You were warned about the ticks. But a disease you should definitely consider catching if you are spending over 14 days in Slovenia is A.R.S.E.S.
Acquired Response to Slovenian Enquiry Syndrome affects 100% of foreigners who spend more than two weeks in the country.
A.R.S.E.S. Background: Education and Isolation
Born making strange yet beautiful schlurry gargling noises which continue into adulthood, Slovenians are rightly guided in their schools to pursue languages with practical uses, using any foreigner who wanders into view to test themselves, by asking questions.
Lots of questions.
Slovenians' powerful urge to try languages which enable communication and reduce isolation outweighs consideration for any Anglophone victim. He thinks he's just having a normal conversation. But then learns he's a mark.
A.R.S.E.S. and Queries
"How long are you in Slovenia?" Such a query seems innocent and harmless enough the first time.
By the 27th time you begin to wonder what the fuck. After all, this is your first evening in Slovenia.
But consider this. The maximum incidence of a single Slovenian Enquiry such as "How long are you in Slovenia?" is the number of times one Slovenian asks you "How long are you in Slovenia?"...times the number of Slovenians.
As the years pass, you realise it is never going to stop. Mis-mood - they usually mean "have you been" - festers in the interviewee's mind, where it evolves into the perception of a dismal racist harangue.
"How long are you in Slovenia?" Innocently using this "are you" puts this question in the subjunctive mood.
From this, every native English speaker knows without hesitation that this questioner is asking about an implied future state which contradicts the present state: "a foreigner is here".
Perhaps this explains all the Balkan wars. Everyone you meet immediately seems to be asking when you're going.
If Slovenians really want to do that, they should say "When are you going?" That's an indicative mood question. Explicitly about the future, it encompasses meanings anywhere from angry-impatient through neutral to quite jolly: "When are you going on your holidays?!"
Whereas "How long are you in Slovenia?" indicates at least mild dissatisfaction with the current situation, one which the recipient is definitely being invited to remedy.
Welcome to the front line of English vs. Slavic language misunderstanding.
"Have you been" with its question-form inversion plus past participle is much less rude because it feels complete. The present perfect tense concerns only the time up to now. The questioner is not poking his/her nose into your plans.
But frankly, asking it correctly does little to diminish the sheer onslaught of this pointless accountsmanship.
In contrast to their frequently professed interest, the Slovenians take no notes of how long you have been there, where exactly you came from, or "how you came in Slovenia".
And the result is they are soon asking you again, as if you are now somehow everyone's clock.
Are they interested in you, or the noises you make? Ambiguity grows. They are probably better at your noises than you will ever be at theirs.
Are you trying to save the linguistically handicapped? Do we really want Slovenia invading our modern world with its sexually retarded beliefs, Streicherian stereotypes, sloppy boozed-up handiwork, spiteful rivalries, obsessive counting disorder, hypocritical moralistic superstitious pedo death cult, musical virtuosity...and turbopolkas?
Oh come on, then. Perhaps we can cure your 1930s right-wing racist myopia. But unlike communism, where you took what you were given and were told you loved it, now you can get whatever anyone tells you you want...but you do actually have to pay for it.
One of those wants is English. Can we charge Slovenians for our vocal performance? Do we actually want to perform? These questions answer each other.
While they take turns on you, squinting intently at your vowel sounds as if you were an exhibit on display, the Slovenians' information tubes hoover up anything you know about the outside world which might help them. And they're not paying.
It's time to develop A.R.S.E.S.
Alternatives to A.R.S.E.S.
The alternatives to A.R.S.E.S. are: hiding away like a hermit, patience, counting and violence.
If you choose to hide away like a hermit you might as well learn to speak Slovenian.
Patience won't last long. Politeness under torture? Milestones can be noted when for the tenth, fiftieth, 1000th time, you are asked, "From where do you come?" But how much fun is that?
As for violence, when the twentieth product of fetal alcohol syndrome you have met that day challenges you with that cheeky "What are you doing in Slovenia?" line, are you going to just hit him? Why not the others?
Or there is property damage. By the three hundredth time somebody asks you "How come you chose Slovenia?" you could just smash some windows.
Someone will print a bill out for you right there and then. Armies of red-nosed psychology graduates are ready to...question you.
If you don't want to be broke and broken, you are going to have to show some restraint and politeness. Unless you contract A.R.S.E.S.
The Tale Behind A.R.S.E.S.
