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It’s September 1997. I am in a mini van with 4 Slovaks, 1 Czech and an Irishman on a long straight highway somewhere between Death Valley and Yosemite. To kill the time, I suggest tuning into the local rock station, but am outvoted by 5 Slavics who all wanna listen to a tape one of them has duck up from their backpack.

Reluctantly I resign. One minute later the five of them are screaming at the top of their lungs with a guy on the tape who appears to have had his balls cut off. They seem to be having a really good time and I wish I could join in. But after 5 songs of not a single familiar word, I give up and try to develop a serious interest in the monotonous dessert view outside the car window.

The next few days the tape doesn’t fail to find its way to the player and every time with exactly the same result. Although I still can’t understand a word they sing, I do start to like the tunes.

And then, on the 4th or 5th day I clearly distinguish a word that, although it doesn’t make much sense to me, also exists in my non-Slavic world. I wait for the chorus to repeat and just before ‘le moment supreme’ I squeeze my balls a little and scream as high as my pitch reaches: „Alaska, Alaska!“

Since then my Slovak has improved a little and I now know that I ‘laska’ Elan.

Ed

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