Friday, June 5, 2009

Roman à Clef

There was once, many years ago, a man who lived in Craiova and worked as a technician in the local armory. His name was Dudu. Dudu loved the various Romanian specialties, like ciorbă, shkembe chorba or iskembe, and always made sure to salute the flag when necessary. Dudu, like all men, had a major problem. He needed to find a wife. This was many years ago, when there were no blogs, and Dudu couldn't figure out what to do. None of the local Romanian women would marry him, and he didn't have the money to travel abroad.

This sad situation continued for many years. One day the military attaché of one of the consulates in Craiova came over to Dudu and asked him to pass on some secrets. Dudu was shocked. First of all, he loved Romania-how could it enter this man's head that he would betray his beloved country? Besides, this seemed to be a very pathetic way of gaining information. Dudu's superiors at the armory had often warned that he might be approached for military secrets and whatnot, but Dudu had assumed that if this were to occur it would be done with the suave and sophistication expected of one trying to turn a patriot into a traitor. Dudu figured he'd be wined and dined and offered great sums of money, and that it would take a lot of time and effort. And yet here he was just being asked point blank!

At first Dudu thought this was a test from his own government, or something similiar, and he declined. The attaché persisted, and Dudu asked him for a sign or proof that he was sincere. The attaché agreed to provide him with one, provided that he'd set a price. Dudu immediately grew wary again; after all, it was possible that the whoever was testing him simply wanted to find out how much he'd sell himself for. Dudu therefore told the attaché that he would first like to see the proof, and then they might discuss terms.

The next night the attaché met Dudu in their habitual meeting place (an old bar in a seedy part of town) and declared that he'd gotten irrefutable proof of his honorable intentions. Saying this, he pulled a pudding out of his briefcase with aplomb and placed it on the table.

Within moments a waitress came over and told them that no outside food was permitted in the establishment. The attaché apologized profusely, and put it away again. He looked at Dudu, and noticing the bemused look on the would-be spies face, he said, "I've wanted to do that for a long time now, but I never had the opportunity."

Dudu still didn't get it (he was Romanian after all), but he didn't want to let on that he wasn't the smartest knife in the kitchen, so he laughed politely and asked for some actual proof. The attaché, seeing that his little joke hadn't gone over so well (he had forgotten that he was dealing with a Romanian), put on a serious face and declared that if Dudu would like to step outside for a moment he'd see something that would knock his boxers off. Dudu immediately protested, "But I don't wear boxers anymore, only boxer briefs!" The attaché finally began to understand just what kind of person he was dealing with, but there was nothing to be done (he needed those military secrets), so he merely gritted his pearly-white teeth and stepped outside, leaving the question of underwear still floating in the hair like an unfinished sermon on Easter morning.

As both men walked outside they beheld a most wonderous sight. There, in plain view of both of them, was the most magnificent carriage that either had ever seen, with eight perfectly matched steeds and twelve footmen and runners for accompaniment. Dudu was amazed (for who would not be?) but he didn't get how this showed the attachés sincerity. The attaché was amazed too, because he hadn't expected a most magnificent carriage to be in front of his attestation.

Dudu asked, "Is this another one of your jokes?", but before the attaché had a chance to respond a great big bloodhound flew at them and proceeded to slobber uncontrollably all over Dudu's pants. A man in black flew out of the magnificent carriage and collared the dog, begging forgiveness with every twist of the collar on the mastiff's neck.

The attaché was paralyzed with fight, but before he had a chance to do anything (like put on the fake moustache he always kept in his case) the man in black got a good, hard look at his face. "Ahh," he exclaimed, "my old nemesis, the military attaché from the foreign consulate."

The attaché couldn't deny this patently true charge, and he made no response. Turning to Dudu, the man in black said, "And what do we have here? A Romanian with business with a foreign government? How interesting. I'd like to take you in for questioning."
----
Dudu never even saw the wife that was waiting for him.

41 comments:

sarabonne said...

where did you get this story?

e said...

What a horrible ending!

The Real Shliach said...

