I suppose I sort of left you hanging on the Germany rabble-rousing travelogue, didn’t I? Apologies, mate: I was on vacation. So where were we? Oh that’s right–on vacation.
I was no longer Rateval, suburbanite American teenager; I was Ickbin, erudite, worldly, refined European. Therefore, I wanted to do European things, like smoke cigarettes inside dining establishments and püt cööl dötß övër äll my vöwëls and, most especially, discuss sophisticated topics with my sophisticated friends in sophisticated bars over sophisticated drinks. Most especially, I wanted to drink. (Oh, don’t look at me like that, with those accusatory eyes labeling me a lush.)
So I didn’t waste any time at all. Patience has never been my gig, Dionysus– especially when it comes to something I dig. And I certainly dug drinking.
We had barely gotten our luggage to Aunt Germane’s flat before I decided that we would be going right back out again into the Berlin night in search of booze. We were positively exhausted, but that mattered not to me: I had travelled halfway across the world, to a country rich in cultural history and artistic legacy, teeming with unimaginable and breathtaking sites of natural and man-made beauty, and I wanted to go immediately to the nearest bar for a drink. (Now you can go ahead and label me a lush, love.)*
As has already been established, I was a wise and worldly young man, Dionysus. But even my urbane knowledge had limits, mate. For example, I had no idea what the legal drinking age was in Germany. I thought that it was eighteen: it couldn’t have been any higher than that because high drinking ages were a patently uncivilized Americanism. True, they had served us on the plane, but that was a French airliner, and everybody knows that the French put wine in their baby bottles.
Yorick was twenty-one and I was eighteen, but Franky was a few weeks shy of the mark. Although we couldn’t just throw Franky to the wolves and go drinking without him: that would have been in terrible taste and a complete affront to friendship.** It was equally impossible, however, that I would stay in that first night and not go out and get a few drinks in me.
My mind was reeling. What were we to do? How was I to preserve my Three Musketeers Code of Conduct and maintain my liquor libertinism?
Bathrooms, Dionysus. Bathrooms.
The plan was to go something like this: The three of us would walk into the first bar we laid eyes on. Yorick and I would make for the bar while Franky made a beeline for the bathroom. Yorick and I would exchange proper formalities with the bartender (in simple American with very broken, very botched German words thrown in to highlight our foreign naïveté) and proceed to order three drinks (holding up fingers to make it easier on the bartender). If the bartender asked for identification, we would gladly produce it for inspection. If questioned on the nature of the third drink, we would either A) feign total ignorance or B) explain that is was for our friend who was using the restroom and who certainly wasn’t too young to drink despite the fact that he looked all of twelve years old. If she*** insisted upon this line of questioning, then we would act incensed, protest that we thought the Third Reich was over, and go try it all over at the next bar.
The first bar we happened upon was a small, well lit place with a solitary bartrendress and a few regular looking deutsche drinkers. The bathroom was right next to the bar, so the three of us made our way over to our assigned places in this brilliant production.
Yorick and I approached the bartender with trepidation. Well, I approached the bartendress with trepidation; Yorick seemed to think I was making far too big an ordeal out of everything, even though I totally fucking wasn’t, Dionysus.
And to complicate matters further, the bartrendress was stunningly gorgeous. This may not seem like a factor to you, but it certainly was for me. You see, pretty girls have always complicated things for me. I’m certainly not blaming them by any means, but for some reason, when a pretty face is involved, things can get pretty fucked. I wasn’t functioning at full capacity as it was, and throwing that pretty face cog in my maladroit machinery really mucked things up. Moreover, at that point in my career, I could not:
1. Talk to a pretty girl sober (which I was about to do).
2. Lie to a pretty girl’s face convincingly (which I was about to do).
Indeed, I had my work cut out for me, Dionysus.
The bartendress smiled and said something in German (indecipherable to me at that point) as we approached.
“Hello. We don’t speak German. Just English.”
“Oh. Americans. Welcome. What would you like to drink?”
No mention of ID, Dionysus. A very good sign, indeed. Except I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to drink, so the question caught me off guard. Yorick had, though; after all, he had experience with bars back home.
“I’ll have a rum and coke, please.”
“Very good. And you?”
The bartendress looked right at me with gorgeous, non-American blue eyes, the kind that Renaissance painters made their entire fucking legacies around. I froze. I panicked. I did the only proper thing I’ve even understood how to do properly when it comes to proper women: I deferred my will and decision entirely to her.
“What would you recommend?”
“Sex on the beach.”
Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about liquor so much anymore.
“There’s a beach around here?”
Yorick nudged me with his elbow, bringing my hedonistic head back down out of the clouds.
“Sounds great. Make it two of those.”
How was I to know that was a cocktail and not a sexual proposition, Dionysus? I didn’t have any experience with real mixed drinks, and my hormones had this nasty little habit of transforming even the slightest thing into a potential pornographic romp.**** And, surprisingly, I had forgotten all about that Polaroid of Isadora in my back pocket.
We grabbed our drinks and took some seats at a booth where Franky would be sure to see us. A few moments later, he emerged from the restroom and sat down. His eyes darted about the small bar as he whispered conspiratorially.
“What did you get?”
I looked at him and answered, at normal volume:
“Just drink your fucking drink.”
But what I really got, and how I really should have answered, was:
“A lesson in cultural differences, a headache from an overactive imagination, and a real bad case of blue balls.”
But that wouldn’t have been very erudite, worldly, or refined of me, would it?
</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. I still don’t know what the hell is in a Sex On The Beach.
*Im hindsight, I’m impressed that I didn’t go straight to the nearest gas station or Laden and pick up a bottle of Schnapps. (-1 punk points)
**Let’s be honest: If push would have come to shove, that’s precisely what would have happened. Sorry, Franky.
***I have always thought of bartenders in the same way I think of ships and automobiles: feminine. I have absolutely no idea why and I swear I’m not a sexist.
****They still do.