On my last night in Rymarov, in its only nightclub, purple and dark V Club, I balanced upon the wonderful dilemma of having two girls eager to dance with me (Czech women are so beautiful because their soft facial muscles squeeze their eyes cozy (actually, "squeeze" is the wrong word, because their features are so soft they couldn't be associated with a harsh word like "squeeze")) - and then came a third.
"Ach, ten american." (Hey, it's that American.) A little, sideways voice left a stylish, zesty tang at each word's end. It spoke with the wonder of a person who'd lived under a toadstool his whole life and was just now coming out. I turned toward the front door.
Thin blond Kamila wore bright white puffy jacket and pants, black turtleneck and headband, and shiny earrings. She held a scarlet rose. A guy with cool-looking, shoulder-length hair stood beside her, and it would turn that he was her boyfriend.
But, she stayed, as he disappeared, and so we met and danced a bit and laughed. Her eyes were black celestial gems. She had a big nose but there was nothing unattractive about her. Her delicate voice was a treat also when she tried to speak English. "What day you b ... born?"
She and I and half-Czech Eric from Holland stepped into the side bar for vodka. I hadn't had a drink in fifty days, but Eric coaxed that you can't refuse a girl like Kamila. He was right; I'm weak. But, I was occasionally stronger than Kamila when we play-wrestled on the couch, and she lay until I kissed her pretty little lips. Afterwards, she said cutely, unoffended, "Wrestling neni libani, jestli chces libani, rekne to." (Wrestling isn't supposed to be kissing, if you want kissing, then say so.)
I put my arm around Kamila beside the bar. She was an easy girl to put my arm around. She seemed to thirst for love.
By chance, she wasn't by me when her boyfriend entered the room; she was giving Eric a cheek-kiss to coax him to join us for one more vodka. Her unhappy boyfriend, Jirka, was huffing-and-puffing irate. He called Eric and me, "dve idioty" (two idiots), and he went to talk with Kamila in the girls' smelly bathroom.
Closing time was near. Eric left. In the dance room, one of my former female friends - whose personality was like a wild, horse-riding gypsy beauty - was still there but leaving, so we said good-bye with kisses.
At four-thirty, Kamila still wanted me to join her for a vodka. Jirka didn't enjoy himself and stooped over us. She spoke about signs of the zodiac; that we're both Scorpio's, and that means we're "dominantni". (Between you and me, many Czech girls are a bit despotic - treating men like pets.)
Bulldog-headed, Czech-bar-loving, good-guy Pet'a Bem came with Pat'a (Patrick) and were happy there were still friends to drink with. Four of the five of us were having fun, so we decided to walk to the only open bar to continue the night.
Jirka, unhappy with this decision, walked with us, but distantly, and called his girlfriend quite bad names.
What kind of world have we created that lets little Kamila walk cold in the night while my arm is lonely? Finally, I put my arm around her. She stole a kiss.
In the bar, Jirka wouldn't let her kiss him, wouldn't let her touch him. She said she loved him. His face seemed to have been carved in stone in the most miserable, unhappy postition. His interest in Kamila seemed to be one only of oppressing control.
"Ona chce soucit," I told him. (She wants affection/compassion.) She agreed.
I said that if her boyfriend wouldn't kiss her, I would.
"Jsem chtela," she said softly, seriously. (I wanted.) We kissed in front of Jirka.
I told Jirka he's hurting Kamila.
He said I'm the one who's hurting her. Was it true?
Pet'a Bem interjected that I'm a very good guy. It seemed funny to me that I was kissing someone's girlfriend and was still regarded as a good guy.
In the end, it was Kamila who got tired and went home first. Jirka went after her.
Long-dark-curly-haired Pat'a, who has a big "stoner" laugh and constant smile, who's gentle and loving, said that his friend Jirka had really dropped in his eyes this night. Pat'a also said something funny: "Kdybys polibil Martinku, ja bych byl st'astny ze mas ji rad!" (If you kissed Martinka (Pata's girlfriend), I'd be happy to see you like her!) His big, stoner laugh followed.
The night presented a lot of questions. Was I wrong? Is monogamy truly terrible? Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in "Crime and Punishment," explores the question of whether a person who considers himself extraordinarily wise can break society's laws - in order to change them.
Eighteen-year-old Kamila has dated Jirka for two years, and she's instigated break-ups but they didn't last. I wish I would've told her how great she is, because people can always use confidence.
The next day, I was in the Czech Republic's second-biggest city for my first Bratri Orffove concert.
The band's eight-minute, lullabying first song began slowly ... softly ... deliberately, with twinkling keyboard and a bongo and Libor Martinik's ghostly trumpet plus the usual instruments. The many instruments carried you and bounced you around slightly. The wise-voiced, helium-voiced singer sang coldly, "Nikdo nebude te uslyset." (No one's going to listen to you.) It was a calm ode wishing someone the worst.
The next song was more upbeat, with whistling trumpet and tapping wood instruments. It told how every Friday afternoon Maria comes to town. "Svet je tak bile ... rika mi holka, prestat myslit na rakety." (The world is so white ... my girl tells me to stop thinking about rockets.) "Maria prijde, bude sladka a roztomila!!!" (Maria's coming, she'll be sweet and cute!!!)
After the creative band's pleasant concert, the commanding trumpeter Libor and I stayed with Sdrndy. Skateboarder Libor is a cool guy, often seeing life in playful and colorful ways. Bragging about how quickly he got his food in McDonald's, he pointed to the remaining line of people: "Oni tam stoji jako maslo, a ja jsem uz dvakrat pryc." (Look at them standing like butter, and I'm already two times gone.)
I told Libor and Sdrndy the story of my conflict-filled last night in Rymarov. I told them Pata's funny quote.
Libor replied, "Did you kiss her?"
"Ty jses idiot." (You're an idiot.)
"She wasn't there."
... "Ja vim kde bydli." (I know where she lives.) Martinka is a babe.
More-family-optimistic Sdrndy suggested that Jirka and Kamila have a good relationship. He added: "Stay away from my girlfriend. Please."
... unrelated Interjection: Sdrndi, from Rymarov, studied religion in university. I read in one of his books that Lhao Zhu, the father of Taoism, preached: Be SOFT like a baby; not hard and carved. There's something to this ...
- Modern Oddyseus
Thanks to Vlast'a Kuchara & Pavel Dolozil & their co-worker; and Petr Chachula for rides!
Much thanks to Albina, Igor, Niki, & Katka; and Sdrndy for places to stay!
A big thanks to Klara Sigmundova, whose doors are always open! She baked a delicious, banana-and-chocolate-crumbles cake; and she made me a t-shirt with pictures of our Rymarov friends on it. We grilled delicious chicken meat and pork and sausages and zuchini for her dad's birthday.
P.S. - Ondrej Sekora is a fabulous Czech illustrator. His kids' books about personified insects showed ants wearing red-and-white boyties, "slimaky" (slugs) learning how to paint, lazy bees getting drunk off pollen, tall beetles bending to dance with short beetles, and spiders raising families. The limbless slugs had "ohromny radost" (humongous happiness) after painting, but slugs' moms everywhere had to put a stop to it because the belly-painting slugs kept trailing paint all over the house.