Sara: Where did I get it? I wrote it.

e: That's life.

le7 said...

Gosh the military attache had a wife for dudu?

The Real Shliach said...

That would appear to be the case.

le7 said...

Thank G-d you're not Romanian!

The Real Shliach said...

Why, what's wrong with being Romanian?

le7 said...

You could be in the poor sap's place.

The Real Shliach said...

Not all Romanians are like that.

le7 said...

((I was trying to draw a completely irrelevant moral from the story.))

The Real Shliach said...

(((Ahh)))

e said...

LE7: how did you infer that?

le7 said...

I was making up a completely irrelevant moral. Read all the comments before you comment next time.

e said...

I thought TRS' being in the poor sap's place was the irrelevant moral.

le7 said...

Exactly, so if it was irrelevant how could I have inferred it from the story?

e said...

dammnit. The thing about trs' being the poor sap's place is irrelevant. But the thing about the military attache having a wife for dudu was ostensibly inferred from the story, no?

le7 said...

Correct.

le7 said...

Eliezer, I got a 32 in reading comprehension on my ACT and a 4 on the English Literature Advanced Placement exam... I'm good at reading.

e said...

I give up. This isn't that important. Whatever.

And please don't call me Eliezer.

le7 said...

Sorry e. Please explain your point.

e said...

you somehow understood from the story that the evil attache was going to give dudu a wife. I though he was just going to reward him some other way. I was wondering how you made said inference. That's that. I really gotta move on to bigger and better things. So whatever. Spit it out and that will be the end.

le7 said...

The military attache was rather confused by the big carriage. He had something else outside waiting for Dudu. Then the last line says "Dudu never even saw the wife that was waiting for him."

I just put the two together... but don't worry, I'm sure it was easy to miss if you were reading quickly.

le7 said...

The military attache was rather confused by the big carriage. He had something else outside waiting for Dudu. Then the last line says "Dudu never even saw the wife that was waiting for him."

I just put the two together... but don't worry, I'm sure it was easy to miss if you were reading quickly.

le7 said...

Or you could chalk it up to TRS and I instantly understanding eachvother because of our soon to be forged soul connection?

e said...

I like the latter better. I thought the last line meant that Dudu never met that wife who was waiting for him somewhere in the world. (y'know the whole bashert thing.) Now I can breathe easy and finally leave the computer.

le7 said...

Right. In a standard lit class though, the sort of question expecting you to infer such details is pretty standard.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

THis is what we call literary genius: THe man writes a story that starts nowhere and moves backwards from there, yet people can still darshan a comment thread worth of debates over it.

The Real Shliach said...

Sorry e, I think it was pretty obvious that the military attaché had a wife for Dudu hanging out behind the carriage.

e said...

Then I repeat my original comment. The ending is really horrible. Although now I see some O'Henryesque irony among the horror.

The Real Shliach said...

Horrible is as horrible does.

sarabonne said...

You wrote it? Nice.

The Real Shliach said...

Who do you think wrote it? Have I ever posted something that I didn't write?

sarabonne said...

I don't know your blogging history. I thought you wrote it but asked to confirm.

Sebastion said...

just out of curiousity, did you run out of time at the end? just wondering :) what did romanians ever do to you?

The Real Shliach said...

Sara: hmm.

Sebastion: I got bored in the end.

Not much.

Cheerio said...

i dont think anyone that stupid deserves a wife!

The Real Shliach said...

Stupid? In what way was he stupid? Slow, perhaps, but then again, who among us is not sometimes guilty of that?

Sebastion said...

I would feel bad for any unfortunate woman who would marry a guy like that. I mean that guy isn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill stupid.

The Real Shliach said...

You know, he was a military engineer or something, he can't have been that stupid. Maybe a little head in the clouds and impractical, but stupid?

And anyway, even if he was, there's an old saying, "there's a lid for every pot."

Sebastion said...

good point, I have in fact met several lids that might fit a pot like that at my university (what a weird analogy)

The Real Shliach said...

Why is it weird? It makes perfect sense!