Saturday, April 18, 2009

Deutschland, Ho!

Jeff and I are off to Germany for a week! My friend Kerry, with whom we are staying in return for carting some of her heavy PhD books back to the States, has a computer, so hopefully I'll be able to blog from there.

I have been to Germany once, in 2000, to visit my college BFF Charlie, who was on a semester abroad in Regensburg. As soon as I landed, he and my friend Greg ordered me ein Maß (a liter of beer) and some kind of wurst with sauerkraut, and for the rest of the trip I was pretty much buzzed the whole time. Since Charlie is gay, we spent most of our days (when we weren't drinking, that is) visiting his sexy boyfriend Wolfgang or dancing at the Sudhaus, a local gay club (I actually wore that Betsey Johnson pink miniskirt there...nothing like a foreign gay bar to release your inner stripper). We took a day trip to Berlin, but mostly to try to find all the places that Lola ran in Run, Lola, Run (I don't think we found any). Then we went to a movie theater and watched Magnolia with German subtitles. (They served beer at the movie theater, naturally.) So I think it's safe to say that there's plenty of Berlin left for me to discover.

On our return trip, we have a six or seven-hour layover in Amsterdam, another city that I visited during that trip with Charlie, and also another city that I thoroughly neglected to properly explore due to my intense desire to get fucked up. Charlie and I spent roughly 24 hours in Amsterdam. We took the train, and on the way there came up with the brilliant idea that we would not book a room at a hotel or hostel and instead would stay up all night. Perhaps if cocaine had been our drug that plan would have worked, but as it was we walked from the train station into the nearest coffee shop (for the uninitiated, "coffee shop" is code in Amsterdam for places that sell marijuana and marijuana-laced baked goods) and proceeded to smoke a few joints. Walking through the red light district, Charlie became entranced by window signs advertising magic mushrooms, bought a bag, and spent the rest of the trip feeling as if, in his words, he was "being pulled into the center of the universe." I declined the mushrooms, as I had gone into a state of panic-induced sobriety. Charlie was my guide and translator, and I had become the only person in our party not hallucinating. I self-medicated with more pot, naturally.

At 4 am that morning, we found ourselves being forced out of a local club, as it was closing time. I had been sleeping on a banquette (so much for staying up; I am not physically capable of pulling all-nighters) and was fantasizing about hostel beds and a shower in much the same way that cartoon castaways dream about food and rescue. Charlie and I agreed that we were stupid and drunk and that we needed a place to sleep, but after an hour of wandering we couldn't find any vacancies. We settled on a bench by one of the canals and took turns dozing off until a policeman kicked us out an hour or so later. It was 6 am by that time, so we decided to walk around an wait until something opened.

During breakfast at a diner, I attempted to wash my face in the bathroom and banged my head so hard on the faucet that I drew blood. Charlie, feeling renewed after coffee and eggs, decided that before we board our return train we needed to buy a brick of hash for his friend Ben. Perhaps dizzy from my concussion, I agreed. Charlie procured the contraband and we bought a jar of Nutella from a grocery store. Back in the coffee shop, I allowed Charlie to go into the bathroom with the hash and the Nutella with the aim of burying the former inside the latter. He emerged twenty minutes later looking like he had just crawled his way out of a sewage pipe: his arms were covered to the elbows in brown goo. I realized then that I should never have let him eat that last mushroom.

At the train station, I unscrewed the jar of Nutella to find the brick of hash nestled an inch or so deep, fully visible.
"What were you doing in there?" I demanded. Charlie shrugged.

I refused to smuggle drugs across international borders and that was the end of that.*

And that, children, is how I spent my time in Europe back in the year 2000. Wish me luck that this will be a slightly more lucid trip.

*Ask me again when you're older.
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