Down the Rabbit Hole

I was burnishing a piece of writing and I couldn’t remember the song with the catchy refrain, “Černy Glaza,” the one we sang over and over again, deep into the night, somewhere in a Ukrainian forest.


Perhaps my writing would flow better if I could find this song on the internet, for surely, someone, somewhere, has recorded it. Youtube seemed so promising, but I turned up nothing. The problem, it turns out, is this. When I first searched for the song I guessed wrong at the spelling of the word, glaza, which I knew meant “eyes.”


My next attempt was much more successful. Oh, so successful. I decided to do a backward search using Google Translator and BOOM! There it was, the proper spelling. Scooted over to Youtube, and BOOM! again, Černy Glaza popped right up, and I recognized it immediately from the jaunty electronic keyboard intro to the repeating chorus, which came back to me in a rush. I pounded time on the table and sang along for at least five minutes.


What times we live in. No running to the library, sending letters and waiting for correspondence—for if Youtube had failed me a second time, I would merely have emailed my friend, Kveta, and asked her the song. Or even better, instant messengered my musician pal, Lenka, who is always on Facebook, and she would have told me. I might have to wait for a response until it is morning there, but really, not long.


If you looked at my phone right now, you would see exactly one game on it — sudoku. I can’t imagine playing games when there is all that great stuff to read out there, just with a click and a swipe. I look up things constantly. Constantly.


In November I was trying to find the name of a champagne I had tried and really liked. Before I went to find a bottle, I thought I might need to know how to pronounce it. I googled and there it was, and then I Youtubed a video to learn how to pronounce French wines, because I didn’t want to sound like a goober asking for it, but also, I didn’t want to sound like an affected snob, either, and get it wrong that way.


Luckily, it has a nice, straightforward name, with the first part already something we are familiar with, Perrier. But while I was there, I thought the nice Frenchman might ought to teach me how to pronounce other champagnes, just in case. He has several videos, so I watched them all.

It comes up so seldom, which champagne I prefer, but the next time it does, I will be ready. I may be so feeble by that time I need someone to hold the coupe to my lips as I dribble most of it down my front, but I will have pronounced it correctly.


And just now, researching the correct way to pronounce “coupe,” I have learned from a bubble physicist, Helen Czerski, that the perfect-shaped champagne glass is neither the flute nor the coupe. It is a wine glass with a bowl shaped like a brandy snifter, but not a snifter, served with the champagne poured only about half-way up. I know the part that holds the wine is called the bowl, because I looked that up, too, googling “anatomy of a wine glass.”


According to Dr. Czerski, this particularly shaped wine glass creates the slow bubble-making machine of the coupe, while capturing all the flavor bubbles that burst on our tongues and up our noses, like the flute. Turns out, smelling is one of the ways we taste. Czerski is the real deal, too, Cambridge trained, a bubble and ocean expert, and the author of “Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life.”


Which should arrive tomorrow, as I scooted over to Amazon and ordered a copy while you weren’t looking.


I might continue down this rabbit hole for a few more hours, and I can tell you with certainty I thought this column was going somewhere else altogether. But really, it was apt to be ponderous and preachy and not nearly as much fun as thinking about champagne bubbles bursting in our faces. Even if you never touch the stuff, still fun.


Perhaps I was a research assistant in another life, but I love knowing things. I love sharing what I learn. A lot. I don’t know why my friends find me so tiresome. I really don’t.

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