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January 27, 2001
The Masturbatory Friend
We were 16 or thereabouts, friends from way back when we were little kids, and already drifting apart for lack of things in common. So we didn't see much of each other anymore. Old habits die hard, though, so I still considered him a close friend, as I do today, even though I haven't laid eyes him in years and I can't really picture us getting together again barring a chance encounter.
He was good-looking, outgoing, charming, affable -- traits that mattered in the ruthless game of encounters with the second kind, a game that had sneaked up on me and was bound to leave me in the dust for a number of years because I lacked those aforementioned qualities in painfully obvious ways. This I knew without anyone telling me, with a heavy heart and accompanying sigh that should be recognizable to people who are at least familiar with products of popular culture (American Pie, Rushmore, Peanuts, sorted from merciless to gentle in their approach) even if they themselves have been lucky enough to escape the torture years unscathed.
I knew because I was bookish, soft-spoken, ranked low on the hand-eye coordination scale that determines one's success at various ball games, and was all-around shy. I could make people think, and I could make them laugh. But the former didn't hold much stock at that age, and the latter was and is widely recognized as the mark of a kid who's a one-trick pony. It's a skill employed most frequently as a defense mechanism -- as most of today's comedians will tell you when they mine their childhood for jokes -- and even then it doesn't go very far, does it?
So that's why I'd be home reading most of the time when he would stop by. We were a little too young to be actually having sex with girls, I most certainly, but in his case he must have known Independence Day was not far off --
sing with me now:Now and then, I get horny...
At night you do, at night you do...
She'll be comin' round the mountain
She's wearing nothing but a smile
And though we struggle for our freedom
Our need for others still remains
We know what will make us happy
We know what will ease our pain
My bed is flyin' out the window
I'm pullin' up my covers to the rain
And down below cats are howlin'...
-- so he would drop in for a tune-up once in a while.
"So, whatcha doing?" he would ask.
"Nothing," I'd say. "Just reading, watching the street" (someday I'll write stories about them; in fact I just thought of a two-person play, but I won't tell you that because to do so would admit failure at such a fundamental level, and in my mind cement the conviction that I'd never get out of this rut).
We'd sit for a while, try our best at a strained conversation. Finally he'd ask, "You got any new magazines?"
"Yeah, a couple since you were last here, I think. And my father's friend sent a Playboy from the States."
"I'll go take a look, I suppose."
So I'd go back to reading and watching people, while he'd be in my room down the long hallway for a while. Then I'd hear him go in the bathroom. Then, a few minutes later, he'd be back in the living room.
"I guess I'll head out," he'd say, without attempting to craft a transition.
"I'll see you," I would say.
This is not a woman wearing a bikini. This is a collection of pixels based on a photograph that in turn captures the photographic representation of a woman wearing a bikini, thus thrice removed (not the bikini -- you wish -- the image). This message brought to you courtesy of Magritte.
Billboard at Istanbul's Yesilköy Airport, photographed at 4:30 a.m. (damn Dutch and German departures), October 27, 2000.
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All text and images © Aziz Gökdemir's Archive unless otherwise indicated or credited.
The current banner photo appeared briefly on the journal menu page last month. A non-watercolor version can be seen in an October entry (18th). It was taken in Ouranopouli, Greece, on October 3, 2000.
Independence Day lyrics and vocals by David Byrne; backing vocals by Kirsty MacColl (RIP).
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