Wednesday night on the Eastern Comfort I met for the second time a red-haired Scottish woman who’s a stand-up comedian. She’d come with a porno magazine and on the cover of it there was a photograph of a naked dude sitting down with a hard-on about a foot long. She flashed it around and then rolled up the magazine and slipped it into her back pocket. Then she told us how she was the organizer for the next stand-up event and wanted to know if we had any material. I brainstormed for a moment, but I think my faculties were still disturbed by the image.
“Tell her your Wallflower story,” said my friend T.
“I can’t,” I said. “I forgot what made it funny.”
Then I told how standing in front of an audience is not my forte. For one because I lack the nerve, and also because I’m horrible at remembering lines. My memory doesn’t work that way. I have a freakish memory for faces, but for written text I am beyond deficient. I’d be even worse in front of a crowd.
T. didn’t have any material either. “How could I?” he said. “I’m German.”
“Germans may not be funny,” said the Scottish women. “But their jokes are very well-structured.”
We laughed. She left on that note with the rolled-up porno mag sticking out her back pocket. Then the complimentary peppermint schnapps arrived and we drank them down with our beers.
A German woman named E. turned up after that and we started talking auf Deutsch, but I was embarrassed by my Deutsch and E. said it was fine, that I didn’t need to keep apologizing for it. Then someone, it may have even been me, produced a joint and the three of us smoked it, talking about the difference between verstehen (to understand) and verstehen (to understand) when it’s pronounced differently. One implied a more intimate connection.
T. then went off for another round, leaving behind a strange tension in the air between A. and me, even though she knows I have a girlfriend. I naturally made the tension stranger by just being myself, which cracked E. up. I tried to remain deadpan but it wasn’t easy. Then T. got back with the beers and E. made a remark about how we looked like a gay couple. T. didn’t hear it so I explained it auf Deutsch, and that only made E. laugh harder. She had to sit down she was laughing so hard. Then she got up, left the stern and went inside the boat somewhere. We wondered where. She wasn’t at the bar or on the dancefloor or on the sofas. That left only the bathroom or the side of the boat that no one goes on.
Finally, about an hour later, she came through the doors and cast a quick sidelong glance at us. Then she went slinking down the stairs and disappeared into the night.
“Weird that she didn’t say goodbye,” I told T.
“She did,” he said. “It was a Polish goodbye.”
We drank two more shots.
After that we sat down at the table with an Englishman from Bristol who was in Berlin for the week. He was a very friendly chap it turned out, and an artist too, so we talked about art for a while, and then his beard came up. I might’ve said something. His beard was ginger-colored and huge, fanning out like foliage under the jaw but almost completely bald of mustache and in the U-shaped patch from the bottom of his lip to the bottom edge of his chin. It made him look like a sunflower. Did he paint sunflowers? I hope his art is better than his beard, I thought. But what kind of artist would see the beauty in that hideous spectacle? I was tempted to tug it off and throw it overboard. Instead I finished the last of my beer, said goodbye to everyone the non-Polish way and slouched my way home.