We Get Murdered- Mar 08
Three friends and I took a weekend trip to Berlin. I was the only boy in the group. This is the summary:
We leave on Friday and take the 18:00 train departing from Prague to Berlin. Two guys from London join us on the train. They give us beer and wine. They call Prague an embarrassment and try to put a line of coke on my jeans. They do bumps for the next hour until they’re smashed and stumble away.
Our hostel is brand new and smells like paint. I walk under the Brandenburg Gate, through the Jewish Memorial which is haunting in its simplicity, eat a chili dog, see museums, see concert halls, walk across Hitler’s Bunker which is now a gravel parking lot, take a nap. When I wake we drink vodka, shitty rum, Red Bull and Coke. We go to club Tresor, one of the top clubs in Europe. Eat two hot dogs on the way and drink beer that is better than in Prague.
In the club they play house and deep house and it’s filled with smoke and dudes. We dance and drink cocktails. There is a strobe light and I make chopping motions in the air. I hit on a girl dancing, she walks away, hit on a bartender, she ignores me, hit on a girl on the stairs, she laughs, and then walks away. I spend all my money and walk around looking for drinks to steal. A German guy follows me and I sprint through the dance floor to lose him. We leave in the morning and I’m not tired when I lay down.
We wake in two hours to pack; I’m hung-over and gag in the bathroom. We see the line for the Reichstag and say ‘fuck it.’ The girls are cynical. We visit a museum which is full of ancient ruins, they’re massive and I wonder how they got here. Try to buy lunch with a credit card but no one accepts them. I eat peanuts out of a vending machine instead. Ride the metro to the main Berlin train station which is much nicer than Prague’s.
We eat at Burger King, find a nice train car, and make ourselves comfortable. The girls are no longer cynical, and I’m glad I came because I’m happy to be home.
“Oh, fuck,” I say, as I get off the tram. I have been coincidentally following this girl for the last fifteen minutes. It started on the metro when I was sitting next to her with an open seat between us, we exited at the same stop, followed behind her to the same tram stop, boarded the same car and now I notice her getting off at my stop. I’m tempted to just turn around and explain to her that I’m only going home, but she has her headphones in, and I can only imagine how that could go wrong.
I’m relieved when I look behind me and see that she is gone. She is on the other side of the street. That wasn’t so creepy. I’m thinking about getting something to eat in the little Korean corner store. No, it’s late. After a few steps past I change my mind. When I turn the girl is right behind me. I could pull her hair. She almost jumps backwards with surprise. How the fuck did you get over here? She walks fast, so much for not looking like a creep.
There’s something of a mall at the Budejovica metro stop, which isn’t interesting because there are malls everywhere in Prague. But in the food court at this mall they serve Mexican food, and while never great, it has become easy to be satisfied after being away for so long.
Budejovica also contains what could be called Prague’s skyscrapers. I use the term loosely, as it’s always relative to the city. The two largest are close to the metro, the Raiffeisen bank and Česká spořitelna Towers. Everywhere there’s construction, and by the end of the year there will be more.
Further down the road is the BB Centrum, which openly claims that they are ‘the choice of multi-nationals.’ That’s bold. There are offices for Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, CEZ the partially state-owned Czech energy conglomerate, and others. Sometimes a company has their own building on the campus, other times they share it, but always it is a mass of glass and modernism, which is depressing for what it is, but not extremely distasteful once you’re inside.
On the walk to BB Centrum there is a bill-board with drawings of small faceless soldiers herding small faceless people in Middle-Eastern garb, a tank, and a fire raging in what looks like a mosque. It is all very cartoonish, black and white, and macro with few details. What strikes me is the lack of any language. Someone or some organization, paid to have this placed, and did so without any recognition.
