The whiskey kept coming, and I continued knocking it back. Arva didn't seem to mind; I guess she was glad to see me. The month she spent on her own in Klaipeda (most of it in Internet cafes) had no doubt opened her eyes to the multifarious vicissitudes of modern society, so vastly different to her hunting-and-gathering medieval existence. The reception probably shocked her. As she liked to say, she was a war-time diplomat, and so you can imagine that waking up in this era of pacifism had to be emotionally trying for her. The woman wanted war, but couldn't get any. I hate it when that happens.
If I could, I'd take her to Washington and introduce her to Donald and Dick; the three would have lots to talk about.
"So have you come up with a plan?" I asked.
"For the invasion of Poland!"
The princess fell silent; a mix of frustration and humiliation crossed her face, and she looked away. The whiskey was eating a hole in my brain, so I had to bite back all the sarcasm welling up in my throat. As ridiculous as the idea of marching into Poland was, you couldn't tell by the expression of Arva's face. She wanted to restore the ancient borders in northeastern Europe, come plague or Armageddon.
"Finding allies is more difficult than I thought."
"Why's that?" I said. "There's lots of Balts who can't stand Poland."
"Yeah, and have you taken a good look at the leaders in these three countries? They're such #@^*%@!"
"I won't argue with you there. That's politics for ya'!"
Arva scoffed. "We medieval Balts didn't have politics."
"Oh, I forgot. You just had orgies."
"Very funny, American crusader. We practiced's"
"Will you please be quiet? I'm trying to say something important here! Put down that whiskey why don't you?"
"Did you know that whiskey comes from Irish 's it means 'water of life?'" And the word 'life' in English is akin to Old English 'hlaf' 's meaning woman. You see, in mythological tradition, the woman 's well, the vagina really's is considered to be the center of the universe."
Arva looked at me as if I were barking at the moon.
"It's true. Languages are full of examples. 'Vita' in Latin means life; compare that to 'vidus' in Lithuanian (center), which in turn is related to's"
"If you don't stop I'm going to sing about the old lady who swallowed the fly again!"
That shut my trap instantly.
"Anyway, I was talking about politics, or what you pitiful contemporary folk call politics. You see, in my time, we didn't have political parties."
"No, not at all. We didn't have any of this right and left and right-of-center and center-left and far rightists and extreme centrists and upside down leftists."
I laughed. "Then what did you have?"
"We had a vertical scale. We had highers, lowers, hoverers, floaters, uppers and downers."
"We've got uppers and downers, too," I said. "Remind me to let you try some before your next mood swing."
"Whatever, professor. Listen, we didn't have these immoral parties like the Labor Party, the People's Party, New Democrats, New Boneheads. Just naming them makes me feel sick to my stomach. They're all whores of Babylon."
"Wow, that's pretty intense, princess. But it sounds like you're up to date on the local action. What do you think of this NGO scandal in Lithuania and Latvia?"
"I sympathize with the NGOs. NGOs are good. We had lots of them in the 15th century!"
This nearly knocked me over. "Really? NGOs in the hardwood forests of Baltdom?"
"Sure, we had the Snake-Worshippers Club, The League of Oak Defenders, Council of Stork-Gazers, the Frog-and-Toad Wanderers, the Society for the Extreme Punishment of Teutonic Knights, the Open Torture Association. Oh, Perkunos! I can't even begin to remember all of them!"
"But what do you think of the scandal?"
"It makes me furious. I can't believe Lithuanians buy into that garbage that Tomkus churns out. And that Emsis in Latvia is a lickspittle [my translation of her Sudovian slang]. I literally spat up bile the first time I saw a picture of his boss, that creep Lembergs."
A spray of whiskey exited my nostrils.
"The Curonians had a wonderful expression to describe it."
"I'm afraid to ask."
"Yeah, they called it a shit-eating grin."