Waiting for a metaphor to show up eventually
I suppose there's a little Beyhan Mutlu in all of us.
Mutlu, a 50-year-old Turkish construction worker, went out for a night on the town with some buddies — and returned a living, breathing symbol for the nature of humanity.
Well, ... maybe I’m overstating things a bit.
After leaving the chosen watering hole (of course there was drinking involved), our hero selflessly joined a search party for a resident who had gone missing in a densely forested area on the outskirts of the Bursa province city of Inegol.
Mutlu, fellow volunteers and city authorities cast about like the family of Pellinore seeking the elusive Questing Beast when, off in the distance, he heard his name being called.
Puzzled, he turned to a nearby member of the search party and said, “Wait … who are we looking for?”
Did I mention that there was drinking involved?
Thus ended the type of slice-of-life tale that a playwright or screenwriter or songwriter could ruminate upon — then turn into a metaphysical introspection about the meaning of identity ... a turtles-all-the-way-down treatment about an Everyman who goes looking for a lost soul, only to discover that they’re Beyhan riding the MTA.
Or, depending on how bleak you prefer your ripped-from-the-headlines denouement, lose their way while looking for themselves.
Should any film, play or song be written about this particular misadventure, let us hope that the facts don’t get in the way of the legend.
“Based on a true story” is a Triggering Town of inspiration, of course, even when adding the caveat that “any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”
Take, for instance, the extraordinary tempest in a teapot brewing over a short story written by one member of a Boston-based writers’ collective which ostensibly threw shade at another member.
Writer A had decided to donate a kidney, a seemingly altruistic act that — this being the Age of Unenlightenment — she decided must be shared in a series of social-media posts.
That was too much for Writer B, who mined these developments to extract the basis of a short story ... shining an unflattering spotlight on the “fictional” protagonist’s narcissistic act and motives.
These being writers, the entire episode blew up into the type of rage that only those with an over-abundance of navel lint could conjure … and wound up being the subject of an essay in The New York Times Magazine (“Who Is The Bad Art Friend?”) by Writer C, who munched popcorn on the sidelines as the contretemps boiled over.
A 10,000-word essay, I might add. (Imagine reading this ramble a dozen times ... drinking might need to be involved.)
Well that, as they say, turned what should have been a kerfuffle into a full-blown brouhaha. Suddenly, kidney memes popped up across cyberspace. Meanwhile, the ghosts of Andy Warhol and Prince somehow were drawn into the fray as anyone with a keyboard, a “SEND” button and a taste for schadenfreude felt compelled to have their say.
Should the kidney-giver have made her gesture public? Should the other writer exposed her true feelings about this in an “entirely coincidental” work of fiction? Should the NYT have published 10,000 words on what basically was a bitter dust-up among a small subset of — God help me — creatives?
And, of course, (these being writers after all) what deep, buried truths did this all tell us about ourselves as a society ... that is, beyond it once again proving Callahan’s Theorem that the loudest the yelling, the smaller the stakes?
Seriously, the butter-flavoring concessionaire could retire from the profits.
Of the approximately 910 million links a search-engine query presented for my perusal, I found myself in agreement with the summation of a question-and-answer piece in Vogue.
Q. Do I actually need to read this story or care about its characters?
A. Dear God, no. Log off. Learn German. Take up ceramics. Save yourself.
Well, first off, I can barely manage to communicate in American — never mind tackle something as complex as Germanic languages.
And ceramics? I mean, I have time on my hands these days, but I have no desire to get “Unchained Melody” stuck between my ears.
But the thought of “saving myself” brought back the image of poor, besotted Beyhan Mutlu tromping through the forests of Inegol, hoping to find his own lost soul.
Or at least stumble across a metaphor.
“Get Off My Lawn” columnist Robert Galvin runs the popcorn stand at firstname.lastname@example.org