Thursday, August 21, 2008
on unicorns and polygamy
location frankfurt, hamburg, koln
statistics 1 (little german boy who is funnier than the next)
1 (smiles created by each smile, even in germany)
5-10,000 (times i was looked at like a common criminal)
FIRST OF ALL, if these kids above here don't just kill you then, well, you ought to take a lap around your house and start fresh. Because they're hilarious. (I highly suggest clicking on them for a closer view.)
What the kid on the left is thinking: "Well hello there, mouse."
What the kid on the right is thinking: "My name is Bjorn. How you like it so far?"
After two months in Ireland I spent about nine days in Germany, which is like moving from your crazy cousin Steven's apartment, (where he thinks the cat pooping in the fern is 'a riot' and cigarette ash fills the air in an eternal indoor fog), and being forced to go live with the principal.
And the principal probably shaves his sideburns so high that he takes away some of the normal side of the head hair everyone is supposed to have. Which is COMPLETELY gross. Who knows why that is so gross. It's just one of those small nasty things.
Ireland to Germany is going from a land of unicorn sightings to a place where polygamy was once supported to grow more boy soldiers. Let's just say it is a hell of a culture shock considering how close the two countries are.
ANYWAY. I flew into an airport called Frankfurt Hahn. Would anyone like to guess how far an airport with the word Frankfurt in it actually is from the city with the word Frankfurt in it? No... Another guess. Shit. You got it. 2 hours. That wasn't very fun. Moving on, I tried to hitch hike to the city, but I got the old 'criminal swerve,' where the driver serves into the oncoming lane to avoid even a whiff of a scent of Dirty Hitcher through their air conditioning system. Obviously things wouldn't be as easy here as they were in Ireland, where picking up hitchers felt almost like a national obligation.
I walked back to the airport and caught the damn bus. I got to my buddy's train station and as I waited for him I watched more grown adults in business attire run than I'd ever seen collectively in my collective life. They mostly ran from the T-esque local train to the major commuter rail, but they also ran into the parking lot, to idling cars, etc. Man, what a sight. High heels clopping. Briefcases swinging in hands like bloated leather batons. Ties all over the shoulder, Dilbert style. I must be some sort of anti-rushing elitist, because I feel like running should be reserved for athletic events and maybe to the toaster, because even a jihadist hates a burnt bagel.
[writer's note: apparently my looming move tomorrow to writing school in Virginia has left me scattered and manic. A thousand pardons.]
Normally I would brush off this flock of running men and women as an aberration of timeliness, or even an apparition after my long day of travel, but I have a second example of Germany's commitment to being on time. Two days later I used one of the 'official' 'hitching' websites to get a ride to Hamburg. 6 of us in the car, meet at 9. I arrived at 8:55, last of the bunch and I was, judging by the glares I received, somehow quite late.
Only in Germany.
Once the people relaxed they ended up being quite warm and friendly, as I've found all Germans to be once their hard (chocolate) shell has been cracked. Another difference between IRE and D:
Irish people you fall in love with; the Germans you learn to love.
For those of you who have never spent time with an actual German, they are, in general, intelligent, worldly, embarrassed of their country's history but proud of it's present. The men are moderate but consistent drinkers. The women still look like they are being bred for farming, as the last line of defense in wars, and for being fucked very hard from behind.
In Hamburg I stayed with my young gay friend. He essentially put me through the gay Olympics. We went to the gay section of town where he got some fruity drink at the gay cafe, we watched Brokeback Mountain (seriously), I helped him write some DOPE emails on mandar.com (think that's what it was), and then I went with him to get the results of his HIV test. (I won silver medal).
From Hamburg I went to Koln. Stayed with the perfect German family. The son a brilliant little soprano at the cathedral. I came to think of him as Das Gentleman. His tiny little sister with that German blond blonde hair. Etc. The mother told me why the boy was so sweet: "He always smiled as a baby, so everyone smiles back. It creates a circle."
Sounds like one German momma might have figured out how to save the world.
I walked back to the Autobahn singing along to Beck. I passed these crazy regional German flags, one with referee stripes, another like the quilt of a hundred unlike-minded mothers all sewing hand over wrinkled hand at once. 'Give the finger to the rock and roll singer as he dances upon your paycheck.' I forced myself, come hell or moral high ground Germans, to hitch back to Frankfurt. No Germans picked me up (of course), but I made it to F with the help of a Syrian, a Turk, and a Mongolian woman who made me sit in the back with the car seat.
I thought, alone in the German rain, with all that happened in the past six months about to come to an end:
It is seldom these days that I feel like I'm spinning out of control, but those times, they are glorious.