Life in the Pen(sion)

“Life in the Pen(sion)”

Here are the facts that got me 10-to-Life (I was totally framed–circumstantial evidence!):

1) We’re in Turkey, hanging out in the same pension (read: small hotel run by a family, kind of a hostel meets B & B) for nine days. Because the average turnover of guests seems to be 2-3 days, our longer stay is allowing us to tap into the rhythms and arcs of our fellow travelers. Already, in this short while of ours, we’ve seen ’em come, and we’ve seen ’em go. This casts me into the viewpoint of the pension owners, who watch Sunburned People In Shorts Wheeling Suitcases Behind Them While Wearing Sunglasses on Their Heads get into and out of taxis, shuttles, mini-vans in front of the place for six active months of the year. Such a mass of clacking gawkers quickly loses any individuation for the weary native. As part of that mass of clacking gawkers in my own way, I have realized how anonymous I feel here and how that reality rather irons me flat. If I have a rare quiet moment in the presence of the pension owner, for example, I am empty, without comment, not sure how to open a conversation with her when I am hyper aware that I am just another warm body easing through her warm spaces, spaces she has created with profit–not companionship–in mind. On occasion, I start to feel I am actually flat and empty, someone who is capable only of staring vacantly and twittering about the weather; then I shake myself and chide, “Girlfriend, really. You do have things to say back home–you know, when you’re not baking, and you’re not spending huge parts of your day trying to find clothes for the family members, and when you have a house with a kitchen and feel like you have some control over the structure of your life. Honestly, you are someone who can ask questions and make appropriate responses. This current malaise is just a bad case of Pension Head.”

2)  While I am fairly uninspired externally, I am on the intake.  As I watch guests flowing through the door, being introduced to their rooms and the locations of the bathrooms, booking their tours, and belly flopping into the pool, I am eating them up.  But I’m here to tell you, Smiley Father from Britain with the Funky Glasses Frames Who Spent an Awfully Long Time Next to the Pool Today for Someone Who Never Entered the Pool, that I noticed you noticing my funky glasses frames, noticed you thinking–however briefly–that if we were living in the same place for any time at all, we’d probably compare frittata recipes.

3)  While Funky Framed Fathers from Britain provide good spectacle (hahahahahahaha), my people watching the last two days has been dominated by a large and annoying-as-Fran-Dreschner’s laugh group of 20-year-old French youth.  Now, I’m trying not to swear here, as my mom has let me know she’s sent out this blog address to everyone she’s bumped into in recent years, along with a cadre of those she hasn’t, and I would hate to offend a dedicated quilter or Red Hatter, but hell if I can stop myself nevertheless:  Mon Dieu, mais The Young Frenchies are a crapass group of mo-fos.  It’s not the smoking that gets me, as I’m well aware we’re not at The Mall of America anymore, Toto.  That noted, smoking around children, particularly my children, will never cease to peeve me.  What gets me is:

the noise;

the jumping in the pool with a scream at 2 a.m. and at 8 a.m.;

the doing a running cannonball into the pool quite literally on top of families with small children who are already swimming;

the blocking off of every possible walkway while gesticulating wildly and broadcasting a lack of clothing;

the yapping until all hours on the balconies;

the knocking on the bathroom door when a friend has just gone in to take a shower, yelling comments and insults through the entire shower while continuing to knock loudly, as though the act of knocking loudly and yelling comments during a friend’s shower somehow makes The Knocker clever;

the laying all over any seating available in the lounge area; the taking up of every breakfast table even though there are only 8 in the group;

the rumpling of every possible rug, floor mat, or curtain in the joint so that all future passers-by trip;

the careless tossing of the roll of toilet paper onto the floor so that it is completely drenched by the end of a shower (Aha!  It’s their friend in there, so they should make sure they knock and yell, oui?) because the bathroom is just one undivided room wherein the shower is not sectioned off in any way;

the emptying of all provided shampoo bottles before 9 a.m., which is not so egregious, as it does happen, but why leave the empty bottles stacked in the sink so that a person who might like to brush her teeth has to scoop them out before she can spit?;

in short, why are they so young, so French, so jejune, so acting like Jocelyn’s last nerve is their own personal discotheque playing the extended dance remix version of “Riding on the Metro”?

