Driving around Silesia with Malina and in keeping with my default setting in Poland, I was lost. It’s only when you’re overcome with self-loathing because you can’t follow simple directions, that your three-year old daughter decides she absolutely, positively has to do a pee-pee and a poo. The pee-pee bit is okay, as I can hold her ass out the window. God knows I’ve done it many times, to the point where I don’t even need to stop the car. Might even chance tuning in the radio if the wind is blowing in the right direction.
But the poo-poo bit is a problem. I don’t like stopping on the side of the road waiting for one of her triumphant brown bastards to emerge. ‘Waiting’ is the key word, as Malina, doesn’t like going au naturel. Whatever her problem is – the bitter Polish wind snapping at her bum-cheeks or me shouting, “push, for mercy’s sake, push!” – she won’t let go in the open. She needs the reassuring feel of a plastic toilet seat before she’ll drop a load. So I made a stop at this village, bleak as bejesus, with about twenty houses laid out before me. I’ll ask at someone’s house, I thought. No-one is going to refuse a child who needs the toilet are they?
I got out and walked around the twenty houses and I swear to you, each and every one had a beware of the dog sign- Uwaga; Pies. Some don’t have it written, instead they have a picture of Doberman with a string of lower intestines falling from its mouth.
I suppose it would be easy to dismiss the Poles as paranoid, but as a policeman once told my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE, “I never investigated a burglary where the house had a guard dog.” I go back to Malina in the car and already she’s got her pants around her ankles, in typical pre-detonation pose –
‘Dad-eeee! I need to do a poooooo!’
‘C’mon Mal…let’s go behind a tree… Whaddaya say?’
I’ve been down this road before – wrestling Malina out of the car when she’s primed to go Krakatoa – it’s not worth the hassle. I pick a house and open the gate. Straight away I hear a bark – ah shit…
The noise gets louder, coming around the side of the house… But I was in luck. It wasn’t a proper dog, but a little midget of a thing. A Corgi I think, or whatever breed the Queen uses to warm her hands. And such an annoying bark, it sounded like ‘fuck-fuck’. This is what I’m hearing every time it opened its tiny gob – ‘fuck-fuck’. I turn to Malina and say,
‘It’s okay darling, it’s only a small fella-‘ But doesn’t the the little prick start in on my ankles, biting and pinching me like this four-legged Richard Nixon. My instant reaction was to get down and grab its neck, trying to pull it away. He’s wriggling and I’m wriggling, and by the time I got on my knees to grab its collar, I’m realising how weird this must look to anyone passing by: like I’m trying to rape the dog. Or strangle it. Neither is good. Christ, here I am lost in southern Poland, sweating like a degenerate and half-way to molesting a different species. They don’t tell you that when you first arrive – Welcome to Poland! Land of coal, beautiful women and raping little dogs! Enjoy your stay!
And of course, the owner of the house comes out. A woman in her late sixties was my guess. The look on her face said it all; the Soviets are back, only this time they’re so sexually depraved they’re not even waiting for women. She verbalises all of this in one question:
‘Sort oh robish?’ I’ve written it phone-et-ically for the delicate sensibilities of the non-Polish readers. Roughly translated it means, ‘what in the name of Christ are you up to Mr Potato?’
The extent of my Polish meant that all I could say was,
‘Eh…shoo-shoo…kupa…?’ – this being Polish for ‘pee-pee and ‘poo’.
The woman starts screaming and runs inside for her husband. He comes out, waving something that’s either a crutch or an aluminium, single-barrelled shotgun. I let go of the dog and start backing away, but Mr fuck-fuck Corgi resumes attacking my ankles. I grab Malina out of the car and hold her up to the people. I’m hoping her inherent cuteness will persuade the frightened pensioners to shoot their dog instead of me.
‘Shoo-shoo! Kupa!’ I repeat, all the while shaking Malina as the dog is singing its fuck-fuck song underneath her. The combination of all this has an effect; Malina erupts, bends a beauty right on top of the Corgi. The elderly couple start walking into their house backwards, blessing themselves.
I put Mal in the back seat and drive off thinking, I need to get a sign for my car, something along the lines of Beware of the Irish.