HALLOWEEN HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY. Ever since my parents divorced when I was two and they both turned into big-haired, low-cut shirt wearing excessive freaks from a David Lee Roth video, I wanted to be someone else.
Throughout the year, I’d take every opportunity I could to assume another identity. When my sister and I started getting allowance in the second grade ($2.50 a week), she’d go to the store and buy Lee press-on nails while I’d buy paper masks and make her pretend I was the Chinese foreign exchange student that was only temporarily living with her. A simple disguise gave me the freedom to do and say all the things that the real me couldn’t. Like, “You’re not my real mother,” and “Dad, your jeans look like leggings.”
As I got older, I did what all disgruntled kids with a penchant for avoiding real life do: I became a theater major.
I went to college at UCLA where I met my dear friend, Mike. Mike was six months away from earning his Masters in Playwriting and busy casting his thesis, a play about Iowa that involved a superhero and a young girl. I won’t bore you with the Commedia dell’Arte influences or the Freudian undertones but suffice to say Captain Blasto Comes to Iowa was an Aristotelian masterpiece… Or at least that’s what he told me. Looking back, I’m pretty sure we were just doing a staged reading of his Dawson’s Creek spec script. But regardless, I got the part and we became the best of friends.
Mike’s birthday is on Halloween, making dressing up and going nuts almost a moral obligation. Every year since meeting him (minus the year I was dating a Serbian warlord and moved to Germany), I’ve spent Halloween with Mike. He usually throws a dinner party/costume contest where everyone goes all out — he always dresses as Van Halen. Over the years, I’ve donned a myriad of outrageous looks hoping to win the Van Halen CD he autographs at the end of the night (as Van Halen, of course) and presents to the winner. But until last year, I came up short. In 2009, my Michael Jackson was boxed out by an overly zealous Nipple Slip and in 2010, My S&M Lego Fucking Another Lego came in second to a Chilean “Minor.” But last year, everything changed.
The week before Mike’s party, I was pretty convinced my husband and I were going as Casey Anthony and sexy Duct taped baby. I loved the idea of Jason’s mouth being sealed shut but I wasn’t particularly thrilled about spending the night in a less than flattering pink button down. The more I thought about it, the more I started to doubt our decision. Just as my husband was about to purchase his extra large corset from Trashy Lingerie, I called him.
“I’m over our costumes,” I said bluntly.
“Do you have anything with red lace?” I heard him say to someone in the background.
“Jason! Are you listening to me?” I shouted.
“Jenny, I’m just kind of in the middle of something. Do you think garter belts actually work?” he went on.
“Baby, we are getting different costumes. Put everything back and come home now,” I said calmly, as if I were talking to a monkey waving a handgun.
“But I found so much cute stuff!” he whined. I promptly hung up the phone.
Mike’s party was in less than five hours. In order to win the costume contest, I needed an outfit that would speak to Mike personally. I needed something that would strike a nerve, something relevant, something hilarious, and something scary. There was only one real option: Go as Mike’s mom.
Mike’s mom, Sara, is your typical sweet, good-natured, overly involved parent who everyone who isn’t related to her absolutely loves. She can light up a room with her personality. She is personable and more than a little outgoing. But from time to time, like all parents, Mike’s mom can drive Mike crazy.
Last year got particularly bad when she tried to insert herself in the planning of Mike’s wedding. Mike has no sisters and his only brother had eloped three years prior, so this wedding was going to be Sara’s one chance to throw the party of her dreams. Yes, she took Mike and his future bride’s wishes into consideration, but in the end, she was hell-bent on having things her way. Mike joked about his mother’s wedding fever and alluded to the fact that she was driving him insane, but never did he badmouth her in the way I would my mom. Mike was too PC to admit that his mother needed to be tranquilized. But having known Mike for as long as I did, I was able to read through the lines. Mike’s mom was becoming a monster. There was no Halloween costume on the planet that could get under his skin more.
