Most prepubescent girls fall in love with ponies. I, on the other hand, fell for a turtle at age 7. The object of my affections wasn't even a real turtle, but an animated creature with an orange bandanna, a silly sense of humor, a bizarre obsession with anchovy pizza, and a penchant for yelling weird catchphrases when excited. Michelangelo, along with his three less-fascinating elder brothers, was beamed into our Istanbul flat right after school, where I would sit in front of the small kitchen TV, gnaw on a Crunch bar, and try to understand two things: what a "Cowabunga!" was and how the two-dimensional moving image of a green mutant could excite me so much. Pretty soon, I began asking every adult headed West to bring me TMNT stuff. I took a picture of myself in mom's wedding dress, took it to school, and told everyone I had married Michelangelo. I asked my parents to buy me pet turtles, named them after TMNT characters and prayed nightly for the Michelangelo-substitute swimming in the smelly bowl to magically mutate into the wisecracking "party dude" I saw on TV. Now, at age 28, I still have no idea what "Cowabunga" means. But after having had my heart broken by several human Michelangelos, I know why I fell for this animated turtle before I even noticed human boys.
Ok, I will now admit what you could have never gotten out of me twenty-years ago: in the animated series, Michelangelo looked exactly like his brothers. And they all pretty much looked like, um, anthropomorphic turtles. Then why this specific crush? Because Michelangelo was funny and fun. While his brothers discussed serious matters around the kitchen table, Michelangelo would burst into the lair on his weathered skateboard with two hands full of pizza, a big silly grin, and appear almost luminous with youthful energy. It was this energy, the childishness, and the slight hint of emotional vulnerability that underlay it all that thrilled me. Remember the time you had that crush on the life-of-the party at college, the one who looked at you with big, almost-vulnerable eyes, and immediately left you in the hall to get the beer pong started? What about the boy who took you out on the most fun date of your life, got you drunk, and seemed so earnest and disarming that you ended up in his bed? The same one who stopped calling you two weeks later? That was a Michelangelo. This is why the first rule of the TMNT theory of dating is….
1. Get over Michelangelo