'oh' 'my' 'gawd' 'ohmygawd-ohmygawd-ohmygawd-ohmygawd-ohmygawd...ohmygawd' that burns! in front of me the waiter put a glass of what appeared to be ginger ale syrup. it was in an after dinner glass, but i had just warmed my chair. i looked at it and, being somewhat conditioned to do so, grabbed the stem of the glass and immediately tried to determine the nose. wasn't all that difficult; cloves. i looked up at the waiter. he stood there proudly, put his hand on his stomach, made two clockwise circles and said, 'czech medicine.' i was quite convinced that he wasn't insinuating that i was going to be sick from the food that i was to eat. being free from fear and shame, i arbitrarily decided that a quarter of the glass would be a sufficient 'taste' while not breaching any underwear-bunching etiquette. so a quarter of a glass i did. my tongue was nowhere to be found. with lips sealed, i opened and closed my jaws in hopes that i would be able to catch my tongue to at least be able to verify it's continued existence. no dice. *foooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo* (a deep, prolonged exhale through pursed lips) medicine. ok. after dinner i wandered through old town. not an 'old town', but what was the hub of prague before the bridge was built (actually, rebuilt many times). the street that crossed the bridge was quite busy on either side of the bridge in both new and old town. as i crossed the bridge i looked up to gather in the peaks and intricacy that marked the architecture of the time and thought i heard Michael Jackson. loud Michael Jackson. the typical fleeting moment of deduction: - becherovka. that damned drink has me thinking i hear MJ. - i have way too much cursed american in me. i hate that. - my hat is muffling something that isn't MJ. wasn't the drink. matter of fact, the waiter was correct; it is medicine. i felt no pain and i was waaaaarrrm. hat? i was wearing a beret. the american thing....yah, well, as true as that may be, it WAS MJ. this section, one of only two sections in prague that has a legitimate stretch of businesses, was bright and busy. and MJ was being played from a storefront. i looked down the street at the buildings and the people that have experienced more freedom and more oppression in a lifetime than any person could ever learn and fathom. i stood very still and i did have goosebumps, despite the becherovka. the many people milling about were nothing but ghostly blurs as i imagined the stories these streets could tell. i swallowed hard. a tear left my right eye in descent to its frozen end on my chin. i blinked hard and fast. i felt laughter and pain. i felt dancing and crying. i experienced existence. "Billie Jean is not my lover" OK OK! i'll shop. ok. i wandered down the street of merchants. it felt like a blend of new york and india; many shops, many people, much yelling and laughing. it felt quite good. 'oh' 'my' 'gawd' 'ohmygawd-ohmygawd-ohmygawd-ohmygawd-ohmygawd...ohmygawd' music! how could i have even planned a visit to prague, let alone been there for weeks, without thinking of the music i could take home? sometimes the obvious escapes me. in my bag i had many cds that i had wanted; Gorecki, Part, Chopin, Suk. i also took a gamble on some obscure composers that later proved me to be a poor betting man. at least i have some nice coasters now. i found myself immersed in the culture of prague. it felt as if the velvet revolution, the non-violent revolt that secured freedom for the czech republic, lived on in an escalated joyous fashion. the czechs were finally able to enjoy this city in the true spirit of, not freedom, but a freedom that comes from relief. even if they do it with MJ. so i found myself at the end of the night being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. i know i've had a good day when i can't walk or think and meet most things with a gleeful indifference. on the walk back over the bridge, i stopped in a shop. behind the person at the counter was a sea of green glass; becherovka. 'vat siheze you vant?' 'huh?' he pointed to the sea of green. 'vat siheze?' 'pawket siheze?' 'yeah, and you better make it two; i plan to stay immersed.'