“Sweden,” the short, dark-haired Turkish bus driver calls out as he stands by his bus at the Fethiye bus station. He’s looking in my direction, but really? Sweden? I am not a tall, leggy, supermodel-looking blond. He can’t be talking to me.
I look around. Nope. There’s no woman (or man for that matter) that fits that description nearby. He could be talking to me. My hair is a bit bleached out from the sun. But, nah, I don’t look Swedish. Not even close. So I ignore him and continue to eat my quickly-melting ice cream bar.
“Sweden,” another of the bus drivers says no more than two minutes later. Really? Again?
I look around and I realize this time he is definitely talking to me as he is looking right at me. He has a kind, round face and a round belly to match. He has a smile on his face that I can see in his eyes which are bright with laughter. I judge him to be around 50-something with salt and pepper hair. Big stuffed teddy bear, I think.
He walks over to me calling me “ice cream lady” as the sticky, sweet cream runs down my chin. I laugh. “Not Sweden. America,” I say to him.
“Oh, America,” he exclaims as his eyes grow wider. “I love American women.”
I giggle. Yeah, I bet you do, I think. Every Turkish man that I have met over the past 7 weeks seems to love American women. A few have flirted with me, but nothing has ever gotten out of hand. It makes me laugh, even now, all these weeks later. I wonder what we have been doing to these men? (Okay, I know what you’re thinking here. Get your mind out of the gutter. Or maybe that’s why they like us so much.) I am curious about this, so I ask him.
“Why do you like American women so much?”
“American women are so warm,” he explains.
Hmm. Really? I ponder this for a moment. I have many female friends who definitely fit this description. But, boy, do I know some “not so nice” women out there too. I imagine a couple of women I know (not to be named) who would tell this man to leave them the hell alone. We (American women that is) can be pretty tough. Since his English is fairly good, and my Turkish pretty much sucks, I ask him what is it about us that makes us warm.
“American women smile and laugh. You are all so kind,” he responds sincerely.
Wow. I silently thank all the American women who have traveled to Turkey before me for making such a great impression on this man. I am, naturally, smiling as he says this and I am being nice to him. So, I guess I’m just reaffirming his stereotype.
He helps a young couple with big backpacks, pointing them to the proper bus, all the while smiling in the sweltering heat. He turns back to me as they walk away.
“You are going to Marmaris?” he asks me.
“Actually, I’m going to Bozburun,” I reply.
“Oh, you are going to relax,” he says, enviously, as he nods his head.
“Yes, I am,” I reply, grinning smugly.
“There are nice things to see here in Fethiye. I could show you some things,” he says, his smile broadening and his eyes growing brighter.
I chuckle at this idea. He is flirting with me, but I see the ring on his finger and know he is probably just having some fun. (at least this is what I tell myself) So, I decide to play along, without leading him on. No harm in a little flirtatious banter, right?
I watch him as he assists a Turkish family, giving them some information on the bus schedule. He moves around quickly despite his belly and the heat. He is very nice to all the customers. A definite “people person”, I surmise, always friendly and always helpful.
He walks up to me a few minutes later remarking, “I’m very hot.”
I begin to agree with him, as I am baking on this hot summer day, but before I get the chance to reply he says with a devilish grin, “I really want to kiss you right now, so I need to walk away.”
And he does and I stand there laughing my ass off. This 50-something year old, big teddy bear of a man is definitely flirting with me. Does he know how old I am? I’m probably closer to his age than he thinks.
The time comes for me to board the bus. The time flew by having someone to “play” with at the Fethiye bus station.
As I am getting on the bus, he takes my hand, holding it just a little longer than is necessary. “It was nice to meet you,” he says with a warm smile, the twinkle still in his eyes.
“It was nice to meet you too,” I say to him.
I never did get his name.