Posted Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 8:32am by Darren Baker
Czech the Children- Chapter 10 - Sweating out the baby news
Sweating out the baby news
Vet and I were a couple when I met the Mads the next time in a bar. They invited us to go for a bike ride to the ruins of an old castle about sixteen kilometers (ten miles) away. Just a short excursion, they said, nothing too challenging…except all the hills along the way! We were so exhausted by the time we got back that we completely crashed and woke up swearing from then on to keep biking strictly for pleasure.
That went for our vacations, too, after the Mads told us about their latest one to the island of Corsica. There they got up every morning at seven o’clock, ate their soup, made sandwiches, packed up their tent and gear, and walked along these rugged paths for the next ten hours. Just before nightfall they dropped everything, built up their tent and camp again, cooked more soup and sang songs before completely passing out until the next early morning muster. They did that for eight straight days and paid dearly for it. Hell, why not join the marines and get paid instead, I joked, but it fell completely flat.
It was outside of sports that we really got to know them, namely in cafés. Since they were so completely in tune with each other, they decided to have their children at the same time so that they could grow up together. We had no clue about it until we learned that their firstborns were also due around the time as Terka. They were full of smiles when we told them, as if relieved we were finally getting with the program. Who knows, maybe Corsica was in our future. Of course, that was contingent on sticking to the plan, which called for the next children to come along three years after the first. That way we could all collect the full government stipend for one child before sending them to nursery school.
Nobody told us about this plan, but it wouldn’t have made a difference in any case. We felt the sooner Terka had someone close to her age to talk to at home, the sooner we could hear what was on TV. The first chance to inform the group came when I was invited to go to the sauna with the men.
Going to the sauna is clearly in that macho category, because it consists of all these naked guys sweating it out at 85°C (185°F) for ten minutes and then going outside to jump in a pool with bits of ice still floating around on the surface. I could imagine we were talking about extreme pain here, so I figured the best way to deal with it was to make that interval between the searing heat and unbearable cold as minimal as possible. Well, of course, just my luck, the moment I stepped outside, I slipped on the ice, landed on my side and rolled into the pool. I was told my screams could be heard from under the surface.
But the shock to my system fortified me to make the announcement to the other guys. They took it well enough, as I think most guys do about baby news. In fact, I think they were relieved that this meant we were no longer qualified for their circle, that they no longer felt compelled to invite us for one of their extreme outings.
I suspect it had begun even earlier, before our kids came along. We had all made plans to go to the cinema one evening and were standing there as a group when I noticed this fellow waving to me from another group. I knew him from my private English lessons, so I ambled over to him to say hello. It couldn’t have lasted more than a minute, but when I got back, I noticed that one of the Mads women was giving me an incredibly icy stare and the others simply ignored me.
Apparently I had broken the most sacred of all protocols. When you’ve been invited to join one group, you just don’t walk off to fraternize with another. Funny, I didn’t realize we were all still in high school.
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