Upon arrival back home I dropped off my stuff and turned on the heat in my apartment, but tired as I was I wasn’t interested in huddling under blankets as the temperature slowly crept up to the livable range. I turned and headed back out.
My return to the Little Café was was not quite how I imagined it would be. I expected apathy, really, perhaps someone asking why I hadn’t been around in a couple of weeks (I had been rehearsing “I was in Ireland” in Czech — then as I approached I wished I had figured out “I just flew in from Ireland and boy are my arms tired!”) but then I expected to plug in my travel-depleted laptop and get some work done. I had just finished reading a pretty good book on the plane and that always turns my thoughts to my own words.
I walked in the place and a bunch of the younger regulars were there, taking up all the seats near the plug. I smiled and said hello to the ones I recognized, and one of the girls in the group, one I have perhaps spoken with once before, called out DÅ¾erý! (rhymes with Jerry!). She is a pretty girl, short especially by czech standards, with a quirky mouth. And young. She was having a little fun with me, but not in any mean-spirited way, and I played along with the histrionic greeting as well as I could without knowing her name.
More often than not, the kids are here now, smoking and drinking and still dizzy with life. I expect that to them I am a mildly comic figure, so serious as I sit alone, wrapped in words and (they suppose) Deep Thoughts. I am the gray cloud in the corner of their cheery little café. Of course they find me funny. I am occasionally a punch line, and some of them are starting to realize that I know when they are talking about me. They glance my way, confirming my suspicion, and we share a little half-smile, sharing a small joke of our own, even as the other wonders just how much I know.
As I left the same girl (who had paid me no notice when passing my table on the way to the bathroom), once again acted as group spokesperson and bid me grandiloquent if somewhat ponderous farewell. I responded in kind, tacked on a bit of extremely informal czech, and was on my way.
It was late when I got there, and when I left the place at closing time I was faced with going home to a still-cold apartment or rolling down the hill to find another place. I chose downhill, but I had no illusions of getting any more work done. I wound up at the Herna By The Station, enjoying Gambrinus with a couple of the regulars, talking (in English) about this and that. By the time I got home, it didn’t matter what temperature the apartment was, I was too tired to notice.