A grand night out August 12, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Once you’ve been together with your beloved for a hundred years and know everything about each other, you need to be creative to stop time running into itself and becoming a stream of sameness in order to distinguish one moment of long-term togetherness from another.
Nights out are fraught. They invariably start with a vaguely spontaneous decision to leave the house just as we’re about to lose the ability to walk from being stuck at the computer for so long (and there’s only so long you can pretend that a one-thousand word translation takes three weeks). I rummage around looking for something to wear (and put a wash on when I realise all my three items of clothing are dirty) and then negotiate with the Russian which of his items of clothing he now hates enough to allow me to put on. Then I check that the windows are only left open in a satisfactorily burglar-proof way. Make sure things are off. Check that the gas hasn’t been left on, and then remember that we don’t have gas. Double-lock the front door. Then double-open it to check all the same things again. And then we head aimlessly into the night.
Which normally isn’t too bad. If we leave the house at, say, seven, we might have settled on a place to eat by about ten, which means your appetite is healthy and you’ve had plenty of time to let potential resentment over who’s going to pay the bill fester to the point of heart-warming grievance. We settled on Etienne, where the Russian had a massive, fuck-off lump of duck and I had a much more manageable chunk of salmon. There were excellent au gratin potatoes to be had. Two glasses of wine (Côtes du Ventoux). (Luckily, the waitress misheard that we in fact wanted quite a lot more. A blessing in disguise.) Coffee. Forty-something euros. Not too bad. And, anyway, we didn’t need to bother with grievance because they take credit cards – no small cause for celebration in Berlin – so it was free anyway. So pop to Etienne, Berliners/visitors, with your plastic for a free night out.
We were so thrilled with the free food and how little we’d drunk that we thought we’d better go and drink rather a lot more to make sure there was a chance to spoil the evening after all. Beer’s especially good for spoiling any occasion, but luckily we managed to avoid that disaster and drank ourselves dead on cocktails at Zum schmutzigen Hobby – look! Even Rupert Everett’s been! – instead. A perfectly satisfactory gay bar as Berlin gay bars go. Not bitchy. Not so pitch black that you have to have sex with everyone on the premises. Not so exclusively gay that a woman’s presence will turn heads. You can sit outside or in, and the Kylie isn’t on so loud that you can’t talk to your neighbour.
Not that the Russian and I wanted to talk, of course. Thankfully there were distractions such as the odd good-looking man or two couples with dogs or radically enhanced people-watching opportunities in the shape of a huge gaggle of young Americans on a pub-crawl of exactly the type Herr Diary describes here. I think their tour-guide was being naughty dragging them into a gay bar but they liked it well enough. One of the girls was impressed with the two dogs and exclaimed, with a bar-penetrating voice, “Like, what is it with dogs in bars here?” And then, turning to a couple that anyone would have been hard pushed to imagine as straight, asked, “Is that how you pick up chicks?” They muttered to each other and wondered what ‘chicks’ meant. The young lady had already skipped off enthusiastically for the exchange to go any further.
The bar-goers thinned out and the Russian and I wondered how next we might amuse each other. Salvation came in the shape of a found pen and free postcards. What could be more natural than to write calling cards for each other and then to strew them around the bar? “Hot Russian boy,” I began. “Russian (for that is his name). Call me. (“Darling, what’s your phone number again?”) 0171…” The Russian ripped up my efforts. “Cheap British slut,” began the Russian, which I thought was lowering the tone a tad. “BiB. Call me. 0171…” Hmm. “Horrible Russian boy. Russian. Microscopically tiny willy. Call me. 0171…” Rip, rip, rip, went the Russian. “Even-cheaper-than-on-the-last-postcard British slut. Ingrowing willy. Riddled with the pox. Call me. 0171…”
“Have you got a photocopier?” I asked the bar staff as we saw fit to stumble out the door. You’ve got to hedge your bets at my age.