The other night I'm at this "Mexican"
restaurant called Cactus.
It's actually a chain out of Moscow and this
one started out managed by a guy from Bulgaria
and the cook is Armenian, so you make the judgment
on the authenticity. But the tequila is honest,
so I've become a regular.
I meet a friend there every Friday after the
website deadline and we raise a toast and exchange
stories about life in obscurity.
It's known as an "ex-pat" place (expatriates.)
And it's the only time I see other "ex-pats".
I like being called that, though I've never even
looked up its meaning. But it has an exotic sound,
don't you think?
I fancy the thought of old friends from the States
having this conversation:
"Hey, what every happened to that guy, Hughes?"
"Oh, he's part of the ex-pat community
Makes it sound like I'm doing something subversive,
when in truth most "ex-ats" are here
because they're earning top foreign government
dollars that stretch like elastic in this bottomed-out
The bartenders at Cactus plays Puerto Rican cds,
thinking that its Mexican music. I don't have
the heart to tell them. I mean if your ears have
been educated on rabis or duduk music, the difference
between Eddie Palmero and Los Lobos is useless
But at around 8, they have live music from a
combo that includes a synth, a guitar and girl
Until the other night, it has probably been 20
years since I even thought about that Shocking
Blue song from the '70s, "I'm Your Venus".
I'm not counting the Bananarama remake in the
Here, in Yerevan, Armenia, in a "Mexican"
restaurant opened by a Bulgarian and visited by
"ex-pats", suddenly I'm hearing it.
Except, like most lounge acts here that sing in
English, this girl's language is merely phonetics
and she, like many here who call BMWs, BMVs, was
singing "I'm your Wenus".
I kept hoping she'd do (the Eagles') "Witchy
Woman" just to hear if it would come out
"ohh, ohh, Vitchy Voman . . ."
Anyway. Phonetics. I'm thinking there may be
an out here for those of us who find language
a double-edge sword (svord) that too often cuts
on only one side.
I mean, how many times have you spoken the right
words, but didn't really know what you were saying?
Like "I do" for example.
Maybe that's how politicians, lawyers and television
evangelists build careers: Saying things that
sound right, even if they don't know what it means.
I expect we'll be hearing a lot of such talk
in the next few weeks here, as official campaigning
began this week for the February 19 Presidential
There'll be a lot of bragging about how far Armenia
has progressed in the past five years. And a lot
of accusations about how little has been accomplished.
Bought men and their heavies will sing lies that
pass for promises while other bought men and their
heavies counter with their own songs that might
sound close to the real thing, but lack validity.
And Armenia will wake up on February 20 still
hearing "I'm Your Wenus".