Haven’t we met somewhere before? December 24, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
“Hello Georgi,” I say, prepared in advance for what I know will come next. A pair of semi-drunken, staring eyes glare at me with no sign of recognition, a hint of suspicion and utter stupefaction.
“Are you in the CIA?” Georgi asks. I am not in the CIA. Indeed, the likelihood of him bumping into a Russian-speaking CIA agent in one of Berlin’s tackier gay establishments is, I would have thought, pretty low. But then nothing seems impossible in the haze of beer and fags and whatever shots of poison the barman in a small German boozer eventually decides to start giving you for free. (This always happens.)
I explain to Georgi that I am not in the CIA but am, not surprisingly, simply a fellow punter in the gay establishment – as it’s so small, you invariably get chatting to the people around you, unless you’re a major sour puss – and that that, equally unsurprisingly, is how I had met him in the past. Chatting at the bar. “But how do you know Russian?” Georgi asks. My answer is practically out of my mouth before the question’s finished.
Fortunately, Georgi is a perfectly nice man and having the same conversation with him three of four times a year is a satisfactory way of spending an hour and a half propping up the bar. But, alas for me and for him, his forgetfulness and my autistically razor-sharp memory provides no end of – for him – CIA moments. But then some of the facts are so good that I could never forget them. “How are your family?” I ask. Georgi has quite a family. “How did you know I had a family?” After a quick internal drone, a lightning explanation that we’ve had PRECISELY this conversation eight times before and a final reassurance that I’m not a spy, spying on the very important Friday night of a middle-aged homosexual, Georgi answers. Georgi is now on wife number two, but lives with wife number one, and has two children, one of whom is gay. Yesterday he was boozing with his (very handsome) gay son. In fact, as his heart warmed (and grew) with every drop of poison, I was almost invited to spend Christmas with them. I waited for the idea to run its course – roughly the time it takes the barman to offer three free shots of Jägermeister – and, thankfully, it soon ran out of steam. I didn’t that much fancy the idea of explaining to wife one that I was a frequent but utterly forgotten acquaintance of her absent-minded ex-husband. And she’s the jealous type. As he explained yesterday, with some indignation, she actually has the cheek to ask him where he’s been when he rolls in at nine in the morning. Imagine the impudence! No wonder they’re divorced.
Well, if I dare seek solace in others’ weaknesses, it’s almost a relief, just now and again, to meet somebody who is clearly not barking, who is relatively normal – well, as normal as a gay man with two wives and two children, one of whom is gay, ever is – but who has such a stonkingly bad memory. I don’t dare claim that I am eminently rememberable, of course, but anyway. As my years trundle by at their steady pace, I do occasionally worry that the grey matter ain’t what it used to be. (Which is true, at least partly. I could manage French verbs at 12. I can’t manage, mid-30s, German ones after four years of practice.) But I haven’t yet quite reached the stage where I utterly forget having had rather a few conversations with another soul.
My New Year’s resolution is not to go mad.
Anyway, I need to go and start my Christmas shopping. Oh, and to poison the tips of some umbrellas.
Have a bona Christmas girls!