I left Prague for two weeks to go home to the States for Easter. This writing and the next three are about this time:
I have a four hour layover in Amsterdam. I take all my perishable food with me, which is really tortillas and candy, but I’ve eaten enough tortillas I could puke so I buy overpriced pizza in the food court. When I empty my tray I meet a very cute, very small German girl. She speaks almost no English, which surprises me, but for the next few hours we walk around, talk, listen to music, drink coffee, and take pictures.
Asking to kiss someone is for goons, but I ask to kiss her because it is the middle of the day and neither of us has any alcohol in our systems. It scares her, and she tells me she has a boyfriend, and then tries to communicate that she is faithful without knowing the word ‘faithful’.
“You don’t have a girlfriend?” she says with a surprised look. I go on teach her the difference between ‘faithful’ and ‘unfaithful’.
“So you would kiss girls?” she asks.
“Uh yeah, but a little bit more than kiss.”
We say goodbye at my gate and I stand for over an hour to board the plane. On the plane, when the dining carts are in the aisles I have to go the bathroom so bad I almost piss my pants. A cliché in movies today is the mid-air collision. The next time I see a mid-air catastrophe with the top flying off and the seats being ripped out I will laugh uncontrollably.
“Wow, you’ve really confronted man’s innate fear of flying in this scene.”
The days are longer in Minnesota because the latitude is the same as Paris, but there’s still snow on the ground. As the snow melts everything turns to mud and the garbage that was buried in the snow can be found everywhere.
In the Twin Cities there is a good public radio station but in my hometown all I can get are Christian, Country, and radio stations that play the safest generic music blessed by Clear Channel. ‘Hey this sounds like Maroon 5. You like Maroon 5, right? Right?’ They also have DJs that enjoy listening to themselves speak but never have anything funny to say.
On St. Paddy’s day I’m still stuck at home and the town is quiet. There’s only one liquor store, but when I go I’m the only one in the store. I buy good vodka for myself and shitty vodka for my brother, both of which are pretty cheap, and some beer which is not cheap.
The woman working the register asks to see my ID. I go blank and stare at her until I realize she wants to see my license.
“Sorry,” I say and hand her the license with two fingers. She smiles and doesn’t seem to mind. Not used to that either.
The next night when I’m in Minneapolis, a friend and I meet a couple who lead us to the Gay 90s for a drag show. The two turn out to be friends so I take the girl’s number. She’s at the apartment a few days later when I wake up and find half a foot of fresh snow. I have to drive through it for several hours to get my brother home for tennis practice.
It’s snowing again on Easter Sunday but this time the flakes are light and without wind. I was told this is the earliest Easter can be. It won’t be this early again for another two hundred years.
I heard a Tegan and Sara song that rocked my world so hard I haven’t been able to think straight for three days.
The church parking lot is filled, so I park down the street in the dying downtown. Everyone comes out of the woodwork on Christmas and Easter, the same with me. I’m out of place without dress pants and a tie, but people don’t seem to mind.
Most of the friends don’t make it home for Easter anymore. They are mostly stuck in their respective cities: Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, New York. Everyone has to be at work on Monday, so I watch television with my brother and fall asleep early.
The last couple of days in the States are a blur. Mostly packing and tying up loose ends. The weather was nice for one of the days.
My final night in town I went out with the girl I had met earlier. There was nowhere to go, so we spent time in the back seat of her car, which felt like high school. The whole night we said to each other, ‘at least we’re not in high school.’
In the airport I felt nauseous and took Dramamine, which knocked me out for most of the flight to Amsterdam. When I was boarding my second flight the buzzer went off on the metal detector. The guard was friendly enough while he molested me.
I took public transit home: bus, metro, and then a long walk, which was a mistake and I noticed that everyone was annoyed by my big blue bag. When I got home I had a surprising amount of energy and I texted people; an hour later I crashed for a long time and woke up in the middle of the night.
The next day I went for a walk in Vyšehrad. The weather was beautiful, a real Spring day, and nicer than when I left.
Sometimes you forget how beautiful this city is. Sitting in the park, looking over the parapets, it was so perfect that even the disgusting pickled sausage I was eating tasted good.