“Baby, I am going as Mrs. Freedman!” I exclaimed as Jason walked through the door with his hands full of shopping bags.
“Wait, What? Noooo! I just bought my entire outfit!” he cried.
“I told you to put everything down and come home!” I said, annoyed.
“I thought you were kidding,” he lied, taking all his lingerie out of the bag and pulling it on. “How cute are these?” he asked as he fastened two satin bows to his hips.
“Fine, you can still be a sexy Duct taped baby and I can be Sara Freedman,” I said rationally and I walked upstairs to go through my closet.
Upstairs, I found an old house smock that belonged to my grandma, a black wig I rocked the Halloween I was Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction, and a pair of spectacles Jason wore before he had Lasik surgery. I sprayed the wig with white shoe polish to give myself some age, stuffed my house smock with bigger tits, and popped out the lenses of Jason’s glasses so I could see. When Jason walked in to ask if I’d do his eyeliner, he was stunned. I looked Just like Mrs. Freedman. We pulled out some old photos to compare and the resemblance was truly uncanny.
“You look just like Mike’s mom!” Jason gasped.
“I do, right?” I said, staring at myself in the mirror realizing my husband in drag looked more fuckable than I did.
By the time we arrived at Mike’s party, I’d cut the house smock in half and added fishnets and added stripper heels to my ensemble
“So I don’t get it, now you are slutty Mike’s mom?” Jason asked as we walked into the party.
“Jason, you’re a baby. You don’t have the ability to judge.”
We made our way through the crowd to Mike who was already three Midori sours deep. Horror washed across his face when I caught his eye.
“Are… Are you my mom?” he stuttered.
“In fishnets?” Mike continued, looking me up and down.
“I wanted to sex her up a bit.”
“And what is that?” Mike said looking at Jason.
“Oh, I’m her slutty dead baby.” Jason explained.
“Wow,” Mike managed to spit out, before handing over his Van Halen CD without hesitation.
We won the contest before all of the guests had even arrived. An hour later, Mike was huddled in a booth in the fetal position sobbing, but I like to believe that had little to do with seeing his mom in Lucite heels and more to do with the fact that he was turning 35.
Six months later, Mike was saying his “I dos.” The wedding was spectacular and everyone looked beautiful. After the ceremony, guests were invited to a pre-dinner cocktail hour in the adjacent banquet hall. Mike and his mother looked happy as they gabbed in a corner by the hors d’oeuvres. When Jason excused himself to the bathroom, I snuck over to give them both a quick kiss.
“Mazel tov!” I said, excitedly.
“Thank you!” Mike’s mother replied as if she and Mike had just wed.
“Oh, Mike, did you tell your mom about my costume this Halloween?” I asked, innocently.
Mike’s eyes popped out of his face. He scrambled, under duress, for something to say.
“What happened on Halloween?” Mrs. Freedman inquired as Mike slammed his glass of Champagne and braced for the worst.
“What happened on Halloween?” Mrs. Freedman inquired as Mike slammed his glass of Champagne and braced for the worst.
Oblivious, I continued talking. “I went as YOU!!!!!” I said proudly.
“What?” Sara asked, not following.
I clarified: “Well, like a sexy you.”
Just as Mike was about to stab me in the neck with his empty champagne flute, Jason returned and started praising the floral arrangements above the urinals. Mrs. Freedman blushed and immediately went into a long diatribe about orchids. Mike pretended to see someone waving at him across the hall and took off.
I haven’t seen Mike’s mom since his wedding. I seem to miss her every time she’s in town and find out about later it only through Facebook.
This year, Mike made a note on the bottom of his Halloween invites that simply said: “Try to refrain from coming as anyone’s mom.”
So Jason and I are going as sexy Mike’s dad.
