It’s Saturday the 27th; Abby’s been back from our R&R trip to Paris and Brussels for six days, while I continued on to London. I was supposed to return home tonight, but I’ve had to extend my trip four more days so I can complete my dental treatment – part of my trip being a visit to the U.S. Embassy-recommended dentist here to fix the problems that have baffled the Albanian dentists. It turns out that I have a fractured tooth. The fracture is not actually visible in the x-rays, but the dentist figured it out based on my description of the symptoms and some judicious (but painful) prodding. When I bite on something – a nut, say, or a dental tool – the various pieces of tooth shift and put pressure on the pulp.
The dentist has put a band around the tooth to hold it together and to see what happens: if the band alone resolves the symptoms, he’ll measure my tooth for a crown on Monday and fit the crown on Wednesday. If it doesn’t, however, then I’ll need to have a root canal on Tuesday. More about the whole trip, including photographs and gory dental details, when I return to Tirana.
A few days before we left for the R&R, I found out that I had been chosen to be the voice of Tuborg beer in Albania. It turns out that I’d been pronouncing the name as “Teuborg” – or, in the Albanian spelling, “Tyborg”, since the y in Albanian is pronounced as “ieux” in French. Appropriately corrected, I recorded the final version for “Tooborg” on Thursday the 18th, in exchange for which I received a 12-pack of Tuborg and six mugs with the product’s logo. I asked if I would be paid, but the account exec tautologically explained that he wasn’t going to pay me since I’m not a professional voice-over actor. Neat trick, isn’t it?
Last week, I received a call from one of my American friends who in turn is a friend of an advertising executive here in Tirana. The advertisers needed an American voice to record a tagline for a Tuborg beer commercial: “Tuborg – open for fun!” My friend – who has a great bass voice – was out of town, so he gave me the phone number for the audition.
I went down to the agency, met the account executive’s assistant, and sat down in a make-shift recording studio to do some demos. “Tuborg – open for fun!”; “Tuborg – open for fun!“; “Tuborg – open for fun!“; perhaps even “Tuborg – open for fun!”; and so on. It wasn’t clear to me whether I was meant to be giving listeners advice (“open this bottle of Tuborg now so you can have some fun”) or whether I was describing the beer as ready for listeners to enjoy (as in, “Tuborg is open for business – the business in question being that of your having fun”). The engineer offered a few suggestions, but all I could think was “Americans don’t talk like that.” My confusion must have showed; a few times, I sounded like I was reading a stock ticker. Still, some of takes genuinely sounded like I thought Tuborg beer was fun.
That was Wednesday, and the executive was going to listen to the tape in the afternoon. I haven’t heard back, so I have to believe I’m not going to be the voice of Tuborg beer in Albania.
I was taking photos on Thursday when an older man stopped me and asked me something about my camera. After I asked him “Me falni?” (“Excuse me?”), he asked whether I was German or English. I said American, at which point he shook my hand, then raised it to his lips and kissed it. He began praising the U.S. or something – I was still taking in what had just happened and so wasn’t following a word – and then asked me to take his picture. As I lifted the camera to my eye, he lifted his hands in a victory sign and shouted “Sa-li Be-ri-sha!” (the name of Albania’s prime minister) before shaking and kissing my hand again.
This country gets more weird every day.