Dear Turkish Girl I Saw on a Bus in Germany for Six Minutes and Fell in Love With,
How long has it been since that fall evening on the bus? I think I was still a teenager, right? I’m not sure why I’m asking you for confirmation of my age since we never actually talked and I didn’t even catch your name, but if I know almost nothing about you, why is it not a month has gone by that I don’t think of you and daydream about our tragic romance that never happened?
What would have happened if I’d stood up, walked across that bus, and asked your name? What if I’d gotten off at your stop and said, “Oh, this is my stop, too,” and you would have asked where I lived, and I would have started our relationship with a lie by pointing at the most impressive apartment complex and saying, “I own the top floor penthouse of that building there. Although I guess you could say I live on the floor under that as well since I’m in the process of purchasing it and converting it to a swimming pool and sauna.”
Is it better that we never spoke? I might have realized you laughed like Fran Drescher or loved Vin Diesel. Or you may have belonged to that disappointing demographic of girls who lose interest in me after ten minutes of conversation. One of the worst feelings in the world is crossing the room to talk to a girl who’s been smiling at me all night and after a few minutes her smile fades, she shrugs, and says she should find her friends. At what point did I lose her interest? It’s always frustrated me that a higher percentage of girls don’t fall in love with me. I know 80 to 90 percent of all girls may be asking too much, but I would settle for 67 percent.
I arrive at the number 67 percent because I knew three friends who were all equally cute, two flirted with me and laughed at all my jokes, and the third rolled her eyes or said she had to be somewhere just about every time I opened my mouth. So naturally, I asked out the third girl who obviously didn’t like me, wasting a whole summer trying to woo her even though it was obvious neither of us were attracted to each other. We finally had a conversation where I asked:
“It’s obvious you don’t like me; why do you keep going out with me?”
“Because my friends really like you and say I’d be an idiot not to go out with you. Why do you keep asking me out even though it’s obvious you don’t like me?”
“Because I can tell you don’t like me. I’m intrigued by my inability to win you over. Why aren’t you in love with me?”
“You’re too nice. I kind of like jerks.”
“I can be a jerk. Should I be more forceful and boss you around? I demand you fall in love with me! I’m very charming! I demand you find me charming!”
“I’m still not feeling it. Have you considered getting a motorcycle?”
“Do you know the statistics on motorcycle accidents?”
“Have you ever been arrested?”
“I’ve never even had a speeding ticket. I usually drive five miles under the speed limit just in case my speedometer is inaccurate.”
“Why don’t you ask out one of my friends?”
“They already like me. What’s the point?”
The rest of the conversation was extremely cathartic as we spent an hour listing all the things we didn’t like about each other, but in a surprisingly constructive way that provided the best feedback I’d ever had on relationships from the female point of view.
I know it’s unlikely you’re still thinking of me all these years later, but I hope you remembered me for at least a few days or a week or a few months, keeping an eye out whenever you rode the same bus line, wondering if you might bump into me again.
Do you remember that chilly fall day in Germany? I was sitting in the back row of a crowded bus. You entered through the middle doors while I looked out the window, but I felt the pull of your eyes. I turned my head and locked eyes with you, the most stunningly beautiful girl. The fading early evening light flickered through the windows as we passed under a series of bridges, alternately illuminating your long dark hair and golden eyes then plunging you into darkness.
Usually when you check someone out, rules of decorum suggest you look away after a few seconds, but neither of us turned our heads for the first thirty. All social rules escaped me because I had been hit with a lightning bolt, my face became flushed, my heart beat faster. You looked down for a brief moment, then looked back up and gave a shy smile, and I was completely smitten.
My thoughts began to race. How should I approach? There was no smooth way to navigate the thirty people standing between us and there was a good chance the movements of the bus would send me tumbling to the ground while approaching. You were obviously interested in me while I was sitting, but would you still be interested in a stumbling, off balance, falling down version of me? The other passengers stared ahead, swaying in unison with the jerky movements of the bus, oblivious to our romantic intrigue.
We continued to make eye contact and exchange smiles for the next six minutes as I tried to muster the courage to get up out of my seat. Eventually the bus slowed to a halt. Your door opened, you took a step forward, paused to look back at me over your shoulder, smiled one last time, then exited.
I watched you grow smaller out the back window until you disappeared entirely.
For years, my failure to talk to you pained me, but now I’m grateful to have that perfect memory forever unsullied by the harsh realities of romance.
Your family would have hated me. Maybe your father owned a Doner Kebab shop and you would take me home to meet your parents and he would offer me a kebab and I would have to decline because I’m a vegetarian, and he would forbid you from marrying me.
And what language would we speak at home? We both spoke German, but we would eventually grow tired of never being understood in our native languages. We wouldn’t laugh at the same jokes or like the same movies. Our cultural differences would seem exciting for the first two years, exhausting after five, and isolating after ten.
The relationship probably would have ended badly. Don’t all romances end badly? Otherwise they wouldn’t end.