The Life And Times Of Andrei Mihai Stan

Writing an oral history of a ten-year-old child may seem like a perfectly absurd enterprise any day of the week. The social experience of an individual of ten would not recommend an approach of this kind. With such a person it cannot be a matter of immediate memory. Hence also, the surreal ricochets of the text. It's no longer about the construction of meaning starting from biographical facts but a reconstruction based on a rather original principle of coherence. Andrei doesn't tell a story, but invents one. I believe I wrote an oral history of a child because I was bored with the life stories of old people. Just to see what would come of it. (S. S.) I was born on May 7, 1994. My godmother gave me this name because she wanted me to have more birthday cakes per year. I get three cakes per year. On May 7, on St. Andrew's Day and on St. Michael's Day. I've never given interviews until now, but I was filmed on Pro TV and I was in the papers. I was born in Baloteshti. In Otopeni. I mean in Bucharest, I got it wrong, but my grandparents live in Baloteshti and I lived there too. I was born at the hospital, like normal, just not in the airport[1]. My folks told me about it, but I don't remember how it was anymore. I really don't know what to say because I forget. My sign is the Taurus. Tauruses are hard workers, they help everybody. I also helped my enemies when they needed it. For my Chinese sign, I wasn't interested in finding out what it was. My first memory: I saw how they cut off a lock of my hair[2]. My godfather cut it and I began to punch him. I didn't have glasses. I started wearing them at eight. When they cut the lock of hair I was about two, barely. At Baloteshti, we have three dogs and two cats. Terry, Bela, Puffy, who is now kind of sick and can't walk, Tony and Fluffy are cats. Animals have minds, maybe they understand us. You tell them to attack, they attack. My dogs are Pekes[3]. They've never bitten anyone, but they make noise like crazy. If they sense somebody, a cat or even a little mouse, they begin to bark and they bark all night long. People can't hear them, so the neighbors don't make a fuss. I don't have any friends in Bucharest, only in Baloteshti and in Constantza. My mother's from there. We live in a house. Grandma is old. She limps and lives in a house with a yard. We go to the beach so she can get a tan and feel good. Even if the sun's really hot, if you put the umbrella and stay on the towel or under the umbrella it's great. There are chicks. Dad was at aviation, but they did away with the aviation, over there this side of the Metro hypermarket. He fixed airplanes. All kinds. He was a kind of mechanic. He fixed all kinds. The kind that flew. Mom worked at Child Protection Services. I don't know what she did over there. In Baloteshti I remember Dad took pictures of me on the tractor. I was in the tractor when I was one year old. And he took pictures. Grandpa worked just like Dad. Same with grandma. She did cases, lots of things. She did cases on some people when she could take their child and when she couldn't take their child. I've never seen any orphans, that was later. I believe in reincarnation, but not in people. I mean, if a person died now, went to heaven, stayed there awhile, and would be born as a dog, a vulture or a cat. But when you're reincarnated you don't remember because you don't have the same mind, you have the mind of a vulture. That's why I'm so fond of my peekeenese, because Bela could be a grandma, I mean a great grandmother on my mother's side. They're a lot alike, they're gentle, she does the same thing just like she's told to, I tell her to eat, she eats. I don't like to eat in the morning. At twelve, at one, it depends on when I get home. I like french fries. With onions. I don't like eggs. They have a greasy taste. I don't like ciulama[4] or pilaf. I like meat jelly. It has meat. We might be cannibals because we kill animals, but then what would we live on? They feel useful if we kill them. They believe they're dying for something. If you die for a purpose, it's different. There are also animals that feel they're going to be slaughtered. I would like to die on the front so I can fight for America and Romania. In Iraq now Bin Laden is fighting with America and with us, Romanians. Saddam is in the caves somewhere. He left because nobody loved him anymore in Iraq, they didn't worship him anymore. I mean how could they worship him? I mean they said good job because you destroyed the block apartments of them guys. Ossama bin Laden put bombs there. They both destroyed things. Him and Saddam. He destroyed quite a lot of our buildings because he hated us, I mean Americans. But after he destroys America you don't know maybe he'll come here because we're also allied with NATO. I don't really know what NATO is. He destroyed us because we didn't like him. They have Allah, we have God. But it's one and the same. Not all Arabs are like that. There are different ones. And with us there are different ones, because they live in the heat all the time. And we live in the heat in Constantza, at my Grandma's, but in Constantza there's also winter, they don't have winter. Where they are there's only desert. People who have winter all the time you don't hear anything about them, about Antarctica. They're more peaceful. I don't really remember when I came from Baloteshti, to my grandparents'. I don't know the address where I live in Bucharest, but I live on Caranfil Street for sure. I don't know the quarter. I go there by car. Where I live there are no buildings