When you’re sixteen, you want nothing more than to fit in. You want to hang with the popular girls, know latest gossip, and have a bedroom filled with picture frames that spell out things like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “World’s Cutest Bestie.” You don’t give much thought to life after high school because life after high school doesn’t matter. But the social hierarchies you establish in your youth are the ones you subconsciously carry with you into the continuing chapters of your life. You may get into a great sorority, date a hot law student and even make enough money to finally own a Cabrio, but if you didn’t feel cool in high school, you aren’t going to feel cool anywhere, ever.
When I hit thirty, three things surprised me:
1. I wasn’t dead
2. My legs still looked okay in shorts, and
3. I still desperately gave a shit about what other people thought
Oh, and I guess:
4. I ended up marrying that guy that fucked the pie in those American Pie films (which in a way sort of negates number 3). Nevertheless, I was still pretty much the same girl I always was, minus the Cabrio.
When you’re married, you end up in a lot of situations you purposely avoided when you were single, like business dinners, kids’ birthdays, and game nights. But in relationships you’re forced to compromise. So instead of curling up in bed with season one of Revenge, you pop a Xanax, tell yourself that being unemployed doesn’t make you a failure, and you accompany your spouse to annoying, work-related events.
A few years ago, I was forced to endure a Mexican-themed BBQ at the home of a producer my husband was working with. Like all Mexican-themed BBQs, I had zero interest in attending, partly because it meant interacting with others, and partly because it stresses me out watching people consume massive amounts of carb-ridden margarita mix. But like a good partner, I went.
“You’re gonna owe me for this,” I said to Jason as we pulled up to the Valley of the Dolls valet.
“I promise, this weekend we can eat healthy and do whatever you want,” he assured me as he smacked my nails out of my mouth.
“I have social anxiety and disordered eating! If I want to bite my fingers down to the nub right now, that’s my business,” I balked, sticking my fingers back in my mouth and getting out of the car.
We walked up a long driveway to a gorgeous mid-century home covered in red, white, and green Christmas lights. Two mariachis offered us tequila shots and escorted us in. I slammed my shot and my husband looked at me, pleased.
“I drank a super strong cup of Dieter’s tea with senna in it so anything I eat is just gonna go straight through me,” I explained.
“That stuff makes you shit for days! I told you to throw that out,” he said as his eyes caught the first of many people he’d have to be fake nice to.
I tagged along as we made a loop through the kitchen, into the living room, past the game den, and outside to a long dining table covered in chips and various salsas. The people seated at the table were all notable in some way or another and since I didn’t have any cocaine on me to gain acceptance with, I had no choice but to try and socialize. Which might have worked, if I wasn’t instantly confronted with the question, “Soooo, Jenny, what are you currently working on?” I wasn’t working on anything. In fact, I hadn’t been employed in a year. Feeling more than a little inadequate, I devoured a fist full of carne asadas and tried not to cry.
By the time the dulce de leches arrived, I was three margaritas deep and sandwiched between the hostess, Marlene, and her stylish gay friend, Blue, who wouldn’t shut up about his workout regime.
“I’d be down to go hiking tomorrow morning,” Marlene said excitedly, like exercise was the most fun thing on earth.
“Sting and Trudy have a fitting I have to be at!” Blue pretend cried.
Having been awkwardly quiet for nearly fifteen minutes, I felt the need to contribute before looking like a creepy eavesdropper.
“I’ll go with you,” I clumsily blurted out.
Jason looked at me from across the table, shocked.
“Um, okay,” Marlene reluctantly agreed as she unconsciously looked down to appraise my handbag.
Once we’d left the party and I was home in my duvet cocoon, I started to panic. In less than twelve hours I was going to be hanging out with Marlene. ALONE.
“I’m really proud of you!” Jason exclaimed through his toothbrush, as he got ready for bed.
“What are we going to talk about? I’m totally not cool enough for her. I don’t even own a pair of work out sweats that don’t have period stains on them,” I lamented.
“She’s harmless. You’re going to be fine,” Jason insisted.
The next morning came too quickly. I set my alarm for six but was already up at five with a stomachache I attributed to stress. Marlene showed up at seven in a fitted Stella McCartney tracksuit that screamed “My husband has more money than yours and I don’t even give a shit.”
