After learning that the Prus were extinct, Arva needed some catharsis, big-time, so I decided to head for the biggest city nearby 's Klaipeda. Misery loves company, I figured, which meant that the princess would need an entire carnival. To set the mood, as soon as we got to the car I popped some tunes in the cassette desk. The sweet strings of the Eagles' "Hotel California" came over the speakers. Yes, indeed, I thought, music hath charm to soothe the savage breast.
Apparently not an ancient Baltic breast.
"What is this crap!?!" shouted Arva.
Her reaction surprised me. "This is the Eagles! 's "Hotel California" 's one of the greatest songs of the 1970's!"
"If that the best the '70's has to offer, I'm glad I slept through it."
"Yeah, and the five centuries before that, too!" I shot back.
"What does it mean, 'warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air'?" Arva asked.
I stammered. "Well, uh, basically, likeâ€¦ simply put, the guy's smoking grass."
"Oh, I see," said the princess, a flush of understanding coloring her face. "I can dig that."
We listened to the lyrics, and I translated as best I could (try saying "stab it with their steely knives" and "check out but never leave" in Yatvingian).
"I don't get it," said Arva.
"It's a metaphor for our morally decadent age. The hotel's a contemporary Sodom and Gomorrah, waiting to devour itself through self-gratification," I explained feebly.
"I knew it! It's Christian propaganda. The Bible all over again," charged Arva. "As much as you try to hide it, professor, the crusader in you keeps rising to the surface."
"I'm not a crusader!"
"Yes, you are 's a regular crusader," she said. "I bet most of you Americans are crusaders. What's the leadership of your country like?"
I cringed. I knew if I told Arva about what the Bush-Cheney cabal, I'd throw fuel to the fire. I'd never hear the end of it. "Ugh, let's not talk about it right now."
"What 's you Americans invading countries? If so, I hope your compatriots are driving something better than Volkswagen Golfs."
"Ha-ha," I said, burned again by this six-hundred-year-old smart-mouth.
"What other music do you have, American crusader?"
Feeling hot under the collar, I grabbed a cassette at random. I slammed it into the player and 's son-of-a-howitzer! 's Bony-M.
Arva went bananas. "Lover of the Russian queen?!? What is this, professor? Please explain yourself!"
Honestly, I don't know how it got there. I hadn't realized I packed disco. I mean, I love the '70's, but I wasn't a disco fan. I've always felt a degree of sympathy with those Bee Gee-bombers of Chicago's Comiskey Park. Apparently my subconscious was doing strange things.
"Never mind," I said. I punched the eject button and sifted through my tapes, this time paying closer attention to what I would choose. I was determined to woo this medieval woman with modern music. "Ah-ha!" I cried at last.
It was Rolling Stones' "Some Girls" 's a genuine '70's classic 's and I found the title track. Then Arva, who must more attune to the lyrics, asked me to translate.
"'Some girls take my money, some girls take my clothes, some girls get the shirt off my back, and leave me with a lethal doseâ€¦'"
I snickered. Yes, good ole' Mick must've been having a heck-of-a-time with the women in his life when he penned this one.
"'French girls they want Cartier, Italian girls want cars. American girls want everything in the world you can possibly imagineâ€¦'"
"Now I know a thing or two about American women," said Arva.
"Yeah, from the mouth of an Englishman," I retorted.
"Well," said Princess Arva, "as we Balts say, 'It takes one crusader to know another.'"
I yanked out that cassette and, convinced my methodology would never work with my stubborn companion, went back to selecting at random. This time, it was another '70's classic, this time by the Guess Who. You got it 's "American Woman."
Stay away from me.
Arva shook her head in fascination at my sulky translation. "It appears you just can't hide the truth, American professor."
Utterly flustered now, I reached deep in my tape collection and found something a tad more modern. Something with punch. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I quickly located the song, and cranked up the volume. Immediately Arva got an earful of "Suck My Kiss."
She sat back in her seat. "Now that's more like it," she said.