>One word: Mustafa


As I was browsing my computer for pictures to accompany my recipes, I found a paper I had written for my freshman literature class at City College. For those of you who know Mustafa Deveci, one can describe him as quite a character. Depending on the time period from which you knew him, you may either laugh at or be truly surprised by the story you will read below. Now that he is back in Turkey, it is rumored that Mustafa has had a spiritual awakening. To his credit, he no longer drinks, smokes or swears. I can attest to this because I saw him in 2008, driving a Range Rover through a village, wearing a long white robe and the cap reserved for hagis (those who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj). To say that I was shocked would not even touch the tip of the iceberg. He held the tespih (rosary-like beads for prayer) in his hand like a pro, and had the demeanor of a lamb.With this in mind, please take the following essay as entertainment and not an attempt to discredit his progress.

*Despite the disclaimer, this story is very true. We still belly laugh to this day when we remember it.*

College Essay: Change

A congratulations hug from the man himself
            He had already started to get on my nerves, although it had only been 30 minutes since I had met him.  My fiance had calmly told me that as soon as the wedding was over the following week, Mustafa would go home.  Under that impression, I loosened up, picturing that stout, bulbous-headed Turkish man with his sweat-glistening face taking off in his car in a week from that day.  Little did I know that my whole life was about to change from that one moment. Change sucks.
York Harbor, ME
            Maine had been a typically quiet place that was always peaceful.  That scenario had changed the minute Mustafa had arrived. For a minute, and only that, I had begun to get used to having Mustafa around the house.  As a distant cousin of my husband, he made a great live-in chef to my family. He had traveled up from a small town in New Jersey, where he resided and owned a small pizza place that was known to all.
What used to be Mustafa’s Pizza place
            Everything was great, as long as we tuned out Mustafa’s cacophonous babble, which seemed to diminish the flavor of each succulent meal.  One week had passed since the wedding and Mustafa was still with us in Maine.  It wasn’t until one entire month after I was married that he returned to New Jersey, much appreciated by me. In the peacefulness, I had lost track of what my plans were for the fall. Then it hit me, we were taking off for New York City, where I would significantly change my surroundings and grin and bear the challenges of college.  Never did I think about the housing situation. I had been so busy working double shifts each day during the summer that I had not had a good amount of time to apartment hunt. When I did, it was by way of the internet and some very strange phone calls to people I would not even want to rent from.  Time passed and August came. My husband suggested that we take a trip to find an apartment; it was all in vain.  There was nothing to be found in the “Big Apple.”  To my dismay, as well as my husband’s, we had come to our last resort: staying with Mustafa.  I had resisted as much as possible and finally agreed, when I lugged my duffel bag into the dingy, studio apartment that reeked of salami sandwiches and old man cologne.  At that moment, my eyes began to tear up as I contemplated my dismal future in this location.  Although my husband had promised me that it would be temporary, all I could picture was years and years of sleeping in Mustafa’s bed while he slumbered restlessly upon the floor by my feet.  Needless to say, it took some getting used to. Every morning, I would fling my feet over the edge of the bed and shriek when they came in contact with his gigantic stomach, while he snored away as if nothing had happened. That in itself was a task to overcome, but I had no idea what was in store.
On our wedding day
            Presently, I can announce that my husband did not live up to his promise and I still, unfortunately, claim Mustafa as my housemate.  Despite the many times we almost got kicked out, along with him, we are living together as one dysfunctional, Turkish family. Now I have been on my best behavior, as we have finally secured our own apartment and have been told, by Mustafa himself, that I owe him big time. All he said was, “Clear your bed in your house because I may get evicted soon. It’s your turn.”  With that, I cringed so deeply that I know he must have seen it. Despite the trauma suffered, I am still alive.  Every night when I lay in bed studying, he trudges to the refrigerator and grabs his Budweiser and a cigar, and plops in front of the computer to watch an endless marathon of Turkish television programs.  If you do not already know from firsthand experience, I can assure you that one can not study, sleep, or even efficiently bury their own head in a pillow when the International channel is blaring and a discontented old man is drunkenly arguing with the characters.  Take my advice; do not try it for yourselves.
In all his glory
            Just the other night, as usual, I was lying in bed studying for the next day’s classes. Mustafa had just lumbered in, smelling of sandwiches as usual, with a bag of bagels to share as a primitive meal.  As Mustafa wandered to the computer, I just kept my nose in my psych book, to avoid confrontation.  My husband had put the bagels on a tray and placed them in the oven, which was not often used by the Emeril-in-training.  As destiny would have it, something was not right. The scene was too peaceful and NORMAL.  Just as I was settling in to sleep, at the 11 o’clock hour, a horrific beeping came from the smoke alarm. Mustafa, bewildered, shot up from the computer chair and spouted off in his native tongue, all the while translating as if I had actually mattered today.
            “Allah Kahretsin! Nedir bu? Goddamnit! What is that!?”
            “The smoke alarm,” I sarcastically retorted, as I watched my husband dislodge the burning bagels from the oven.  Mustafa flung the window open and turned on the air conditioner while I shivered beneath the thin blankets.
            “S***** git! Kapa cheneni, kiz!” He continued on with his Turkish expletives, cursing the smoke alarm, which bleeped and announced ‘fire fire’ in a surprisingly calm and computerized female voice.
            “Shut up, bitch! Yangin mangin yok! There is no fire!” His remarks were aimed at the smoke alarm, which defiantly remained on the top of the 15 foot high ceiling, beeping all the while.  He had begun to get crafty, and dragged a rickety chair beneath the smoke alarm, which was directly above me.
            “Hadi kiz! Move!” he shouted at me, as he beckoned to my husband. “Give me that goddamn semsiye!”
            My husband quickly brought him the umbrella, as he teetered upon the chair, that failed Turkish acrobat. He thrusted the umbrella at the button in the middle of the smoke alarm, which he could not reach, due to his dwarf-like stature.  Amidst the escapade of the fire-less emergency, chilled air rushed through the window and out of the air conditioner.
            “Turn off that air conditioning! It is not summer! Allah Allah!” Mustafa glanced at the windows as if he had no idea who had caused the chilliness.  I made no effort to move, but kept my head in my book so that the living “weeble” could not see the anguish from hiding my laughter.  My husband stood at the side of the bed, offering advice and then taking the helm and mounting the chair. With one swift movement, the battered umbrella protruded the smoke alarm and ceased the din. He jumped down, relieved, and replaced the umbrella to its usual spot.
            As things started to roll on from the joyously entertaining event, the bagels were tossed out and Mustafa re-joined his Turkish sitcom, in what seemed like a move to make my life a living hell. From that point on, until 4 A.M, peace was no longer a possibility in the small studio, with Yilmaz Guney playing hero to an annoying, weepy young actress.
            Needless to say, life went on without a huge disruption, as it does in all cases. This was the thing that I had managed to realize, during all the hoopla of the alarm, no matter how hard it was for me to adapt to new situations.  Although not every change is going to come in the form of a Turkish pizza man holed up in New Jersey, I will be more ready to face it. Without the interjections of umbrellas.

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