Sunday Rest

The parties prepared in advance rarely happen to turn out well; while, the ones started up just like this, unexpectedly, without thinking, almost always turn out nicely… Why is this, I wonder? – Why it is so, why it is not so – we mustn't waste our time philosophizing, searching for a cause in every trifle… Enough to find how things go on, and out of this finding to learn that: neither should we go to parties planned a long time ago with too grand illusions of a good time, nor should we hesitate when, unexpectedly, we find an opportunity to party; let's go in good will, if we don't have a more serious business to attend to – I say more serious, because, in our short and weary life, not even the party is such a frivolous a thing as some sages say, some morose and some double-faced. At least this is what I think, and that's why I partied so nicely the night before last night. Last Thursday, 21st May, having nothing to do, I slowly walked on Victoria Street, around seven in the evening, watching that fussing of chariots, cabs, automobiles – what a crowd! what elegance! what wealth!... as one can rarely see even in the most prosperous cities – and I was thinking: who could be the ones that have recently made up that there is poverty in the country, that life is expensive, that we are menaced by an agricultural crisis? what triflers! As I was thinking like this, look, here was my pal Costică Parigoridi – who, contrary to his habits known to everybody, has now the appearance of a less merry fellow. "My dear, he tells me, my wife went to the countryside with the kids, to her relatives, as far as Muscel…I didn't want to go…first of all I didn't feel like getting up so early in the morning: and then, to tell you the truth, I don't like patriarchal parties; I am a city man; I like the city…but… not the Sundays and the holidays… I haven't seen anything uglier in the world than a big city during the days of the Sunday rest! All the stores with the shutters closed like the eyelids in sleep!...What a sleep! Everywhere closed! Should you want to hang yourself you can't buy a rope… This lack of activity, of life, of commercial movement, is like a heavy weight on my shoulders, makes me feel asleep as well; and I can't even sleep – as if I'm an insomniac… And when I see all this upstart cads, these elegant fools, who keep spinning their rubber wheels, all sorts of ideas come into my head…dangerous ones… It's been an hour since I've been looking for a friend…as if all had vanished from the Earth!" "Here, you've found me," I say to him "Thank God I've found you, uncle Iancu! Damn the Sunday rest!" "Dear Costică, I admit, indeed that a big city in Sunday rest isn't so beautiful as when it's busy; and it makes the same ridiculous impression on me too…Only, let's think about the people who work as well, a whole week, from morning till late in the evening… Don't they need a day to rest as well?" "Yes, my pal answers; but instead of resting they make blisters in their insteps wandering all day long, duped, and in the evening they drop, tired." "OK, but they relaxed… they partied…" "Yes! they got drunk!" "What to do then? the psalms of David the prophet?...And then, let me tell you that I feel sorry to hear you, a modern spirit, such a human soul, speaking like this about the working people… and that only because you're angry with boredom… Suppose the people get drunk as well… So! what? if…" "I understand what you want to say!" "…Well! then?" "I don't know my dear; but I am bored as a dog locked by its master in the house… I feel like howling with boredom… Are you busy?" "Not at all." "Where are you eating tonight?" "I don't care." "Would you like us to eat together?" "Especially." "Where, tell me." "Wherever you like." We start down the road together. On the way, Costică, keeps mumbling, looking at the shop shutters… In front of Capşa, we meet another friend; we take him without speaking much, as in the army; at the crossing of the boulevard another two; we grab them; in front of the Russian embassy, another one; he is a prisoner… An odd thing! All of them very bored with the Sunday rest; and as the gang increases the boredom disappears! All six – men of a nice social condition – we arrive almost in a good mood at Iordache's, on Covaci St. Upstairs, on the terrace… "Gentlemen, Costică says, you must know that, due to the happy event that I met you, some very bleak ideas got out of my head… If, a little time ago, I hadn't met uncle Iancu, I would have gone, bored as I was, straight to the railway station, to throw myself under the wheels of the first train. I thank you… You are the saviours of the life of my wife's kids' father, who was about to read tomorrow in Cîmpulung, in The Universe, another tragic suicide at the B.M. station! …Well, this fact, that, fortunately, I met you, combined with the fact, not less fortunate, that today is my anniversary, St. Emperors Constantine and Elena forces me to ask you and you to accept, that I should treat you tonight." We kiss him all and we top one another to wish him: "Happy anniversary, Costică! With luck, health and happiness!...And an honourable father-in-law, dear Costică!" Then, from my part, I apologise that I forgot to congratulate