Saturday, January 28, 2012


Natalia hates the Copenhagen beer. "3.8% alcohol." Her Polish accent is harsh on the word. "Do you drink soda? Do you go to the--how do you say--disco for root beer?"

"It was cheap." My feeble defense.

"America is a rich country where everyone is cheap" Then, resuming our earlier conversation: "You say America hates reality, and that is bad, yes, to ignore your history. So much future! Your country loves the word."

"I think it's because we're ashamed of our past."

"The past," she laughs. "In Poland, we are always in the past, always a victim. We were invaded by Germany forever ago and---No, you must have cigarette---"

I take her Marlboro light. They say this is how it starts. The first cigarette is out of politeness, as are cigarettes 2 through 4.

"Every year we relive invasion. We parade." She drops cigarette 2 on the ground, stomps it--"like in American movie"--with the toe of her boot. "Our history is beautiful and violent but it is history." A pause as she contemplates cigarette 3. "This week I go to Amsterdam. I will bring you back, um, treasures."

"Van Gogh was dutch."

"Right! You are artist. I will bring you back Van Gogh." She starts to raise a can of non-alcohol, stops. "No, he is dead."

"He killed himself."

Natalia waves her hand dismissively. "History."

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