Oh no thanks I don’t drink I said as he offered me a shot of vodka, and, what, is that a pickle? It was. My host, I was in his art gallery, explained: you are in my gallery and it is  the custom when you come here, to drink vodka with me – and the pickle? Oh, the pickle is the custom of my country, but did he ever say which country? Doing as he directed, I put the tiny gherkin in my mouth, chewed a bit, tossed the vodka shot like fire, and swallowed the whole thing, which tasted nasty, but I said thanks, that’s awesome.

It was the custom of his country, what else could I do but be polite.

Robert Allen lives and loves in NorCal, where he writes poetry, walks a lot, and looks at birds.

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