My host mom heard I liked a Turkish guy.
She pulled me aside with a kind and sweet smile. “Ruth,” she said, “you will have cultural differences with this boy.” I sigh heavily, thinking I know where this is going, because somehow ’tis my pattern to like boys of different cultures and to be warned away. I stare into the sinking fire, squaring my shoulders against the usual.
She nods wisely and continues. “You need to find a good Georgian boy.” I look up in surprise. I bite the inside of my mouth to stop a traitorous smile. How will a small-town Georgian Orthodox macho boy be any better a match than an Istanbuli secular Muslim? Curious.
My host mom’s on a roll, thinking my choked silence and crooked mouth means a possibility of American capitulation to wily Georgian sex appeal. She leans forward and raises her eyebrows conspiratorially. “He’s single. Thirty-seven.” Already the huge red flag is raising and waving madly–in this part of the world this is a very suspicious sign in a man–but I let her continue. “His name is Soso, and he’s not in prison anymore, and he’s unemployed.” She smiles winningly at me, like she’s just let me in on the jackpot.
I blink for a second. What is the diplomatic response to this? I return her smile and choke down another laugh. “See, the thing is,” I say eventually, “I don’t like the name Soso.”
And I carefully return my gaze to the fire, glad a season-long power-outage will help my scraggly hair hide my face. “But thank you for thinking of me, anyway.”