It wasn’t like I really had an agenda when I met #208. Generally when I am travelling overseas, I do not get off with other people, no matter how much I may want to. (See, for example, Australia 2009. “What a hot accent you have,” they didn’t say. “Here, have some action,” they didn’t say.)
#208 was a waiter at a restaurant that #235 had recommended to me. He was very nice – I mean, yes, it’s usually a good idea for waiters to be nice to customers, but he was nice to the point of insisting #110’s girlfriend used his phonecard when she needed to make a call. When we finished dinner, I asked him if he could recommend any good bars in the area, and he said he was just finishing his shift, so he could show us in person if we liked. Sure.
The rooftop terrace at Ritim was a good choice, and I got even happier about it when the DJ played Goran Bregović and Athena. #110 and her girlfriend and I drank a lot. #208 didn’t. I remember something about his friend showing up and trying to grab #110’s crotch, so we did our best to avoid the friend, which made for a weird dynamic.
#208 mentioned that closing time was approaching, and we looked at each other sorrowfully for a moment before I decided what the hell, and kissed him. This was a good idea for about a minute but then I realised that I was dangerously close to getting married. I declined to go home with him, so he negotiated with a taxi driver to get us back to our hostel, and phoned to make sure we’d arrived. I felt uncomfortable about all that: it was nice of him, but I was capable of looking after myself, especially when travelling with two friends (and also it cost me money to receive calls while abroad, and I wanted to preserve my credit for actual emergencies). The next day, he phoned to report that he was finding out about boat tours on the Bosphorus, which we’d mentioned in passing was something we’d like (but couldn’t really afford) to do. “Is that your boyfriend?” asked #110 in that disparaging tone she has, and I marvelled at the fact that I’d barely hit Istanbul before needing to have The Talk with somebody.
The Talk was quick and painless, I suppose, but still not fun. I met him again along with a local friend of mine who I’d been looking forward to catching up with; I sat in the corner making awkward conversation with #208 whilst secretly wishing I could join in with everybody else. “I think we should just be friends,” I ventured finally, and he agreed, and then I said I’d e-mail him when I got back to Edinburgh, and then I totally never did.