Thursday, December 10, 2009
More on Manny
Alas, not yet to the shitting of the pants story.
With the grounds in the jezvah, or as he had come to consider it- the Begojavic, the water would come singing to a boil in the kettle. Dousing the grounds into boiling slurry he wafted the jezvah over the stovetop flame, ceasing his monologue for a moment to allow his female companion to appreciate the toasted bean aroma that faithfully steamed from the little copper pot.
A trickle of boiling water to bring the foamy meniscus to the top, then Manny would turn the foam with the tiny spoon, clarifying the gritty residue from the caramel, spongy layer the size of a British pound coin (Manny would call it a quid) a doling of foam, a pouring of scalding coffee-always surprisingly smooth and nutty to the lady’s delight. They always assumed it would be burnt-tasting like espresso. Dipping sugar cubes in bosanski style (as opposed to brewing the sugar in the grounds which was serpski style) Manny would evoke in character a grizzled old man (or woman) reflecting on the lack of sugar in the war, and how they would dip stones from the Neretva river into tannic water experiencing ghost pains for the pleasure of a hot coffee and a cigarette with friends.
With a knack for the impersonation here and there-- Manny usually earned a laugh for these portrayals while his conscience chastised him for playing to the image of deprivation and suffering. He justified this and other portrayals as gallows humor, asserting against his conscience that his very awareness of the inappropriateness of the remarks represented more of a meta- sense of humor than an outright crassness or piggish American sensibility. Like the cigarettes he proffered with the Turkish coffee-- the shocking, clownishly racist comments were a simple guilty pleasure, a way to separate himself from his genuine, earnest, recycling and pro-choice supporting male peers.
Not wanting to be lumped with the sandals and socks crowd, Manny pushed conversation to exciting and dangerous places, hopefully setting the stage for a further erosion of boundaries, unlike the persistently divided Balkans.