To like.

To love.

In Albanian, it's the same when asking for something.

For example,

"Un do te doja nje tavolina per dy."  

" I would like a table for two."


"Un do te dua nje tavolina per dy."

"I would love a table for two."

It means the same thing.

No biggie.

I will get to the jacket part,

but first something to chew on.

In Albania, men really like, or love, wearing sports coats in the fall.

And I love sports coats.

There's an air of sophistication about them. 

They're casual. 

They're friendly. 

And they show you care about how you look. 

So, without any office attire when I arrived in Tirana, I purchased a new sports coat

because I wanted to carry that casual, business-like atmosphere,

of someone with ambition.

Plus, since I felt more confident, I started going out more,

causing havoc and misunderstanding

with my almost tenuous grasp of the Albanian language.

One example that stands out is a few days into my new coat,

I went to a stationery store around the corner from my apartment.

I was feeling particularly classy,

you know in that black and white movie kind of way. 

I greeted the store clerk and asked for the items I wanted.  

In some stationary stores, the clerk brings you what you need while you wait at the counter. 

"A keni nje ngjyre e zeze?"

What I had said was,

"Do you have a black color?"

What she understood was, "Do you have a black woman?"

I had mispronounced ngjyre and it sounded like grua.

"Grua?" she asked.

I nodded my head.  "Po (yes)" 

Thinking that she had said "color".

She replied no.

I was surprised.  

My sports coat started to tighten up,

while a trickle of sweat ran down my neck. 

I smiled.

I asked again,

saying I could see the items in the back of the store.

"Un shikoj nje ngjyre e zeze per mua."

I said, "I look a black color for me." 

Again, I had mispronounced color and she understood woman.

And I completely forgot the word for pencil, which would have helped. 

So, in the end, I got my black pencils, but I had to explain it with some hand puppet moves.

Not exactly charming nor sophisticated.  

Neither William Holden nor Cary Grant would have been impressed.

I would continue in the next few weeks:

1) to tell the taxi driver to "continue darling" instead of "continue forward"

2) tell the taxi driver to turn cheese, instead of right

3) And my personal favorite: asking the clothing store assistant for her thigh, when all I wanted was a scarf

So, this sports coat had seen lots of language combat. 

And it was time for a good scrub down.

I chose a dry cleaner near the city park.  

And since I am determined to learn how to speak Albanian, I had my phone turned off. 

I walked in and waited while the women hung garments and diligently checked each item.

Like a proud papa, I set my jacket on the counter.

It was ready to be cleansed of all its linguistic sins,

like some sort of baptism, but with chemicals. 

Then, after a minute or so, one of the ladies approached the counter.

"Pershendetje. Si Jeni." 

"Hello. How are you?"

I thought I had the right words, but started mixing everything up.

"Une do te ti... pa xhaketa...te pastron"

I had stumbled. Lots of pauses.  

The clerk didn't respond.  She called over one of her coworkers.

And without my magical cloak, I felt my armor was gone.

What I said was,

"I will love you without a clean jacket."

And it went downhill from there.

I tried explaining it again. 

"Une dua...xhaketa ime...pastron ti me mua."

"I jacket...clean you with me."

I meant "for me", but I got the wrong word. 

Her coworker whispered something.

She typed on her phone,

Dëshironi të pastroni xhaketën tuaj?

She showed me the translation.

Would you like us to dryclean your jacket?

"Yes", I replied, nodding my head.  

She showed me her phone again.

Kthehu nesër. Do të jetë gati.

Come back tomorrow.  It will be ready.

"Faleminderit"  (Thank you)

I stepped outside.

The cool breeze coming from the Artificial Lake felt good

since the word sweats had kicked in with that brief exchange.

I reached into my pocket and took out a piece of paper.

I scratched off take jacket to drycleaner.

Well, what's next on my to-do list?


colonoscopy appointment at 5pm.

Well, what's not to like?

or love?

  I will love you without a clean jacket

August 11, 2023