MOST OF the things that’ll piss off a Czech are based in the harsh realities citizens experienced living under Communism. So while some of the stuff that gets them riled up might seem ridiculous, there’s a deeper meaning to it all. Even though it’s been more than 20 years since the fall of Communism, the past still affects those currently living there. You try bouncing back from having your civil rights so blatantly violated, and tell me how it goes.
My family is part Czech, and when I studied abroad in Prague I identified very intimately with the people I encountered. Even if you haven’t grown up in the place where your ancestors came from, stereotypes about a culture can still piss you off. I get prickly when people call me an “Eastern European Commie Lover.” That seriously makes no sense, and you are dumb. Here are some surefire ways to piss off a Czech currently living in the Czech Republic, or elsewhere.
Cut us in line.
If you see a queue forming in the Czech Republic, get on it because there’s something you really want waiting at the end of it. But don’t you dare cut a Czech in line. Yes, we’ll come home from the grocery store with 25 oranges just because they happened to be on sale at Tesco. And yes, we waited 20 minutes in line to acquire them.
During Communism, common items you might see every day were not readily found in shops, so queuing up for stuff on sale is something taken very seriously. Even holding a space for a friend in line will provoke some angry comments. And it’s just RUDE.
Assume we are depressed.
I know some places around the world have this idea that the only way a person can be happy is if they wear a perpetual smile on their face. Not Czechs. We’re pragmatic people, and don’t like to exert ourselves unnecessarily. So if we’re not smiling, we might be sad. But we also might be happy. Why don’t you ask us instead of making a stupid assumption based off our facial expressions?
Label us “Eastern European.”
We’re not. We’re Central European. The capital of Prague is further west than Vienna. Basic geography, folks.
Call us alcoholics.
Yes, we consume more beer per capita than any other country. And yes, most of us develop a penchant for booze by the age of 15. But we really don’t drink as much as the world thinks we do. Or maybe we do, but we just hold our liquor better.
Czechs will drink you under the table, but you’ll never see a Czech boot (unlike many a weak-stomached visitor). When someone becomes unacceptably drunk, we don’t label them an alcoholic — we call them “problem drinkers.” And when beer is cheaper than bottled water, what do you expect? We’re a super relaxed country and most of that can be attributed to our alcohol consumption. Don’t you wish your culture was just as cool?
Purposely rip holes in your blue jeans.
We LOVE our blue jeans and we wear them everywhere — to the office, to fancy parties, even to award ceremonies. Any holes developed in our jeans are a result of wearing them out, not necessarily as a fashion statement. Even then, we mend them with tenderness. The reason so many of us look like we’re stuck in a 1990s time warp is because we never threw out that precious pair of jeans we bought in 1996, when Western fashion brands started buying up Czech real estate. We respect the almighty denim, and ripping it up to look cool is totally unacceptable.
Compare us to Russians.
We are not, and never have been, Russian. Look on a bloody map — blocked by Poland, the Ukraine, and Belarus, the Czech Republic isn’t anywhere close. We make marionettes, not Matryoshka dolls. We don’t wear babushkas, we have babičkas (Czech grannies). Our country is landlocked so we don’t eat herring, and we drink beer, not vodka.
We don’t know how to read Cyrillic writing, and we don’t care either. The Russian Orthodox church means nothing to us because only about 21% of the country is religious. If you need further convincing, we dislike Russians because the Soviets invaded our country with tanks in 1968, and fucked everything up. So just stop.
Be a vegan.
We’ve JUST figured out how to incorporate vegetarian meals into our diet, and most of those dishes still include cheese or milk. If you have a picky palate, you are basically going to starve, and we won’t have any sympathy for you.
We love our breads, meats, and milks and cook everything with those products. I hope you like salad. Make sure to learn these phrases too: bez sýra and bez mléka. Otherwise, demanding your meal be free of dairy or gluten products, and getting exactly what you want, is not going to happen.
Refer to our country as “Czechoslovakia.”
It’s been more than 20 years since the Czech Republic gracefully “broke up” with Slovakia. They are two different countries, with two different cultures, and two different languages. We get along just fine, but even so, start referring to us by our separate identities.
For example, Slovaks have adopted the Euro, and Czechs would rather pay for things in beer. And if you say you love “Czechoslovakian hockey” you will get punched in the face, because THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT LEAGUES.
Order an American Budweiser.
Czechs take their beer drinking seriously. Why bother coming to the Czech Republic if you’re going to drink foreign brews? But apart from that, Czech Budweiser and American Budweiser have a sketchy history. Exportation drama and legalities surrounding rights to the Budweiser name have existed since the 1870s. Only recently has the adoption of the name Czechvar cooled things between breweries in Ceske Budejovice and Anheuser-Busch, but even so, it’s bad form to order your favorite American beer when Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen, Gambrinus, and Budvar will get you drunker, and taste better.
Think that all the men are “just a couple of WILD and CRAZY GUYS!”
Czech men are actually pretty placid. They party in their own way, and that typically involves drinking about 16 beers in a smoky pub, followed by a conversation about football or complaining about their wives. They do like to dance, but they’re not really interested in hooking up with travelers. Also, Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin don’t know how to speak Czech; the language they used on those SNL sketches was completely made up. BUZZ KILL, I KNOW.
Assume we all love absinthe.
We don’t even drink it. We just like taking your money. But it still pisses us off that you think we suck that shit down on the regular.
Mix up our country with Chechnya.
Oh man, seriously? Not only did the world create social media diarrhea by spouting out all sorts of rumors associated with the Boston Marathon bombers, but a gagillion people decided to blame “Czechoslovakia” for producing the suspects. You have not only insulted a nation known for its pacifism, you have also insulted your own intelligence.
Understand that Czechs are too busy watching downloaded copies of The Big Bang Theory and smoking reefer at underground clubs to plan a terrorist attack. Open Google Maps on your iPhone, type in Czechoslovakia, and tell us what comes up.