4) The thing about bad manners, especially Bad Shared Bathroom Manners, is that it puts fellow travelers into a pickle, and by “pickle,” what I really mean is what the bajeebus am I supposed to do about the hair in the drain that looks like a weasel crawled in from the Sahara, in search of its last sip, but it arrived a bit too late and expired from heat exhaustion right there on the grate?  Seriously.  Yesterday, I was sitting on the toilet, not at all having Day 5 of eye-averting diarrhoea so shut up already, thinking a shower might be in order.  Already feeling a bit fragile, I quietly contemplated la douche.  Wouldn’t it feel good to shed the day’s worries, to rinse off the dried sweat, to freshen my lank hair?  Wouldn’t it feel good–OH SWEET HASSELHOFF, WHAT IS THAT IN THE DRAIN?  Eyeing the dead shrew clumped over the drainage, I emitted a whimper strangled by a shriek.

So, what?  My options were to:  a)  not shower because eight French youth had just stood in line for 45 minutes outside this bathroom, knocking and gibing and gallumphing during their wait to shower…and then when each had his turn, he somehow Nair-ed off 4 ounces of bodily hair?  No wonder the poolside garcons had chests smooth as air hockey tables!  The hair was all laying upstairs on the bathroom floor; b) not let them Frogs’ denuding clog my opportunity for Shower Happy…which would mean ME removing the hair from the drain, for no suds of mine could exit the bathroom with a dead marmot stopping up the drain.

I opted for c):  go for the restorative shower, but stalk the other floors of the pension for their bathrooms, leaving the strangled hedgehog there in the drain for the poor underpaid maid to deal with in the morning.

5)  The beauty of my longer-term stay at the pension is that I’ll outlast The Frenchies.  Their requisite three days will come to an end tonight when they gallivant off to catch the bus to Istanbul, yet I’ll still be here–for a whole ‘nother day–ready to stake my flag of triumph (maybe building an Arc de Triomphe would be more appropos?).  As their bus pulls away from the village, I’m planning to take their breakfast forks, thoughtlessly discarded onto the floor where a baby is crawling, and stab them into the towering laundry pile of their smokey, grubby, hairy bed sheets.

Au revoir, poodles.  Va te faire foutre!






24 responses to “Life in the Pen(sion)”

  1. diane Avatar

    I am sorry to hear that you were subjected to young people who misbehaved so badly. Lots of young people all over our fair planet are just as ignorant, my own children included when they were that age, although not to that extent.

    I am not French, but my husband is and so are my children. Their behavior had nothing to do with their race, culture, or upbringing; we were and still are good parents. They were simply young, and exasperated us at every turn.
    Any swipe at another culture, even in humor, is still a swipe.

    I hope things look up for you soon, and I'm still holding good thoughts for you. xo d

  2. Yo is Me Avatar
    Yo is Me

    ew, dude. i just ATE.

    so gross.

    i'm going to overuse OH SWEET HASSELHOFF and pass it around stateside.

    hahahhaa! my word verification is "hiper"!!!!!

  3. kmkat Avatar

    Perhaps a hand, well wrapped in tp, could grasp that marmot gingerly and flush it away? (Take pity on the poor underpaid maid…)

  4. Becky C. Avatar
    Becky C.

    Ahh, you just talked me out of opening a charming little hostel in the south of France for a bit of retirement income. Just don't think I have the stomach for it after all!

    It always amazes me that people will act differently on vacation and do things they wouldn't dream of doing in their own home. So crass and uncouth. "Uglo-American," indeed! Me thinks every culture has their obnoxious brood.

    Hopefully this whole pension experience will be quickly put behind you as you settle into your own little place and you can feel somewhat normal again banging around in your own little kitchen.

    Looking forward to that post, post-haste!

  5. chelle Avatar

    ew ew ew nothing worse than other people's shedded bodily deadness …. ew.

    Hope you are enjoying your adventure other than that!

  6. Kathryn Avatar

    Mon dieu! Quelle little pigs!
    You either have a good attitude, the ability to laugh in the face of despair, or both.
    I salute your triumph in outlasting the swine, and wave my own fork of victory in your general direction!

  7. ds Avatar

    Somehow I don't think that such behavior is limited to French twenty year-olds. You could swap them for any frat boys of my generation and no one would know the difference.

    Looking forward to photos of your more permanent living quarters, with their own (private) facilities…

  8. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    Oh, yukkk. Tres revoltant. Merd alors. I don't think it's a nationality issue, but a generational one. I am surrounded by rude, obnoxious and thoroughly self-absorbed, inconsiderate young Americans every day who smoke as much as French people. Bad manners are ugly in any language.

  9. Jocelyn Avatar

    Yea, it's totally not nationality related, as young 'uns around the planet are in that process of realizing that there are others around them.

    That said, there have been groups of Italian, Japanese, Korean, etc. youth staying here, and none of them have acted as this group did.

