Vesko Koev

*lives and writes in Sofia, Bulgaria, EU*

Wise Men Are Always Wrong


In 1990 I opened a collection of quotes called ‘The Wisdom of the Ages’, and in the ‘Women’ section I found the following phrase:

‘Woman is dangerous, not when she attacks, but when she falls.’

V. O. Kluchevsky

My very first thought was that this book could be read by a teenager who could believe what was written and get hurt.

‘Woman is dangerous, not when she attacks...’ What does this phrase mean? Maybe Kluchevsky had the amazing ability to tame wild tigresses and, led by this rare ability, decided to come up with a general principle. Woman, he claims, isn’t dangerous when she attacks. This means that we men can provoke her, irritate her and generally annoy her. She isn’t going to attack us because she respects us too much.

Such an example is obviously hypothetical and potentially very dangerous if believed by men.

If the first part of the above quote causes serious concern then the second part leads to pure outrage. ‘Woman is dangerous when she falls’ says Kluchevsky.

Imagine a gentle, tender and defenceless creature falling in the street. Is there a man in the world who wouldn’t rush to help her up in such a situation, and to help her to the nearest bench where she could sort herself out? But which man wouldn’t hesitate if they had read Kluchevsky’s warning? Which man wouldn’t wait to see how she fell first and then how she got up? Only when he was sure that the danger had passed would he then come to her aid with the words, ’Did you hurt yourself?’ I’m not sure that such help would be very useful.

Therefore I suggest that Kluchevsky’s thought should be revised and publicised in the following way:

‘Woman is dangerous when she attacks, not when she falls.’

In 1991 my book ‘Golden Sofia’ was published by Viva. The above lines are taken from that book. I hope, in this way, I’ve protected lots of young men from mistakes in their relationships with women. I continued flicking through the pages of ‘The Wisdom of the Ages’ in the following years just to find more and more new absurdities. The tension in me increased from the understanding that lots of people had been misled by these so-called ‘wise words’, and I felt responsible for thousands of lives. I started producing counter-arguments and the tension became completely unbearable when I discovered that there wasn’t a single true statement in the whole collection. That was when I decided to produce a series of short stories in order to expose all the nonsense written by the ‘Great minds’ of mankind. I called the series ‘Wise men are always wrong’, and I duly got on with my challenging, yet creative, work. I’ve written 35 short stories so far, most of which have been broadcast on Bulgarian National Radio. I’d like to thank all the humourists, actors, directors, editors and secretaries in the Department of Humour, Satire and Entertainment at BNR, who showed such exceptional lack of wisdom in their enthusiasm to support me. I retain extremely fond memories of my visits to that temple of humour. Every time I went to the 4th floor of BNR I heard ‘What pure texts he produces!’, ‘He’s such a talent!’, and ‘At last, we have a young, talented humourist!’ What a touching lack of wisdom it was to see colleagues praise their colleague, creators praise another creator, and Bulgarians praise a fellow Bulgarian.

To all those friends at BNR; I bow before you. I respect, value and love you all.


The Author





Vesko Koev


Wise Men Are Always Wrong

ISBN: 978-954-2939-34-4

Price: 5 BGN (2.50 EUR)


Biblio, 2013


Dostoevsky

Bobby: Not long ago, mate, I had quite an unforgettable experience.

Richie: Did you seduce some untouchable supermodel?

Bobby: No, seducing untouchable supermodels was my unforgettable experience in 1992.

Richie: Did you win a fortune at poker?

Bobby: Winning a fortune at poker was my 1994 unforgettable experience.

Richie: So, what was it then? Did you get divorced or something?

Bobby: No, that's my next year's unforgettable experience.

Richie: What then?

Bobby: Well, I was walking through the woods...

Richie: Yes, sounds very unforgettable...

Bobby: I can see you have a taste for such things but wait 'till you hear what happened after that. I reached this clearing and it was then that I saw something breathtaking. A really gorgeous girl, as sweet and innocent as a deer, was walking among all the flowers, and caressing them with her hands.

Richie: Just caressing them, not picking them?

Bobby: Yes. That sight, mate, amazed me! I was just standing there, gobsmacked, in the shadow of the oaks and I couldn't walk up to her. Such a perfect display of virgin beauty was making me feel quite lightheaded. Then I said to myself: ‘I am saved. My senses, my heart and my soul have been purified. I am a new man. Beauty has saved me’. ‘Beauty will save the world!’

Richie: You know, that's a great thought!

