Sunday, February 9, 2014

236 Reasons Why George is not Bulgarian

Hey everyone,

This edition of the blog is a long time in coming.  Here is the background.  There is a running joke between Owen, Sarah, and I that George is not really Bulgarian.  When we're together out somewhere, most people assume George is not Bulgarian.  Some Bulgarians who don't know George are in total disbelief when they find out he is Bulgarian.

To be objective, George is guilty by association by hanging out with me and speaking English.  They just assume he is not Bulgarian when we speak in English all the time.  Other times, I just laugh hysterically at what happens.  George has been waiting for over almost two years for me to prove there were 236 reasons why he is not Bulgarian.  While some may be exaggerated slightly, he is ready for me to publish this blog issue.  In his words, he said "Why not" when I asked if he really wanted me to post this.

Not to back down from a challenge, here we go :

236 Reasons Why George is not Bulgarian

  1. He doesn't like drinking rakiya.  
    One look, and most people believe this mild mannered man is not Bulgarian.  Editor's note:  Yes, I am delibarately trying to hide my fat and fabulous phase in December 2013.  
  2. I don't believe he has ever drunk domashna rakiya.
  3. He thinks homemade wine is blah, blah, blah.
  4. He gets handed English menus in restaurants by Bulgarian waitresses.
  5. A few of my Bulgarian colleagues have questioned whether he is Bulgarian to me after meeting him at work functions.
  6. The saleslady in Zara spoke English to him in trying to help him find the best shirt to buy.
  7. He eats Nutella with pretzels.  While Bulgarians love Nutella, there is no such thing as chocolate covered pretzels.  The Serbians have peanut butter pretzels, which sadly have never made it to Bulgaria, even though they're neighbors.  
  8. He is very optimistic.  He has so much optimism for a Bulgarian it's hard to believe he's like the rest of Bulgarians.  Bulgarians miserable, but not George.  He knows the reasons why, but lives to prove the system wrong.  
  9. He does not have a village house.
  10. He despises going to any village and doing village things.
  11. He has no village roots.  You have to go back generations to find his family in a village.
  12. He hates eating roasted peppers.
  13. He is not a fan of tikvenik and dislikes all things made with pumpkin.
  14. He has requested that I roast peppers with a chuskopek when he is not here.  
  15. When a few of my Bulgarian friends first met him, they thought he was from Germany.  
  16. Unlike so many Bulgarians who flock to the Black Sea and Greece, he despises the seaside and was forced to go with me to Ahtopol and Sozopol.  He now finds Sozopol passable, so I guess I'm working on him.  
  17. He dislikes going to the beach because it is too sandy.
  18. He is a total city boy, born in Pleven, and living in Plovdiv and Sofia.  He is unlike many of the recently 1,000,000 transplanted residents of Sofia within the past ten years, who have brought the village to Sofia.    
  19. His grandmother was a policewoman.  Years ago in the communist days, she beat up a man who tried to assault her with her purse in Pleven, and still attended the event she needed to get to in Sofia.  In heels, she thought of it was nothing really out of the ordinary.  Talk about a dedicated woman.
  20. He has a mother who is the Bulgarian version of Judge Judy in the courtroom.  
  21. He got a Kindle for Christmas last year, loved it, and actively uses it.
  22. He actively reads for pleasure.
  23. He purchases more than two books a year, and is actively designing his study.  The average Bulgarian buys less than two books per year.
  24. George took 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami in English as his metro read.  Yes, he took an almost 1,000 page book on the metro for months as his daily read.  What Bulgarian man does that?
  25. He somehow thinks every Bulgarian has these fascinating discussions on literary books.
  26. His name is George, and he has NEVER celebrated his name day.  
  27. He does not like his name, while most Georgi's here celebrate their name with pride. 
  28. To make it even worse, he hates eating lamb, which is the traditional food of St. George's Day on May 6th.
  29. When I tried to get him to celebrate his name day two years ago, George somehow had a horrible allergic reaction to something he ate and was sick for a week.  There were hives the size of winter potholes on Bulgarian roads which burst like erupting volcanoes, sometimes without even touching them.  He slept for 40 out of 48 hours that Georgiev den weekend, while I took care of him and watched hockey playoffs.  I had to cancel all festivities, and I don't dare try to celebrate his name day again.  
  30. To make it even worse, he despises eating lutenitza, which is one of my favorite foods.  This probably makes me more Bulgarian than him just for this alone.
  31. He doesn't like homemade lutenitsa.
  32. He doesn't want me to make homemade lutenitsa.
  33. He refuses to let me roast peppers for the winter.
  34. He refuses to let me buy a pepper roaster for the balcony.  He thinks we're going to be villagers by having the roasted pepper smell come out from our apartment.   
  35. His signature sandwiches have cream cheese instead of butter, which is a staple of all Bulgarian sandwiches(I am so grateful for this one because George can make some incredible sandwiches.)
  36. At the Greek/Bulgarian border, he was reprimanded by the border guard in 2011, while I had absolutely no problems as the American.
  37. He does not have a driver's license.
  38. He really prefers to take public transportation instead of driving a car.  Whereas, most Bulgarians prefer to have the most expensive Audi, Mercedes, or BMW and have an umbilical cord attached between them and their cars.  I have some friends who would drive somewhere that is a 3-5 minute walk.  
  39. He does not like Sushi, which has become a popular craze throughout Bulgaria.  