  10. unmitigated me Avatar
    unmitigated me

    While no one ever accused the French of being polite, I suspect their age and lack of supervision were key here. I must disagree with Diane, though. I am certain their behavior reflects their upbringing.

  11. Jazz Avatar

    Assholes youth abounds. And on my travels I've found that the worst of them are French and Israeli.

    I'm a Quebec frog, which makes me Canadjun eh? So I'm all nice and shit. Apparently.

  12. Shrinky Avatar

    Ouch, methinks diane needs to lighten up! Personally, I found this hysterical (sorry). Guess I'm biased, we once housed a French exchange student TWICE (long story), who made off with all the family silver. Okay, maybe if she was Italian, she might have done the same, who knows? Oh, I've stalked you from Jazz's site, btw.

    Great post, I might have to come back again..

  13. DuchessOmnium Avatar

    Ew, indeed.

    But, I had a rather different impression of Turkish toilets. Yours appears to be raised from the floor and have a seat and flushing mechanism, so you won't be developing those all import squatting muscles, apparently. Small mercies.

  14. Pearl Avatar

    I love traveling with you.


  15. Pam Avatar

    Enjoying all this immensely Jocelyn. Nothing like the complete self-absorbtion of the young ones on their travels. My daughter, being in that age group,was having a mighty time in a Belgian beer bar for her 21st until all her travelling companions found guys to hook up with, and left her sitting lonely by herself for the rest of the evening. Nice.Definitely think it's an age thing with those in your story.In desperation, their mums probably clean up the shower drain at home, where they refuse to leave so that they can save the money to travel!

  16. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    I'm with Shrinky on the comments. And in a way, it's nice to know that American Frat boys aren't the only idiots out traveling the world making their home country look bad.

    I am enough of a beyotch that I might have returned the hair to them personally–wrapped in TP of course.

  17. christopher Avatar

    You have more patience than I do. I probably would have already pitched a tent somewhere to gain some serenity.

  18. geewits Avatar

    I've never been around young French travelers, but I stayed in a strange hostel type inn in New Orleans back in the day and the Dutch guys next to us were hideous and disgusting. They were probably in their low 20's as well.
    They will be gone soon. Good-luck with your home hunt!

  19. Jeni Avatar

    I can relate -fully – to your issues with the dead marmot clogging the drains! And I never got to Turkey nor did I encounter and young French folks but rather it was the step-granddaughter's messes in the bathroom right here in this house -"Right here in River City" as the song in the Music Man exposes things that are awry! Used to just drive me bonkers that every time I went to use the bathroom vanity while she was still residing here, I always had to wipe the sink down of tons and tons of hair left behind. I eventually decided that she, like the cat we used to have who constantly shed fur all over and coughed up oodles of furry hairballs as a gift to the family too should both have been bald a long time ago! Glad to hear you current nemesis will be departing the premises shortly! Happy showering days ahead huh?

  20. lime Avatar

    rude fellow travelers are so utterly tiresome. i think i'd have flung the dead marmot into a pile of their pool towels or upon one of their smooth chests as they sprawled about poolside.

  21. yogurt Avatar

    Ah, my private bathroom. So there is something to savor about being landlocked in my own country despite having a desperate desire to travel the world?

  22. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    On my honeymoon, we shared a bathroom with a group of young guys from Idaho we dubbed "the Boise Boys." It wasn't pretty.

  23. monica Avatar

    and you know they would tell you: nous en avons rien à foutre!

    little buggers… had a similar experience once, with a bunch of russian youths in Tunisia

    and you know, the problem is when they come as a bunch.. individually they might be just allright ( hopefully) clean-shaven, but still allright…:o)

    hope you find your own place soon!

  24. Deborah Avatar

    I've been thinking about you a lot, dear Pension-hea….Jocelyn. Being so close, yet so far, and sharing a similar kind of heat, although in my case mitigated by proximity to the sea. In fact, ON the sea, and sometimes IMMERSED in the sea. But it's the Adriatic and not the Aegean, and so we'll have to wait for a while before meeting up.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this little slice of Cappadocian pension life, as I alwasy enjoy eerything you have to say. I feel I should apologize for those French youth, but Monsieur Sarkozy has already expelled them from France for un-French behaviour and methinks they haven't learned their lesson.

    Your vulnerabilities are so human, and so very normal in this stressful situation. Nothing could have prepared you for how you actually feel in this new and very different environment, but you will get through 'cause you have to! No other options, here, dear. And you have to be a stalwart example of steadfastness for your children.

    I guess you got the house you were looking at/negotiating for. Going to hop over to FB and take a look at the news there.

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