Who is responsible for transforming well-intentioned if tedious conversational gambits into jackhammer interrogations guaranteed to occur on every social occasion?
Who is to blame now you feel like smashing someone's face in when anyone asks you anything?
The culprits of course are teachers, who have emphasized Slovenians must MINGLE with uglier but fuckier, linguistically-luckier branches of the human species, like alien bodysnatchers.
It seems the endlessly repeated questions themselves have been suggested by fascist teachers.
For are they not using (bad) language education as a cover, to make foreigners in Slovenia feel more and more unwelcome and rejected the longer they remain?
As teeming shoals of language-snatchers MINGLE at you fanatically, you are not only the solution to a language imbalance.
You're also a conveniently close at hand representative of the problem, a scapegoat for the eccentric location of their birth, and for the Slovenian ancestors' fundamental lack of fecundity.
In their pursuit of our lingo, we remind them of their mojo. So we are both enemy and friend.
MINGLING, as the word suggests, is an oleaginous, invasive, but non-penetrative activity.
What does this MINGLING epidemic, fuming beneath the skin of Slovenian society tell us?
Slovenians seem to feel that pretending to find tourists and immigrants interesting or fanciable are justifiable strategies to polish up their abilities at these equal but better languages...but these "buyers" secretly feel that major languages and their owners are somewhat to be despised.
Non-Slovenians are valueless due to their overwhelming number, and should not be paid, but have any usefulness extracted for free, or better, while funding Slovenia's endless business failures...or the deal's off.
In fact there will be no deal. English speakers who don't want to tolerate such a situation may leave Slovenia - the snail can always return to its shell. The wanted/unwanted foreigner with his language that people understand (that must not take over) is easily replaced by fresh meat.
MINGLING also tells us something about students: despite all their sensory experiences to the contrary, in their own minds they think they are being unique. 9,999 others may have demanded your reply to identical questions already - but they are the important one.
The tourist that Slovenian students were taught you will be is OK, but longer term residents belong in the invader category.
You know, like Cornwall. A complete inventory of your means, motives and future plans will be required not just by officialdom, but by every single person you meet.
But as the old holiday song goes:
"Hej tovariši, pod orožje vsi! Tujec mora iz naše zemlje!"
Slovenians' central fear when MINGLING is theft of racial purity by the non-gargling races.
Having queered its pitch with its neighbours Slovenia's love action must necessarily turn inwards if it is to avoid the utterly foreign.
Speaking English shows how cosmopolitan and sophisticated you are. Now, with this achievement on display, you can start courting that distant cousin from the next village, subject to approval from granny's priest and a majority of his congregation.
A.R.S.E.S. - Inoculation Better Than Incubation
To avoid the psychotic reactions mentioned above it is recommended, as soon as you enter Slovenia, to immediately begin suffering from A.R.S.E.S.
This prevents a long incubation and the overheating which will otherwise result.
Minus A.R.S.E.S. you will be exhausted by questions that can damage your ego boundaries and don't help the linguistically marooned and economically skew-wiff Slovenians very much.
After some relatively polite softening-up questions things inevitably get down to the "How do you get money?" type of demand.
The incubation period ends when you wake up and realise that by deploying English in this interracial conversational context it is decided you are never going to win love, earn money, or discover anything useful from most Slovenians that you didn't already know thirty years ago.
Or, indeed, anything. The advantage will be all theirs, and it's your fault for coming there with the language they wish they spoke.
A.R.S.E.S. is the Antidote to Mingling
Are not some Slovenians, while smiling sweetly, gathering what we in the West would regard as suspiciously personal if somewhat unremarkable information about traits and opinions with which they can play tell-tale-tit?
This is the Yugostalgia Party's hangover, throbbing with curtain-twitching relatives, small-town denunciators profiting from Catholic/Communist whispers, and other comically pointless Machiavellian Ruritanian antics.
As the locals spiral tipsily around you humbly begging for reply after reply, the foreign guest is dissected and weighed against whatever starchy outdated "morality" can be usefully applied. So potent is Slovenian morality that people there prefer alcohol to sex.
Like anyone else too different Anglicis Slovenicus will end up a bogey-man as surely as Slovenians are a far more disappointing shag than they think they are. (There are no official courses available).
Whether it is a free demonstration of your accent "From where exactly do you come?" or free business data about your country they are trying to get from you, it is always a sad case of arguing from the particular to the general; of the dominion of the safe petty copycat intellectual over even the mildest form of adventurous experientialism (which, ironically enough, is probably tourism).
