Sunday, April 26, 2009


Still on Monday, 20 April

When I'd returned to our building, climbed 64 steps, and was unlocking the door to our apartment, our neighbors Eugenia (Jen) and Gheorghe (George), appeared on the balcony and invited me in for some zuica.

I said, "Sigur! Moment!" More procrastination.

This would be my first visit to their apartment, immediately next door to ours. I went into ours, hung my leather jacket, and then came back out to join them. They ushered me into the dining room, introduced me to their granddaughter, Dora, and we all sat at the big table and toasted the years to come (La Mulţ Ani!) with some zuica, the potent homemade plum brandy famous throughout Transylvania. We discussed life: their daughter's recent death from leukemia, the Easter weekend, my love of Romania, Shirley's plan to return, and much more. The charming Dora, still in high school, and wanting a career as a dental technician, was our intepreter. She did very well. Then her Aunt Elena, Jen's sister, arrived and joined us, and the next I knew I was invited to stay for dinner.

During my third Easter Feast, someone mentioned that this was the day that Romanian women were to be watered. I guess this is a spring tradition, perhaps derived from some ancient fertility rite of their Pagan ancestors. But thanks to my listening well in Bistriţa, I knew what it meant.

A few minutes later, between dinner and dessert, I excused myself for a minute next door. I went and got the new spray-bottle of cologne that Augustin had given me the day before. Concealing it in my hand, I returned to the dining room, sprayed a bit of perfume into Jen's hair, and she immediately smiled, and kissed my cheeks. Then I watered the other two ladies present, reaping four more kisses.

'Tis a fine tradition, "Watering the women," if you ask me. We Scots should adopt it, and blame it on the Picts.

1 comment:

The Book Guy said...

Without further explanation I assume "watering the women" is the custom of spraying men's cologne into women's hair the first time you share tuica with them.