like that, like more famous. Only block apartments. There's a theater further off, but I've never been there. There are no factories. Just the bridge, but the thing is I don't know what it's called. It's the bridge next to that church for Catholics. If Grandpa doesn't come, I call him – 223 29 23. I know the number. He always comes. I don't know where he lives. Grandpa comes to get me. If he doesn't come, I wait, 'cause he always comes. My best dream. That I went over to a teacher's house, he gave me something good to drink, I drank it, I had muscles like Arnold and I went to the world war in Iraq. And I came back from the war, I was given a medal by President Bush and by our president. The worst dream – that I was sleeping, a monkey came, took me to her nest, there were lots of kids there that were missing. And then the monkey ate us. And I woke up and my mom was next to me. I've heard of sleepwalkers. They talk at night. I'm a different kind of sleepwalker. I fall asleep with my head here and wake up with my head somewhere else. A person doesn't change too much, even if he gets old. The language is the same, the eyes are the same. The hair still blond, you're as smart, the eyebrows the same. The hair. We grow hair so we look better. What God looks like, I haven't seen Him, but my mom told me a story about Him where a woman died, went up to God, He sent her back, she was a beggar, to tell everyone about Him. She went from house to house, begged for a thousand lei and told her story. God was dressed in white. God is up in the heavens. Far away, farther than the planets. One day a lady took the water that was left over from the washing and threw it on the sky, and God climbed up so people wouldn't throw things on the sky anymore. If I weren't a human, I would've wanted to be a dog, because all day long dogs defend people, people give them food, people take them to the doctor if they're sick. I would've wanted to be a bulldog. I wouldn't have liked to go out at set times, to do my business, to stay in the block apartment, because dogs have to be in open air, in harmony. People who take dogs to their block apartments do them good and also bad because they take them from the pound. And anyway, it's better in a block apartment than at the pound. I've never felt an earthquake so far. I live on the twelfth floor. Only Dad. There was an earthquake, but nothing happened, it didn't break anything. This is what happens in an earthquake: Like it's lower, below us, kilometers deep there's lava and the lava sometimes moves and the earthquake comes out through the earth and suddenly goes like that... Or it could be an asteroid goes by us and the earth quakes. Our planet goes around the sun and stays next to it. The sun goes further ahead and the planet follows. The earth has an imaginary axis and rotates on the axis. That's how God made it, to rotate. I watch about 9 hours of TV. Comedies, action movies. For under 12, under 16 year-olds. My favorite actors – Arnold, Segal, who defend the world. If under 12-year-olds aren't allowed to see it, I watch, but not really the parts with the killing. I change the channel, or I turn off the TV. I watch TV by myself, my mom and dad watch something else. I play on the computer. Mortal Kombat. It has battles. There's one dressed as a scorpion, Sub-zero is dressed in blue. He's made of ice. He's like a big teddy bear. The point is to win, to win victory. They fight with lightning, with all kinds of things. Most of them are games of strategy. People who drink are stupid. They shorten their life because alcohol destroys your guts. Smoking also shortens it even more because it's a kind of drug. Drugs are like that – on one hand they make you feel good, on the other hand, they make you addicted to them, you feel like killing, killing yourself by yourself. You feel like swearing. All those who swear, the majority of them are smokers. Coffee doesn't do any harm. Coffee is something else. Coffee is made from a tree, not from leaves like drugs. Drugs are made in a plant. There's a kind of caffeine that's not a drug. E's are some chemicals they put in juice, in food so it tastes better. I like Coca Cola but not at night. In Baloteshti we have tomatoes, a vineyard. There are also some gypsies. They're black, they don't wash, they don't have any money. The Wonder Boy[5] has money because he became a singer. I don't like manele[6]. I like rock too but not too much because it's the devil's music. An uncle told me that. I want to get married so my family will keep going, so my family will exist. I don't have anything in mind of what my wife should look like. When I see a pretty girl, I feel like I like her, I get the shivers. I haven't asked any girl on a date, I had some dates on the Internet. I want to have two children, both boys, or a girl and a boy. I'll call one of them Laurentziu, so he'll have only one birthday cake, and who knows? maybe I'll give him another name. from The Book of Selfmulsifiers, Curtea veche, 2005
[1]" Otopeni" is the former name of the Henri Coanda International Airport.[2] It is a Romanian custom to cut off a lock of hair from the top of a child's head when the child is around one year old. [3] Pekinese.[4] Ciulama is a Romanian dish in which meats or vegetables are cooked in a white sauce made with flour and butter. [5] Adrian Simionescu, known as Adrian the Wonder Boy, is a popular manele singer of Roma ethnicity.[6] A Balkan style of music derived from Greek, Turkish, Arabic or Serbian love songs and performed most often by Romi.

by Sorin Stoica (1978-2006); Ciprian Voicilă (b. 1978)