“You ready?” She asked without setting foot inside my house.
“Sure,” I said, trying to act normal.
We pulled into Malibu National Park, threw our purses in Marlene’s trunk, and started hiking into the abyss.
For the first fifteen minutes, Marlene rambled on and on about progressive schooling while keeping a pace that sort of implied she was trying to ditch me. In between breaths, my stomach grumbled with increasing intensity.
“You okay?” Marlene finally asked when one of my groans interrupted her diatribe about the importance of salad bars in schools.
I wasn’t okay. With each step I could feel the diet tea breaking down last night’s decisions. I tried moving faster in an effort to quell the now intense gargling coming from my intestinal region. Thoroughly weirded out, Marlene looked at her cell phone to check how much longer she’d be stuck with me.
“I think I’m going to–” I started, before lunging for the bushes.
Once hidden from view, I pulled down my pants and started spraying shit. Unable to make out what exactly was happening, Marlene called out, concerned.
“You, um. You want to turn around or something?”
“No! Just go ahead without me. I’ll meet up with you in a few,” I urged as a flood of macerated taco shells spewed from my ass.
When the shitting finally subsided, I looked around for some version of wilderness toilet paper but found nothing. The canyon was especially arid and the only option was a pinecone or a pair of sticks. Grabbing the sticks, I quickly tweezed the remaining feces strands out of my ass, pulled up my period sweats and climbed out of the bushes. Marlene was still standing there.
“Everything better?” she asked disgusted.
“Yeah, I guess, I just… Well I didn’t eat breakfast and…” I muttered trying to look for an excuse as sweat poured down my face.
Just then, a group of teenagers jogged past.
“It smells like shit!” one of the teens exclaimed.
Looking down at my shoes, I realized I’d accidentally Jackson Pollacked my toes with poop. If the teens could smell the shit, so could Marlene. I was mortified.
This time, instead of asking if I wanted to cut the hike short, Marlene just started heading back to her car without speaking.
When we got in the car, my stench only increased. Marlene rolled down her windows and cranked up the radio so we wouldn’t have to talk about why I smelled like poop. As the radio played, a flood of images went through my head. I remembered the time in fifth grade when a popular girl asked me to play after school but was instantly turned off when she saw that I was still riding a banana seat bicycle. I thought about the time in eighth grade when I went to school wearing a giant push-up bra everybody knew wasn’t my real rack, and I thought about the time in high school I was asked to leave a house party because I wasn’t invited. I would have gladly re-lived all of these experiences in exchange for never shitting myself in front of Marlene. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.
When we pulled up to my house Marlene waved goodbye as I was still sitting next to her. Taking the cue that she obviously didn’t want a hug, I smiled graciously and got out of the car.
“We should do this again sometime,” I said nervously trying to gage if she hated me.
“Totally!” she agreed, in a tone that confirmed she hated me.
I never saw Marlene again but I’m sure she still thinks about me every time she wipes her butt. In a way, the experience opened my eyes to something I’d been refusing to admit since high school. Trying to be cool never ends well.
In retrospect, I should have just shat on Marlene.
I like to think of myself as a good person. Sure, I’ve made my share of mistakes, assumptions, and fake Facebook pages, but at my core I ALWAYS mean well. I know it sometimes doesn’t look that way when I’m tweeting shit about my husband’s ex-girlfriend, talking shit about my husband’s ex-girlfriend, or just thinking shit about my husband’s ex-girlfriend. But, like I tell him, I DON’T ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT. It’s just my shtick! Like how pretend I want to euthanize his asshole Miniature Pinscher when he’s not looking. Nothing I say should EVER be taken seriously. Unless, I’m talking about the Pinscher, in which case, yes, I hope he dies soon.
