How to Tell If You’re in a Milan Kundera Novel -The Toast

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kunderaPreviously in this series. J.E. Reich’s work for The Toast can be found here.

The concepts of lightness and weight are very important to you. You refuse to buy a scale.

Every time you have sex in a bowler hat — which is often — you are struck with nostalgia concerning your Bohemian grandfather, who was also a mayor before the war. (Which war? THE War, of course.)

You frequently compare your wife to a baby found in a bulrush basket.

You write a ten-page horoscope for your boss. The Communist government immediately becomes very concerned.

If you have an affair with your professor, you are either gaudy or bespectacled.

It is expected that your husband will inevitably send you to a hill called Petrin, where you will encounter a near-suicide by a firing squad.

You compare your adolescent upbringing in the country and your mother’s bawdy demeanor to being raised in a concentration camp, with no sense of self-awareness whatsoever.

Your mother-in-law, who is staying with you, almost walks in on you in a pre-arranged threesome with your wife and your mistress. This inexplicably turns you on.

According to Nietzsche, Stalin’s son will repeatedly electrocute himself. You think this is very kitsch.

If your female dog likes your wife more than you, she is automatically considered a lesbian. (Your dog, not your wife.)

You are a professor who is excellent at judo-chopping.

People talk about concentration camps a lot, but no one ever mentions any Jewish people.

Because what’s a little homoerotic tension between friends that are the wife and the mistress of the same man, you add a bowler hat and some naked modeling in for good measure. Unfortunately, coed pillow fights are not allowed in the Czech Republic.

Ernest Hemingway becomes best friends with Goethe, and this is somehow not fanfiction.

You never need a therapist, because that’s what Greek philosophers and Beethoven are for.

After your first marriage collapses, you refuse to pay child support and voluntarily do not see your son for over twenty years. This is considered very admirable. (At least to you.)

When in doubt, move to Switzerland. When again in doubt, immediately move back to your Soviet-occupied police state.

After you smell the sex organs of various women on your husband’s hair, you have a one-night fling with a nameless engineer; you immediately assume he has taped it and that he is actually a spy for the Russian government.

“Groin” and “sex organ” are your favorite sexy words.

You cannot quite tell the difference between a nudist beach, a communist uprising, or a state fair.

…he probably is a spy for the Russian government.

German is the definitive philosophical language as far as you’re concerned. The snarling speaks to your oppressive regime.

You very much long for Czech cemeteries. When asked why, you answer that the French do not bury their dead deep enough, but they have some impressive rocks.

Your Catholic son is very aggressive with his epitaphs.

Your dog smiles frequently. This probably means she is a lesbian who also has a tumor.

You are constantly reminded that every character you encounter is fictional. You are fictional, as well, and probably the byproduct of very bad indigestion.

Ostriches are very portentous.

No one expects the politburo…until they do.

J.E. Reich's writing is recent or forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, Nerve, LIT Magazine, Armchair/Shotgun, the Daily Dot, and Volume 1 Brooklyn, and her novella The Demon Room is out now. She lives in Brooklyn. You can follow her on Twitter at @jereichwrites.

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