida gator park, Jasmine drop kicks a Brazilian tourist while passing out brochures dressed as the lovable Cindy Crocodile.’
The reality is, we spent our first night living in the same house—I am officially out of my old apartment of three years—doing not much of anything attention grabbing. And though we are not yet in OUR house (Last night I slept at her grandfather’s place where we’re staying until we can get our apartment unpacked and set up), it was kind of significant for me. Like I said, not much thrilling or funny happened—no sex in caves or alligator attacks. We were both too exhausted from moving, from arguing with my sneaky landlord who is trying to cheat me out of my deposit, and from weeks and weeks of work and buying furniture and playing monitor at elections. Our main thrill was that our couches arrived.
(A brief word about the move—neighbors I had never seen before opened their doors as we dragged furniture down the stairs. ‘Are you moving out?’ they asked grinning. When I answered in the affirmative, they said how unfortunate it was, how much they would miss us. The only person I knew of the whole bunch was the woman below me whose house I frequented only because I often dropped the most embarrassing bits of my laundry onto her balcony when trying to hang it up on my own. We hired porters to do the moving. These men are heroic! One of them, a fifty-five year old bag of bones put our washing machine on his back and lugged it down the stairs. ‘I lost feeling in my thighs years ago,’ he bragged. ‘I stuck a needle in it the other day and didn’t feel a thing!’ His partner, a chubbier and slightly younger guy piled a tower of my crap on his own back—a bean bag, a box of books, and a chair—before traipsing down to the moving truck, trash bags of clothes in each hand. My mother used to say ‘Carry one thing at time!’.)
Delal’s attention was occupied by the news (Mine by the bowl of watermelon). Big things are happening in Turkey. Tomorrow (Or today, as I am writing the next day) the swearing in ceremony for parliament will take place. Several of the new parliemantarians are in jail—arrested on a medley of charges. The Republican People’s Party and the fascist MHP have candidates behind bars for being involved in the Ergenekon conspiracy. Ergenekon is supposedly a deep state organization named for a sort of ancient Turkish Shangri La. They plan coups against the government, incite chaos to justify military takeovers, and fake assassinations--James Bond Villain sort of stuff. It all sounds very silly from the outside, but such things have happened in the past, the 2000s being the only decade that Turkey has not had a military coup.
The Independent candidates—for whom Delal, I, and her sisters were playing election monitor--have several candidates in jail for ‘ties to a terrorist organization’. This usually means they said something not condemning the PKK or spoke Kurdish somewhere official. The most famous of the detainees is Hatip Dicle who was condemned for saying that the armed attacks of the PKK were ‘legitimate self-defense’. In his absence the AKP—the ruling party—has installed one of their own people. Which of course is going over well with the Kurds.
So with so many of their representatives in jail, the opposition parties are boycotting parliament. And if Parliament convenes without the opposition—well, people are predicting all hell will break loose. There are sit-ins, protests, rock-throwers, angrily worded letters to editors. The police are responding with their usual finesse—tear gas bombs fall like rain drops in the Flood. In fact, yesterday, marchers protesting in support of the Independent Block fled from police gas bombs and ran right into the middle of Istanbul’s Gay Pride Parade where they merged into a line of dancing transsexuals. The news papers call this müdahale--'intervention', but they use the same word for when Syrian police shoot down protesters, raze villagers to the ground, and torture people. Hmmm. Being in this parliament is important because they are going to rewrite the Constitution, ostensibly, to end the systematic suppression of Kurdish culture that has been in place since the founding of the Republic.
So a big day.
Our night ended quietly. We complained about being sleepy. Jasmine put on her sheep pajamas and stuffed some wedding invitations into some envelopes. Bubba read and put his aching feet on ice. I wondered if I were doing this whole living together thing right. In every respect, I am that dorky elementary school student who needs to see a confirming grade on everything he does. I want a teacher to come in, observe me, and say ‘You receive a 98 for your first night with living with your future wife! Good job, Jeffy.’ Anyway, it was a good night for me. As a teacher, I give it an A.
And then we wrestled alligators and fought some soldiers—dressed as hookers.