When Blonde and Brunette traveled to Turkey in 2002 it was their first joint venture abroad. Originally it was going to be a bicycle trip in the Dordogne region of France. Then a Turkish friend of Blonde’s mentioned she was going to Turkey for the summer and said the sister duo should visit. One call to Brunette and the bicycle trip was ditched faster than a Kardashian’s husband.
We headed off for three weeks in Turkey and spent the first week on a chartered yacht (does that sound as pretentious as it’s supposed to?) with the friend and her four-year old daughter. B&B were massively sheltered from reality that week by being with a native who not only spoke the language but was also the sort of fiercely competent person you would want to have on speed-dial if you had a flat tire, bad hair day or were kidnapped by Somalian pirates.
At the end of the week B&B got into a waiting van and were driven away by an unknown man who spoke no English and whose name and employer (if any) were unknown to us. The boat’s captain had arranged this transportation. We, two unaccompanied American women, happily got into a van driven by a Muslim man in a Muslim country when the U.S. was possibly even less popular than it is now with Muslim countries. (It helps that we have a Muslim president now). What could possibly go wrong?
A lot. But nothing did. Our driver gave us unprompted tea and pee stops and drove us in a completely non-terrifying manner to our destination – The Marmara in Bodrum (http://www.themarmarahotels.com). This was 2002 and the hotel was new(ish) and clearly trying to elevate the level of the tourism experience in Bodrum. The staff had all been recently and scrupulously trained.
Well, you can elevate the experience but it doesn’t necessarily follow that you also elevate your clientele, as our appearance soon proved.
After making complete fools of ourselves with the very tech-advanced room (brief sample as there’s a lot of material here – Brunette seated herself on the toilet and “Twist Again Like You Did Last Summer” by Chubby Checker came blasting out of the bathroom speakers. This had apparently been caused by some button or switch Blonde had pressed in an attempt to turn lights on in a different room. Brunette was unsure as to how she was to apply Chubby’s advice under the circumstances and she got out of there in a hurry.)
As it had been a long day, what with riding, drinking tea, peeing and checking into a luxury resort, we were understandably tired so decided to dine at the hotel that evening. The restaurant, The Tuti, was lovely. We sat outdoors under small twinkling lights and had an expansive view overlooking the Bodrum peninsula from the terrace .
We intended to behave in the sophisticated manner appropriate to our surroundings.
We failed in our attempt. To be truthful, we didn’t try very hard.
The staff at the time was young men with very limited English skills but thorough training in formal service, sort of. They would ceremoniously bring us something. They would then return to a little alcove about 6 feet away. Clearly they mistakenly believed they were now invisible and inaudible to the diners. They would then throw bread rolls at each other and giggle.
Each time they returned to the table they quickly composed themselves, clearly assuming we were none the wiser. (To be fair most people assume that and are correct.)
As we were now without our native speaker friend we realized how childlike we had been for the last week as we attempted to stumble through ordering. The sole response to every question we asked was a smiling “Yes please”. As a blanket statement that was never once the correct response to a question about a menu item or anything else a dining guest was likely to ask.
Predictably we got the giggles over the combination of the off-stage behavior of the servers and their one response. So, as a gesture towards advancing the view of Americans as insensitive idiots, Blonde decided to verify that the answer would be “Yes please” regardless of the question.
One of the servers came over to the table and Blonde asked sweetly “Will you have my baby”? The smiling server nodded and said “Yes please”. He then departed to throw bread rolls and giggle with his coworker.
Blonde and Brunette laughed in their best horse-snorting styles and exited the restaurant to the accompaniment of the patriotic Cuban song Guantanamera. The musical selection made as much sense as anything else that had happened that day. Perhaps more.