Gutluftberg March 12, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
A friend of mine who disobeys all rules of propriety invited me to his boyfriend-who-doesn’t-live-in-Berlin’s birthday party at someone-else-who-does’s house. In one of those queer bits of the city where what passes for ancient is a car-wash with balloons up to celebrate its third birthday nestling under one of the early upward whooshes of a motorway. You’d think humans would have given the location up as a bad job but, oddly enough, people have gone and forced themselves to settle there just to show how versatile we are as a species and that no level of adversity is insurmountable. Especially not here in Berlin. We’ve been there done that on the adversity stakes. Nothing can shock us. Give us a bit of town under an early upward whoosh of a motorway called Wilmersburg or Charlottendorf and we’ll build a bloody house there and just bloody well go and live in it AND have an orange tan year round for good measure.
Still, you don’t expect people from Argentina to have to come and make the point for the Berliners too.
The friend who disobeys all rules of propriety has been around. A proper wanderer. Started out in life as a Mexican. Has lived in the States and Canada. Has lived everywhere in Europe. Has been to Asia to find himself. Got lost and ended up back here, having turned into a European along the way and it is only right that his peripateticness should see us be city-neighbours for the second time in our lives.
He now lives in one of those Tempelbergs or Schönehofs so I am statistically less likely to see him than I am to meet the Wild Ape-Man of Ushuaia but, once in a while, we will bury the hatchet, admit, goddammit, that this is one city whether we like it or not and agree to meet.
The Mexican’s gone majorly native as a European. I’ve been to Mexico with him. His relatives commented on how crap his Spanish had got. He speaks English with an Englishy/Irishy accent. He is now technically French. But I’m happy to say that he’s been on our shores for long enough to have even developed a certain northern European solemnity. He’s French at a dinner party. English if drunk. Scandinavianly black if the mood requires it.
Which is why it was such a bloody shock to be reminded that he is in fact Mexican.
So the party was being held by an Argentinian in some bloody Zehlenrade. I bade the Russian farewell and set out with a compass, a knapsack, some good solid walking shoes, a length of rope and 300 Greek drachmas which was all the foreign currency we could find at short notice. I managed to catch a lift part of the way from a Tyrolean shepherd in a charabanc who had come to Berlin to make his fortune. We shared a meal of bread and cheese and parted at Spahlem S-Bahnhof whence I strew breadcrumbs lest I get lost. I found the car-wash and the early upward whoosh of the motorway and knew I was nearing my destination. The snow was falling thick and heavy by now. I remembered an old wives’ tale from our village and walked in the footprints other intrepid travellers had made before me. I reached my destination exhausted. I crawled into the party-house on my knees.
Only to be greeted by various Spanish-speaking revellers. And, darlings, I’d forgotten just how happy Spanish-speaking people are. My friend veered psychotically between unbridled joy whenever he had dealings with an Argentinian, Chilean or Spaniard and then breathed out deeply and downed tempo when he had to come and talk to one of us miserable old northern Europeans.
But, darlings, what’s the secret? The Argentinians, Chileans and Spaniards maintained a fun-factor that when totted up equalled more fun in their combined couple of hours than I have had in my whole 37 years. And it was good fun. Nice fun. Fun fun. Good-to-watch fun. Exhausting fun. As the evening drew on, the Argentinians, Chileans and Spaniards bellowed with hearty laughter in one unconsciously demarcated laughorium corner of the room – the Euro-Mexican would ping back and forth like a pinball – and we northern types gently huddled quietly, conspiratorially, uneasily in our frownorium corner.
It can’t be Catholicism, because Austrians are Catholics. It can’t just be the sun. Somalia has sun. And, anyway, they were in Berlin, and the sun hasn’t shone here since 1534, and their solar memory can’t be that vivid.
I soon had to bid my Argentinian hostess farewell. The journey back was to be long and arduous. And the jollity was exhausting. I turned up my collar. Pulled my hat down over my ears. Accepted bread and cheese for the journey.
The blizzard had stopped by the time I got out onto the street. And the street was so lifeless that silences were competing with each other for perfection. Not a car took advantage of the early upward whoosh of the motorway. The greyness settled everywhere like a thick layer of dust.
And then a buzz from above. A multi-coloured plane swooped overhead. The Spaniards, Argentinians and Chileans waved and cheered. The Euro-Mexican donned a mask to show equal extremes of emotion. And then a trap-door on the underside of the fuselage opened and the Spanish-speakers hurled rainbows which hit the pavement, the trees, the houses, colouring everything they touched, and bounced all the way back into the sky.
The Ordnungsamt says it’ll cost a fortune to wash off.