So Jason’s ex, Sam, and I were almost officially acquaintances who have no problem with each other until the fall of last year. That was when I published an adorkably wacky account of how obsessed I was with the fact that she was able to move on with her life post-my husband. This outlandish tale depicting me hiding in the trunk of a car, breaking and entering, and lying about my age was meant lovingly. However, after the article posted, she seemed to almost instantly disappear from my life. At the time, I guess I just assumed she was busy. This morning, I learned it’s because she fucking hates me.
My mother, Deb, and step-father, John, came up from San Diego to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary with us. As a little treat before they headed home, I thought it’d be fun to take them for mani/pedis and lunch at the Ivy. Around 10 am we jumped into my car and drove to my favorite nail spot on Beverly Boulevard. It being my favorite nail spot has little to do with how well the girls do nails and more to do with the fact that it’s situated next door to the best coffee house in the city. Honestly, don’t go to this salon if you want gels because they will fuck your shit up and undoubtedly overcharge you.
The other annoying thing about this nail spa is that I have to drive past Sam’s house to get there. (Annoying = not annoying at all/secretly fun.) It’d been over year since we’d seen each other face to face and I hadn’t thought much about her in as long a time. (Except for a couple months ago when I wrote that story about how obsessed I was with her not being obsessed with my husband anymore.) But today was different. It was merely a coincidence, an auspicious gift from the gods that this girlfriend of Christmas past happened to be outside her apartment at the exact moment we drove by.
“That was Sam, Jason’s ex! Did you just see her?” I asked my mom as I craned my neck to get another glimpse.
“No,” she answered, as she and John turned to look.
“Should I go around the block?” I offered.
“No, Jenny,” my mom barked.
“You’re right. Honestly, I would have only been doing it to satisfy you guys’ curiosity. I’m totally over-harassing her,” I said, believing myself.
We pulled up to the nail salon and wandered in. My mom and I sat in tall pedicure chairs debating polish colors while John was sent on coffee duty.
“Two iced coffees, black!” I called out to him, still focused on the cyanotic polish every semi-current issue of Lucy magazine seemed to be pushing down my throat.
When I looked back up, John was gone. Standing in his place was someone else… Someone who, upon second glance, looked strangely familiar. Holy shit! It was SAM! Wha — Wait. What? I thought to myself as my mind melted into the hot water soaking my feet.
Unable to avoid direct eye contact, I preemptively blurted out a loving hello. Sam looked at me like I was Hitler raping a baby and paused before grunting, “Hi.”
I felt like I was going to throw up all over the room. Like when you see a cop flashing his lights behind you and you know you’re in trouble but you’re just not sure why. Scared, I tucked my face back into my cell phone and pretended to be busy. When I mustered up the courage to look again, I realized Sam’s MOTHER was sitting across from me also getting a pedicure! So there we were, the four of us in a nearly empty nail salon facing off in pedicure chairs. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide… My mom sat next to me, oblivious. I texted her to fill her in. “Oh my God! In a weird twist of karmic fate, guess who the fuck just sat down opposite us? Sam and her mom!!”
“They just put on their shades! I guess they think now we can’t see them,” my mom wrote back.
I glanced up again and now noticed that both women were bedizened in giant black sunglasses that looked like they were from Nordstrom’s “Blind People” collection.
“The mom looks like she wants to kill you,” my mom wrote.
“Should I say something?”
“I’m not above clocking a bitch if I have to,” she answered.
Just then, John walked back in with our iced coffees.
“Hey girls! How’s it going? Neither of you are getting that crazy Smurf color, are you?”
I said nothing, praying to god that Sam’s toes weren’t blue.
“Ha. I — I don’t know,” I said, uncomfortable.
“What’s wrong?” John asked.
My mom whispered something under her breath, which I assume was, “Shut the fuck up and I’ll explain later,” because within minutes, John decided to wait for us outside.