Bobby: That's exactly the feeling I had when I crept away. I was tip-toeing, so that I didn’t scare away that graceful creature. I had the feeling I’d discovered a new cure for humanity. On my way back to Sofia I kept repeating to myself,’ Beauty will save the world’. When I got home I sat down and wrote an essay overflowing with feelings and insight. The very next day I handed it in to an editorial office.

Richie: Did you get it published?

Bobby: Yes, but before I got any reviews I started to change my mind about the whole idea.

Richie: Why is that?

Bobby: A friend of mine, who used to collect rare pieces of art in his flat, complained to me that he got attacked, beaten and robbed. But then, even worse, was what happened to another friend of mine. His wife, a very beautiful woman, was raped and scarred in the city centre, while her husband got stabbed trying to protect her. The two of them barely escaped alive.

Richie: Really? What terrible things are happening in the world today!

Bobby: I noticed a whole series of awful events after that, and they all seemed to be caused by beauty. Then I remembered that the Trojan War broke out all because of a beautiful woman and I said to myself, “The truth is that beauty will destroy the world”.

Richie: You're onto something there. The atomic bomb had a beautiful shape.

Bobby: True, true.

Richie: What kind of feedback did you get on the essay, where you explain that beauty will save the world?

Bobby: I was declared a plagiarist. That thought belonged to Dostoevsky!

Richie: Did it? Was it really Dostoevsky's?

Bobby: How should I know? A long time ago I had the daft idea of reading the classics. I don't remember what I've read though.

Richie: Well, if you don't remember, then you’re innocent.

Bobby: Of course I'm innocent but not because I don't remember. Dostoevsky never said anything worth remembering. We just proved how wrong he was. There was nothing to plagiarise in the first place.

Richie: I guess we can safely add Dostoevsky to the group of famous authors that you‘ve proved were talking nonsense.

Bobby: I will soon prove that everything ever said on Earth is nonsense.

Translation: Bullock International Ltd.

www.bullockbg.com




Vesko Georgiev Koev


CLASSICS OF THE GENRE


Copyright © 2015 by Vesko Georgiev Koev

© Ivan Domouztschieff, cover design, 2015

© Ivaylo Ninov, cartoons, 2013

ISBN: 9789542939542


Translators - Christian Kirov and Milena Bullock

Editor - Simon Bullock


Biblio, 2015



SHORT STORIES


ONE IN THE OVEN


In a baking tray big enough to take a whole lamb, there were some cut tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. In the middle of all this, a naked baby was lying on its back, cuddling its legs with its bare arms close to its body. Folded like this, and probably with some salt on, the creature was put in the oven. Its eyes were red, which means that the child had blinked at the moment the picture was taken and the flash went off. The text below the picture said: ‘Please do not worry, it was not eaten!’

What bothered me? The text might be correct but it was not exhaustive. The only way to calm down the readers who come across that picture in the ‘Day & Night’ magazine is to read a text like this: ‘Not roasted!’, because ‘Not eaten’ does not mean the child was not roasted.

I called the editorial desk immediately and asked to be put through to the photographer. I was asked to wait, because he was receiving his freelance fee at that moment. I waited for quite a while. I tried guessing what the fee could be for such a picture. Quite a large one, I’d imagine. And a long one as it seemed. Finally I heard a voice: ‘Can I help you?’ I told him that I was interested in his find and he immediately agreed to meet me.

The photographer turned out to be a normal person. He mainly shot children: at birthday parties, school celebrations etc. As an exception, he shot the one in the oven. The parents’ idea took him by surprise, but a professional like him never says ‘No’.

The preparation for the photo took a while. The mother washed her baby in the sink, and the father cut the products for the tray. Then they put the baby on the tray and arranged the veggies around it with lots of care and imagination. Then they put the tray in the oven and the photographer took a few pictures. The family invited him to join them for lunch. He took a bite or two at their modest table and left, as he had to be somewhere else for another appointment.

I asked the photographer what happened to the child. He shrugged his shoulders and said: ‘It fell asleep in the oven.’ I got a chill at the thought, and asked another question: ‘Wait a second... Didn’t the parents take it out of the oven after the session??’ ‘No,’ he replied. ‘They melted at the sight of it sleeping there and decided not to wake it up.’

I shuddered. My suspicion that the child was roasted was confirmed. I pointed at the photo and told the photographer: ‘Look at the knobs! The oven is switched on! It’s working!’

The guy looked at the picture closely. His face turned pale, fine drops of sweat appeared on his forehead, and he whispered: ‘I can’t believe this!’