him, because, not being under the incidence of the Sunday rest I never keep track of the saints. Costică turns around and suddenly, happy as always, shouts: "Waiter! Appetizers, the menu and smoothies and all! Bring them on!" We surely did party!... What a party!... And if we were to speak the truth, Costică paid twice the improvised party – both with money and spirit – what a verve!... From time to time, noticing that we left our full glass to "chill," he would shout, raising his: "Down with the Sunday rest!... Let's work!, gentlemen!" And we, sharing his opinions, worked hard…What activity! Five hours without a break, without breathing… About when the swallows get up – the bill!... Appetizers, 18; wine boxes, 8; champagne, 12, and 22 packs of cigarettes and 5 rounds of Turkish coffees. Very – how can I put this in more elevated words, that is, more appropriate? –very…that's it, we get down nicely, but silently – not a lugubrious silence, solemn yet… We collect our thoughts. We arrive downstairs, where a few cabmen doze off, seeking for their morning prey; we stop a little to breathe deeply the healthy dust raised to the sky by the municipal brooms. "Where shall we go?" We meditate for a moment… I shrug my shoulders… The others, like me. "Cabman!" And two by two we sat nicely in three cabs. I and Costică start in the front… I say to Costică now: "Where shall we go?" Costică shrugs his shoulders, then he kisses me. I answer him promptly in the same way. From Covaci we start to the right up to Şelari; from Şelari we go right to Lipscani; from Lipscani to the left – and Costică kisses me and says: "You'r' sw't unc' Iancu!" " 'm dr'nk Co'tică!" "Sw't 'n' dr'nk, unc' Iancule!" And go on laughing… And, attempting to kiss me one more time, I don't know how he does it that he lifts my hat which flies out of the cab, back to Iordache. "Cabm'n! Unc' Iancu's h't!" We stop. The cabman brings my hat. Costică puts it on my head …even more stuck …so it won't fly…And laugh…And we kiss sw't. But where are we? On Colţea boulevard, near Victoria Place. "Where are you going, you, ox?... do you know?" Costică asks the cabman. "At the Dairy, master; of course I know?" "Well, good then!" Costică answers; and then towards me: "hear, hear what a beautiful idea the ox had!" But the other two cabs aren't anywhere to be seen behind us. "They betrayed us like cowards unc' Iancu!" The air on the street does us well. We arrive at the Dairy. Full! There, the four friends, who arrived through Victoria Street, before us, were waiting for us; they couldn't believe that we betrayed them like cowards. We have each a glass of champagne, etc!! etc!! It's the break of dawn… The swallows went hunting already… We re-enter the Capital, searching for a black coffee with brandy… We found it… Strong coffee has a strange effect!...We become very talkative… We go out… It's broad daylight… Such an agglomeration… An accident?... Let's call the "Ambulance"!...We draw near… A citizen sits and wouldn't get up with all the insistence from the sergeant. "What is it?" I ask the sergeant. "It's the Sunday rest, sir: he can't walk; I must lift him out of here, so that a cab won't hit him… Come on, up!" And he tries to lift him up; the citizen is heavy and slips from the arms of the man of the law and sits back. I look at him closely…I know him… He is an excellent type-setter, an aged man and very nice. I say: "Get up, my dear, it isn't worthy of you to show off… you're a serious man, head of the family…" "Your father!" he answers."I'm sorry," I add, "that you didn't understand well my advice…" "No, I understood, but where shall we find tripe soup now?" "What you need now is a black coffee with brandy…You don't know what good it will do to you!" "Nonsense!...I drank black coffee at Comşa… tripe soup! don't you hear?" But Costică, very pleased with these words, says: "Unc' Iancule, tripe s'p, so t' say?... do you know he has a good idea? Let's go for tripe s'p!" We lifted the citizen into a cab and we started toward the place. On the road the citizen slept tightly in Costică's arms. "Look at the condition he's in!" Costică says… "Here are, sir, the disastrous effects of the Sunday rest!" "Dear Costică," I say, "anyway, our world needs this too, Sunday rest, after all that hard work… And, after all we are all, all …debauched." And as a result we all went to repair ourselves near the market place. The truth is that the tripe soup, with a little hot pepper, is sometimes, superior to the coffee doctored with fine brandy… a big deal! After the tripe soup, around seven o'clock, in the middle of the market place, we notice that our friend, the type-setter, disappeared. "He betrayed us," Costică says; "your pal is a coward!" But hardly has he finished speaking when my friend comes, washed and dressed up as well as he could… He went to the barber. "Well, now where shall we go?" Costică asks him. "I," our man answers, "am going to the workshop… After the Sunday rest we start at seven… I'm head of a team, I can't miss." He excused himself if he caused any inconvenience to us, he thanked us for paying the bill and left to attend his business. We had breakfast-earlier-at the Dairy-until the evening. 1909

by I. L. Caragiale (1852-1912)