The time when, for example, family or friends returned from holiday used to be particularly difficult for me. Their stories of what they had drunk and eaten were drastically tiring, especially when accompanied by a forced display of four thousand photos accompanied by – of course! – four thousand comments and bursts of laughter. I wasn’t laughing. Now I’m dispensing justice and I’m the one preparing hell for them!
Life is hard for people whose ordinary hobbies appear to outsiders to be completely unusual. Such as, for example, those who deal with wine and are, as it were, automatically considered specialists in society. Demeaning situations accompany them from the moment others find out that this is their hobby or profession. I used to have nightmares about being pushed out almost by force at family and non-family events to say something (implicitly – cool!) about some “wine”. And usually about something offered to the birthday celebrant in a tasteful flask in the shape of a Greek vase or a bunch of grapes, filled with an oily, sweet sherbet hastily assembled in industrial bottling plants in the suburbs. But that’s the way it’s been going, especially lately, when normal people nowadays think it’s essential to drink wine at parties and not – as usual – vodka.
In my mind I was congratulating the recipient of the gift, because he will be able to use this stuff instead of motor oil or grease, or add it to the grout when laying tiles, or mix it with mortar when building a semi-detached house. Nonetheless, live, a wide stream of the heaviest nonsense and elaborate lies flowed from my mouth – getting smoother and smoother with time – received with the utmost approval. “Finally an expert, the guy knows what he’s talking about,” muttered the company. The birthday person was proud and the donor was swelling with delight at what an apt choice he had made.
I know, I know – I’ll fry in hell one day for these hideous lies. Admittedly, the first door to the nine circles is reserved for dentists (who always and perfectly lie – “it won’t hurt”), but on the next door perhaps hangs a sign that says “tasters”. Well, they wanted it themselves – I will defend myself. After all, it never crossed their minds that if I asked, for example, a philatelist at such a meeting whether a stamp from his collection could be stuck on an envelope and sent, he would simply call me an “idiot” without hesitation. That’s no way for me to react that way – that’s life.
Post-holiday situations are also almost always stereotypical, and when I worked in a large editorial office a long time ago, they happened to me almost every day. So it is, for example, that I meet a buddy on the street and he immediately goes to shit:
– We just came back from Tuscany with Basia (the wife), we were in a little village near the sea, you know (the name drops here – I don’t know, I’ve never been there, but never mind), we went for dinner. I tell you – finger licking, full respect for the cook. Listen, we take pasta with moules, and believe it, the shoes are falling off, yummy. And the waiter recommends a wonderful winey (at this point I should slap him in the mouth for this “winey”, but I stand and listen politely), red, delicate, light – I tell you, Gogol, ambrosia. How it performed with those moules!!! You won’t believe it!
“I believe, it happens,” I say conciliatorily. “What is the problem?”, I ask.
“Well listen, damn it”, the mate doesn’t stop to running his mouth. “We want to do it again, we’re doing a little party with Basia (same wife), we’ve got everything (‘Are you coming over?’ I’m not coming over. The dunderhead knows I’m not here because I’m leaving and he asked about it a while ago), just tell me what kind of winey we drank then, you know what it was, over there by the beach? I tell you: delicate, red, you could sip it on pasta like compote. Where to buy it in our place, you know what I mean, you’re into that, aren’t you?!”.
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By Wojciech Gogoliński
Translated by Tomasz Krzyżanowski