August 31st, 2018

Sepia

Random Memories: Getting Married


When Carole and I got married back in 1997, we started getting tons of phone spam from people wanting to sell us stuff. Apparently Durham County, NC routinely sold a list of newlywed couples to marketers (some of them referenced this fact) and we were the unwitting beneficiaries. So we changed our phone number to avoid getting eight to ten calls EVERY EVENING from people trying to sell us on stuff that newlywed couples apparently were deemed to need (aluminum siding, baby supplies, you name it).


And the phone company happily gave us the number of a MAJOR, um, “credit risk” — let’s call her “Tammy” — who had been using the number up until a week or so previously. We started getting dozens of calls from her creditors daily, way into the evening, sometimes in the middle of the night.


We also started getting calls from “Tammy’s” mother, who clearly didn’t believe that we didn’t know where her daughter was or that her daughter was in any way doing shady stuff that would have Guido and Nunzio and every other debt collector in a five-state radius out looking for her.


I’d always heard that phone companies didn’t reissue phone numbers for X months, but clearly that wasn’t the case here. Nice fresh debts, references to conversations “last week”, you name it. It was useless trying to tell people that we were not the “Tammy” they were looking for.


So we had to change our number again. We asked very very politely for a number that hadn’t been in use for at least six months and this time around all went as one would hope. No weird calls other than those from our friends.


(All this was on top of the power company getting us confused with another customer in our apartment complex who was moving out. When we got back from our honeymoon, our power had been off for about a week. Yeah.)

Sepia

The Most Russian Thing Ever

Image result for troika restaurant st petersburg


Carole and I went on a cruise of Baltic countries between August 18 and August 27, starting in Copenhagen, Denmark and stopping off in Berlin, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. We took lots of photos, which we shall in due course inflict on you.


But I wanted to share a quick little anecdote while it’s fresh in my mind:


Carole and I went on a small-group bus tour of each city we stopped in. And in each city (except Stockholm) the bus tour included a hot lunch in a local restaurant. We got alcohol with every meal — sparkling wine several times over, beer in Germany and Estonia, and vodka in Russia. Our first Russian meal was at a little restaurant called “Troika“, home to an evening cabaret we didn’t get to stick around and see. They served us vodka in little shot glasses along with plates of Russian bread, salad, meat, potatoes, and dessert. (We ate a LOT of potatoes in Europe. Every hot meal included them.)


Some of our party didn’t want their vodka — not everyone follows the Russian model of banging down shots of vodka straight with every meal. But I was game, and reached out to take mine, and promptly knocked it over. (The tables were pretty crowded and all our utensils and glasses and things were packed in pretty tightly.)


Everyone around me gasped, automatically assuming that spilling one’s vodka was a major Russian faux pas. But I noted that the tablecloth was well-nigh impermeable and far from soaking through, the vodka was sitting there in a compact puddle, minding its own business. So I grabbed a piece of bread, sponged up as much vodka as it would hold, stuffed it in my maw, grabbed another piece of bread, and repeated the process.


Mid-way through the second piece of bread, I looked up at Carole and the other tourists sharing our table and said “Um, this is like the most Russian thing ever, isn’t it?”