"Moldova escorts," said my editor.
"Moldova escorts?" was the cleverest thing I could think to say.
"Moldova escorts. That's what we need a piece about.
"Why?" I sarcastically retorted, "Is there a heavy tourist market to Moldova to search for Moldova escorts these days?"
"Moldova escorts are hot stuff, Davis. Really hot."
"Get outta here," I said, doing my best "Donnie Brasco"-era Al Pacino impression.
"And you want five hundred words, more or less."
"More or less."
"Chief," I pleaded, "this is ridiculous. What does anyone know about Moldova? Okay, for example, what do you know about Moldova? You're a pretty clever guy."
"A few things. Why? Do you need a start for your article. Here goes: 'Easy to come by (pardon the pun) sex Moldova style is a barrel of - '"
"I can write the piece, boss. Just give me a few facts to get me started."
"Facts? You're supposed to be an internet word provider, not some dipstick telling fiction stories. And you're not supposed to be pitching facts: We want sensationalism here! What do you think this is, CNN?"
"Sir, I didn't say I was going to use the material. I just want some sort of jumping-off point."
"All right, get out your notebook. Notebook...sheesh. Who uses a notebook these days?"
"Yeah, great. With the money I pay you, you should go out and buy yourself a real computer."
"I like using a pen."
"Whatever. Okay, here goes. Moldova is a European nation, refounded as a republic after gaining independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991. The country has an area of thirty-three thousand eight hundred square kilometers give or take a couple, with a population of three million six hundred six thousand eight hundred, for a population density of one hundred six point seven persons per square kilometer. By sex, Moldova breaks down into fifty-two percent male and forty-eight percent female. These numbers are based on official estimates for 2004, based in turn on estimates from the international census taken in year 2000.
"Linguistic and ethnic makeup is the following. Moldovans at sixty-four point five percent, Ukrainians at thirteen point eight percent and Russians at thirteen percent. Orthodox Christian and Protestant faiths dominate, with a small Jewish population also living in Moldova.
"The capital of Moldova is Chisinau (or Kishinev) and has a population of just over six hundred sixty-two thousand one hundred, gave or take one hundred or so.
"The Dacians inhabited the area we now know of as Moldova in ancient times. Several invasions by various peoples followed, including by the Mongols. Moldova, Bukovina and Budjak were joined in the Middle Ages to form the principality of Moldavia. Moldavia was later a puppet state of the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century; in 1812, Moldavia and Budjak were annexed by Russia and renamed Bessarabia. Western Moldovia, on the other hand, joined Walachia in forming the Old Kingdom of Romania. Bessarabia declared independence in 1918, joined the Romanian kingdom and were overrun by Soviet forces in 1940. Moldova became independent in 1989."
"And the language?"
"Moldovan, which is barely indistinguishable from Romania. But the common language is typically Russian. Anything else?"
"No, ah, I really think that's enough. Say, chief, if you can just whip out this information at any time, why did you quit the writing business?"
"What do I know about Moldova escorts? I'd rather be the editor."