How Do You Say “Piece Of Ass” In German?

piece of assAs I previously noted I’m staying in the best hostel in Berlin, which is largely due to the area and the people staying here. The other night I saw that girl with the floral patch on her bag walk in and kind of smile at me and I followed her into the kitchen and asked are you American? She said, yes, I’m from San Francisco in what sounded like a German accent and for a second I thought maybe she was born in the U.S. and raised here which wouldn’t really make her American, but as we continued talking I thought that maybe it was just an affectation to sound cooler than she really is.

She offered me dinner, brie on caraway seed bread, but I had a currywurst a few hours ago, so I wasn’t that hungry, then she offered me wine, and that I accepted gladly. I couldn’t be sure who was happier, me to have free wine, or her for having the company of an attractive fellow American.

Pierra, with her short brown hair and brown eyes and petite frame and softspoken questions and Northern California bland look that was kind of sexy, mentioned a poetry slam around the corner which sounded interesting to me largely because I caught her enthusiasm. I went upstairs and got my coat and went downstairs and looked for Pierra and didn’t see her and walked outside and around the corner, which is where she had said the show would be, but I didn’t see any show so I turned around and went back inside and saw her sitting in the stairwell putting on fingerless gloves, waiting for me.

We walked around the park looking for the show. She thought it was this street or that street and I told her to follow her gut and we walked around both streets but it wasn’t there. After twenty minutes we were ready to walk home because she thought I was getting sick and tired of following her around aimlessly but I wasn’t really, I had nothing better to do and was enjoying thinking about going back with her to my room and it was cold now, the wind had picked up, good cuddling weather…With one last try, we walked up Oppelner street, past the atelier where I met  that girl, who I had told her about and who she called my “woman” and which I tried to play off like that was so yesterday, but I don’t think she bought it. When we got to the corner, she said, I’m pretty sure it’s close, I remember that store, which had multicolored letters that read Paper Spiele, about which I asked her the meaning: Paper Play. We laughed at German. And then farther up the block there it was! It hadn’t been off the park but one block from the block off the park.

Inside a woman was in the middle of a reading– in German. We stood at the door politely until she finished, and two people stood to make room for us. A couple of girls performed, one wearing a green scarf over her mouth before she stood. She wasn’t that good because she emphasized the rhyme; she wasn’t as confident or powerful compared to the last girl. The next girl was Asian, one of those who had stood for us. People laughed during her performance and it was clear that she was good because they snapped after certain lines, which I didn’t know people actually did in real life. A couple more people went; I could understand maybe three or four words per poem and my back was beginning to hurt because I had given up a chair with a backrest in order to sit next to Pierra and I began to regret not simply telling her to move over one so I could keep my good seat and exert some kind of power over her, in an effort to condition her to listen to me, so she would be unable to resist when I told her to get in my bed later…

It was over! I asked Pierra what she thought. She said, “That was great, it was nice challenging myself in order to better understand, because sometimes I couldn’t.” Earlier she had mentioned going home and writing in her journal and talking with her “fam-wam,” which I thought was totally lame, so when she asked what I thought, I said, I’m not sure what to do tonight.

In the hostel, she went upstairs to get her journal and I saw one of the Greek girls from earlier today. I complimented her earrings, a zipper and pencil tip and didn’t even say goodnight to Pierra before heading upstairs, thinking maybe I’d come back down with my comp and write with her. It was midnight. My roommates were just getting ready to leave. I was stone sober so I didn’t want to go out with them. I went on facebook and left the door open and saw another of the Greek girls walking to and from the bathroom, looking all fine in low-cut black with her hair straightened. Linda messaged me on facebook and told me I should go out with the Greek girls, I’m in Berlin. So I went and talked to her, the third member of the party, the one I hadn’t met, and yet she seemed like the same girl I had helped earlier today. She had enormous titten. She was nipping out. I started to get hard. She covered herself. I went back into my room. I was going to go out with them. I hovered near their door and the hottie with the cool earrings came out of the bathroom, forcing me, as it were, into her room.

