Monday, March 24, 2003

A couple of brief, recent events to provide you with some comic relief and a break from CNN . . .

*The Chorvatsky Grob (Croatian Cemetery) Pub and Spa
We have some Canadian friends here. His family is Slovak, so they are living in a small village, Chorvatsky Grob, a few minutes outside Bratislava. He's in medical school here and simultaneously doing a PhD in medicine in Vienna.

This weekend we went out to visit them as The Spouse had never seen their house. It's a modest village house . . . they have done a ton of work to it (like installing an indoor bathroom), but it is not without charms (wine cellar in basement, charming folk mural on one interior wall, vineyard behind). It is small, so there isn't really a lot of room indoors for hosting a crowd like us, and since the weather was nice, we all took a walking tour of the village. The goal was to work up a thirst and end up at the neighborhood pub for a soda/beer/whatever, which we did.

The highlight of the pub, other than a half liter of (decent) beer for 50 cents, was the girlie poster on one of the interior doors. A calendar of bajingo, it was, with each month featuring a different beauty and her . . . goodies. The Spouse preferred Miss July, but I thought Miss June was a real eye catcher. The children took no notice, thankfully. They even ignored the semi-mud-flap style erotica on the video games in the "private" room the proprietress opened for us (since the main area was thick with cigarette smoke and we had four children with us). They ate chips, drank orange soda, and generally ran around the empty tables while we had beers and Cokes and chocolate bars.

But on to the SPA . . .
The plan was to return to the house for the cars and follow CFs to a nearby village that has a restaurant we have been wanting to try. Canadian Friends promise that it, like most restaurants here, is kid tolerant and not stuffy (which is true most of the time and turned out to be true this time).

But on the way there, they suddenly pull of the road onto a bumpy, dirt track. At first we think they want to confer with us about something. Then we see other people and cars and wonder if we are about to be kidnapped or something equally sinister.

No, it turns out that Canadian Friends want to show us the local spa . . . a natural hot spring. The Slovaks, like many Eastern Europeans, are wild about spas and "taking waters" for medicinal cures. CFs tell us that it is rare to pass this site without seeing cars and people there. Day or night, there is always someone here. It is a bright, but cold day, and sure enough, steam is rising off the water. Some bright spark has made a sort of pool out of concrete blocks and several bathers are there in swimming suits (although CFs say often there are Naked Grandpa types). Next to the pool is a natural pond and you can tell the mineral content is high as the edges of the pond have mineral deposit formations. It doesn't even smell bad (often these waters have a high sulfur content), but the whole mood is spoiled, for me, by the piles of garbage all around. CFs refer to it as "The Dump," but I think the truth is that bathers don't take away their empty bottles and snack wrappers. It gives the whole place the effect of going to a hot tub right next to a huge Dumpster.

Further, CF med student tells us that in school, they have been discussing that you can tell what spa (and by this he means one of the many spas in Slovakia that offer therapeutic and rehabilitation treatments) someone frequents by the diseases he or she presents. I thought at first he meant that each spa does seem to have an area of specialization (nervous disorders, digestive disorders, etc). But he means the bugs they pick up by sitting in these chemical soups with lots of other people. Eeew.

Dinner was uneventful.

*The Hooker With the Heart of Whipped Cream?
This morning I was driving home after dropping The Spouse at the office and Baboo at school and stopping at the grocery store. It was about 10:00 a.m. The sky was bright blue, the temperature was starting to rise slightly, and I was sitting at a traffic light at the bottom of our hill.

Suddenly, on the sidewalk to my right, I see a young, attractive woman stumble. She's got a big head of blond curls, a short but very tight red skirt, black high heels, and no nylons. Her shoes seem to be hurting her feet, and she is teetering around, crossing the street in front of my car, stopping from time to time to examine the heel of her right foot.

I begin to suspect that her shoes hurt and she is not exactly sober. As she reaches the curb on the left side of the street, she stops, raises a can of aerosol whipped cream to her lips, and shoots some into her mouth. She is eating whipped cream from a can! She staggered around the corner, and I lost track of her.

We are wondering:
* Was the cream a party favor and she was coming home after a long night?
* Was she merely trying to get rid of a nasty taste in her mouth?
* Or was she advertising?

We may never know.


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