A Day of Annoying the Czechs

annoy czechsIt’s in my afternoon class that I begin my campaign to annoy the Czechs today. It’s purely a retaliatory response, as I’ve recently been on the unhappy end of a lot of jokes involving Donald Trump and Republicans. Not to mention taking flak for a long list of Americana, including, but not limited to, morbid obesity, Walmart customers, guns, nipple obsession, and Santa Claus.

Today it’s their turn. And what they often forget is that after 11 years living in the epicenter of Czech everything, I know just how to flick their mouth ulcers for maximum aggravation.

And just to get things rolling, I mention in an offhanded way that Leonard Cohen sucks.

I don’t know what Leonard Cohen has to do with the Czech Republic, but he is adored in this country. So after the initial horror over my comment, I outline a list of adjectives and statements which convey the opinion that Mr. Cohen is one of the most overrated musicians in the history of purposeful sound.

The students glare at me, not daring me to continue. Which is smart, because I have an entirely fabricated story about the time I went to his concert and he forgot the words to “I’m Your Man.”

Moreover, it’s time for Phase 2.

I say that the Czech Republic is in Eastern Europe.

People have long associated the Czech Republic with Eastern Europe probably due to the fact that for years they were behind the Iron Curtain and under communist rule. This is despite the fact that the Czech Republic is as central in Europe as one could get geographically. Still, referring to the Czech Republic as Eastern Europe makes a Czech person’s hair stand on edge and lean west.

Today it causes a minor explosion as people pull up maps on their phones and tablets and defy me to say that we are standing in Eastern Europe. I shrug off their anger and claim that it’s a social and cultural thing more than geographic location. I mention – just to rub salt in the open wound – that nobody in Western or Central Europe would ever consider wearing a fanny pack or socks with sandals.

The hatred is palpable.

At the end of class I hand out chocolates just so the students know my ribbing is purely good-natured, the way a friend pokes at his comrade’s sore spots just to get him going. Also, I am afraid they will revolt and there are more of them than me and my probable ability to outrun them is unlikely.

But as I leave class it’s clear that I have a taste for more Czech aggravation, the same way a bear can develop a taste for human flesh. Or Oreos. I can never remember which.

So, as I sit on the tram and become subsumed by a batch of old people, I decide to annoy them to satisfy my bloodlust. I catch the eye of one particular old lady, the one who looks the most judgmental and miserable, and I give her a big smile.

There is nothing to grate on an older Czech’s nerves more than someone who is openly happy about something that isn’t clear. What have you got to be happy about, you son of a bitch? Unfortunately, my plan backfires as this old woman smiles back, which in turn annoys me. Bah! Stupid poetic justice. No bother. I soon find another old woman whose frown is so chiseled on her mug that she resembles a character on a Tlingit shame pole. I smile at her big, and, after a moment of genuine disruption, she moves to the back of the tram.

There is no group of people in the city of Prague more fun to irritate than waiters. So I go to a restaurant near the train station for beers. Just beer.

I order a beer and ask for a menu. I am not going to eat, but I am the only person who knows that, so after reading through it, I put the menu down on the table. When he comes back, I tell him I don’t know if I want to order something just yet. And then as he reaches for the menu, I ask to keep it.

The waiter gives me a look that he has reserved for menu-keepers and those who murdered his grandmother.

When a Czech waiter drops off a menu he is giving you a sign that he wants you to make a decision. Now. You either choose to eat or you choose not to eat. Your choice, but make it now. By asking a waiter to hang onto a menu, you leave him in a limbo-esque hell where you still have options and his world is not clear. He might have to take your order later, he might not. He is in hell.

Tonight, I enjoy a massive amount of passive aggressive joy from watching the waiter’s eyes focus on it every time he passes by or stops at my table. He is in obvious discomfort.

It borders on orgasmic.

I decide it’s time to call it a night. I have had my fun, it’s time to return to the reasonable, responsible world of a university teacher. But one last one.

I get my check and pay with a 2000 Koruna bill.

The waiter nearly hyperventilates, as paying for something with a big bill – like a 2000 Koruna bill – is sort of like asking a French hairdresser for a crew cut. You’ll probably get it, but it’s not going to happen without a lot of crying and epithets.

Two things are clear: this waiter will hate me forever and my mission is accomplished.

  1. #1 by Vita on April 11, 2016 - 11:27 pm

    My Czech nerve was twitching several times while reading this. Good job.

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