14 Nov

Eighteen years ago, when the Berlin Wall came down, I was sitting at our kitchen table watching a small, Sanyo television with my parents. The story was huge, but it was squeezed in between local reports of shootings and muggings and backed up traffic, stretching miles back on Constitution Avenue, away from The Capitol and even around the White House on Pennsylvania.
“Mmyea,” my father said cleaning the grease off his plate with a piece of bread. “Poland will go next. For sure. Walesa and Solidarity are nicely set up to take over. Then Hungary, then Czechoslovakia, the Soviets, Bulgaria…”
“What about us,” I said.
“What us?”
“Us, us. Our country.”
He made that infuriating, dismissing sound I’d heard all my life; blowing air through his puffed lips: “Pffft.”
“What pfft?”
“Romanians are always the last to do anything good. Or anything at all.”
My mother stacked our plates and took them to the sink.
“I know,” she said irritated, looking away from him. “I know the routine.”
My father had taken to diligently wiping every piece of cutlery and dish with a paper towel, in order for the grease not to build up in the pipes. It was an old house and he had gotten pinched by the Roto-Rooter man who brought a snake and twirled the machine around a few minutes for $175. Ever since, my father wiped off the grease with paper towels before my mother washed anything in the sink. And always brought up the plumber story. And always followed that with cursing. In Romanian. There are no good curse words in English, by the way. Romanians don’t actually curse…they make up humiliating stories, usually involving sticking you back up your mother’s birth canal, and greasing you up in birth juices and liquids…but I digress.

It was the beginning of a quick and not so thorough end for the Iron Curtain (see Russia); it was a huge story which didn’t really impact any American I knew, despite the fact that within a week, pieces of the Berlin Wall would go up for sale in trinket shops all around the States. I found it amusing that the very thing Communism raged and preached against, and executed millions of innocent people for–Capitalism–was eating it up literally concrete piece by concrete piece. And we were buying all of it. We were buying the remnants of Communism. It was quite mind-boggling, really.

Years later I wrote a book about our last few months in Romania, before emigrating to the States to join my mother who had defected in 1979–ten years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The book’s opening scene is more or less what I described up above–watching the crumbling of the Wall on a cheap television set in our kitchen; nine years after having arrived in the United States. Initially, this project garnered a lot of interest from literary agencies who requested the entire manuscript, but who rejected it finally with the same comment: “This is a good piece of work, however, we feel the subject matter is a little too outdated for the reading public, and therefore we cannot accept it for publication.” No one, apparently, wanted to read a fairly interesting story with a Communist background. And so the book became kindling for a fire in winter of ’05-’06.

I bring this up now, because last night I rolled a brilliant, German film called “The Lives of Others” (Oscar winner, Best Foreign Film, 2006) about surveillance tactics of the Stasi (Secret Police) in 1980s (Communist) East Germany. Apparently, there is an audience for that subject matter after all…just not in the States. Apparently, there is not much of an audience interested in anything other than NASCAR and Kim Kardashian in the States. Only…perhaps more people’s curiosity might be piqued in the next few years, as little by little our system turns toward illegal surveillance tactics employed by Communists back on my side of the world not too long ago. And, perhaps, I’ll resurrect my project and give it another face lift in order that it doesn’t read too dated. Perhaps. I may have burned the manuscript La Boheme-style, but I was smrt enough to keep the bastard on a disc. You know, in case I had to go through another cold winter, I could easily print out the 400+ pages (double-spaced, Courier font, of course) and throw them into the fire. Hey…you laugh…but heating oil prices have gone through the roof.
Best wishes and…Auf, auf!
(S)wine, Inc.
P.S. I am writing this from the washroom of my new apartment. It is a modest change from my previous residence, but quite nice and cozy and comfortable, thanks to someone around here who has a keen eye for decoration and balance. I find it necessary to inform you that the preceding piece was composed on the W.C. as it naturally belongs there…with most of my writing.
P.P.S. I am unable to locate aforementioned disk containing aforementioned novel. Back to the writing board, I suppose. Say buh-bye to 94,287 words over which I slaved almost two years. Life is…


7 Responses to “Dated”

  1. slyboots2 14/11/2007 at 3:39 PM #

    1. there is a big ass chunk of aforementioned wall at my work. Lovely, and ironic, no?

    2. keep looking- the disc must still be around and about. Laws of physics- matter neither created nor destroyed, etc. etc.

    3. Kim who? And fuck Nascar. Some of us still read. Even them foreign type writers n’all.

  2. (S)wine, Inc. 14/11/2007 at 3:49 PM #

    ah now.
    thank you.
    as always.
    kim kardashian…daughter of recently deceased, “I cannot believe he got off” O.J. Simpson friend, Robert Kardashian. She now has a reality show on TV.
    surprise, surprise.
    the other night i flipped channels and landed on some atrocious programme featuring Gene Simmons and his family.
    the subject of that particular installment?
    gene had gotten a dildo stuck to his hand, with superglue.
    i didn’t wait to find out the denouement.
    i just turned the goddamned thing off.

  3. Anonymous 16/11/2007 at 2:19 PM #

    this piece is a good read with the Clash playing in the background. When Ivan Meets G.I.Joe


  4. (S)wine, Inc. 16/11/2007 at 3:03 PM #

    i agree.

  5. Janete Cabral 18/11/2007 at 1:57 AM #

    Some of us still read, thankfully :)

  6. Janete Cabral 18/11/2007 at 1:59 AM #

    p.s: I am also collecting a few more proud rejection letters…

  7. (S)wine, Inc. 18/11/2007 at 1:16 PM #

    janete,the only reason i’m no longer collecting mine is because i’ve stopped submitting.

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