Forgive my pun playing on Don McLean’s famous American Pie in my title…I could not resist. Nor could a Turkish man resist his own bottle of Rye Whiskey at LAX last week.
If you recall, my Turkish Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul was delayed nearly three hours due to a late-arriving aircraft from Istanbul.
Boarding time was set at 7:20p, 50 minutes after scheduled departure. But 7:20p came and went. Everyone had lined up to board, but a Turkish staff member announced that boarding would be delayed further and everyone should have a seat.
I decided to stay in line because I wanted to position myself for pictures of the business class cabin before any other passengers boarded.
But I wan’t in the front of the line. Mavi was. And he had a paper bag with a glass bottle inside…
He was already loaded, which made him quite chatty. He wanted to know what the heck (he used a stronger word than hell) I was doing traveling on Turkish Airlines.
I told him I liked Turkish Business Class but he still could not understand why I would want to fly to Frankfurt via Istanbul.
He passed me his bag, nodding at me to take a drink. I shook my head and politely declined.
“What’s wrong? It’s Rye.”
The man was antsy to board and kept yelling over to the gate agents that he had an important appointment in Istanbul. They ignored him.
A Date in Istanbul
“I’ve got to get to Istanbul. I have a date tomorrow night,” he told me, continuing, “My wife doesn’t know.”
Oh, did I mention his teenage son was standing next to him? They were sharing the bottle. No joke.
He used a choice expletive to describe Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and I asked about the political situation in Turkey.
“You know that coup was faked, don’t you? Erdogan did it to consolidate power. All these people locked up for political reasons — it was all part of the plan.”
<cue sinister organ music>
The gate agent came over. He complained about not boarding on time and offered his bag to her. She could see he was clearly drunk, but just smiled at him, almost flirtatiously, and walked away.
“Do you like Turkey?,” he asked.
“Everything but Rakı,” I replied.
“Oh, you need to drink Rakı with a group. Tell you what. You are going to miss your connection to Frankfurt so you can come out with me tomorrow night. You will have an escort, by the way.”
“Uh, no thanks. But appreciate the offer.”
“What’s wrong with that? Your wife doesn’t have to know. Turkish woman are beautiful.”
“What the <expletive deleted>? Do you like men or something? It will be fine. She doesn’t have to know!”
He was persistent, so I was quite thankful when boarding began. After boarding passengers in wheelchairs and with small infants, it was our turn.
Taking one last swig, he stuffed the paper bag into his carry-on and was first to board. He turned around and told me to get plastered, noting it is the only way to survive a 14-hour flight.
I did not see him when we landed. Perhaps he was still passed out…
Maybe he was in Y? He might have a point about being plastered then.
He was in Y.
Alcohol is a pretty popular anesthetic in the back of the plane.
I wonder how he got the booze though? Little to early for ‘duty free’.
That’s a great question. It appeared to be a bottle larger than 3.5oz.
Despite being drunk, perhaps he behaved himself on board because the thought of a Turkish prison was not to his liking!
Wonder how many Erdogan sycophants read this blog….perhaps Mavi, who has a teenage son, may yet find himself in prison, once the passenger manifests for LAX – IST are scanned.
You’ll need to try it more than once if you really didn’t live in europe in your formative drinking years.
Go to a good non-touristy ocakbaşı (upscale restaurant with meat prepared by a grill master in the center of the room). You need a minimum of one friend and reservations. Don’t use the hotel. They will send you somewhere overpriced with mediocre food and dumpy decor off upper İstiklal, so ask me or a local who knows. Or find something in Moda or Beşiktaş where it’s much harder to end up in a tourist trap. Order a nicer bottle of rakı there (not Yeni rakı which you surely tried, it’s popular but non-subtle and even I don’t like it). Somewhere between the melt in your mouth lamb chops, perfect sweetbreads, surprisingly moist chicken and the walnut, tomato, cucumber and pekmez salads, you’re taste buds will start to understand rakı. If not repeat the ocakbaşı until you get it. Finish the evening with beers and a Çeyrek Kokoreç.
This reminds me the story of Lucky and you in the train. What’s with people trying to hook you up? It’s a lonely place to faithful spouses…
an enjoyable read (and a few lols) of your review, matthew! many thanks
Failed to understand the connection between the delay and the drinker !