Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vehbi Bey, And A Cool Chance Encounter

We don't always play nice.
I know I've totally sucked on the posting thing recently. I was all cool about it for a couple of months there, and then I started sucking at it. I suppose it has to do with some sort of interpersonal breakdown between my brain and me. I think the ability to post is wrapped up in a feeling that whatever I'm thinking is super-great and worth putting on paper. Or virtual paper. Whatever. It's just that my brain and I have been having some thoughts lately that totally aren't worth posting. Or maybe they're worth posting, but they're decidedly uncool in a too-much-about-me kind of way, plus there are real-world issues that one must contend with when one is a fake sort of artist, instead of a real artist who can bleed one's heart all over the place and not care about the real world implications.

By "one," I mean me, in case that wasn't clear.

It's a nice fucking pool, seriously.
Okay then. The post. Over the summer, I've been bringing LE up to my school to swim in the fabulous pool. Actually, the pool isn't particularly special, but for Turkey it's fabulous because it's exclusive (university employees and students), not very crowded, clean (a big thing here for public pools, where you're likely to pick up pink-eye or some unspeakable weeping face fungi), and above all, free. Such a pool most places in Istanbul would cost a minimum of 40 YTL to get into for the day, plus you'd still have to contend with all the assholes and crowds, even on "woman day," usually midweek when the women and kids get in cheap and damsız (not having a woman with you) isn't allowed. And better than the part about being free, our university-issued Setcards let us buy beer and French fries for fake Setcard money. So it's a win-win situation all around.

Kid brains are funny.
One day, I decided to show LE where I work. I mean, he's been to the office before, which he's only mildly thrilled by. Sometimes people give him candy and he gets to play with the water dispenser. Otherwise, he doesn't give a shit, and he's kind of put off by all these grown-ups who know who he is, but he has no idea who they are. He can't quite get his head around my being a teacher because, duh, I'm Mama. He's made a few connections about his going to school and my going to school, though. He knows who all my naughty students are because I tell him about them, and he expects a full rundown every day. But then he refers to his school friends as his students and tells me about the naughty things they did during the day so I think he doesn't quite get it. Or rather, he gets it in his way.

But I decided to take him to my classroom and show him what went on there. I sat him down at one of the desks and I stood up front and said, "Speak English!" and then instructed him that he was to say, "No!" which he did. Then I told him to dance, and he said, "No!" So I told him to sing a song and he said "No!" Then we switched roles and he got to be the teacher. He told me to do stuff, and I said, "No!" Then I bitched in Turkish and said "yaaa" a lot and he thought that was really funny. Sadly, my best audience these days is my boy.

It didn't improve the situation of him understanding my job, but it was a very good game.

Then I took him to visit Vehbi Bey. Vehbi Bey hangs out in one of the courtyards, rain or shine. He's lovely, sitting cross-legged on a stone bench in the middle of one of the courtyards.

Not totally comfortable with Vehbi Bey.

When we got to Vehbi Bey, I told LE to go ahead and sit in his lap. LE recoiled, all, "Hell, no, I'm not about to sit in that strange man's lap." Vehbi Bey is very lifelike, you see. So I tapped on Vehbi's knee and head, and then poked him in the eye so LE could see he wasn't real. Tentatively, at my coaxing, LE reached up and honked his nose. I got him on Vehbi Bey's lap for the picture, but you can see by the way LE is holding his arms he still wasn't entirely sure about Vehbi Bey.

Anyway, I took this picture ages ago. In fact, that's the only reason for the borderline-boring paragraph about my state of mind at the beginning of this post. I meant to post the picture ages ago, but then I decided I suck.

And then today, there was a small but extraordinary event that existed outside of my suckiness. We were giving our second TOEFL of the day (not at all extraordinary, but bear with me here), and I was supposed to be the supervisor. Just as we started the exam, we realized the supervisor script wasn't in the box. So I winged it with a tiny-print smaller than this and let's remember my eyes are pushing 40 photocopy of the script that was supposed to be there. Fortunately, none of the kids were returning students so it didn't impact on the deadly seriousness of the TOEFL that we attempt to impart. They were so busy trying to make a good first impression they didn't know any better.
We're most of us just doing our damndest.

It reminded me of when LE was first born and I was a complete spaz-mom, but then I realized he had no frame of reference of how moms are supposed to be, which made me feel a little better about being such a spaz and not even knowing how to pick up a newborn without breaking it.

The man is....
By the way, fucking TOEFL. The suckiest thing about today's TOEFL, aside from TOEFL itself, was that Pee Wee's Big Adventure was on TV this morning and I had to miss it because of fucking TOEFL. And then, this afternoon on the listening, TOEFL tested my ability not to snicker with a lecture on sperm whales. There I was reading shit on the Internet, and then I'm all "WTF, did that TOEFL guy just say sperm?!" and then the TOEFL guy said something about big heads and humpback whales at which point I completely failed the snicker test because I'm such a fucking grown-up.

But knowing I'd be unable to ad-lib the rest of the script I've read and heard at least 10 times but never paid the least bit of attention to, I decided I should go and fetch another supervisor packet. Really, it was just an excuse to get back outside the room that still reeked of the morning's returning student fear-sweat so strongly you could smell it from 3 feet outside the closed door of the room. I admit it started off as a sexy boy-smell, but then went sharply downhill during the morning's listening which, sadly, had nothing to do with sperm whales.

On my way back, I bumped into a couple of tourists. Now, I'm used to bumping into tourists in my life, but not often at school. I liked these tourists immediately because the woman asked me if I spoke English, rather than just assuming I spoke English. Linguistic imperialism pisses me off. I was so impressed I didn't even tell her I speak brilliant and perfect English. She wondered why there were so many Americans around this place. I started to give her a brief explanation of our good founder's America fetish, motioning to Vehbi Bey behind me, and the man said, "I made that statue. That's why we came here," at which point I'm pretty sure I gushed a bit because I was ever so thrilled to bump into the person who made the statue, and then made his way up to the school to see where it ended up. How cool is that?

They were really nice people. In fact, a lot of the reason I'm posting about this is because I hope they somehow read this and accept my sincere apologies for being in a bit of a rush to get back to the exam I was supposed to be in charge of. Not that the new students were unruly or anything. Or that the other four proctors in the room wouldn't have been able to handle 11 angelic new students. It's just that I had the shitty script we're supposed to read.

So I gave the nice folks directions back into town. And I told them about how LE was a little bit afraid of the lifelike Vehbi Bey, but then honked his nose. And I do hope they enjoy the rest of their journey. I was dead curious about other statues around the world that gentleman had made. And I'm such a dork I wanted to know if he did the sculpting or the casting or both, but I didn't think to ask until it was too late.

May all our lives be as such, with Mickey the Hot Criminal in them.
So that, and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure kind of made my day. And I sincerely hope I can quit being such a sucky poster sometime soon because everything I do seems like more of an adventure than it actually is, if I can actually manage to write about it.


Jack Scott said...

Not being a parent myself (it would have to be a second immaculate conception) perhaps I shouldn't comment on the parenting skills of others. What I do know is the whole messy experiment doesn't come with an instruction manual. You do your best, better on some days than others but it sounds like you're doing ok. He sounds like a fine young man.

Stranger said...

He's a lovely little fellow, despite my failings.

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

Hi!! I'm back! As you must know by now, I love your posts. You make me laugh. And how amazing to meet the guy who made that statue?

Stranger said...

Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed your trip...