  40. He despises taking walks in the mountains. 
  41. He has no practical hiking shoes, and he caught me last year trying to secretly buy him a pair of hiking shoes.  After 10 minutes, he realized I never actually needed these shoes, and it was all a planned ploy to secretly get him hiking.  He has steadfastly stated never to go hiking no matter what.  
  42. He hates skiing and snowboarding, and would never be caught on skis.  Sarah begged him to go skiing this year to take some beginning lessons with her, and George considered the proposal for five seconds before politely declining.  
  43. When asked by one of my colleagues on whether he'd be going skiing, George told her in no uncertain terms:  "No fucking way am I going there."  
  44. He does not like Bulgarian folk music.
  45. He despises traditional Bulgarian folk costumes.
  46. When I turn on any of the traditional folk music channels on cable TV, one hears a howl of pain coming from George.  This sound one might here from George is similar to werewolves getting hit by a silver bullet, or vampires seeing the sun.  The excruciatingly painful howls continue until the 'offensive song' being played is changed to something more suitable, like chalga or VH1.  Whereas Americans have been fascinated by this music for years, George had a scowl on his face but tolerated me playing this video from the Johnny Carson show.  
  47. He loves doing laundry.
  48. He loves to iron clothes.  Actually, I love this one because I hate ironing and one of my favorite things is when he irons my shirts.  
  49. He gives me explicit instructions on how to change and wash the sheets because I was doing it all wrong according to him.  What Bulgarian man does these type of things???
  50. He is a big fan of Swedish cinema and television.  Do you know any Bulgarians who are fans of independent Swedish films????  No way.   
  51. He does not smoke, nor ever wants to smoke.  
  52. He hates wearing martenitsas.  Last year, he managed to wear his martenitsa for a day, while Amelie wore her martenitsa with pride.  
    Amelie loves martenitsas more than George
  53. He does not celebrate any Bulgarian holidays willingly, but sort of accepts New Year's Eve now.
  54. He is enthusiastic about anything happening, even when I bring something small home like chocolate.  
  55. A Brazilian friend of Sarah's was convinced George was not from Bulgaria when she met him at Cabra in December 2013.  This woman has been in Bulgaria for years, and was convinced George was not Bulgarian.  
  56. He can actually clean an apartment well, which 99.9999999% of Bulgarian men don't clean.  He gets the special bleach cleaner to piss off the cat, who then spends all week trying to reclaim the apartment.
  57. He knows which laundry soaps to buy and loves DM, where the clerks mistook him for a foreigner once and spoke in English.  
  58. He is terrified of going to Cyprus for two weeks in June 2014, because he doesn't know if he can survive without the DM store, since there are none in Cyprus.  He may stock up on his hair products for June and stuff them into his suitcase.  You may ask what does this have to do with George not being Bulgarian.  My answer is:  What Bulgarian man would worry about this when going to Cyprus for two weeks as his main concern? 
  59. The Greeks at the semiotics conference in Thessaloniki last year asked him to speak slower in English because he speaks to quickly in English for them to understand what he was saying.  They assumed he was from the States, and were shocked to find out he was from Pleven, Bulgaria.  For this one, my mom and I are especially proud of this.  
  60. In Sozopol, he stared down and debated a Harvard University professor who was visiting the semiotics conference sponsored by New Bulgarian University.  
  61. In 2012 in Sozopol, some of the conference attendees were shocked that the only Bulgarian the guest professor from Canada would talk to is George, along with Elana.  George, naturally, reveled in the fact they were too terrified to speak to him.  
  62. When asked whether he wanted a cleaning lady, George has refused many times.  He sees this as an insult to his cleaning abilities, and really doesn't want a baba to come in and invade his space.  
  63. He is excited to order sheets online, and makes sure we have matching sheets. 
  64. When we hosted a Bulgarian themed night, he actually cooked two really great dishes, but neither were traditional Bulgarian dishes.  I was the one who pulled through by making the chicken kavarma, where as he made potato pancakes(latki) and bean balls.   
  65. His mother got him pink sheets this year for Christmas, and he found them beautiful.  Amelie sort of likes them, so I am forced to suffer and now have pink sheets in my apartment.  
    The pink sheets George and Amelie adore on the spare bed.  
Reasons 66-236:  He has been mistaken for a foreigner at least 171 times since we have been together by Bulgarian strangers.  It is always hysterical to see his reaction when people speak English to him at restaurants, stores, parties, and official functions.   George may say this is only one reason, but if I had 10 USD for every time someone thought he was a foreigner here, I would have at least $6000 USD by now.

Here is what I must do to prove George wrong for the next year:  

My future savings plan is to put $10 USD into my saving account every time someone thinks George is not Bulgarian.  On February 9, 2015, I will let all of you know how much money I have accumulated into the account.  My hope is that my tens of readers do not let in on the secret.  Here is what will count towards the 10 USD:

1.  10 USD for every time someone tells me George is not Bulgarian.
2.  10 USD for every time someone mistakes him for being a foreigner in Bulgarian.  They can be a foreigner or a Bulgarian.
3.  10 USD for every time a Bulgarian speaks English to George

Let the games begin, and may I have at least another $1,710 in savings by February 2015.