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.