Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Stylist to the Gypsies October 10, 2008

So every country has its class system. Sometimes it’s overt (take for example, India), and sometimes you have to read between the lines. A few nights ago, I was talking to a man from Malmo, Sweden (I’ve actually met three people from Malmo in the last week…and they’ve all been delightful, but that really has nothing to do with my point). Anyway, Rob was telling me that a lot of the Swedes go to Norway to work because the pay is so much higher. And then he added, with a particular glance in my direction, “We’re the Mexicans.” Touche.

For better or worse, where America has its huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the Balkans have the gypsies. In the various warnings I received to minimize my time in Bucharest (if not avoid it altogether), I was told in hushed tones, “It’s a town of 2 million people…and 500,000 of them are gypsies!!!!!!”

They stand out a little without even trying as they have a darker complexion than many of the Romanians and Bulgarians. This probably poses a challenge to any tourists with a St. Tropez tan.

However, it”s not all brown skin and black hair. What makes the gypsies notable is their fashion sensibility. If you ever wondered what happened to the hideous clothing of the seventies…look no further than Romania. Essentially, think about the ugliest couch you ever saw. And then imagine the polyester afghan your threw in the dumpster after the aunt that made it finally died. Throw in some fluorescent colors, bad mattresses, and maybe six or seven competing floral patterns. Don’t forget to use a large plastic bag as a suitcase! Now your gypsy look is complete.

So I started wondering, WHY ARE THEY DRESSING THIS WAY!? If you knew your blond hair and all-denim outfit made you the target of racism and prejudice, wouldn’t you maybe consider some black slacks or perhaps a subtle pair of khakis with a turtleneck? Would you still slip into the acid wash jacket with the same cavalier swagger?

And that’s how it happens that I find myself walking down the street behind a couple women looking like a 1972 flea market. and it dawns on me: THEY NEED ME. And if things don’t work out with my would-be illustrious and award-winning writing career, I’m thinking there could be a niche market as a  Gypsy  personal stylist? I could be their Coco Chanel. My mission would be to teach the value of flourescent floral patterns as an ACCENT. Sure a hot pink paisley head scarf is kicky, but maybe it would be better tied around the neck of your dog? Just a suggestion. No need to pull a knife. Maybe sleep on it?

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Things that go awry when you fail to read the fine print October 8, 2008

All right, kids. Tonight’s post is going to be a bit abbreviated.

‘Why?’ you ask. Well, first off, tomorrow I am getting on the ‘local’ (i.e. stops at any field with more than five sheep or a petulant rooster) train from Brasov to Bucharest at 6:40 a.m.

And then – owing to Bucharest’s glowing reputation as the @$$hole of Eastern Europe – I head to Sofia, Bulgaria a mere two hours later . All told? SIXTEEN MOFO HOURS OF TRAVEL. The upside for you, loyal readers, is that I will have scads of time to share my deep thoughts (or not) and catch you up on my activities of the last few days. So long as Susie’s battery holds out, I’ll be typing it up. Anything to distract myself from the numbness in my butt.

The second reason for tonight’s brevity is what I’ve taken to calling Comaneci’s Revenge. Nothing against Nadia, but apparently Romania is one of those “don’t drink the water” countries. Oops.

Not sure how other people figure this kind of thing out, but I need to join that mailing list. I tend to operate on the ‘experiential learning’ model, which is fine so long as your digestive system doesn’t get a vote.