We sat there carefully studying the picture. The photographer took out his phone and dialled the parents with a shaking hand. In a few seconds there was a voice from the other end. He explained who he was and asked nervously: ‘How is little Lora?’ He waited to hear the reply and continued: ‘You know, I was looking at the photo and just noticed that the oven was on...’ Then his face brightened up into a smile and then he started laughing, loudly and uncontrollably. I got scared that he was going to have a heart attack with all that laughter. I had no idea what he was being told, but I was sure that the child was alive. There was no way its roasting would produce such laughter. Something must have happened. Maybe the little sweetheart had somehow managed to creep out of the oven before they turned it into...

‘You know what?’ said the photographer, stretching himself in his armchair to relax his stiffened body, ‘The parents are unemployed, and they don’t have money to pay their heating bills, so they keep their daughter warm in the oven. This is her cot, so to speak. They take her out to feed her and then put her back in the oven. Crisis...’

That was how the idea about this picture was born – to photograph little Lora in the oven, lying on a tray among vegetables. That made me think. That was a weird type of aesthetics – unexpected but understandable. If someone accused the parents of using their child to create kitsch, I’d defend them. The child in the oven is not kitsch. This is life nowadays – one in the oven.

As far as the photographer is concerned, he recovered after the stroke, but doctors advised him to change his occupation. ‘One more photo like that, they said ‘and you’ll be straight to the hospital fridges.’

Ovens, fridges... No, I don’t think the kitchen area is my favourite place.



MANHOOD ALTERATION


I met a guy who had his nose, chin and manhood altered. I asked him to share his experience with me, because I intended to get my ears done. When I was a child I liked to have my ears squeezed, and my Granny used to do it on a regular basis when she put me to bed. My Grandpa, when he wanted to give me a cuddle and put his several-days-old beard in my face, which I hated, used to squash my ears too, thus managing to fulfil his cunning plan. The result of all this was floppy ears. They used to call me ‘Floppy’ at the beginning, then ‘Cocker Spaniel’, then ‘Cocker’, and nowadays, no idea why, they’ve gone back to ‘Floppy’. I became Floppy again at the age of 30. I think it is about time I get this sorted out and put an end to all this humiliation.

‘It’s simple,’ the expert said to me. ‘For your nose, chin and ears you need a surgeon. Your ‘manhood’, you can correct yourself.’

That statement surprised me a bit, because my mind was telling me that my manhood should be rather more difficult to redesign than the facial elements.

‘You’re wrong,’ said the expert, ‘manhood is easily-manipulated matter. But wait a minute! I thought your problem was your ears?’

‘Well, yeah...’ I mumbled, ‘I just thought I’d sort out my manhood as well, if it’s so easy...’

‘Do you go to the gym?’ he asked.

‘No.’

‘Is your missus happy? Does that ‘Floppy’ refer to...?’

‘Oh, no, no! She’s very happy. There’s nothing floppy below my shoulders.’

‘Don’t touch it then! But if you start going to the gym, you’ll have to have some work done on it.’

‘Why?’

‘Because when you start pumping muscles up, you’ll sculpture a beautiful body.’

‘So what?’

‘But your manhood won’t change its size at all.’

‘Why not?’

‘Why, why... you don’t lift weights with it, do you?’

‘No, but I have sex regularly.’

‘Well, no-one’s invented sex gyms yet, so no matter how hard you keep trying, you can’t pump up your manhood in the same way you pump up your biceps.’

It turned out that all the gym maniacs receive a strange complex which he called ‘locker syndrome’. After a work-out, all the machos gather in the changing room and, instead of comparing their biceps, they compare their manhoods. Glances are rare. It involves just staring at their colleagues’ delicate parts, and not taking their eyes off them until every single detail is well remembered; including all the defects. This activity made a lot of people extremely nervous. Disproportions were killing them. They looked like wardrobes with miniature handles. The newbies looked much better – skinny, but with big handles. Appalling! The only way out of this extremely offensive situation was a correction of the manhood. And because there wasn’t time for medical examinations, detailed tests, or delicate surgery, which were quite pricey as well, the wardrobes went straight to the chemist’s, bought some liquid paraffin for a couple of quid, and injected it in their manhood the same day. That single act did the job. When these cases became too frequent, a surgeon joked that in the top part of those wardrobes there must be a little drawer where the brains should be situated.

Paraffin immediately made the manhood more attractive. For the first few days, the pumped-up male walked proudly around the lockers, talked to everyone, giving them the opportunity to have a good look, and when he felt envy coming his way, he put his clothes on and proudly left the scene.

