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All night at a smalltown Romanian "non stop"

Beclean, Romania, July 2009 —

The terrace bar closed and we wanted another drink so we went over to the "non stop."

A Romanian "non stop" is any business that stays open all the time — for example, a shop that sells drink at all hours (like the one by the cathedral,) or a pub that never closes, like the one across the street from that. We went to the pub.

We sat at a table with an elderly gentleman and his middle-aged acquaintance — I think the place was pretty full, at that moment. We got into conversation, in Romanian. Then the best thing happened — my bilingual friend went off to play some video gambling machine. He came back to the table occasionally, but stayed away generally.

The bilingual are a huge pain in the ass, and I've said it before. They're much more useful gambling on the other side of the room; or falling asleep at the table, which he did later. With a bilingual person in the conversation, one really has to think in two tracks, and almost has to "take care of" those bilingual speakers. They need attention, and it's horribly distractive — even though they're usually only really just trying to help.

Anyhow, I didn't have to worry about that with my friend, who stayed away, and then slept, remaining about as useful as a bilingual person can be — keeping his mouth shut.

And so I got to speak some Romanian with an intelligent elderly gentleman who did not speak English. We stayed up late, talked and laughed, had a few beers and a little brandy.* ...

At some point, a little bit after daybreak, my friend had awoken; Titeana and I had had enough to drink; and we all stepped out of there and said our goodbyes.  

When I awoke that afternoon my host had prepared a meal for me and sat at the table as I ate. My host was an elderly gentleman, about the age of Titeana, so I asked him, something like "cunoşti un om batrăn, numit Titi?"

"Titeana?" Dle. Ardelean asked. "The writer?"

"That's right." (Titi had shown me a book that he'd had published.)

"He's the one who gave us a lift to the spring!"

Bunu and myself had been on the main street one day, heading toward the artesian well on the west side of town, when a man had stopped in his modified Dacia to give us a lift there and then back to the house.

I had not associated Titeana with that incident, until this moment.


A couple of hours later I was sitting on the back porch — garden to the left, walnut tree in front of me, psychotic mutt of a dog nearby, when Titeana walked around the corner, having let himself in the front-yard gate coming to visit Bunu. We had a laugh.

He too had been completely unaware that we'd met previously.

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* Ţuica, the traditional plum brandy, is home-made stuff, not normally for sale in a public drinking establishment. It's strictly extralegal although at the national level Romania was able to get a dispensation from the European Union, a decision to allow [or to not fight] the private manufacture of ţuica.


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