Team U.S.A vs Team Czech

The train has the consistency of a Malaysian sweat shop as it chugs through the Czech countryside. Sweat is dripping off of our foreheads and chins. My brother is praying to the gods of train disasters to create a collision in the hopes of causing a breeze. He nods, telling me that he now understands why we all erupted into laughter when he asked if the windows would be open on the train.

Nobody else on the train seems in the slightest bit uncomfortable. We four Americans feel hot and stuffy, the Czechs feel comfortable. In the U.S. we are obsessed with our cool air, whether it’s coming from a window or a glorious box that fills the room with freezing arctic love.

The discomfort level multiplies when an old Czech man picks up his guitar and plays for the train. Again, we Americans are the only people stressed by this, me more than anyone. I hate public guitar people, no matter what their country of origin. This combined with the stuffy air helps the U.S. to a quick lead.

Advantage: U.S.A

So many times I have been asked: Which do you like more, the Czech Republic or the U.S.? And the truth is that I love both very much. But I thought this past Saturday would be a good day for straight up competition since we were heading to a small village to celebrate Lee’s 40th birthday.

The jolly pub atmosphere puts the Czechs on the board immediately after arriving at the pub. We are drinking outside today (no window issue) and the barman hands me a freezing cold beer before I sit down. His colleague, covered in cammo and fluffy white hair and mustache, is slaving over a huge grille preparing out birthday feast – roast pig. While the pig-man sort of resembles Mark Twain and Fidel Castro’s lovechild, every woman in the bar is attractive enough to make me consider giving up my U.S citizenship. The U.S. disappears into a memory as I am seduced by pork, beer and women. Forgive me, U.S.A, for I am only human.

Advantage: Czech Republic

There are issues on which the two countries are tied. For example, people. I have great friends from each country and yet both countries have their own peculiar brand of insane people. While we had guitar man on the train, in the U.S. I was verbally assaulted by our homeless as casually as if they had asked for directions to a delousing pit.

Music is another, in either country you’ll find yourself singing along with about half of the songs on the radio and questioning the sanity of the people who listen to the other half.

Advantage: Tie

I step to the bar and the bartender’s 300 million mph style of speaking, combined with the 19 beers he has had, and the six beers I have had, make understanding more adventurous than I appreciate. Living in a foreign language creates a sexy mystique not unlike that of putting a sack on your head and shaving your partner, but having a clear understanding of everything – except, of course, New Yorkers, is a major plus.

Advantage: U.S.A

By the middle of the evening, people have thinned out at the small pub. Most have caught the train back to Prague (maybe sitting in the unplanned entertainment car) and there are only a few left. Within this few, it seems as though two teams have formed.

One is American and one is Czech.

The teams are easily pictured – Team U.S.A is five American men and Team Czech Republic is five Czech women.

Everything about them – other than the anatomical differences – directly contrasts each other.

The Czech women are chatting on the patio. I can only assume that their dialogue is filled with rational life issues – homes, kids, hating us. They are sipping on wine interspersed reasonably with water and, since it is now night-time, have dropped their voices to a respectful hush to respect the pub’s neighbors.

Inside, the American men have begun a game called ‘Full Contact Darts.’ In a departure from the normal rules of darts, once a man has thrown his final dart, his counterpart on the opposite team is allowed to (and eagerly) tackles his friend onto the ground. There, they engage in a few minutes of giggling and wrestling, until breathlessness and thirst for beer forces the end of the match.

The American men are guzzling beer interspersed with shots.

At 1 a.m., the women come to drag the men home, but this is to no avail. So they leave us there, forcing us to trek the 200 yards back to Lee’s house with nothing but each other. This is the intoxicated equivalent of the blind leading the blind.

Advantage: Nobody

The walk home cannot be described. The road is cobbled and dangerous and surrounded by corn fields. Lee has just turned 40 and, as evidence, he is unable to maintain a standing position. Collin decides to inspect the ground in the fields every thirty yards or so by plunging sideways uncontrollably into the field and dropping on his face. He lays there giggling until one Galeone brother or the other pulls him out.

45 minutes later (200 yards, remember), we are standing outside Lee’s house and PJ is holding the key to the front gate. Lee doesn’t seem to understand this and uses his remote garage opener to test the garage door five times, to the certain delight of his girlfriend inside. Finally, he decides to vault my brother over the fence. A move, thankfully, that the rest of us talk them out of in a rare moment of rationality.

After this, Lee falls to the ground slowly, almost in slow motion, his 40-year-old body having had enough.

In his best Howard Cosell voice, PJ calls into the summer night, “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”

This says it all.

Advantage: ?

  1. #1 by Chris on July 11, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    Advantage: me. For re-reading this and bringing back a great memory. Or what’s left of it. What’s forgotten about full-contact darts was it wasn’t discussed. It was Lee deciding on a whim to hit the shit out of me upon my third dart. Good things Or so I was told.

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