I was in Turkey. The nice old lady who lived across the alley from us gave us some treats. These were little balls of spiced meat covered with a wheat batter of sorts. All I know is that they were delicious. I had a couple of them and was taking them with me on a trip from our apartment in downtown Adana (on the south coast) to the Air Force Base where my father was stationed.
I was going to give one to the bus driver, and eat a couple of them on the way. It was about an hour drive, with all the stops in the city and then the long drive to the base. This was a special bus that drove to the base and back to the city. Only people with business on the base could take the bus. I gave one of the balls to the bus driver, who (of course) loved them.
One of my schoolmates from the local American military school was on the bus with her mother. The were interested when the bus driver started praising the food to high heaven (yes, they were that good!) I learned quickly that the key to eating well in Turkey was to befriend the old grandmothers on the block and do them favors and run errands for them. They all had secret family recipes that tasted delicious. I seriously considered marrying a Turkish girl (I didn’t care who) because they were good looking and were proud of their housekeeping skills.
Anyway, my friend and her mom wanted to take a look at one of the balls, so I shared on with them. I figure they would split it and eat it, but no. They started analyzing it and figuring out what it was made of, what spices were in it, and how they could make it. I started to know real fear at that point. What was this black magic that they used to figure out how to make this? Also, the teamwork between mother and daughter was frightening. They would take little tastes to try and isolate one of the spices.
Here I was, a young boy of 13, finding out just how powerful and scary these women could be. That fear turned quickly to respect. I’ve always liked girls. I never went through the cooties phase. I enjoyed hanging out with them. Until that day, though, I didn’t have the kind of respect I have now. I realized that there was a whole set of skills that women have and pass down that I never even suspected.
Bottom line, I’ve always liked women. Now I like and respect them.