Unable to help myself, I took another look at the two, seething Lt. Commander Geordi La Forges engaged in their own furious texting. I wracked my brain, going over the article I’d written. Was it perhaps more offensive than I had thought? Did she somehow misinterpret it as not being slightly tongue-in-cheek? Was there possibly some other offense I committed that I wasn’t even aware of? I really couldn’t think of anything that would have provoked this behavior. The way I saw it, I’d been good to this girl. I facilitated her making amends with my husband, I’d given her back a Nesspresso Coffee machine with milk foamer, and I even consoled her when her parakeet died. Why was she being so mean to me?
Since she seemed engrossed by her phone, I thought the easiest way to reach out would be through text. So, from less than five feet away, I shot her a message.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked.
Seconds later, Sam looked at me, horrified, and said nothing.
So I did what anyone in my situation would do… I sent another text.
“Hike Runyon this week?” I suggested.
“Have you seen American Reunion, yet?”
Sam grew angrier by the second and eventually shut her phone off.
Realizing she needed time, I, very maturely, got up to go. My mom also collected her things before sending me one last text: “I’m gonna walk past them so they can see how skinny I am. Meet you outside?”
I nodded, secretly paid Sam’s tab, and left.
After Sam never called to thank me for the pedis, I realized it was really over. Sam didn’t want to be the weird bearded lady in the cage I kept pointing at. She was my muse for over three years and it was now time to find someone else my husband dated to become obsessed with.
Jason and I sat handcuffed in the back of the paddy wagon as we sped along a Turkish highway as what sounded like a Eurotrash mash-up of “Call Me Maybe” and Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” blasted through the speakers. I was scared, confused and desperate to get a shot of this for INSTAGRAM.
I made eye contact with Jason, who was also handcuffed, and sitting next to me. “How did this happen?” I whispered to him, my lip trembling.
“Shhh!” he hissed. “We’re not supposed to be talking.”
I gazed out through the van’s passenger window, which was clouded with dirt and thought back to 24 hours earlier, when everything was okay…
Each year, Jason and I make it a point to take an outlandish summer vacation. This year the plan was to spend a week with my sister and her husband on their yacht in Greece, four days in Turkey, and three days in Rome. I can’t spend longer than three days in Rome. If I did, I’d eat myself to death, for sure making my father unable to love me. But I digress.
The Mediterranean is gorgeous this time of year. And with a boat you can go places airplanes can’t. It was like being in a Homeric poem — we let the winds and the crazy scary diesel engine of our 100 foot motor yacht lead us to the medieval island Rhodes, the elegant harbors of Symi, and the Cancunesque coast of Kos. Each day was a new adventure and by adventure I mean every time you wiped poop off your ass, you had to throw it in a wastebasket because the toilets can’t process paper. The term I use for this type of scenario is glamping: glamorous camping. I hate camping in any of its earthy disguises, so for all of its perks, the boat was still a challenge.
Maybe it was the fact that my father had gotten aboard in Kos or the fact that I hadn’t used conditioner in four days, but when we docked in Bodrum, Turkey, I couldn’t pack up my physical and emotional baggage fast enough.
“Bon Voyage!” I waved exuberantly as we pulled out of the Marina leaving our shipmates for the land leg of our journey.
“My dad is going to kill himself,” I sighed, knowing his head basically explodes off his 125 pound body when he doesn’t have a way to work out or ignore the world around him. (His feces included.)
“Totally” Jason laughed hysterically.
“The good news is, we’re in Turkey now and we get to flush our shit tonight!” I exclaimed.
Tucked away in an ancient pine forest overlooking a scalloped bay on the Bodrum peninsula is the Amanruya. Named after the Sanskrit word for peace, ‘aman’, and the Turkish word for dream, Amanruya is exactly the kind of place you want to go when you want a guarantee that the chocolate on your pillow is not your own poop.
A Hotel representative took us to one of the property’s 34 cottages, each equipped with its own garden, a private swimming pool, a covered dining and lounging pergola and an outdoor shower. As soon as our host was gone, we stripped down and jumped into the pool.
“This is heaven. I never want to leave,” I moaned happily before disappearing underwater.
