Dog's Dinner

"You're not loved because you're lovable, you're lovable 'cause you're loved."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A River Runs Through It, or: A Few Words About Gliwice: Part II

The difference being that in Gliwice, the Tracksuit Guys make no pretense of going to school. There is, as far as I know, no official football team at the Politechnika, and the football fans here are what we Yanks would call soccer fans, or to be precise, hooligans, whose allegiance is claimed not by the PS (Politechnika Śląska) but by non-universitary professional teams like Visla (Wisła) and Piast (takes its name from a line of kings). In fact their allegiance is not to any team or player but to a two-pronged grand strategy: Getting Smashed and Smashing Faces. Anyone who has read Bill Buford's Among the Thugs, which for those who haven't I deliriously recommend as a barrel of terrifying laughs, will have some concept of the culture. Whether or not you accept the argument, made, if I'm not mistaken, by Buford in the book, that British hooligans are The Worst In The World.

Not that the Tracksuit Guys are all football hooligans or vice versa, but there is inevitably some overlap as the Tracksuit Guys' main occupations are drinking and fighting and the football hooligans' the same. The Tracksuit Guys are thuggish, just like the football fans, but unlike them, they are also generally well-built and accompanied by shapely blonde women who are either dizzyingly beautiful or Barbiesque to a repugnant extreme. This feature is highly reminiscent of Boulder. In Boulder, however, when one of these vulgarly appetizing (or should I say, appetizingly vulgar?) creatures had a tan, you would generally surmise she was from California; here in Gliwice, where tanning salons outnumber internet cafes something like 15 to 3, it's a pretty safe bet she has been under the lamp for a good many hours, unless perhaps her rich Tracksuit Guy has been able to spirit her away to Turkey or Egypt recently.

A week ago I was on my way to the internet cafe from work when a well-oiled T-Guy, red as a lobster, sitting in a parked car with two other well-lubricated G's and a fourth, the silent driver, a bit like the silent Fourth Droog in Clockwork Orange, whom I hope was at least middlingly sober, started hurling spiteful oaths at me, with the other two louts repeating the occasional fragment of his monologue in a kind of Call-and-Response reminiscent of the best work of The Supremes or Martha and the Vandellas. The gist of it was that I ought to be ashamed of myself for what I did the last time we had seen each other-- which in fact was never. However, I was grimly assured, we would meet again, and my hash would be properly settled. After a brief interchange wherein I nonchalantly protested my innocence, the dour quartet trundled off.

I was mildly disquieted by the incident for some time thereafter, going through a sequence of possibilities in my head: 1) Could it be possible that I had somewhere, somehow actually offended this man, by stepping on his foot accidentally and not apologizing or by appearing to flirt with or stare at his blonde? (No doubt he has one.) Could he have not shown his reaction at the time or could I have failed to notice it, and therefore not registered the slightest memory of his face? I deemed this highly improbable. 2) Could it be another instance supporting the Doppelganger theory I mentioned in the post called "Six Doubles" (just today, by the way, I saw another double, of a friend from NY; but I have to admit I've yet to see more than one double of someone, let alone six)? A Hitchcockian case of mistaken identity, a metaphysical transference of guilt? Possible, but also unlikely.

I decided, after conferring with Rafał (in the conversation where he outlined the dynamics of the conflict of cultures reported in last blog) and Janusz, the proprietor of the internet cafe, that in fact the most plausible analysis of the situation would reckon that it was

3) A stupid joke, perpetrated out of Tracksuit Guys' sheer love of stirring up a ruckus, which had fortunately not, in this case, curdled into actual bloodlust.

But I was somewhat shaken in the minutes following the exchange, which leads me to believe that, loudly though I may protest to the contrary, I have some hard-fighting vestigial belief in Original Sin left in me.


At 7:00 AM, Blogger jimeye said...

Great storytelling from a not at all crabby old man. Funny how humanity repeats itself, maybe the doppelganger theory is just deeper than you are imagining? Who was the New Yorker double you saw? I have yet to see a double of a close friend but I look forward to it. Jet lag is intense coming back from Tokyo. Miss you.


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