Alessandro´s kitchen looked exactly like mine, or like Lucia´s, or like Hana´s. Or Malte´s. It bore the same dining table, the same overcrowded shelves, full of tins and cans, and the same oven that every week again would showcase an impressive display of grime and filth to be removed by hard-shrubbing cleaning ladies with loud voices and magic shrubbing devices (Jonathan loved chatting with them in his loud Bavarian English while they were at it, well-prepared as for any given fire drill with a cup of coffee, and flirting with them, laughing his Bavarian cannon shot). On the inside, Agnes Jones was Agnes Jones, wherever you roamed.
It was apparent that the international flock was bigger than I had believed it to be. Little Gracia from Brazil welcomed us by jumping on a chair and yelling for booze. We met Thomek from Poland, a tall handsome volleyball player, and one hell of a guy, who explained for me that Borat´s basic vocabulary was actually Polish. When I heard what he studied I believed Gaddafi´s son to be a student of the same subject, in Liverpool, which Thomek found interesting because that one time he had in fact talked with a Libyan guy, who got pretty angry when asked what life was like when ruled by a dictator. We laughed and wished Thomek a nice funeral.
This is part of the ongoing A Big Plate of Sideorders series, an Erasmus memory.
And then there was Nithia or as Jonathan had called her after we had met her in the Symphony one evening: “the sex goddess”, an Australian beauty of Indian descent with exotic dark skin, Julia Roberts smile and dark almond eyes. A stylish babe with primetime pins. And, what was more, she turned out to be Melis´ flat mate. The gorgeous Turk and Giorgis again giggled quite a lot with each other and this time I was sure I saw a very critical look on Agnes´ face. Come on, Giorgis said, in many places of Greece people are more Turkish than Greek anyway. Things are so mixed and meddled, these borders are over-simplified theoretical constructs. They do not respect a more complex reality. Nationality, he said, that´s quite messy. Can you be proud of being Greek anyway? Can you be proud of “your” history? Of something someone who probably is not related to you in any sense anymore, lost in ramifying bloodlines, had accomplished hundreds and thousands of years ago? And could you be ashamed of your nationality? Me being German? Nationality, he repeated, it´s quite messy. Then we both hugged Agnes because she was already rolling her eyes.
We overquoted Oscar Wilde for some time and then decided to skedaddle to Hana´s chamber to have a few cups of black tea and Annabel soothed us with her holy hollow tummy. Hana and I played the overly infantile Druid Song we had written the other day, and the others joined in. We couldn´t get enough / of all this druid stuff / it makes you hiccup / this nicely spicy druid stuff.
Rick was once again visited by his buddies from home. What a busy man he was! Or had he simply run out of nasal cream again? Here we had Peter, Rick´s best friend of them all, a bespectacled bloke with fuzzy hair and a round face and a round belly and as it would soon turn out a round and sound dictionary of cultural quotations, and Bene once again. Bene had slept at Urte´s last time, and there was a good chance he had liked that too much to not return to the Pool. Noone could blame him.
We met them in the Fab.
“Rickinger!” I shouted.
“Paulinger!” Rick answered. He was wearing a funky Ghostbusters T-shirt and looked really happy. “So, you finally do want to meet us, don´t you? So, we are finally worth seeing? So, the others are not sexier than us anymore, are they?”
I told him that nothing like this could have been the case. “You know, this is so much better here. This is our territory. This is where we dwell!”
“Like the banshees at Stonehenge?”
“Like the banshees at Stonehenge. I mean we have already dug our niche, right? This is like our place to be, a bit off the shot, always a bit… you know.”
Rick gave me a dirty look. “And? Can we go back to the point where we are sexier than the others?”
“Yeah”, I laughed. “I mean, why not, you got to let love rule.”
Rick nodded very slowly and flashed a terribly self-assure let´s-skip-the-talking-and-get-right-down-to-business glance, his lips pressed together, raunchily, as if ready for action. “Isn´t that the very, the one and only reason you came here, my delicious little cupcake?”
We had really gotten closer, hadn´t we? “Whatever you say, cutesy pootsy.” I needed to laugh louder than I wanted to. “Is that your sexy face, Rickinger?”
“I actually call it the Freibierg´sicht. When there is Freibier, like free beer, like beer for free, you know, when they offer it so that you don´t need to pay, and like in Würzburg everyone would love to have free beer, but who do I tell that to, regardless of whether you drink or you don´t, and it´s the same everywhere around there, and then everybody stands in line, because there is this free beer, and when everyone is just terribly happy.” Rick had this adorable habit of explaining anything in full feature-length, even if everyone around him had already completely understood. “Like when everybody is so ridiculously satisfied with themselves.”
