In the two months between TEFL and finally getting hired as a teacher, I spent a lot of time fucking off and indulging in the vices I weakened to the most. One of those vices was sunbathing, when the sun made its rare appearance. This was before I’d become acquainted with Prague and its plethora of parks, and the only place I knew to go was Kampa Island, as it was near my place in Mala Strana. Boasting a dazzling view of the Charles Bridge, the National Theatre, and the Prague Castle, It’s quite a lovely spot, but not at all private, and you’re likely to run into all sorts of creatures- human and otherwise. This is something I find unique about Prague- always the intermingling of individuals from all walks of life. The same as you see tranny-looking Ukrainian girls in night clubs donning false eyelashes and hair extensions partying alongside Aussies dressed as beach bums whatever the season and Americans wearing yoga pants and ball caps; in the parks you would find me, for instance, sunbathing between a bush full of derelicts shooting heroin, or perhaps an overweight man shadebathing nude, and a couple of fourteen year-olds on the verge of having their first experience with public sex. All kinds of people being all sorts of boldly awkward and borderline offensive. And there are simply no fucks to be given, as long as you’re not endangering another human being, or a dog. I’ve never looked into the origins of the term “Bohemian,” but I would guess that it refers to the mentality of Bohemian Lands- be as big a freakshow as you like, just don’t bother people. In return, no one will bother you. It’s an amazingly liberating way to live, and to this day I find it quite unique to the Czech Republic and its culture.
After a few days, I began to notice a tall, round old woman and her small Yorkshire Terrier who favored afternoon dips in the Vltava together. I have never been a dog-liker, but this old lady and her dog became a familiar part of the scenery, and in some sick way I suppose I grew fond of them.
One day, I was spread across my sheet, looking very foreign in my black monokini while taking in the elusive Bohemian sun. I watched the old lady, who we’ll call Martina, meander around with her Yorkie in the Vltava. Unless the island were burning, I can’t understand why anyone would ever put themselves into contact with water from that river. The water is a textured black.
But I wasn’t prepared for the next thing I saw. Martina stood stooped over the dog, scooping handfuls of water over its head, and running her hand down the back of the cur. Grabbing another handful and spilling it over the dog’s ass, she began stroking her thumb around the perimeter of its rectum. Martina Somethingova**, age 78, was stooped over and rimming her little Yorkshire Terrier right there on the bank of the Vltava, knee-deep. If there was ever any doubt in my mind that Czechs have more than love for their pooches, it was banished from my mind right then. Over the next few years, I would see time after time that dogs have as many societal rights in the Czech Republic as humans, and sometimes more.
**All females in the Czech Republic have grammatically “cased” surnames. The ova ending literally means “belonging to,” thus the name Brnakova means “belonging to Brnak.” Perhaps this tells you something about the classification of women in the Czech Republic.