Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Kassel (Part Deux)

Tun was an interesting guy. At first he thought I, being an American, only spoke English. Later (after a few drinks), he learned I spoke German, and proceeded to try to talk to me - at machine gun pace. I kept saying langsam, langsam (slower, slower) to no avail. He'd just talk faster. We got to Freierhagen, where Patty's family friend lived, and where we'd be spending the night, just after 8 - in time for a late dinner, which we declined; Patty, because she wasn't hungry, and me, because her mother had just fed me a delicious bratwurst and kartoffelsalat mit sampf (bratwurst and potato salad with dijon mustard).

When Tun failed to arrive as scheduled to pick us up, we walked the relatively short distance to the party location, where we found out why he'd never arrived. Old Tun was already hard at work pulling beers - for the three people who were there. Interestingly enough, shortly after our arrival, we met Rachel, an American and a freshman at Florida. She was gorgeous - long blonde hair, perfect tan, white teeth, pretty smile - and nice to boot. The three of us chatted for nearly two hours, with Rachel expressing frustration that no one her age in Freierhagen seemed to be very open toward her. Of course, once the teenagers started showing up (and show up they did, in droves) it was easy to see why. Poor Rachel, with her stunning good looks, was like a Ferrari in a Yugo shop. She got most of the men's attention, young and old, and the other girls got ignored. Not that the other girls were ugly - there were two or three really cute ones, the rest were average - but Patti and I speculated they must have been quite intimidated by the American girl.

The party itself was a blast. Everyone, including the teenagers (the drinking age for beer in Germany is 16) got pretty plowed. Several tried their English out on me, especially once Patty slipped behind the bar to help out as promised. A few bought me drinks, making sure that as soon as I put down an empty, it was immediately refilled. Others offered to buy me a mischung - a mix of cognac and beer - which I politely declined. They also sold meters, which is a meter-long (ingenious, eh?), fraternity paddle-shaped board capable of holding 11 beers, 10 of which you pay for, and one of which you get for free. Seeing several 16-year-olds down an entire meter was enough to convince me that the 'veteran' drinkers in our group had a long way to go to keep up with these guys. Patty and I finally left the party around 2:45a.m. and headed back to the apartment for the night. While Strasbourg had been swealteringly hot, Freierhagen was relatively cool - we had been given jackets as we left for the party, and walking home we made good use of them. The cool evening weather, and the pin-drop quiet of a small German town combined to give me the best nights sleep that I'd had in at least six weeks, if not longer.

In the morning, Patti's father picked us back up, and took us to the garden club. I spent the day doing basically nothing, just watching TV (some in English, most in German) and vegging out. For the first time in two years, I got to watch an entire F1 race (which Juan Montoya made exciting by spinning out Michael Schumacher), and for the first time ever, watched it live at a normal time (instead of having to set the VCR for 6:00a.m.). It was a nice respite from the constant bitching and sniping and the general where-are-we-eating-today nausea that this trip has sometimes delved into.

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