Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Friday, March 25, 2005



When my wife and I were in Europe last summer, we got off of our train in a small village in the Czech Republic because I was convinced I'd caught a glimpse of Jim Nabors in the station. My wife wasn't nuts about the idea of leaving the train, which would probably make us late to the Miniatures Convention we were hoping to attend in Brno, but she got off with me anyway, because she knows what a huge fan I am of Mayberry RFD and anything even tangentially associated with it.

I was wrong, of course. Jim Nabors, I later learned, was actually starring in a production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at a dinner theater in Dubuque at that time. I don't know who the hell I saw, but it sure wasn't Jim Nabors.

So there we were in a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere. The town square consisted of a taxidermist, a bar and--much to our surprise--a Hardee's. Being fond of neither dead animals screwed onto chunks of varnished wood nor charbroiled burgers, we opted for the bar. Maybe it was the fact that it was 11:00 AM local time or maybe it was just not a popular place, but we had the bar almost entirely to ourselves. The only other customer was a small woman in a turban sitting in the corner. We stepped up to the bar and ordered two glasses of the local special, which seemed to us to be a thick, wheaten beer with chunks of licorice floating in it.

We carried our glasses to a table by the window and sat. My wife excused herself to go to the bathroom. I looked around the place while she was away, taking in the utter lack of charm. The one bright note in the place, which seemed very much like the sort of bar where gravediggers would go to have a good cry, was a life-size statue of Big Bird, apparently carved from a huge log. I was delighted that the reach of the Children's Television Workshop was long enough to reach into a former Soviet Bloc country and was more delighted still to have a good photo op to cheer up an otherwise bleak detour on our trip.

When my wife got back from the bathroom, I suggested we get someone to take our picture with the oaken Muppet. She was game. The bartender seemed to be busy hacking up licorice sticks to make more of the Aniseweizen, so we asked the turbaned woman. She spoke no English, of course, but we made ourselves understood by yelling loudly and slowing our speech down to a moron-proof crawl. Finally, I had to drag the old bird from her table, place both of her hands firmly on the camera(I'm ashamed to say I may have given her pinky a small fracture at this point), and threaten her to get her to take the shot. But she did it. I thanked her and tossed one of the near-worthless local coins at her by way of a thank you. She didn't seem very happy as she toddled back to her perch.

We checked the time and figured that the next train out would be coming in a few minutes, so we chugged our lumpy brews and made for the door. As I turned around to wave goodbye to our assistant shutterbug, I saw that she was making a strange gesture and spitting at me a little. I smiled and then put her out of my mind.

The miniatures convention was fantastic. You haven't lived until you've seen what fine Eastern-European craftsmen can do with a doll-house kitchen and tiny, tiny vegetables. I cried. The rest of the trip went off without a hitch and we went home, later to make some really nifty scrapbooks of our experience.

Now, seven months after that afternoon, I find the little old lady on my mind again. You see, last week, a small patch of white fur began to grow on my right shin. My chest hair's been turning white for years, so I didn't think too much of it at first. But it began to spread. What started out as a snowy tuft a couple of inches below my kneecap grew from the size of a penny to the size of a nickle to the size of a two-pence coin. This irritated me, as I feel very strongly that the two-pence coin is the most worthless piece of money in the known universe. What the fuck costs two pence? Why not just use two one-pence coins? Anyway, once it got to tuppence-size, it pretty much stopped growing. My wife was puzzled, because it didn't look like any other hair on my body.

We cut some of the fur off and took it to a friend of ours who works in a lab. After running a battery of tests, our friend reported back to us that this was rabbit fur. I asked him, "Rabbit fur? Are you certain?" To which he replied, "Dude, I work in a lab. So...y'know." That was enough for me. Case closed.

But knowing what it was didn't explain why it was there. My wife and I racked our brains, trying to think of an explanation. Then, while we were eating our morning Apple Jacks over a rerun of Sesame Street, it hit me: Big Bird! I shouted out loud, "Big Bird!" My wife didn't really make much of this, as I do it often. This time, though, I had a better reason than childish glee. I'd remembered, you see, the old lady and her spittish gestures. And I knew.

I have been cursed by the lamest gypsy ever. I mean, come on! A curse that takes seven fucking months to work? And then, then when it does, all I got is a little patch of rabbit fur? What fucking ever.

So I've learned a lesson from all of this. Drunk gypsies can't curse for shit. If you ever fear that a gypsy is going to curse you, just get her drunk.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy some Nair.

Um... Repeat of what I commented in your next blog.
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