“Hello. I am Omir Buycaz, Mr. Buycaz’s director of Marketing and Finance. And his nephew. Will you take tea with us? Do not worry, it is not offensive if you would enjoy a beer. You are off-duty, so to say, and this is an international hotel, so to say.”
“Do you drink beer?”
“Not in front of my Uncle. I did indeed learn to love your barley and hops mixtures while I was doing my MBA in London. Full-time MBA and part-time Muslim, was what my friends said. We must return to the factory for an all-nighter, so unfortunately only tea for me tonight.
“What happened this afternoon?”
“That is why my uncle has apologized. Have you seen the news?”
“Just the football.”
Omir fired off some rapid instructions to his Uncle, who began opening his laptop. He kept his eyes on the floor still embarrassed, overly coy for such a wealthy man. Omir asked, “Did Chelsea win?”
“Three nil,” I said.
“That’s my club. This is the greatest day of the year.”
Their tea, my beer and a hookah pipe the size of a pre-adolescent child arrived. Omir inhaled and blew apple smoke in my face. He took off his shoes, folded his feet underneath him into the sofa and placed his shoes on the glass table. I knew this was strange behavior, even for a rural Black Sea-side town.
“May I tell you a story?”
“I’m all ears,” I said.
“I am telling you this because you are a journalist. Publish this story, wherever you can. What are those?” He pointed to the shoes on the glass table.
I don’t like condescension, but I sucked up my sarcasm and played professional. Plus humor never translates, never. “Shoes.”
“Exactly, indeed. Could you be more specific?”
“Sure. Black. Leather. Simple. Low-heeled, rubber-soled, somewhere between a penny loafer and formal dress shoe, standard middle-of-the-line men’s semi-formal dress shoes.”
“Very descriptive, indeed. I see why you write. They are Model ZXR-469. My Uncle designed them in 1969. They wholesale for approximately twenty-five US dollars, cheaper in Asia. For the last forty years we have been selling approximately ten thousand pairs a month from Istanbul to Shanghai. They weight six hundred grams and take four hours of labor to produce. Since the time that you were interviewing my Uncle this afternoon, around quarter past three, we have sold-out worldwide and have received orders to dispatch approximately two hundred thousand pairs by the end of the week. And you may ask why and then allow my Uncle to show you.”
Omir nodded to his Uncle, who swiveled his laptop around and poked play. An un-ordered beer appeared. On the screen, a video image of George W. Bush giving a press conference in what looked to be Iraq. After a few seconds, a journalist stood up and pitched a shoe at the President, then another, which G.W. dodged with a drugged-like calm. Then the journalist was tackled, a pile of security guards could be seen stamping and kicking. The camera went shaky; there were screams and general melee. I didn’t know what to think. I drained my beer, another arrived and Mr. Buycaz played the clip again. When finished, Mr. Buycaz spoke in a very serious tone.