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 [myself and a friend I'd met on a previous visit] 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 the break of day, 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!"
Buna 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, Mr. Ardelean indoors when Titeana walked around the corner, having let himself in the front-yard gate.
We had a laugh.
He too had been completely unaware that we'd met previously.
* Ţuica, the traditional plum brandy, is not available in any bar I've ever visited. At least, nobody's ever sold it to me.
I've only ever seen it handed over in a plastic bottle, between friends and family.
It's home-made stuff, and although I've heard of it for sale I don't think it's ever 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, which made an exception in order to allow [or, more accurately, to not fight] the private production of ţuica.)
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