Got a call from Amz this morning at 4:20; it was already getting light outside. At first I thought it must be later than that and I tried to work up some semblance of coherence, to no avail. I just couldn’t hold up my end of the conversation, no matter how much energy was coming over the wire. She quickly realized she was talking to a zombie and let me go back to sleep, after lamenting that we were not in the same city. I feel the same way.
If my fuzzy impressons were correct, Amz had just had a fight with her boyfriend. She had just moved the last of her stuff into his place, but apparently it was still not their place. A thought tip-toed across my less-than-nimble brain as I drifted back off to the land of nod. I am the only one who has crashed at her place for more than a day or two that she hasn’t wound up being angry with. Amz would be, I think, a very challenging roommate. She’ll patch things up with Cute Boy, and that’s good. Should things fall apart, though, my advice to her for her next relationship is this: “Sure, sure, marriage and all that, just don’t live together. Ever. Make sure there’s a short taxi ride between your house and your husband’s.”
One night, enjoying the lights reflecting off the still waters of Mission Bay as we walked along the deserted shore, we forged a pact that if we were both single January 1, 2012, we would get married.
Note to self: start saving up cab fare.
I woke up for real a few hours later, the morning sun blasting through my windows, my head clear and sharp, knowing I had a lot of cramming to do if I was not going to waste my czech lesson today. I got some studying in yesterday, but there’s a lot of shit in this language. I have another episode about that coming up soon, as soon as I get my head around do and na well enough to even ask the question.
It was a good lesson; my studies paid off, and I’m finally getting the concepts she’s been pounding into my head week after week. We were done ahead of schedule, and she took the opportunity to throw a new pile of vocabulary at me. Parts of the body. That was good; just the day before my landlord had been complaining of his knee, and for some reason I had wanted to know how to say “foot” this morning.
Otakar PtáÄek talking about knees and Iveta discussing body parts are very different. My teacher is a very pretty czech girl who is dating a friend of my brother’s and now a friend of mine. But pretty she is, by gum, and a guy can’t help but think things. I can’t help it anyway, especially when she throws in the word for “kiss” after teaching me “lips”. They’re similar. It was all for linguistic interest. Not sure I can justify learning two ways to say “breasts” the same way, but over here breasts just aren’t the same deal. I was taken back to the line in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World when the english guy says “All you Americans are so fixated on bosoms.” (Actually, I doubt he used the word “fixated.” It was the 60’s, but ridiculous psychological theories were still not part of pop culture.)
Rose once said, (and this quote I do have right) “Boobs are man’s kryptonite.”
See that? And incident that lasted perhaps fifteen seconds, thirty at the outside, has now taken up a big chunk of a narrative that was supposed to just be about what nice day I’ve been having. So she taught me breasts. (All her indications of body parts were accompanied with unambiguous gestures.) And she also taught me boobs. And butt. Inspired by that, I had her teach me the phrase “I’ve been sitting on my ass all day.” After “stomach” we discussed Czech food. I told her that when all czechs drive they will be even fatter than Americans. Then I told her that Americans will drive around in circles until a parking space opens up so they don’t have to walk very far. She looked at me, incredulous.
“That’s horrible,” she said.
Czechs, speaking English, use that word a lot. Horrible. And they say it with feeling. One language or the other has a more nuanced way of expressing badness, and things don’t map across the void between the two quite right. I think it is English that has more shades of gray, which surprises me. The Czechs are to unpleasant like Eskimos are to snow. (That’s not really fair, but I like it too much to delete.) I think perhaps it is not in the czech nature to differentiate. There is that which is pleasant, and that which is to be survived. Last week Iveta misspoke in English, not her native tongue. “I’m horrible!” she exclaimed. “I’m so stupid!” She said this after she had listened to me massacre some ordinary phrase she had known before she had known what knowing was. I look forward in the future to comparing the different gradations, of “bad” and “stupid”. Perhaps if you were to graph them in czech and english you would discover that the axes are completely different. Now wouldn’t that be interesting? It’s stuff like that that keeps me going. Language as a window to the soul. The words people use, the phrases, the parts of life that language simplifies, show where that culture’s heads are.
It was a good lesson, and afterward I hustled over here, to the soulless free Internet bar in the mall. I won’t be here much longer; the day outside is completely perfect, I’ve got a great Hawaiian shirt on, and the people-watching is optimum. I’d be out in the day already, but they’re playing some old Rolling Stones and I’m feeling good. I’m feeling velmi dobře, and I don’t care who knows it.