“Oh, are we talking about the Freibierg´sicht here?” Peter turned around to us and presented the exact same facial expression. They clearly had practiced.
“We are”, said Rick and mirrored Jan. “Des is ja dodal geil!”
“Des is ja dodal geil”, agreed Peter. “It combines the lip elasticity of Silvester Stallone´s Judge Dredd with the insane eyes of Klaus Kinski. When happy. And drunk.”
“I really think this is actually the sexy face, guys”, I said, all amused.
Rick considered. “Okay, ya. I guess it is simultaneously sexy, ya.”
“But you need to… well, do you know how you could lift it to the next level?”
“No. How?” Rick looked surprised.
“You need to touch yourself while doing it.”
“Touch yourself?” Now he sounded excited. “That´s like porn already!”
“I know! It is”, I confirmed. “And is it not supposed to be? Look, you need to touch yourself, all your huge sweaty palm needs to lie on your chest or so, and then you need to rub it, in circles, and never, never stop doing the face at the same time. That´s the real sexy face!”
“You are completely insane”, gurgled Rick and tried what I had told him.
“I know”, I said with a grin. “It´s a bit like Vasily in a way.”
“Vassily who?” asked Rick and Peter in unison.
“Ah, nevermind. Just someone who is really really fond of touching himself.”
“I xeard that”, shouted Giorgis, who was already dancing. “çe´s great, mate! I tell you!” And then he fanned himself and went, “Oh Vasily!”
“Well, yeah.” I went back on topic. “Agnes, have a look, doesn´t that completely turn you on, I mean, when we do the sexy face?”
“Oh yez, it doez”, replied Agnes, digging with both hands in a big caldron of sarcasm. “Led me try it, too!” She pursed her lips and more or less imitated the old man in the pub. “´Ow doez it work egsagdly?”
“No, Agnieszka, no no no!” I protested. “You can´t do that just now, just like that! Just don´t do it.”
Agnes let old man be the old man and looked surprised. “Why nod?”
“I´m afraid that´s a totally male thing!”
“Ah, gome on!” she shouted and quite charmingly put her foot down. ”That´s segsizm!”
“Exactly”, I said, and Rick and Peter and myself immediately started rubbing our chests again, showcasing the glorious face, one more time.
“Well, I guess there is hardly anything sexier in this world”, I said.
“You are so geil”, said an unabashed Hana, laughing into our faces.
And then we all giggled and we did that a lot and barely stopped doing the sexy face all night, feeling like kings to a kingdom of nonsense. Only when Bene reminded us not to forget our druidic plights did we let go off it for a bit. The Liverpool Association that he had co-founded needed to represent, big time, he was right, and so we found the Fab to be Druidic territory and had our hands do the cryptic magic dance. Quickly, the rhythm infused our fingertips with energy and set our arms on fire, from where the blaze dispersed into our whole bodies. The Fab did the rest of the job. From behind his TV screen window, the DJ turned on classic after classic, no matter whether old-school rap or 80s trash or Nirvana. As the speakers started shaking, so did we, bending ourselves out of shape and into dancing mood. We did the Hammer. We emulated Wayne´s World to Bohemian Rhapsody, me on the stirring wheel of the Murphmobil obviously, or we presented a crunchy Slah air guitar solo on our knees, did the Jimi and set the air guitar alight, and Kurt and all the other eminent ghosts of entertainment, of rock and bleeding noise were assembled and dancing right there with us.
Loranas, Urte´s flat-mate, who usually did not go out often, joined us for a beer or two and some sweaty rounds on the dancefloor. He forgot his reticence. Giorgis reeled around as if for a video clip, perfectly unrockish but surely in tune; I took Hana for a clumsy couple dance on Wheezer while Urte set her hips in motion so bad it was difficult to concentrate on anything else in the room. And even Agnes, usually reserved in her will to dance, started grooving like mad. We turned the place topsy-turvey, for hours, so thoroughly there was no strength left in my joints at the end of the eve. For a moment I needed to sit down. I eyed the others and their goings-on, their laughter and their hooting. It was as if my world had found a new axis, suddenly spinning the other way. A few minutes later, I was back on the floor, banging head until a sophisticated stiff neck eventuated. The night seemed endless.