Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Love the Nightlife

"I'll stick with gin. Champagne is just ginger ale that knows somebody."
~M*A*S*H, Hawkeye, "Ceasefire," 1973

Lest you think I've been sitting on my hind-end, doing nothing but working and tidying my apartment, let me tell you a bit about my social exploits here in Gliwice. Fair warning, Grandma!

It must first be said that I really shouldn't be drinking. I suspect it makes my pancreas act all sorts of crazy (which is quite a long story that I shan't be going into here). I had grand plans, when I first arrived in Gliwice, that I would go out with any new friends I might make and just not drink booze. A tonic water with lime for me, please. Ah yes...those were simpler days, days before I had actually met the motley and alcohol-soaked crew of folks with whom I so enjoy working.

Never forget that teachers have an appetite for alcohol which rivals even that of priests. People who teach small children are especially voracious drinkers; I suspect it's to quiet the voices, to drown out the haunting tune of the "Hello Mickey" song and to try to forget that they dance around like a retarded Barney for a living. If there's anything that could drive a person to drink, it's being shut up in a room with a bunch of 6 year-olds all day.

So, in light of the fact that I work with both children's teachers and people from England, it was really inevitable that I would end up drinking on the regular. Not that I get drunk often, because I only usually have a couple beers in a sitting.

Notable exceptions include the first "Pub Club" organized (and paid for) by my school. drinks. I drank 2 dark beers before realizing that they were 8% alcohol. After standing up and nearly falling over, I drank 2 more dark beers because they were 8% alcohol. Had an absolutely spiffing time.

The second exception was at the joint birthday celebration for Chris (fellow American teacher) and Iza (office secretary extraordinaire). This was held in the same venue as the Pub Club, a pool hall/bar called NOT. I drank mostly vodka that night. Bad vodka. It was loads of fun, but I was shit at pool. I was even drunk enough to try my hand at foosball for the first time, but I lost spectacularly. Polish women are vicious foosball players...don't say I didn't warn you.

Other than organized parties and Pub Club, I mostly just go out for drinks with a few teachers at a time. There are some rather excellent bars around here, of the candlelit and cozy variety. Huge on atmosphere, with lots of dark wood and brick, and excellent music. My favorite bar is called "4 art". It's a music/piano bar, but they only have live music on a sporadic and expensive basis. The first night I went there, the stereo was playing all American oldies. I hadn't heard Elvis' "It's Now or Never" in ages, but it is an amazing mood-setting tune. They were also playing Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Bassey, even "Son of a Preacher Man", which happens to be my all-time favorite oldies song. That bar made an amazing first impression, and it hasn't disappointed yet.

It was at 4 art that I had my first taste of real Polish vodka, specifically "Żubrówka". This is a special vodka that's made from rye and flavored with an extract of grass grown where bison graze. Check out the link for more info. In any event, its flavor is a bit like mild cinnamon. They mix it with apple juice, and the result is like drinking a glass of apple pie. Freaking delicious. A side effect of Żubrówka and apple juice is that you can drink about 10 glasses without realizing how much alcohol you've consumed, so it's best to enjoy it in moderation.

Another cool bar is Gramophon. Similarly candlelit and cozy, it's an awesome place to share a few expensive beers and eat some tasty international food. The scalloped potatoes we ate there last time were really quite good (despite having kielbasa in them).

A new, alcohol-free, find is a tiny coffee shop that I was introduced to by my Italian friend, Guisy (Jo). She took me and Magda there for coffee and cake a couple weekends ago, and it was really quaint. I think there were about 5 tables, total. I got the cappuccino because Jo said it was the best in town (and she's Italian, so I'll take her word on that). Magda got the hot chocolate with cinnamon, but ended up not drinking most of it because it was more like a thick chocolate sauce than a drink. You could just about have stood a spoon up in it. The cup was approximately the size of a thimble, but even that was too much for Magda's taste (and it was fairly bitter, as well). I helped out a bit, but without milk to wash it down, I was soon defeated.

Last week, Magda, Jo, and I went to hear some live blues music at a local bar. Smoking isn't yet banned here (and smoke-eaters seem to be nonexistent), so we were fairly choking the whole time. Still, the music was better than I expected. The first group did a damn fine cover of "Kansas City". Throughout the night, an obnoxiously drunk old man in a Xerox cap kept trying to mess with the band, walking up close to them (no stage) and even trying to touch their instruments. But the real low point of the evening was when a 70 year old man tried to hit on me in Polish. He was wearing a jaunty kerchief around his neck, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere.

I suppose that just about covers my boozy exploits on this side of the Atlantic. More to follow, I'm sure. This coming weekend is Halloween, and the school is having another Pub Club at NOT. No free drinks this time, but there will be a costume contest, and the winner gets about a $10 bar tab. Here, that would buy you at least 3 beers. Not too shabby. I still haven't decided on my costume. I'm thinking of using face paint from the kids' party in the afternoon to paint my face like a cat. Then, I'll dress nicely and buy some kind of whip to carry with me. What will I be? A kitten with a whip, obviously. :-) Not that anybody will understand, but it's a fairly simple costume, and I just can't be bothered to craft something more elaborate. No costume shops in Poland!

1 comment:

  1. It's so easy to feel the comraderie and drunkeness you experience when you write. I wish I could experience with you and your crew. I can't wait until the next posting. - Candyman