(Important! If this post is cut off at the bottom, reload the page. This usually solves the problem.)
As you can deduce from my first visit to Prague (below in Prague, Rain and Common Sense), I learned more about myself than I did about the city. My second trip, a year later, was like a journey into an entirely different world.
(The pictures in this post are from my recent visit to Prague and have absolutely nothing to do with my second visit to Prague 15 years ago. They're just prettier.)
I made the trip in the company of my then-partner, who was Czech. I was going home to meet his parents. Much of this story is too personal to tell, so I’ll leave the horrifying details for a novel: a thriller in which the protagonist, an attractive, brilliant and young American, murders his Czech partner, a conniving-yet-handsome liar. We’ll keep it light and fun, but we’ll also be aware of the undercurrent of deceit and disappointment (in a humorous way).
By the time we reached my then-partner’s ancestral home outside of Prague, I had mastered the language enough to say the following:
dobrý den = Good day
ahoj! = Bye-bye
pivo prosim = A beer please.
dobrou chuť = Enjoy your meal!
Ano = yes (curiously)
Miluji tě = I love you
drž hubu! = Shut your trap!
So, as you can deduce from my knowledge of Czech thus far, my relationship, both with the man and the city, was headed in the love/hate direction already.
Not two minutes after we arrived at the ancestral home of my Czech partner, the father, a burly little man of around 70 years, decided he wanted to show me his work-out room in the cellar of the ancestral (sixties high-rise) home.
The work-out room was a tiny cubicle with the usual suspects: a benchpress, some dumbbells, a bar for pull-ups, and the odour of a decade of sweat.
“Youski muscli,” he said to me as he took off his shirt.
Ah, he not only wanted to show me his work-out room; he wanted to work-out for me, show off a bit, flex some old-Czech-man muscles. OK. I can improvise when someone needs to strut his stuff. No problem.
“Sure,” I smiled. “Go ahead. Show me what ya got there, Gramps.”
“Me? . . . Ski?”
He nodded. Apparently, not only did he want to show off his saggy pecs; he wanted me to show off mine as well. This was getting creepy, but I have always been proud of my pull-ups. So, off the shirt went, and to work we got. Pull-ups, benchpress, dumbbells. Not exactly the works when it comes to a work-out room, but he made good use of it. After thirty minutes, when I suppose he was satisfied that I wasn’t a wimp, he put his shirt back on. I was one rep away from death.
That evening, at a restaurant in my Czech partner’s ancestral neighborhood, I wondered if it would be rude to lap my food up like a dog since I couldn’t raise my arms to eat.
“Dobrou chut,” everyone said as they lifted their glasses of Pilsner Urquell.
I smiled and nodded, leaning over to my beer to lap a little. “Dobrou chut.”
More memories of Prague to come, but for now,
I must be off,
Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire). It's funny. Buy it HERE.