Friday, April 16, 2004

So long, farewell

When I pack for a 3-day getaway at an off-season ski resort, I think: books, tennis shoes, magazines. This distinguishes me from Georgian men, who think: 100 litres of homemade wine siphoned by rubber hoses into plastic tanks and used water bottles. And a few bottles of cha cha, or Georgian moonshine, to boot.

I and my female cohorts also have learned that with a few litres of homemade hooch under the belt, grey-haired Georgian men from distant mountain regions have no compunction about grabbing a girl and carrying her off over his shoulder, attempting to lasso her, or otherwise separating her from the female herd. Protestations in English are met with a toothless grin of incomprehension, protestations by Georgian gals are met with the same. If you are the only American in sight and you say a few words in Georgian, you will be slapped into a bear hug not dissimilar to the Heimlich.

On the second evening, I was sitting on a stoop when I was joined on either side by two grizzly Georgian men from the group with sloppy drunk smiles. My translator crouched in front of me.
"They want me to translate something for you," she said.
"Wonderful," I cringed. One man lifted his pitcher of wine and began in Georgian.
"Our friend has a wife who will soon have a new baby."
"Her labor pains...are very big. We wish them to be small."
" too!"
"We wish the child to be healthy boy or girl."
"Now they would like you to take off your shoe so they can drink wine from it."

At this, I had to decline. Am not entirely certain why they needed to tell me about the baby, but I assume it was for a very good reason. Am also terribly sorry about the shoe, but it was quite sweaty and not suitable for the subtle bouquet of Georgian grapes.

It's been quite a time here, quite a time, and I'd like to come back before too long. But now I think it's time to come home. Back in Washington tomorrow, a bedraggled wreck.


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