A hodgepodge of my friends were living in London in 2007. We were cool. Real cool. I thought I was Kate Moss, my boyfriend thought he was Pete Doherty, and my crüe drank gin from teacups and read the New Yorker in hard copies shipped from the US. It’s enough to make you audibly roll your eyes.
One night we decided to plan a winter weekend away to Berlin. The plans came together fast because we all had similar, grossly unrealistic expectations of what this would be like. First of all, we agreed that we had to let an apartment in East Berlin because West Berlin would obviously be too mainstream. Secondly, we would drink a lot. Earnest Hemingway style, we would have cocktails everywhere we went while striking high brow conversation with intellectual comrades. Thirdly, we would only go to all speakeasy-type venues. We wanted to hear underground music, see underground couture, and mix with the best of the bohos.
Miki called me, “Hey, where are you?” Me, “I’m on the train.” Miki, “Ok, well hurry, we’re boarding soon.” Me, “No, I’m on the train, still in London.” Miki, “You’re probably going to miss the flight, do you have the address of our flat in Berlin?” Me, “Yea.” Miki, “Alright. See you there.” We hung up fast. Cell phones were expensive.
I played it cool even though my bowels got loose with the anxiety of missing a flight. Luckily, we were flying Dollar Jet, or whatever it was called back then. So, not only did I make the flight, but we were delayed and landed in Germany after dark. In case you’re worried, don’t be. Driving around Berlin is like driving on an adopt-a-highway in Orlando, replete with big lanes and glowing golden arches.
We arrived at our apartment for the big reveal. Our Deutschland artisanal pied-à-terre was a Disneyland safari-themed bungalow. The bedrooms came with authentic mosquito netting. The headboards were covered in faux cheetah fur. The picture frames were filled with families cut out of National Geographic. And there were plastic animal figurines everywhere.
Deflated, but not discouraged, we turned the party around quickly to explore the neighborhood. We had no guide books, smart phones didn’t exist, and we were too apathetic/hungry to makes good decisions. We entered the first place we found. It turned out to be a Hawaiian-themed tiki bar. This place had sand bottom floors, live palm trees, and blended drinks. Perfect.
Our winter-pale faces sipped pink umbrella cocktails; this was much less Sun Also Rises, and much more Tequila SunRises. Plus, no one wanted to talk with us – because we didn’t speak German – which we forgot to take into account. Hours and hours passed here. Sufficiently [sugar] buzzed, we decided to leave. As Phil stood up, the pocket of his perfectly worn jeans caught on the bamboo bench and tore it away from his butt cheek; pulled it right off like a piece of painters tape being stripped from the wall. He chased his tail to see the damage, which now looked like a little kid’s PJ bottoms with the butt flap window undone. Close scene.
Someone hailed a taxi who took us to an after hours dance club. Having grown up in the late ’90s I have some niche expertise in things like belly button rings, chat rooms, and raves. The three most important Rave Rules are:
- Never go with a clubkid to a second location
- A bad trip is worse than no trip at all #justsayno
- Don’t take off your shoes. Ever.
I knew these rules by heart, but there was so much sand from the tiki bar caught between my too tight shoes and my blistering toes. It got painful as I danced in/on the DJ booth, so I broke the third tenet and took off my shoes. Just for a minute.
Of course, when I wanted to put them back on, they were gone. Like a baby bird I started to ask around, “Are you my mother? I mean, Meine schuhe?” while pointing to my dirty dirty bare feet, “Are you meine schuhe?” This problem went from being annoying to serious to critical real fast. At the point of exhaustion, I asked the DJ who gave me a big nod + a thumbs up and pointed to the shelf. There were my skull and crossbone patterned shoes, sitting neatly together, with a mini cup of espresso in each one. Sometimes there’s just no explanation, and it’s best to remember:
Never look a gift horse in the mouth.