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.
Jenny Mollen Biggs is an actress and writer living in Los Angeles with two poodle angel muffins and an asshole miniature pinscher. She also has a husband. Keep up with her at IMDB or on Twitter @jennyandteets.
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