Bulgaria Red-Handed

buglgaria red-handed, fine wine, china and rugs from gracious hosts
Occasionally when you are caught red-handed, you can actually turn it to your advantage.

When I was about 14 years old, my not so wealthy parents were somehow invited to be amongst the first ever private trade mission to Bulgaria, which was about to open its borders and travel industry to Western nations.

When they returned and were regaling me with tales of their trip, they spread a vast array of very expensive looking souvenirs all over the living room floor, which they explained were gifts from their grateful Bulgarian hosts. When I wondered aloud how all this stuff got through customs, they told me that their private plane was simply waved through.

The trip had been a series of stops at various Bulgarian castles, confiscated from royalty by the communist government. At each magnificent castle they were treated to a banquet at night, and the next day they climbed aboard their touring coach off to the next castle. And herein lies the story.

Early in the trip, the phone rang one morning in my parents’ room and they were told it was time to rise and have breakfast before the coach left for the day. My mother told my father that he could stay in bed a few minutes longer while she packed their suitcases. A minute later the phone rang.

“Mr. Tapping, you will get up now please!”.

My father, rather shaken, quickly complied. He had been caught red-handed! However, my mother was not at all perturbed and loudly remarked up to the ceiling that the wine over dinner the previous night had been exceptionally delicious and what a pity it was not for sale in England. It was not at all surprising to her that just before she boarded the coach, one of her hosts stepped up, bowed and said,

“Mrs. Tapping. Allow us to present to you a small gift from the Royal cellar. Some of the wine you had last night at dinner”

My mother of course graciously accepted, but she devised a plan, much to the silent embarrassment of my father. At each subsequent castle, after dinner each night, my mother would walk around the room, talking very loudly about their wonderful Bulgarian hosts and how much she admired certain items displayed in each castle. She started small, just admiring some china, but after she was ritually presented the next day with the object of her admiration, she grew bolder as the trip progressed. Her final trophy occurred after their final night when my mother tested the limits.

“What beautiful Persian rugs” She sighed loudly into the ceiling “I have always wanted rugs like those for our living room floor at home.” My father’s eyes were popping but she put her finger to her mouth to silence him.

And the next day, their host bowed deeply to my mother with a slight smile and said,

“Mrs. Tapping. I hope you will do us the honor of accepting these lovely Persian rugs for your home. We suggest the living room would be a fitting place for them.”

And that is how my father explained to his rather incredulous teenage daughter was how my mother turned being caught red-handed, very much to her advantage.

Posted in Life


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