contents and discontents

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September 3, 2003

How to Meet People in Prague
First, go where the people are. Try a wine bar.
No TV, gambling machines, or even music in the air--
just smoke and occasional notes from an upright piano.
Order a liter of casked wine and ask for two glasses--
one for you and one for whoever comes along. Suave.
Sit there for several hours, sipping, reading, doodling.
Try not to look bored. Or expectant. Or lonely. Too hard?
Eventually, someone will come to your table in the corner
and ask if you don't mind moving across the room so they
and their friends can sit down. There's a smaller table
with no one at it. Oblige them, but leave the empty
glass behind. Learn when to quit a failing gambit.
Before long, someone will offer you cake. Ask him
if it is his birthday. No, he will say, I'm celebrating
my first exhibition. My friends and I just graduated
Introduce yourself, join their table. Tell them you too
are a photographer. Now you know a dozen artists.
Finish the wine, order your first beer of the night...