~ a rather risqué question~

July 27th, 2008


“Can I ask you a terribly rude question?” the woman with the kind smile, beaming eyes and slight limp said. She had pretended to be looking for the “ladies,” to broach this I later realized, and so I had a moment to decide I liked her, so I said yes.

“The man you are with—are you related?” Upon hearing no, she said, “You should marry. It is very rare to see two people enjoy each others company as you seem to.”


I could tell it had taken some nerve on her part to speak her mind, and I was deeply moved. I shared my news, that we were in fact recently engaged. She was delighted, I was delighted, and both of us as much by the simple heart-speak between two strangers as anything else.


So much uncertainty and reserves of faith accompany this choice we’ve made, and some days it seems madness to one or the other or both of us. Marriage in itself is a bit mad in my mind. And the manner in which the planning of one of two receptions has taken over my life, well, that is absolute madness. Who could do this for a year?!


The opinion of a stranger who has no investment in our future or past for that matter, no expectations, just someone who mustered her sweet courage to follow me into that gorgeous atrium, it was lovely. We stood in the glass and steel Palmenhaus (built in 1822) and smiled at one another over the pastry cart piled high with tortes of quark and apricot.

Later she and her husband passed by our table and he offered his congratulations to us both. “I hear my wife asked you a rather risqué question!” said he.


We had a visit to the globe museum—the only museum of its kind, tracing the history of terrestrial and celestial globes: pocket globes, bellows-inflated paper globes, even one that expanded like an umbrella. There were planetariums, some of which showed the relation of the earth, sun, and moon, the sun represented by a candle. Object lust ran rampant. My favorite part though was the Baroque mural that included this lil’ Ferdinand toe licker:


The museum is part of the National Library, an incredible, over the top church of books. The most famous room is so stuffed with full-scale marble portraits, wood carving, marble and swirling gilt everything, you could imagine the design discussions back in 1720: “I don’t know Wolfgang, something is just missing…Do we have anymore of that gold paint?”


This is true of much of Vienna in my mind, however, sometimes Vienna is also quite direct and anti-Rococo…


We went to Schönbrunn Palace in search of a topiary maze begun in 1698 that once amused the Imperial Family. What remains is, hmm, not at all scary or confusing. But there is a very fine garden and statuary–the opening image of this entry is from Neptune’s Fountain, where the “seahorses” are galloping stallions with fish tails.


In the evening we headed to the high hills above Vienna to Döbling, to a heuriger–old-school vineyard that serves food–called Zawodsky. It was magical, just gorgeous. Tasty white wine served in jam jars at long wooden tables under ancient oak trees. A view of the city that cannot be compared.


It was humming with energy until we closed it down, nearly midnight on a Sunday night. The staff joined the dinner, which included the more hearty Viennese classics—wusrt, sauerkraut, spanakopeta. Afterward, we tucked into an apple strudel we had seen a sweet grandma carefully assembling earlier in the evening. It was still warm. Heaven.

i dont make a habit of photographing strangers, but she posed, and i did. thats a tiny gun she has to go with the bonnie parker expression…click on image to expand

There were kids running everywhere, giddy with the energy of the adults playing. Here one could easily quote a drinking-song sung by Hans Moser (pre-war character actor), Ich tu den Wein nicht trinken,/sondern beissen…. I don’t just drink the wine, but let it also bite me…
Plus an incredible view of the city, which after a few of those jam jars looked something like this (kindly notice Prater and Danube):



Very wonderful life-affirming faith-in-humanity kinda day.

2 Responses to “~ a rather risqué question~”

  1. Habib says:

    I love that library. And followed by “Wurst”, brilliant. I’m so glad rude little old ladies are seeing you so happy.
    XO D

  2. Noria says:

    Lovely blessing to receive from a stranger.


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