For them just going to the UK to look wouldn't be cloak and dagger enough. Slovenia's industrial espionage agents know we only come here to sit in a bar and expound to them in fine detail on the secrets of British purchasing behaviour.
The problem of how to promote freedom and equality while still rooting around trying to find levers for blackmail and exploitation is a facet of the former Yugoparadises' mental self-imprisonment not yet satisfactorily resolved.
Is it not Slovenia's middle-class dream ticket to trip you up in some way with forever untranslatable, obscure anti-European laws which will be available in Slovenian only, in offices staffed by people who prefer Germans? Won't that teach folks from troublesome races who try to stay in Slovenia for more than two weeks?
Could their very little schemes work? Yeeeesss, if only they weren't all Eight Aces trying to pass exams for 15 years, or spending the rest of their lives adjusting to reality, scrabbling to beat one another at hilarious mountain politics, slowly dying over their ledgers.
Didn't you hear them at the junior school? "Cash or card, cash or card" the eight year-olds were chanting in English, in their end of term show.
So isn't it some Gospod Nebuchadnezzar's state religion that foreigners always have more money? Aren't Slovenians being drilled from infancy to see us as customers, or something less?
Until you've spent up and gone, it's important - for them - to see if you dig their English. Like much else, your feelings about this use of you are not on the Slovenian menu.
Only cash or card? Not alcohol, then...the only currency available to reward the working English customer who must toil selflessly and endlessly so MINGLING Slovenians can enrich themselves at his expense.
The only mystery is, why do Slovenia's shops and utilities refuse to accept the odd drink in exchange for things like food and electricity?
Ah, the Prussian Model. You need to get out more, Slovenia, and let your laboratory frog foreign residents escape from your observation tanks, survive, invade and outbreed you. As you are evidently in no rush to do any of those things yourself.
In time the foreign devil learns to recognise the symptoms of MINGLING as soon as they begin to appear.
But what happens if you don't cooperate with MINGLING? Once I refused to deliver. I just ignored my questioner. The guy just went on and on repeating like a damaged robot...
The Lowdown: A.R.S.E.S. Is Nobody's Fault
A.R.S.E.S. deals with this shit. However small Slovenia gets, they still have you outnumbered. Don't feel bad about using A.R.S.E.S. to protect yourself and your interrogators from worse outcomes. Say yes to A.R.S.E.S.
So what are the symptoms of A.R.S.E.S. and how do you know if you have it?
When any question Slovenians have asked a million times is directed at you, simply shout "ARSE", "TITTYFUCK", "SPUNKPANTIES" or "BIG FAT SMELLY COCKS" in a loud voice.
Add obscenities, tics and mannerisms to your own recipe.
We must never forget that the more sensitive type of person is the one most likely to succeed at a new language...but is also more easily crushed if discouragement is widespread or early in the process.
If Slovenia ever finds that out, it will be able to join something even bigger than the EU.
Tip: Stamp out A.R.S.E.S. by carrying these lucky reminders -
MS XPS document
Q and A on Handling A.R.S.E.S.
Should I vary my A.R.S.E.S. symptoms to one person or group? No. Settle upon one or two varieties of A.R.S.E.S. and stick to them until a reasonable period of time elapses.
Is A.R.S.E.S. an unpleasant condition? Yes, and it should be. Being polite and helpful can only prolong and intensify your grilling.
He says he has "Just one question." Will I still need to say tittyfuck? Always say tittyfuck! These ones with the obsequious, submissive body language and feigned admiration can catch you unawares. Do notice him say "Just one question" before his second, third, and every subsequent question. Use seizures, not answers, to fill the vacuum created by his insipid phoney grovelling.
Should I try to excuse the symptoms of A.R.S.E.S.? Definitely not. You will find yourself plied with alcohol, browbeaten into a corner and out of answers, when identical people - or the same ones a few drinks later - start prying into the same things all over again.
Won't the same A.R.S.E.S. be monotonous? Totally. Randomness causes Slovenians intellectual queasiness - and can mean renewed probing, as your interrogators scrutinise your every trait and sift yet again through your bones for the nuggets they are so desperately sure you contain. Be resolute. Don't change A.R.S.E.S. in the middle of a stream.
As well as confusing Slovenians unnecessarily, hopping between A.R.S.E.S. risks overloading them with novelty some will neither appreciate nor deserve.
Nisi eden, seveda! Kajti, kot veste, ste edina izjema, da vse to.