Thursday, March 8, 2007

a wide disaster

A few evenings ago I was leaving the university building after a long, hard day, with the clear intention of heading home, eating an extra-large pizza and a can of tuna, complete with artificial lemon juice and some stuff labeled "pizza seasoning" which I use because I can no longer find my favorite "Indian seasoning" in the stores.
As I was stepping down the stairs, the mild, cool spring air hit me in the face like a thunderstorm. I was deafened by the gentle sparrows' chirps. The brilliant, yellow-red sunset somehow looked dimmer than usual. It was dark gray transparent clouds disguised as a bright sunset. The sky was all black. And the moon was eclipsed. It had a dark red glow, the exact color of coagulated blood.
I started walking towards the subway station which is half a km away. The damn Polytechnic, besides being the coolest university in Bucharest, and having the greatest campus, is situated exactly between 3 subway stations and either way you cut it, there is no optimal way of reaching it without using either 2 subway trains and one trolleybus or 1 subway train, 1 tramway AND 1 trolley. Despite its apparent length, this last option actually seems optimal, minus the fact that it costs about 5 beers a month more. This without taking into account the new RFID chips they put into surface transport cards that track your every movement. The cameras in the subway seem more friendly.
So I started walking towards the subway, and I was struck with fear! I looked around me, there was absolute quiet, except for the thunder enveloping me. I looked up, the skies were clear, except the black clouds I was talking about. And the birds were singing. Grindcore. Then I knew something was going to be very wrong.
I cautiously descended inside the station, knowing it was the safest place to be in case of an earthquake, airstrike, whatever. But then it occurred to me, it was the least safe place in case of a terrorist attack. This did not happen until I saw a box of flowers. What was a box of flowers doing in a subway train?? Well, this is a good opportunity to review Valentine's Pay.
Here in Romania, before Valentine's Pay got imported from America, we used to have an ancient tradition called Dragobheteh or something like that, don't know exactly how to spell it for you. Only problem was, nobody knew or cared about it. So when Communism fell and its great achievement, the Bucharestian Subway remained, they imported Valentine's Pay from America to try and westernize us. But then traditionalists got pissed off and a few years ago they started shouting, like, hey dudes, you know, we got our OWN Valentine's Pay on Feb. 24th, and it's traditional, which by supreme divine logic also means it is absolutely respectable and intangible. But hey, I just touched it! It's like, when a movie comes out in America, we have to wait a few weeks for it to hit the cinemas here. So we download crappy copies of it, filmed with a hand camera in some American cinema. So here in Romania, it's like having to see Valentine's Pay -- Ultra Exciting but Crappy Preview on Feb. 14th, and then going to the cinema to see Valentine's Pay -- Full Experience Widescreen Surround Sound on Feb. 24th. (I hate the whole widescreen idea. If I ever make a movie, it will be a rational multiple of VGA resolution. Period.) But wait! There's more! :) Here we also have a so called Martzishor on March 1st, which is also highly traditional but, unlike Valentine's Pay Official Premiere, it's a popular celebration and has been so since immemorial times. So what are we supposed to do on Valentine's Pay Reloaded? Give a crappy object called a Martzishor, which is some kind of traditional piece of artistic handy crap, to each female school colleague or co-worker. And when you thought it was finally over, there comes Valentine's Pay Revolutions on March 8th. Which is Woman's Day. Now this is somehow more acceptable than the other 3 days and has a somewhat higher philosophy, it's the day you give your mom a nice gift, but apart from this this, you should probably also spend as much cash as one week ago on flowers for all your colleagues. Which I gracefully avoided this year on both dates by skipping school. So let's summarize: (ignoring the weak autoformatting that I don't care to fix right now)

Feb 14Valentine's Pay Imported
Feb 24Valentine's Pay Local Opening
Mar 01Valentine's Pay Reloaded
Mar 08Valentine's Pay Revolutions
There you have it. FOUR days demanding heavy spending in less than a month. This is not about love, respect, or other superior concepts, it's about cash and social pressure.
My last girlfriend, I bought her a spiked collar for Valentine's Pay, and she liked it. That was cool. My current girlfriend, I now buy her beer. That rules. Everything is as it should be :D

So. I was holding tight to the safety rail as the train was galloping through the tunnel, and then I notice that crate full of flowers with no apparent owner around. As the train was entering a station, I was nervously looking around trying to identify who owned that crate. I visualized myself asking everyone around me "excuse me, is this your crate?" "sorry, do you know whose crate is that?" and then shouting "WHO OWNS THIS CRATE full of flowers?!", pushing the big red alarm button and dashing towards the front of the train, seeking cover behind a panel. But the doors opened, two guys got up some 6 meters away, took the crate and left. Yeah, they were selling flowers for Valentine's Pay. Probably on the black market too.

I got home and everyone was all right. Some news about a quake somewhere far away, but not the 200kilodeaths that would have qualified it as top disaster of the decade. I was going to say "century", but then I remembered people die in mass quite frequently on this planet. So there, no premonition, just sleep deprivation and a coffee overdose. God damn it, it's 4 am again.

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