"Just say no" to wool

In my neighborhood there's a 6-foot-wide galanterie that sells, among other items, yarn. Galanteries are pokey little hole-in-the-wall stores that sell quirky kinds of buttons, trimmings, zippers, McCall's patterns from the 1970's, cheap kid's underwear and pj's, scary ladies' bras and suchlike. They are a holdover from communism and are usually owned by--ahem--older women who are just hanging in there till they can retire. I can't imagine how they stay in business, but their operating costs are probably low, and they have their loyal local Czech customers.

It requires some guts for me to go into a galanterie alone. The women usually only speak rapid-fire Czech, so any chance of my understanding them is nil. They never speak English, German or any other language I know, so I must talk in grunts and sign language.

The yarn in this galanterie is way up high, accessible only by the owner's stepladder, mostly wrppped in huge sheets of clear plastic. So I asked if any of the yarn was wool (vlna).

When she understood what I was saying, the owner immediately got all excited and expressed quite clearly (even though I couldn't understand a word she was saying) that she would never, never have wool yarn! No, no, no, no, no!!!!!!!!!!!!! (side note on language--Czech is full of ways to say no--one easy way is that you can put the prefix "ne" in front of just about any word and it becomes "no." "Nemam' or "nemame" ["I don't have" or "we don't have"] is a standard answer when you ask for anything the least bit unusual.) This lady "nemamed" me in no uncertain terms. No wool! She only sold acrylic yarn!

Another lady in the store who spoke a bit of English tried to placate me. She didn't tell me that the lady thought I was out of my mind to want wool yarn, though it was obvious that the lady has said just that. Instead, Lady #2 tried to appeal to my reason. "Acrylic is so much better," she said. It's softer, not itchy, and--best of all--bugs (moths) won't touch it! The store owner hadn't carried wool yarn in 20 years!

This 3-way lecture went on for about 5 minutes. Then the store owner admitted she might have some part wool/part acrylic yarn. She got up on the stepladder and fussed around for a few minutes, then handed me down a big skein of pink acrylic. 100% acrylic.

At this point, I just wanted to get out of the store alive, so I said, "Dekuji Vam" (formal "thank you very much") and "na scheldanou" (formal goodbye) as I slipped out the door. I am sure that when I left, the two ladies had a ball laughing at me, so stupid to want such inferior stuff as wool when they offered me lovely pink acrylic.


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