Br(u)no: Finally Getting to Be an Uncle, or What to Do with Teenagers in Brno
Photo credit: KK.
When my nephews were born, I was working in horse racing as a publicist. I very much looked forward to taking each one of them to the track, showing them how to handicap a race, betting on some horses, winning some money and, most importantly, imparting an appreciation for the seedier, male-centric, parts of life.
That is what uncles are for: the real-life lessons.
Grandparents spoil their grandchildren. Uncles provide the street smarts.
This summer I may finally have my chance to impart my hard-earned knowledge of life. My brother, his wife and their two boys, aged 11 and 15, will come from America to visit me in Brno. I don’t work at a racetrack any more — but I can show them real life as it is lived by men in Brno.
Unfortunately, they’re too young to drink beer.
After much thought and consideration, I’ve got some ideas. Traditional ideas are listed below, and all of them are excellent, valid choices for more than just teenagers. The “uncle” ideas are listed further down. (These lists are, of course, incomplete and meant to be representative. Please provide your suggestions in the comments below.)
Traditional Ideas for Teenagers Visiting Brno:
- Špilberk Castle and the dungeon. America doesn’t have castles, so this is an obvious choice.
- Ossuary underneath the Church of St. James. Not many crypts in America either.
- Labyrinth under Zelný trh square. It’s good to see how the real people lived.
- Vida! Science Centrum. My 2- and 4-year-old children once spent five hours there. Older kids have more to play with.
- Archeological Museum. Mammoths are cool. Archeology is great. Really, all of the museums in the Moravian Museum system are fascinating and have English information.
- Many other activities and adrenalin sports: A Jump Park; Stilt-jumping shoes; a Jungle Park; go-cart racing; rock-climbing gyms; and renting bikes.
The “Uncle” Ideas for Teenagers Visiting Brno:
- Starobrno Brewery. Uncle activities need to have a bit edge. So, if teenagers are not yet able drink beer legally, then it may be good to at least show them where it is done. In the United States, nobody younger than 21 can enter a drinking establishment; here, there are many places that mix families and old-man drinking groups. Pegas, a micro-brewery, is similar to many in the Northwest, but I’m sure there will be harder-core drinking here in Brno.
- Swimming. There are a lot of places to go swimming and it makes sense as a traditional event. The added “uncle” bonus is that here some women sunbathe topless. For an American teenage boy, seeing female breasts in the wild would be a valuable anecdote for when school starts back up.
- Open-fire barbeque. Spekacky, greasy little, fat pork sausages, are a taste that many associate with the Czech Republic and everyone loves a fire on a relaxing summer evening. Fires are also used to destroy things. I have a personal tradition to ceremonially burn bad memories, like losing FC Zbrojovka programs and bib numbers from painful running races. I expunge them from my memory with a splash of slivovice, the local plum brandy, to make the flames shoot up dramatically. Teenagers should love it.
This raises the ultimate question: Should I, as the uncle, sneak my nephews a sip of symbolic slivovice so that they too can take part in my ceremony? It is another important taste of the real Czech Republic, right?
And, frankly, it is the same taste to which my Uncle Paul introduced me when I was about their age. From all of the drinks and experiences that I have had in my life, I still remember my first taste of slivovice.
Next week’s column: Explaining Brno’s Phallus-like Chronometer (to Teenagers).
I hope that this column will provide thought-provoking observations of local life that will be interesting for a Saturday-morning read. If you have any suggestions or comments, please pass them along to email@example.com.