Tuesday, August 14, 2012
This is Part 11 of the Wir Gehen Nach Deutschland series, which is, apparently, a series now, because I just called it a series, just now, and there are eleven of them, which is bonkers.
The next morning I inhale breakfast, where I do not have coffee because Germans are bad at it.
Throughout the day it becomes sufficiently clear that Gyna and Patrick are diplomatic travel guides, and they lead us prudently through East Berlin lending purpose to the day.
I ponder noisily about streets and directions, hammering my brain to remember how to get places that I haven't been in nine years. "Is it...I think I know where we are! I feel like we're supposed to turn left. Last time I was here, I think we went this way...like there is a huge building and field, and then a huge building and a field...but I guess, I mean...it doesn't look like that anymore...am I remembering it wrong? You guys?" Then I realize that most likely no one is paying attention to me since we are in FUCKING BERLIN AND IT IS AWESOME, as well they shouldn't.
We stand at a crosswalk before Brandenburg Tor, waiting for the Ampelmann to start his green strut. But he is taking his sweet ass time. I don't care how jaunty your hat is, little man, I just want to cross--
"Red Man says nein," Gyna hisses at me. Menacingly.
"Red Man says nein!" I snap in imitation, stepping back from the street.
"Red Man says what?" MoLinder asks, with faux innocence. She knows damn well what Red Man says, because we have been shouting "RED MAN SAYS NEIN" at each other for a fucking week. Gyna told tales of the Ampelmann the weekend before. Of his green gallant stroll. His red commanding sincerity. And being silly people who like silly things, we joked heartily about a thing we heard about that one time, joking about an experience someone we know know had directly in anticipation of having that experience ourselves eventually, which is, of course, an optimistic way of going about your life and therefore quite unusual for the likes of us.
"RED MAN SAYS NEIN!"
(This conversation continues with slight variance at every single crosswalk in Berlin).
We mildly stress over where we could sit, shit, and have a beer, because foreign lands are thirsty business. After entering and leaving no less than forty-seven establishments on our way to finding a very particular one within a maze of alleyways, we finally saunter into a particularly awesome one with a giant, coin-eating, flapping, blinking bat automaton serving as herald, like the skeletal insides of an unemployable Jim Henson creation, marking the entrance to gritty bars and dancing for quarters, but whatever the German equivalent of a quarter is.
I want one. I want hundreds. I want to line the block with them and collect my quarters and never pay for laundry again. I imagine stealing this one, just draping it over my shoulder and carrying it through across streets of Berlin until, alas! Red man says nein, and I return it to its alley, dejected.
Directly across the the way from this thing is a bar called Eschschloraque (know this: I had no idea what the name of this place was until ten minutes ago, much less how to pronounce it.) The bar requests no pictures, which is a shame, but I imagine a rule like that accomplishes two very important things; (1) it's the kind of thing that keeps a place like this from being driven into the ground by complete overexposure, and (2) things are more fun when there's a supercool mystery about a place, such as, "omg why can't we take pics this is place is so rad gaaahhh".
The bar itself is deceptively dingy. Soft long-loved couches, old wood and mottled walls, but clean, with good music. Plus, you know. Aliens.
At least I think they are aliens, but that's the thing about aliens. They are more likely sculptures, or cardboard cut-outs, or shadowy corners or those dangly spinny things that we hang above sleeping babies that are not disco balls and they are not chandeliers and they are not plants and they are not lightbulb chains and they are not spiders and they are not rainclouds and they are not ominous thoughts and they are not, but can be, models of the solar system and THEY ARE MOBILES. Sweet fuck, I was going crazy just then, and I knew if I kept listing things they were not I would figure out what they were.
Those were there. Mobiles. They felt alien.
It's a cool fucking place. Usually cool places reveal my idiosyncracies and expose me as a fraud and an outsider. This place, fantastically, comforted the glaring parts by ignoring them, assuming a place has that magical capability.
I went outside and loitered for a few minutes, watching the giant metal bat-thing crank into life. There was a gallery, you know, full of these terrifying, clanking sculptures. I have a great respect and penchant for all thing ridiculous...but as we were nearing the end of the trip with limited time, I had to put a decision to my comrades, who unanimously voted no clanking sculptures. I didn't argue, and I didn't really care about skipping it - at this point, I just wanted to spend time with Gyna and I didn't give a fuck what we did.
Which was, basically, hang out and enjoy the good company.