Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In Which I Am Vexed

Oh, the evils of alcohol. It all comes down to that, in some sort of perverse karmic justice, I am sure. I was snarky about the passing of Rev. Falwell, and, lo! What befell me.

Last night was an Italian wine tasting. It was a very nice affair at my friends’ restaurant. It was nice because we tasted four whites and five reds from Sicily and Sardina, presented by a young, but very enthusiastic sommelier. It was nice because we had, being my friends’ restaurant, better than average nibbles to fill our stomachs and keep us from feeling too loopy. It was nice because after the whites, they served us a spring risotto and after the reds they served us a wonderful chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce. It was a hit.

The wines, while interesting, were not necessarily remarkable and certainly not at the prices they gave us (which was still wholesale). I went hoping to find some frisky, young white I could buy a case of to see me through the end of spring, but nothing doing.

I sat at a table of French people, and that was remarkable because I could hear and compare their thoughts with the comments from the largely Anglo table behind me. The French discussed where the wines hit their tongues, where were the tannins, how did this make their mouths feel. Oh, this is an interesting wine, they would say, but I cannot think what food to pair it with. They buried their noses deep into their glasses and smelled deeply before beginning to taste. They never finished an entire serving (and these were not big servings. I finished most of mine.). The food was definitely the high point for them.

Compare this with the table behind me, which was largely more enthusiastic. I heard happy voices, much laughter, and generally very positive remarks. It was not that the Anglos were naive or the French cynical: it was just different.

So I left, having ordered nothing, and made my way home. Since I had not scored any new whites, I sent a text message to my local wine pusher, Mr. Pavuk (that’s Slovak for spider), asking if his shop opened at 9:00 or 10:00. I went to bed and read for a while and woke this morning having made a mental game plan for the day, which did not include a visit to Mr. Spider’s since, frankly, I forgot. Blame the wine; blame the rushed morning sans Spouse. I forgot all about it until I received a reply from Mr. Spider saying that, yes, indeed the shop opens at 9:00, and he would be there until 1:00 if I wanted to stop by.

It is always best to time one’s visits with Mr. Spider’s presence in the shop as this affords the Friend of Mr. Spider with a ten percent discount. I rearrange my game plan: I will pop out to the Tesco closest to the French school first and buy butter, tissues, liquid hand soap, and sugar, fill the tank, and then head out to Pezinok, the village where Mr. Spider’s shop is. It’s not far, but it is two villages outside Bratislava.

But curses! I arrive at the Tesco, only to find it is “closed for technical difficulties.” No power or something. Drat. But I gas up the car and battle early morning traffic again to head to the other side of town and on to Pezinok. I stop at a Tesco in Pezinok (since it is not yet 9:00) and buy fabric softener, liquid hand soap, toilet paper, sugar, and Diet Coke.

Now Pavuk’s shop is open, so I park in the public lot (in front of the city police station) and pop in, but he has been delayed. His capable assistant, although she speaks no English, helps me make my purchases and tells me he was on his way and would I wait as he wanted to say hello.

So I take my box of wine to the car, only to discover that some (and here I cannot begin to find the word strong enough to describe my vexation) has parked, illegally, blocking my car. I cannot back out. If the car in front of me should leave, I could pull through that space and escape. But I’m trapped for the moment, which may be a long moment as the Jerk Car, a Velveeta Cardboard Cheesebox of Shit Car that no one would want to steal, has a club on the steering wheel.

But never mind. Mr. Spider has arrived. We discuss the Italian wines, wine marketing strategies in Slovakia, and make gentle fun of the French. I explain my car dilemma, and he follows me out to the street to see that, yes, it is still blocked. He kindly goes into the police station, but nothing comes of it. Another woman, also blocked by another Jerk Car (but this one announces its temporal nature with flashing four-ways), splutters about the “arrogance!” of the Jerk Drivers. Mr. Spider, unable to help either of us, says to me, “Let’s get a coffee!”

So we do, and a fine coffee it was. We discuss vacations, children, and spouses, when, now 45 minutes later, I decide to let him go back to work.

But my car is still blocked. He stands around with me for a bit, but I tell him to go to work as his standing there with me is not going to help anything. I am wearing shorts and the day is chilly (60F/13C), so I decide to sit in the car, but grumble to myself for forgetting to bring a book along today.

“If you get too cold, come back to the shop,” Mr. Spider cheerily offers as he leaves.

I begin to think I might have to return to the shop and ask about a toilet. The coffee, the cold, and my despondency have conspired, and I find myself increasingly uncomfortable. Passersby begin to acknowledge my plight. One man tries to push Jerk Car forward, but to no avail. A cop comes by and asks me how long I’ve been trapped like this. By now it is over an hour. He disappears, but before long, two new officers materialize and begin to discuss between them the situation. There are two offending cars (Arrogant Flashing Four Ways has left), parked illegally in the street, although only my Jerk Car is blocking legally parked cars.

“Tow truck,” I begin to chant to myself. “Get a flippin’ tow truck!”

But they return with boots for the cars, a camera, and forms. They boot the cars, document their positions in the street, and stick the citations on their windows.

Okay, justice is eminent, but will only delay my escape, as Jerk Guy will have to go into the police station and atone for his sins before they will unboot him and allow me to get out of here.

Another 40 minutes pass when, lo and behold, Jerk Guy returns. Before I can tackle him, he pulls off the citation and disappears into the police station. I get out, and stand, shivering, against the trunk of my car, arms folded, looking over the tops of my eyeglasses, prepared to shame him when he returns.

I regret to say that I did not get to spew venom, nor even scream therapeutically at Jerk Guy. When he returned to his car, officer with boot key in tow, he appeared to have already heard about my inconvenience while inside the police station for he looks appropriately contrite.

Pardon,” he says.

“Hmph,” say I.

In Slovak he asks, “Has it been long?”

“TWO hours,” I reply, in English, glaring over my glasses.

Pardon,” he repeats, meekly.

I hmphed again and got into my car.

So now I am home, rushing to catch up on the chores I had planned for today, all because of the evils of drink. Hmph.

What I'm Reading:
Finished Heat, which did more than talk about Mario Batali. I recommend it.
Now back on my bullfighing obsession and reading Spain by the Horns by Tim Elliot. I could have written this one and wish I had. Will probably continue with Ritual and Sacrifice in the Corrida: The Saga of César Rincón by Allen Josephs next.

Amusing Kid Stuff:
Girls have been singing French song that translates as follows:
A regiment of fromage blanc (I don't know what to call it other than fromage blanc)
Declared a war on the Camembert.
The Port Salut didn't want to do it
Because the Roquefort was too strong!

Vive le France.


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