Friday, March 4, 2016

The Bear Facts

My phone has been rendered useless, except for the clock function, until I get it registered. I actually find that being out of the loop is sort of liberating, until I actually need to reach someone. That was the case last night. I had two movie tickets for “The Revenant” and my friend was late. I thought of asking a woman if I could use her phone but that seemed like such a strange request to make of a complete stranger. I informed a couple employees at the cinema that my friend was late and to please let her in if they saw her. I described her appearance: short blond hair. That’s all I needed to say since both features are hair-rarities here in Turkey. Most Turkish women have long dark hair, so I knew my friend would stand out. I took my seat just as the previews were ending and the movie beginning. I wondered if I was doing the right thing by going in and not waiting longer or borrowing someone’s phone to call her.

My inner dialogue about my friend added to the tension of the film. “What if she’s in trouble? No, she probably just fell asleep. But what if she’s in trouble? No, she probably was on her way and bumped into friends and got carried away talking to them.” I was finally able to relax when I saw her shadowy figure enter the theater. I waved and she took her seat next to me, removing her coat to reveal pajamas. “I fell asleep and forgot to set my alarm,” she whispered.

I was so relieved, especially since I’ve had two friendships in the last five years end over my unwillingness to wait for them longer. My limit is about twenty minutes.

I should clarify that overseas friendships with Americans can be overly dramatic. One woman was so enraged by my non-persistence to get in touch with her -- although she wasn’t answering her phone -- that she called me a “truly horrible human being” the next time she saw me. I guess she expected me to slit my wrists and go bleed in the sidewalk as penance for not waiting longer than twenty minutes. I’ve learned that this woman fits in with a whole species of entitled, insane, self-important Americans living abroad.

A fun fact about this odd species is that if someone does anything to awaken their wrath, everything unpleasant that happens to them after that incident will be the fault of the person who stirred their anger in the first place. So, if crazy American spills tea on herself, stubs her toe, breaks a nail, gets coughed on by a sick person, smells someone’s horrible body odor, etc., it’s the fault of the wrongdoer who somehow put a curse on her day.

In the words of Meriwether Lewis, after being chased up a tree by one too many grizzly bears, “The curiosity of our men with respect to this animal is pretty much satisfied.” Amen.

I’ve been feeling more thin-skinned and woundable than my normal self, and I don’t think I could have handled losing a friend, or even being reprimanded for deciding to see the film with or without her. Fortunately, everything was okay. She was worried I would be mad at her, which I wasn’t. But because she was late, she missed the bear scene, which was perhaps the best scene from the film. I felt compelled to act it out for her when we left the theater, trying my best to relay the sheer awesomeness. I don’t think I did the scene justice. 

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