Memoirs of a Coffee House 5: The Phenomenon of Wired and My Life

04 Apr

Belonging to the Wired “family” was one of the best parts of the whole experience. Finally, I had a group, a tribe, a place where I belonged, that specifically I belonged to and which belonged to me.

Lily and her daughters became very dear to me, along with my many friends; we were truly a family if ever a family of non-blood related people could be called a family.

Sitting outside of Wired with the family after a long night of open mic, bands, or potluck felt just lovely; we would all be exhausted but still quite happy with ourselves, and everyone was always happy to contribute.

In these moments, one knew who belonged there and who didn’t; those who stuck around until Lily turned out the lights or almost to that point where the ones who truly loved Wired, and the others, who got in and got out, didn’t have quite the same affection for Lily or for Wired.

Small details of memories stand out, and since I’m getting close to closing the chapter on the original Wired, I should point out a few things that are of interest.

First, I remember encountering two my more effeminate gay friends for the first time at Wired. When we were all sitting around a table outside, I told them they would both end up as drag queens. They vehemently denied that anything along those lines would ever happen.

Lo and behold, that curse of my always being right came along, and they both went on to become excellent drag queens.

Second, I remember sitting outside listening to my friend Claire play the guitar with my friend Blake, and I recall Blake playing the song “Origin of Love” for the first time.

I remember sitting outside when my friend Marc visited, talking to Lily and Hande while marveling over these tiny Turkish cigarettes that Hande smoked. Lily told us a bit about Turkey at this point, and she also informed us that in actuality, she was an American citizen by birth; she had been born to a Turkish father and an American mother in Texas but raised in Turkey. She told us that the predominant religion in Turkey was Islam, and she also told us that considered herself both Muslim and Christian, having been baptized when she first moved to the USA.

For this reason, Lily kept a few of the Muslim cultural prohibitions: for instance, she didn’t consume pork. Many people asked her if she liked pork, and she said that she actually loved it but tried not to eat it.

Lily was far closer to being Sufi than to being an orthodox Muslim, though some Muslims would argue with me that one must necessarily be an orthodox Muslim in order to be Sufi, but this writer would tend to disagree without debating it on my blog; this is not the time nor the place.

I discovered at one point that Lily’s actual name was Nilüfer in Turkish, which means “water lily.” I asked her what my name in Turkish was; she said that one’s name is always one’s name but asked for the meaning anyway, and I told her that my given name actually means “crown.” So she translated for me, and my name, in Turkish, would be Taç, which sounds like “Tatch.”

Also of interest was Lily’s fluency in English. We discussed languages one day, and I explained to her how even though I had picked up a fair amount of it, I was not a fan of Spanish. She found that strange since I was so enthusiastic about other languages and cultures. My major question to her was how she acquired the kind of fluency she had in English, and she told the story of her going to an English boarding school where everything, including algebra, was taught in English. Talk about immersion! That would’ve been horrifying to me, attempting to learn algebra in another language.

A particularly funny memory came when Lily was out and Claire was running the bar. She ran out with a look of terror on her face, holding the phone, and yelled for me, saying, “It’s the Turkiiish peeeeople!”

Lily had some Turkish men who admired her from afar, and they took up the bad habit of frequently calling the coffee house. I had learned the appropriate thing to say in case they called, considering I was the only other person in the vicinity who had picked up the slightest amount of Turkish!

So I would say, “Nilüfer burada yok,” which translates to, “Lily is not here.”

The Turkish men would reply in thick accent, “Thank you,” and hang up the phone.

Lily had been raised in the high-class society of Turkey, so her own Turkish was extremely elegant and proper. I recall the first sentence I tried to put together with my rudimentary skills:

Senin ashkın beni çok tatlı.

That roughly translates to, “Your love to me is very sweet.” Lily laughed and laughed and laughed, and told me it didn’t really make as much sense as I had wanted to, but it was really sweet and interesting that I made such an attempt.

Also, I want to point out that I couldn’t figure out how to create the character for the “sh” sound in Turkish above.

Lily aptly described the Turkish language as being a cross between Arabic and French. Also around this time, I discovered my first set of Turkish musicians, the foremost being Hande Yener. I’ve always loved music sung in foreign languages, and Hande Yener became a staple of my musical diet for years.

Those were the days.

As I’ve mainly filled out as many memories as are appropriate here (some thoughts are not quite as appropriate to share publicly, but perhaps that will appear in a new form later on), in the next blog we’ll likely move on to the next great section of the book of my life:




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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in coffee house, food, postaday2011


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