“Taş gibi.” I heard this phrase a lot while two young Turkish American men were living in our house. I never could quite get the context, as their voices would lower to decibels my old ears couldn’t decipher well. This usually took place as these young men were checking out their possible future dates on Facebook, for example.
During these episodes, Kenne, the Queen of Manners and Maintenance of Ladylike Behavior would “hurumph!” her way out of the room – dragging her handmaiden Zenne (the nervous Nellie like a bowl of quivering jelly) out of the room at breakneck pace. It reminded me of the goat-bleating sound of horror my grandmother made when I was in the unfortunate position of explaining to her the OTHER purpose for dental dams back in the days when I did HIV/AIDS prevention work with women. I will not elaborate further.
But in any case, back to the term taş gibi. I had learned early on that taş referred to “stone” and I remembered this as I knew someone with Taş in their last name. It had also been early on in my time with M. that I learned the term buz gibi, which when translated directly means “as cold as ice.” So, as I sat at the dining room table with these young men, I finally put it together – something is like stone. “Horrible,” I though sadly, “that they are referring to these young women as being like stone – they should give them a chance – maybe they are just shy!” I never shared these views as I didn’t want to interfere with the brotherly good time that was going on at the table. Boys will be boys and all – they got enough feminist propaganda from me anyway, I thought. As I was thinking this to myself, pretty much the ENTIRE puppet troupe was cackling and howling, slapping their knees and falling all over themselves with a case of the contagious giggles.
After months and months of watchful attempts for moments in which the use of my newly understood phrase did not appear – I found my moment. Gülay was very kindly going out of her way to give us a ride. There we were, sitting in the thick, stalled Istanbul traffic, trying to get onto the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge (a.k.a. the “second bridge”) to cross the Bosphorus on the way to Sabiha Gökçen Havaalanı for our trip to Dalyan to visit the Archers of Okçular for the first time. We were stuck, nothing was moving, minutes and minutes had gone by and the three young men and my husband in the back of the car had entirely demolished the sesame-covered simit that Gülay had bought from the vendor out of the window. Feeling very proud of myself – I gestured around at the traffic with my right hand, and said with beaming pride “Taş gibi!”
Silence hit the car – and I began to blush. I thought, perhaps my accent is bad, although M. tells me that it is not as do others, so, I said it again “Taş gibi! No?”. Gülay looked at me with a sidelong glance. “What is it you are trying to say?” she asked calmly, always gentle with me as she is (and for which I am grateful).
I explained through the blushing “the traffic….it’s, well, it’s stuck – you know – like stone!” At this point the entire human and puppet population of the car began to guffaw as if there was no tomorrow. I didn’t know what to do with my face or hands – I knew that the horrible truth would be out in moments but that I just had to wait.
“Taş gibi!” Gülay giggled, “M. you need to explain this term to your wife.” Before M. could get there – one of Gülay‘s sons snorted out an explanation “it means a hot chick – you know – not super skinny – but with some meat on her bones – a real lady – not a thinspiration type!”
Here is what we are talking about:
Finally, I had the freedom to laugh along with them. And all agreed that indeed, the traffic could be described as Taş gibi as well!