SoundCzech Not so golden oldies
Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, where you can learn Czech words or expressions through song lyrics. The key word in today's edition is starý (starej in the colloquial) meaning old. The name of the song, by Czech hard rock band Kabát, is Starej bar – old bar. In it frontman Pepa Vojtek sings about stumbling into an old, mostly empty dive, with only a jukebox, a few stools or chairs, and an ancient barman who convinces the song's protagonist to have a drink.
In your mind's eye you imagine a lean-to in the middle of nowhere in some Tarantino or Roberto Rodriguez film, with a husk of a bartender, almost blind, who sees everything. If a person is old, really old, they may be known to be starý jako Metuzalem - as old as Methuselah, the character in the Hebrew Bible who was the grandfather of Noah and who lived almost 1,000 years. It’s not something you would say to someone's face exactly, but there it is. On the other hand, most of us have met a senior or too with spark in them yet, who are unafraid to refer to their age with humour. Jsem už starej dedek, neposlouchej I'm an old fogey, I'm an old gaffer, forget what I told you!
Young people, the world at their feet, can be pretty cold-hearted when it comes to age. If you’re 30 to most 20 year-olds you’re a dinosaur. Forget about 43 or 55. Remember that teacher back in high school who seemed to have been there forever? So long she was part of the woodwork? Disrespectful students at one time or another probably referred to her as stará bába, the equivalent of old bag or battleaxe. In better instances, of course, she might also have been referred to as a milá stará paní - a kind old lady. Why not? Except when she gave you a D on your term paper.
Youth do sometimes recognise wisdom gained through experience and age. Someone who has been around the block but still has plenty of wits about them, might be referred to as a starý mazák, an old warhorse, or a starý lišák, an old fox. By contrast an old fool is a starý osel (osel meaning donkey or ass).
Then there is a segment of the male population, aging bachelors, who still have a strong libido but perhaps not quite the looks. A group like Kabát might sing about such a character as being an old lecher - starý kozel. Plenty of blood flowing in old coots' veins not interested in staré lásky (old flames).