Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Night in Berlin

Ryan is gone again on business and I've been spending more time with my classmates, which has been nice. Yesterday Carmen and I spent a few hours in a cafe and then drove a saleslady crazy trying on all the shoes in a local boutique. Today she and April wanted to go out for a beer and told me they'd call "around 4:00" which in Spanish time means somewhere between 6:30 and 8:00.

At 7:30 I didn't feel like waiting around the house anymore so I decided to see a movie. The main English-version movie theater in Berlin is in glamorous Potsdamer Platz. I practiced my supermodel walk through the glittery plaza.

I saw "Slumdog Millionaire." I was probably the last English-speaking person on the planet to see this movie, but if you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it. Its very intense, and as my German teacher would say "brutal", but it's beautifully done. The conditions of the slums in this film were absolutely heart-wrenching. I left the theater awash with guilt that my own comfortable existence could coincide unknowingly with such poverty and despair.

As I climbed aboard the U-Bahn, I passed a gangly young man dead asleep on a bench with a beer bottle in one hand and a huge book in the other. The American in me was shocked and passed by quickly. I climbed on the waiting train and watched him. Everyone else walked past, shaking their heads, some glaring at the boy. Then one man tapped him on the knee and pointed toward the idling train. The boy gathered himself and bumbled on board. He sat down between a trio of 18-year old girls making nervous faces and disgusted older man. Of course, upon sitting he immediately fell asleep, and started leaning dangerously close to one of the girls, who was eating a fruit cup. Others got up and moved away from him.

My time in England witnessed a lot of drunks. Its not unusual to see someone passed out in their own vomit in the middle of the sidewalk. But the English aren't phased, and quite used to picking each other up and putting them on the right bus.

I knew this guy was going to sleep through his station. And to be honest, I've been that drunk once or twice (never alone mind you, but anyway). So I sat down across from him and mustered my best German. I tapped him on the knee and said "You must wake up. What is your station?" I repeated myself once more and he muttered "Kottbusser Tor. You tell me when it's Kottbusser Tor. Danke." Then fell asleep again. He dropped his massive book. It was Star Trek. He started leaning again toward the young girl, and we all started laughing. Everyone in the car was now watching him, slumping to the side with a large string of drool out of his mouth. Two less drunk guys got on the train and were making fun of him, trying to impress the girls. At this point I thought "why see a movie, I can get all the entertainment of Berlin just riding the U-1."

At Kottbusser Tor I shook him awake and told him to go "schnell! Straight home, no more drinking!" He caught the eyes of the guys making fun of him, and for a minute I thought they would fight. But he lumbered off the train. The doors closed and we all laughed again. Then he banged on the window. I thought he was mad at the other boys, but instead he flashed a big smile and waved to me. The man sitting next to me said something to the effect of "Some boyfriend you have." And I couldn't answer, I was giggling too much.

So, today's German will be "blau sein." Literally, "to be blue" but it actually means drunk. For example "Ich bin nicht blau. Du, du bist blau!"

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