Saturday, October 29, 2005

Suburban Czech pub

I used to curse the suburbs. ALL suburbs, 'Merican, European, any suburb; they symbolized some sort of slow complacent death to the creative soul. But I've changed my mind. Today.

I woke up on a post-Friday-in-Prague-karaoke-drunken-Elvis-impersonator Saturday around noon (he will sleep til noon BUT before it's dark, he'll have every picnic basket that's in Jellystone Park) thinking: 'I am bored.' If you spend any time wearing a large white jumpsuit entertaining drunk tourists in central Prague for a night, you might wonder what you can do to top that.

It started off as simple boredom. Granted, I am almost never bored. It's a weird thing about me; even if I am unemployed for months, I'll find some odd sidebar to fill my time between squeezing out the soul juice to maintain the rent money.

Recently, it's been working as a volunteer in a special fx make up studio. I'll tell you all about that as soon as the threat of Hollywood mafia hitmen is off my back.

Meanwhile, back in the suburban Czech pub.

I was sitting there as usual, just thinking I would have my usual 2 or 3 beers, listen to bad pop music blaring over speakers too good to carry such swill, then head home to watch a movie on the ole pc. I was sitting there marvelling at how such a wonderfully loud and crystal clear stereo could be misused to play such crap, when suddenly a middle aged Czech man across the bar shouted something at me. I tried to answer in my bad Czech, but he couldn't understand. The barmaid was more than helpful in asking 'Do you speak English?' I replied, 'yeah.' I remember hearing the word 'zachrane' which means something like 'ambulance.' She translated 'he wants to know if you work for the emergency service.' Hmmm. Oh, yeah. I was wearing one of those popular pseudo-white-trash-gas-station-attendant work shirts. The ones with 'abcd moving co' on one pocket and 'Bub' on the other. I tried to explain how this was one of those weird American creative music wannabe statement-on-the-proletariat fashion statments. That didn't work.

So, several shots of scotch later (bought by the shouting middle aged Czech man), I suddenly had an epiphany: Czechs don't suck. No, really. I have been experiencing my usual Czechophobia when I meet friends in the city center, wondering if the barman will rip us off for being foreigners, wondering if I will be robbed while passed out on the night tram home. Having done that 'Elvis karaoke' thing that I do (which will be addressed in future posts) in the center for so long, I was starting to get these cynical hourly thoughts about living in a den of thieves and such.

But what followed was magic. I've always considered myself a free thinker, open to new ideas and cultures, but as everyone who lives as a foreigner in a strange (albeit beautiful) land can attest: you can resent the locals.

But then I moved to the Prague suburbs. Where you are not a 'stupid tourist.' Where they want to know about you. Where you have to try out your rusty Czech to make friends. Where they insist on buying you shots. I thought they were going to offer me one of their wives. I really had a good time in that godawful suburban Czech panelak herna afterhours pub. And I think I may have even made a few friends.

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