The next four days were spent lapping up sun and room service in our decadent Aegean hideaway. Occasionally, like smug assholes, Jason and I tried to picture the hardships my family faced at sea.
“Do you think anyone is dead by now?” Jason asked as a Turkish woman gave him a Thai massage.
“I’m sure there’s been at least one broken axel and a dysentery outbreak,” I assured him between sips of mint mojito.
By the week’s end, we were sated and ready to take our obnoxious American block party to Rome. I stood on top of my suitcase and with all of my weight, forced my newly purchased knock off handbags to mingle with my still mildewed sailing regalia. We took one last picture of the view and headed up to the front entrance. Within minutes, a chauffer was heaving our things into the back of his Mercedes MLK as the staff bid us farewell.
“I want to be a Bodrumite, I think. Can we just stop working in LA and live off the land here?” I whined for a good thirty minutes.
“Baby, shut up. We have to make a 5 pm dinner reservation in Rome you spoiled bitch. Did you get your jewelry out of the safe?” Jason asked casually.
“Shhh! He speaks English,” I mouthed as the car pulled in to the airport.
Riddled with guilt over the fact that our driver heard I had jewelry, was heading to Italy, and just uploaded a picture of his back to Instagram, I made it a point to give him all the Lire we had left.
Inside, we got our tickets to Rome. We had a layover in Istanbul but our bags were checked all the way through. When our plane landed in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, everyone was directed to customs. Jason paced nervously worried we wouldn’t reach our subsequent gate in time. After about twenty minutes in a non air-conditioned tunnel, it was our turn. Relieved, we pranced up to the Turkish Customs official and presented our passports. He looked at us both, unimpressed, and went back to flipping through our papers.
“You have a different passport?” he finally asked.
“No. My picture just looks weird because of the bangs, it was a bad move, but I learned from it,” I explained.
Jason nudged me in the arm to shut up.
“We’re US citizens, that IS our only passport,” he went on.
The Customs agent called one of his colleagues over for help.
“Where is your visa to be in this country? How did you get into Turkey?” the colleague demanded.
“Oh! That! Yeah, well we were on a yacht,” I said.
“Where is the yacht now?” the agent asked.
“The yacht? Um, I think it’s back in Greece. Right, baby? If it hasn’t sunk yet… There’s a great deal of shit on board,” I joked.
Nobody was amused. Jason looked ready to use his carry-on to knock me unconscious when we were escorted out of line and handcuffed. Instantly, I started to cry. A policeman, who couldn’t have been older than 25, prodded us through a door that led to a separate holding pen. Jason was taken to the opposite side of the room so that we couldn’t converse. We were then told in broken English that our bags were being pulled off the plane and that they better not find anything illegal in them.
“Are fake Louis Vuitton Canvas Neverfulls illegal here?” I gingerly inquired.
The child cop stared at me blankly then left the room. When he returned he had an entourage of four kid officers with him. They said nothing, just pointed towards yet another hallway they wanted us to walk down.
“Midnight Express!?” I whispered to Jason from behind.
“Jenny, be calm. Nothing is going to happen. This is all a misunderstanding. We are probably just going to pay a fine,” he said trying rational.
“I’m not getting naked. I’m not blowing anyone. I’m not shaving my head. I AM open to renouncing my western ideology if I have to,” I vowed.
We rounded a corner and were suddenly outside the airport. The boy soldiers pushed us both into a waiting paddy wagon blasting Euro trash techno. Once we were all in, the van took off with the kind of zeal that only comes from having nothing to do most of the day.
My body was saying, “INSTAGRAM this shit!” but my mind was saying, “No.” Thank God my body won out! I turned on my roaming like a person who knows they’ll never have to pay their cell phone bill because they live in a Turkish prison now, and uploaded the shot. In an instant, everyone back home knew exactly what was going on. My phone started blowing up with texts and phone calls like I was fucking Anderson Cooper. This made the officers furious. I think one of them must follow me or something…
“No more phone,” one of the club kid cops barked as he snatched it from my hands.
