Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Eyes, Smiles, and Candles

The picture above shows Kharkiv National University, where I'll be teaching three classes (the first in a couple of hours).

Some details from my journey so far.

While boarding my flight to Kyiv in Chicago, an airport employee – the type of guy who waves the plane home with those neon orange paddles – slipped in front of me on the gangway and into the cockpit. When he emerged, he was holding a cardboard box with a bright orange sticker: Human eyes for transplant.

In Kharkiv, while posing for a passport photo I needed for a university pass, the camera person told my interpreter to have me stop smiling, which only made me – and them – smile all the more. “In our country,” my translator said, “we look very serious for such photos.”

I have already been ill (a good thing, I think; the quicker Ukraine gets into my system the better) and so I was lucky enough to see a doctor and have this exchange with my interpreter as the doctor sat slumped behind his desk:

“And he will give you something for the pain, a powder,” G. said, “and some candles.”
He nodded. “For the anus.”
A look of sheer terror. “Candles for the anus?” I’d been told of the three medical traditions: oral, injection, and suppository. But what was this, a fourth? I pictured something like ear candles used to melt the wax, but they weren’t stuck in the ear and I didn’t know what they were doing there.
“You stick them up and”—my interpreter must have finally seen my expression—“how do you call them?” he said.
I call them not in my ass. “Suppository?” I said.
The doctor eyes lit up. He nodded. “Suh-pah-zuh-toe-rhee,” he said.
G. smiled. He shrugged. “We call them candles,” he said.
“Okay, then. Candles.”


Ginger said...

Candles? It could be worse, say, lanterns or flashlights. Bless your heart! Hope the suppositories worked out (snicker).

Am enjoying the blog and I'm tickled pink that you chose my suggestion for its name.

WittyName32 said...

I've been meaning to thank you for it. I not only used it, but I went out and bought CSNY's Deja Vu, just so I could hear the song (there is a song, people). It gave me the added bonus of listening to "Almost Cut My Hair," a song I love to no end on many levels. If ever again I karoake, that will be on my list.