My companion sighed and stood up.

‘Are you going to the gym?’ I asked.

‘Oh, no, forget about that,’ he said, as he was leaving.

That was when I realised that this man was not like the proud fitness maniacs he’d been talking about. He looked tired, was walking slowly, and was nursing his crotch with his right hand. He was like an old wardrobe that was going to fall apart at any moment. He suddenly stopped, as if to suppress a pain, waited for a while and then carried on. Something was wrong. He had probably overdone it on the weight-lifting, got a hernia and badly needed surgery. I could not imagine anything bad had happened to his manhood. The guy seemed a decent and responsible man – he would have warned me to be careful.

In the evening, I came upon a TV report from a Roma residential area. A youthful-looking old gypsy man was confessing: ‘I put the wax in myself – with a little needle, under the skin. Click, and it swells up looking like Churchill’s head... Before I put in the wax, the wife was just picking her nose... And after I’d done it... oh my... she starts howling like a wolf in the woods... she’s straight to seventh heaven... we were flying, flying...’

The gypsy was fresh, energetic and lively. The correction of his manhood had done him good, had given him a renewed sense of purpose in his life, his wife’s life as well. ‘Fly, fly!’ Which woman would not love to fly? This guy impressed me so much that I almost went to the first chemist’s to buy a bottle of paraffin. So my wife could start flying. Just one thought bothered me a lot. That’s all very well, but how was I going to live with Churchill’s head?!


GRANDMA GOES TO PRISON


An old lady spoke to me the other day on the tram.

‘Young man,’ she said ‘does this tram go to the prison?’

‘Yes, it goes past the prison,’ I replied.

‘Pardon?’

‘Yes, it goes past the prison,’ I repeated.

‘It goes there, doesn’t it?’

‘Yees, it goes past the prison and then carries on...’

‘I see; it goes past the prison then? That’s where I am going. My youngest son is in there, you see. He got sent there in the spring. So the tram goes there?’

‘Yes, it goes there, madam.’

‘And you will be so kind as to let me know when we get there, won’t you?’

‘I’m getting off before that, so maybe somebody else will tell you.’

‘Are you getting off before the prison then?’

‘Yes, that’s right.’

‘But you are going to tell me, aren’t you?’

‘How can I tell you when you reach the prison when I won’t be on the tram? Can’t you ask someone else?’

‘All right, all right. I went there when my eldest son was in... I think you get off at the barracks, don’t you?’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘at the barracks.’

‘I’d like you to show me.’

‘As I’ve already said, I won’t be able to show you because I get off the tram earlier.’

‘I know the place, I went there for my middle son as well – round the barracks and then down the hill, right?’

‘Yes’, I said, as I was getting ready to get off the tram.

The old lady stood up and followed me: ‘Is it the prison now?’

‘No’. Now I was getting worried. ‘You stay on the tram. You have a long way to the prison.’

‘OK,’ she said, ‘you’ll tell me when.’

‘I can’t...’

The tram doors closed and I missed my stop. The old lady said: ‘Son, are you going to take me to the prison?’

I moved closer to her and whispered: ‘Could you please not call me ‘son’?’

‘Excuse me?’ she said.

‘Please don’t call me your ‘son’.’

‘All right, son, you just take me there. It was past the barracks, I’m sure...’

‘I’m getting off here.’

The woman sprang to her feet and followed me again. I stayed on the tram.

‘Madam,’ I started, ‘you shouldn’t get off here. You are going to the prison... Excuse me, could somebody help me please? I really need to get off. That’s two stops I’ve missed now.’

The tram was full, but everyone was pretending they didn’t hear me.

‘Son!’ the old woman shouted out.

‘Madam, I told you – I am not your son, you haven’t given birth to me, your husband is not my father, and your sons are not my brothers. Could somebody help her please?’

‘Can’t you help her? You’re her son!’ shouted a guy from the front of the tram.

‘Which tram are you travelling on?’ I lost my nerve, ‘Didn’t you understand that I’m not her son?’

‘Come on, son’, the woman started again, ‘we’re going to prison. When they sentenced my eldest son, my middle son took me there. When they sentenced my middle son, my youngest took me there...’

I couldn’t stand this any longer. I just pushed my way through the crowd and managed to jump off the tram before the door closed.

‘Hey, her son’s sneaking out!’ somebody shouted.

I shouted back at them, ‘Bye, brothers! Please take care of our mum! Don’t rush now, please!’