Secretly thrilled that my fan base extended all the way to Turkey, I handed over the phone willingly and took a moment to mentally pat myself on the back. Jason, meanwhile, was in full on POW mode. He only moved when spoken to and refused to make eye contact with me because he knows I tend to laugh uncontrollably when I’m in trouble. From the outside, the prison looked like old army barracks. Inside, it looked like the pound from Lady and the Tramp only instead of singing shitzus there were potential sleeping terrorists in each cell.
A guard escorted me to a station where he took my fingerprints and mug shot. I then fell to my knees in full-blown panic-mode when he asked me to step on a scale for weighing.
“I’m not sure how to tell you this but… I’ve had an eating disorder before and this is really not something I should be doing,” I stated as I griped the nearest wall in fear.
Unfazed, the guard physically lifted me off the ground and onto the scale kicking.
“You are sooo lucky this is in Kilograms!”
“I’m officially NEVER doing The Amazing Race with you,” Jason called out from a scale opposite me.
“What did I do wrong? He wants me to know how much weight I’ve gained. It’s sadistic and has nothing to do with my offense,” I yelled back.
“You have zero respect for authority. I’m bringing this up in couples’ therapy when we get home.” Jason threatened.
“Good luck with that! Because if you haven’t noticed, WE AREN’T GOING HOME!” I yelled.
Just then the first English speaker we’d seen in hours walked in.
“Mr. and Mrs. Biggs? Please come with me,” said Officer Tarek, a Turkish man who looked like my dad on acid.
The three of us sat down at a desk where he asked us to write down the names of our parents, the states we were born in, and the purpose of our visit. The officer’s mind seemed to melt as he stared at Jason’s passport and then back at his Jason Biggs’ face.
“American Pasta?” He asked, puzzled.
Neither Jason nor myself felt hungry so we declined his generous offer.
“Jim Levenstien!?” he insisted, nodding his head emphatically.
“Oh, thank God! Thank God! Thank God!” I gasped.
“Yes! American Pie! Pasta! That’s me!” Jason nodded as a swarm of officers and jailers gathered round.
Words and laughs were exchanged in Turkish before they finally agreed on what was next.
“Oh my God, here it comes, they are gonna ask to rape me!” I muttered under my breath closing my eyes and bracing for a gangbang.
“Do the dance!” Tarek exclaimed happily as everyone nodded in anticipation.
Jason and I paused for a beat, confused.
“The sexy dance! The Nadia Sexy Dance.” Tarek reminded him.
One of the infant officers from earlier blasted a Gloria Gaynor mash up on his phone and my good sport of a husband started moving. The only thing that would have made this scenario more ridiculous is if they started shooting bullets at his feet to make him move faster.
Immediately, I was regretting getting busted for taking a photo earlier. I would have been more patient had I known this Kodak fucking moment was in store. When the song was over everyone seemed the best of friends. Jason took photos, signed T-shirts, and left voicemail messages. Tarek stamped something on our passports that basically said we could fly out of the country that night but wouldn’t be allowed back in for three years. He then coyly suggested we leave any money we might have as a simple donation to Turkey.
“I gave our driver, everything we had left,” I said, emptying my wallet.
Tarek’s infatuation with Jason instantly started to fade.
“We have an ATM,” he said darkly, suddenly morphing into a guy that would ass rape the Turkish my dad on acid.
One thousand dollars and two more Nadia dances later, we were released and put on a flight to Rome. I sent out a quick tweet to let everyone know I was okay. The only response I got was from my sister, who simply posted a shot of my dad swimming in a bay next to a giant ferry about to decapitate him with a note that read,
“A Turkish prison actually sounds delightful right about now.”
Someday I hope to return to Turkey, mainly to get my hands on the forms that list my actual weight in kilograms and destroy them. The last thing my father needs after his decapitation is to learn how much I really weigh.