I woke up in the middle of a cow pasture surrounded by cows, flies and cow pies. I had no idea how I’d gotten there. None at all. I tried hard to remember but I couldn’t recall a thing!
My three traveling companions lay scattered around me, suffering from the same malaise as I, and in the selfsame state of dismay. Not one of us could recollect a thing … nothing at all.
The last tidbit of remembrance floating through our consciousness was one of dancing and singing like a bunch of lunatic beatniks in the throes of drug fueled ecstasy … which in our case had been slivovitz, and the beatniks had been the entire adult male population of a rural Macedonian village.
My VW stood next to me like a loyal soldier awaiting marching orders. I inspected it for damage and, thank God, found none! I surveyed the probable path it had taken from the unpaved, rut-worn road to its present location … and was stumped. How in the world had my faithful bug ferried us from the pub, across the ditch, around the fence and into this field of cow pies?
Nope! Didn’t have a clue!
It all began when we’d ordered slivovitz, just after we’d figured out that the flying plates weren’t aimed at us. It seemed the Greeks found the destruction of breakable objects somehow salubrious … like the fellow in Athens who’d smashed his shot glass at the finale of his Zorba thing. Both that and the flying plate gig involved copious quantities of alcohol along with innkeepers who’d tally the damage and collect for it after sobriety caught up with the participants. However, plate pitching didn’t involve blood necessarily, unless an innocent bystander happened to get in the way.
But those finer points were lost on us when that first plate shattered against the wall. We thought our time on earth was coming to an untimely end and didn’t have time to discuss the pros and cons of destruction as healing. Nope! We popped up out of chairs like four jacks-in-boxes ready to run for our lives!
However, just as we were ready to sprint for the door we realized that nobody else in the place had even taken notice of it! Not the faintest ripple of curiosity had moved through the crowd … which caused us to re-assess our chances for survival.
Looking around we quickly spotted the launching pad of the plates … two guys, inebriated to the point of partial paralysis lay face down on a table. Every once in awhile one or the other of these stalwarts would, unsteadily and with great difficulty, rise up and let a plate fly … after which he’d flop back down on the table top.
Next to them a tall, skinny waiter stood. He had a notebook, a broom and a dust pan. After each incident he’d tally the damages, calmly sweep up the shards and return to his duty station where he’d lean on his broom waiting for another plate to fly.
We felt much better after witnessing this and sat back down with a thirst that had grown even more urgent. We immediately ordered a round of slivovitz … which is when it the whole thing really got started!
One of the patrons in the place came over and bought us another round. Then someone else bought us another round, and another … and before too long our table looked like Lake Slivovitz!
Naturally we didn’t want to appear rude, so we diligently tried our best to keep up with our new friends’ offerings. And while doing so, his eminence the Mayor came to officially welcome us to whatever village we were in.
Inspired by this formal welcoming ritual, Stephen jumped up, ran out to the car. He grabbed his guitar, a signal to one and all it was time to party. And when Martha started to sing, the crowd went absolutely crazy. It wasn’t long before the whole public house was echoing with music, most of which was unintelligible to us, but had a mesmerizing effect nonetheless.
Then everyone started dancing, but these Macedonian manics didn’t dance the Zorba-type dance of Athens, they were more into waltzes and foxtrots and the like. In fact the entire scene took on the look of a gay biker bar in San Francisco on steamy Saturday night.
After too many slivovitzes I found myself dancing with a grizzled old Turk who spun me ’round the floor while telling me in broken English how, in World War II, “You Americans … they fly over me and they drop the bombs on me. Oh yes, for sure, they drop big bombs to kill me! You Americans, they do that.”
I couldn’t quite make out the guys intentions, and had it not been for the sea of slivovitz I’m certain I would have been more a bit more apprehensive, but at the time my only concern was the fellows wiry whiskers that kept scratching my cheek!
And that was it … at least as far as memory goes. None of us could remember much past that point until we woke up among the cows and the cow-pies … but we all agreed it must have been one hell of a party, especially if one were to judge such things by broken plates and the magnitude of a hangover!
Coming next! Driving Around Europe Without A Map, Part 23 … THE ANGEL IN THE WILDERNESS
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