December 3, 2011

Košice, Czechoslovakia. July, 1972

Even though I don’t like the twerpy way I look in the photo, I do like the people in it. Especially Magda, a cousin of my friend Robert whose family we were visiting behind the Iron Curtain. She taught me some Czech (“Good night” and “next year”), I taught her some English (“Please” and “Thank you.”) My favorite of her English pronunciations was her reply every time I thanked her: “You wel cun.” Close enough. She and her husband and their son, Daniel, hosted us on their small farm for several days, bringing us tumblers of still-warm fresh milk and equally sized glasses of vodka for breakfast. Magda was the disciplinarian in the family and I still remember with astonishment how hard she slapped Daniel once when he back-talked. One night, staying with them in a vacation cabin (no electricity, no running water) here in the Tatry Mountains, I HAD TO wash my hair. I heard water. I snuck out of the cabin with my shampoo (and, truth be told, my creme rinse) and tiptoed to a nearby stream. In the morning, another cousin indicated she’d witnessed my little adventure and said something unfamiliar to me in Czech. We looked it up in the bilingual dictionary: “Snakes.”


  1. I have never been able to make it to Czech. super jealous! its on my list hehe (as is a million other places). xx

  2. I like the way Magda and her husband have almost identical tops -- and hairstyles! Magda is holding the ubiquitous East-Bloc tote bag, just in case a shipment of some rare commodity (like coffee, bananas) has arrived unannounced at the local shop and you don't dare pass by without stocking up. You don't see those tote bags any more. I absolutely LOVE little Daniel's pixie hat! Oh, and you don't look twerpy, you just look immature. You hadn't yet grown into your fab self. "You wel cun."