Renee on the left, Nicholas on the right.
“You are all flatheads,” Renee said laughing. “American flatheads!” Renee was wasted.
Tania and I were enjoying some wine at the bar below our Berlin apartment. It wasn’t our apartment. It was paid for by Adidas and we were sharing it with their Canadian team. But we did have our own room. Which we pretended was our own apartment. Plus it’s fun to say, “We were enjoying some wine at the cafe below our Berlin apartment.” It’s like we’re in U2.
“The Americans. You are all flatheads, you know?” he said still laughing. I had no idea what he was talking about.
The bar was actually in the restaurant below our apartment. We were disappointed that we never got around to eating there because the food looked very good, but we did spend a good deal of time drinking at the small bar. Mostly because Nicholas, the restaurant’s big gay waiter, was so entertaining. Nicholas was a flight attendant (sthuprizzzze!) and spoke very good English. Naturally, he was fascinated with San Francisco. In return for big gay SF information, he told us about Berlin.
“HAHAHAHA!” Renee was just laughing at my face. I was starting to get angry. For one, he was very ugly. He obviously hadn’t bathed in some time, his clothes were dirty and crumpled, his hands were gnarled, his hair was greasy and unkempt, and he was unshaven. In short, he was a typical German man.
Renee did not speak very good English, but I had no problem understanding that he did not like Americans. Mostly due to the imperialistic/military strategies of the Bush administration. “Flatheads,” I think, was a reference to military crewcuts. Renee was completely harmless and totally drunk, but he was getting under my skin. In that “don’t you dare talk about my mother” kind of way. I can talk shit about my country, but don’t you fucking dare.
Nicholas somehow calmed Renee down, and we soon settled into drinking and polite conversation. Renee even began cheering us. “KAAPLA!” he’d say and raise his glass. “KAAPLA!” I’d say back. He was doing it nearly every sip and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. It seemed worth knowing. “Is that German for cheers?” I asked.
“Klingon!” he said.
Klingon? This is when I began to suspect that Renee wasn’t quite right in the head. And he wasn’t. He even had papers to prove it. Not sure what brought that on, but he was very insistent on showing Tania his retard papers.
“They don’t care about that,” Nicholas told him and made him put them away.
Retarded or not, Tania and I wanted to know where to eat. We had been in Germany for almost a day and we wanted some authentic German cuisine. This question delighted Renee. He was very excited to tell us about a number of restaurants, but even with Nicholas’ help, Renee was difficult to understand. He asked for my pen a number of times, “PEN!” and then he’d scrawl some childish words in my book, but we could only pretend to understand what he was talking about. Renee eventually decided that the only way he could sufficiently tell us where we needed to go eat was if we returned to his apartment with him where he could give us a map. Tania and I looked nervously at each other, uhhh? Renee insisted.
“It is okay,” Nicholas assured us. “He is not crazy. I would never send you to the apartment of a crazy man. He is harmless.” I think Nicholas just wanted Renee out of the bar so he could close up and go to bed.
“Alright,” I said. “Let’s go to your apartment and get a map.” What’s the worst that could happen? If he tied us up and raped us, I could just write about it later.
Renee’s apartment was on the fourth floor of a cement, communist-bloc style building. He had one tiny room with a small kitchen and bathroom. His bed was a pile of clothes and a sheet on the floor in the corner. The room was dominated by a rather large TV/entertainment center.
“M*A*S*H?” I said looking at the shelves of VHS tapes. There were a lot of M*A*S*H tapes.
“Yes,” he said excitedly. “Every episode.” Renee hates the American military, but apparently enjoys the adventures of our hilarious mobile army surgical hospitals?
He spread a map of our Berlin neighborhood out on a laundry drying rack. It was a very nice map, kind of cartoonish. He began feverishly searching for places and making marks all over the place, babbling the whole time. He was very insistent we try a place that, I think, specialized in roast chicken. From what I could gather it was less of a restaurant and more of a home. I’m disappointed we never made it to that place because it sounded the weirdest. But some of his other recommendations we did try, most notably Max and Moritz. (Which I’ll write about in the next post. Followed by some of our other German dining adventures.)
This is the cute li'l map Renee gave us. This is a picture of the area in Berlin we stayed in, by the Gorlitzer Bahnhof. Which is right off of Wiener Strasse. HAHAHA WIENER STREET!
It was late and all the bars were closed when we left Renee’s apartment, but we all wanted more drinks. Renee kind of painted himself as a man about town and he assured us he could get us into any bar. I was over Renee, but we hadn’t been raped and I felt like I was still due some sort of an adventure. The first bar we came to was locked up for the night, but people were smoking cigarettes and drinking inside. Renee knocked on the window. The old bartender lady looked up. Renee made the universal sign for, “Hey! It’s me! Renee!” He pointed at his own face and smiled. The bartender didn’t even shake her head “no” at Renee, she just went back to wiping down the bar. “Hey!” Renee said knocking again.
I could tell we weren’t going to get raped or have any more adventures with Renee. The night was over. So we gathered up our maps with our German dining recommendations and retired to our Berlin apartment. That was the last we saw of Renee, but it was the beginning of our German dining adventures.