My Prima Donna Swamp Princess: 27. FOOTWEAR

  • 2006-05-24
For a second I thought I'd break down in a laughing fit, right there beneath the Gate of Dawn. "You read 'The Da Vinci Code'?" "Sure!" cried the princess. "Back in Klaipeda." "Well, what did you think?" "It proved everything I've being saying about the Catholic church 's both here and now and back in my time." "But Arva 's it's fiction!" "Fiction based on fact."

I didn't read the Da Vinci book myself; my academic requirements left no time for literature, be it classic or contemporary. And I wasn't about to take the plunge; I had heard Dan Brown was an atrocious writer. "Sounds like science based on a hunch," I said.
"Don't mock me, American crusader. The book also states that Jesus had a child, which we Balts suspected all along."
"No kidding!" How rich, I thought, more amused by the Balts' trenchant insight rather than the fact of Christ's offspring.
"Of course! Do you honesty think a young Jewish man prowling around Palestine all those years never had an inkling or two? Never had a female admirer whose loving stare sparked a licentious thought?"

She had a point. From what little I knew of the gospels, Jesus comes off as a kind of asexual hippy, which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one. But the essence of what Arva was saying, and I presume the book pointed out, was provocative: would Christ be any less holy, his message any less divine, if it turned out that he had a lover and/or child?
"So that's what that book's about," I said.
"Arva, let's go get something to eat, some of that beef brain fried in cowberry jam that you were mentioning back in Kavalrija." I put my hand on her shoulder. "I think I'd like to try some."
The princess looked at me with an expression of impatience. "It's fresh lamb spleen fried in lard," she said, " Get it straight."
So much for that; the woman was inconsolable.

"This is where my mission starts," she announced. She took off her shoes, which were a pair of black pumps that she had purchased in Klaipeda.
"What are you doing?"
"I don't want to stain my shoes."
"Arva, don't do this! Please!"
But the princess wasn't listening. After shoving her shoes in my arms, she headed straight for the chapel doors. She was going to raise a little hell in the Gate of Dawn 's barefoot!
I looked helplessly at Arva's retreating form, then at the shoes, and felt myself sink into another febrile linguistic bout.
"Arva! Wait!"

She turned, just five feet away from the entrance.
"Did you know that the English word 'shoe' comes from the ancient Indo-European word for vagina?"
She stopped and considered this.
"It's true," I said. "'Shoe' comes from German 'Schuh' or Gothic 'skohs,' which derives from the unattested root 'skeu-' which means 'to cover' something. Now that, in turn, is related to 'kuksis,' an unattested word for, well, the pudenda." I started blushing a bit, considering what I had to say next. "In Lithuanian, after all, 'kusys' means pudenda."
The princess walked toward me. "So shoe is etymologically linked to the female sexual organ 's is that what you're trying to tell me?"
"Well, I've know you now for 's what? 's over a month, and one thing I've come to understand: for you, everything is linked to the female genitalia."
I offered a quick smile. "Well, it's true. Isn't it?"