Suitcase and World: In honor of Turkish men :-)

Friday, November 28, 2008

In honor of Turkish men :-)

know might seem odd to some people that I would have a posting about Turkish men but if you had spent the past 10 days in my shoes, it makes perfect sense to do so.

I have had a hard and fast education about Turkish men in my short visit back to Turkey. It is interesting what makes them tick. On the surface, machoism reigns as king - it's all about proclaiming your manhood in whatever way you can. But just beneath the veneer of machoism lies a very soft and tender heart - in particular for women. Tell them you are cold and they will build you a fire. If you are hungry, they will feed you. If you need help escaping from any situation, they stand ready to rescue you. I have known such men on this trip :-)

As Abdullah, who runs an antiques/carpet store that's housed in a former caravanserai told me, a woman can basically get whatever she wants from a man. I asked could a smile do it and he replied "Yes". So I asked him what I could get and he asked "What do you want?" I just grinned and said if I ever needed anything, I would know at least one person in town who would help me out. He replied "Of course" with a grin. Turkish men are charmers and I think they are born that way. But, do not break that soft and tender heart for that's when you will see the macho side appear. They stand ready to fight. It can be very scary to witness the wrath of a broken hearted Turkish man - I have seen it so I know!

I had a chat with another Turkish man when I dined at his restaurant one night. Orhan is originally from Azerbajian but has been living and working in Goreme for many years. He warned me that I must always ask a Turkish man what his intentions are- especially because I am a woman travelling alone. I replied that as far as I was concerned, there was only one intention - sex. Orhan grinned. They all seem to grin when sex is mentioned.

At its heart, Turkey is still a very conservative Muslim nation. Public displays of affection between men and women is rarely seen - maybe in the "big cities" like Istanbul and areas where tourists frequent but definitely not in places like Göreme. So you can understand that sex is still very much a taboo subject.

There are exceptions but if I were to generalize for a moment, Turkish men view foreign women as being "more open" and "more experienced" when it comes to satisfying a Turkish man sexually. That foreign woman is seen as someone who can elevate the simple act of sex from something you do solely for reproduction purposes to a very seductive dance you do for sheer human pleasure. Oh the joy of the climax!

In my short time here, I have been approached by more men in the last few days than in an entire year back in the US. It used to be that I could fend someone off by simply telling them how old I am (turned 49 in November) but that doesn't work here. Turkish men are not scared off by the age. On the contrary, they seem to appreciate it because to them, age represents "experience" in the sex department.

If age didn't do the trick, I would then tell them I was divorced figuring that was a taboo in a Muslim country but apparently, "divorced" translates into "independent" and for some reason, that's appealing to the Turkish man.

And last but not least, if you have "womanly assets" (read "boobs" and "curves" like a Turkish belly dancer), you've hit it out of the ballpark as far as they are concerned.

I have come to accept the fact that I am one hot mama in the eyes of many a Turkish man. Go figure....and you can stop laughing now!

So what makes a Turkish man a man? A question I asked many. The answer seems to go back to the day they were circumcised. Yep, that day.....when a certain part of the main anatomy is actually "trimmed" to put it nicely.

In many countries, circumcision is performed on infants presumably so they don't remember the pain. In Turkey, boys are circumcised when they are between the ages of about 7 and 10 so they do remember the pain. Ouch big time!

"Sünnet", which is the Turkish word for the "Ceremonial Circumcision" that takes place, marks a boy's passage from childhood to manhood.

While modern Turks (in the larger cities) have begun opting to have their sons circumcised at birth by a doctor in a hospital setting, traditional Turkish parents still wait for the announcement of when the circumcision "specialist"(for lack of a more accurate, descriptive term) will arrive into their village. They then "line up" all the boys who will be circumcised on that day.

And that will be a festive day - full of joy and celebration. The young men will be feted and treated as if they were kings.

As one blogger described it.
"Later, after the circumcision had been performed, everyone retired to the celebration location (a hotel restaurant) where food and drink were served -- while the 'New Man' (who was propped up 'comfortably' on a pillowy seat-of-honor), looked on bewildered, as well-wishers took turns greeting him and leaving their gifts."
Part and parcel of the ceremonial circumcision is the costume the little guy gets to wear. A common "outfit" for the day is a fur lined cape with matching hat and sceptre. No kidding, it is a big day for the little guy.

Back in the day, oh I don't know, maybe 50 years ago or maybe they still do this today in the villages, the boy is given a "post circumcision" outfit to wear because as Zeki puts it, "pants hurt" :-)

Call me crazy but when I saw such an outfit (that's what the photos are of in this posting) hanging on the wall in an antiques shop, I decided to buy it in honor of all the Turkish men I have had the fortune (good and bad)of spending time with on this trip. I jokingly told the shop owner that I would name the piece "Paşa" ("pah-sha") which is an Ottoman title bestowed on the highest ranking officer in the Empire's political system - a most manly title indeed!