There was the girl I had helped, lying in bed, welcoming me. I went back into my room to get vodka and we sat on the floor drinking while they peppered me with questions about the U.S. We had very good conversation and I became two thirds drunk and admired the breasts of the girl in black. She told me that she had a flat in Krakow and that I could crash on her couch, which I began to fantasize about. It became clear that we weren’t going out and even though I had suggested to Athena, in black, that she and I go out, after I went to the bathroom she changed into her night pants and the other girls said they were going to take a shower and I should stay with Athena and I imagined how easy it would be to kiss her if we were alone. But only the hot one left to shower and the other got under the covers so I stood to leave.

The next morning I went into the kitchen and saw an incredible creature– a six foot tall half Swiss, half Dominican woman wearing tights from the 80s with black girls in sunglasses on them in a newspaper style print. She had masses of curly black hair and exquisite coffee colored skin. I made cereal and sat diagonally from her and we talked. Her friend, a tall doe-eyed brunette walked in and started making breakfast and I pondered whether to return to sleep or to stay up and start writing. But five and a half hours wouldn’t be enough, especially if we were going out tonight for a “wild” night, as the Greek girls had said,  since it was Friday, their last night. So I left before Inness the doe-eyed came to join Alejandra the coffee-skinned.

I slept more and woke to the sounds of boys stirring. It was a quarter to noon, which satisfied me greatly because now I could be productive today. On the way to the bathroom I saw Alejandra and Inness in the bathroom preparing for their day. I laughed over how while I had been sleeping for the past two and a half hours they hadn’t done anything productive. They saw me in my boxers and looked surprised. I showered, dressed, and made a sardine, funghi spaghetti sauce.

At the cafe I began to think about the cliches of an American ordering an americano.

I came back from the bathroom and a sexy little mama with black bangs made eyes at me. She had a round face and high cheekbones and smiled and kept looking back at me. I wasn’t sure she was with a woman, so I kept writing and finally when she stood to put on her coat I walked over and asked, leaving? She smiled and didn’t really speak English– most Germans who don’t speak English well get self-conscious and decide to retreat into German-speaking shells. She asked for my number and when I didn’t have one, gave me her name for facebook. We introduced ourselves, her name was Sunny. I tried asking her what she’s doing tonight but it didn’t work and she walked away to the bathroom and came back out with her friend first and said practicedly, see you later.

It was a day much like those in early spring in Portland, which start cold and gray and lighten in late morning only to darken again and rain in early afternoon leaving puddles that dry from the sun more strongly breaking through the clouds in early evening, revealing an orange and pink sunset from a perch in the hills. It’s the kind of day I’d come home from school to, to see dad in the garage in his double-layered hoodies, on the bench press doing leg lifts, the kind of day that keeps the last bonechilling cold from winter over the house’s wooden floors, the kind of day that quickly passes into a much warmer version of itself within a few weeks, which can be almost hot, and which beckons the year into its prime. It’s the kind of day during which I’d sit at the kitchen table at home trying to understand a calculus problem, watching the mid-afternoon turn into late afternoon as the clouds drift, spraying the hills with a vernal mist, and day still has an hour left and that five o’clock hunger creeps into the body making you wonder when and what’s for dinner and daydreams about the evening and all that’s left to do, or not left to do, stay with one and for ten minutes you can be entirely satisfied not focusing on what you’re supposed to be doing, but rather looking out into the sky, watching the clouds float past the sun, darkening the room entirely, which wears a veil of sadness and carries a Weltschmertz in its shadows, until the sun pushes the cloud away and you recall hints of spring and memories of early adolescence when calculus was for adults who had to pay for car insurance and worry about college and the innocence of youth still rang true over the basketball courts and open fields and the biggest worries you had were whether she liked you or your teacher was going to give you the test on Thursday or Friday and in that moment of return you think about whether you actually were innocent and undismayed by those worries or whether they were seemingly just as important as the worries you currently have, and how in the same way a president’s worries can be just as big as a kindergartener’s, relatively speaking, because the fate of the free world could very well be just as important as seeing mom again after lunch.

Two Swedish girls are staying in my room, one tall fairly attractive blonde, the other red-haired and tall and cute. It was night and we started drinking and I brought my German friends into the picture and soon Alejandra, who knows all too well she’s beautiful and treats everyone with a beautiful woman’s callous indifference, soon she came over and we were all drinking Ouzo and partying and having fun and I was the ringleader, I had brought the party together. I wanted the Greek girls across the hall to come over, but they were lying in bed, going to the bathroom, getting ready, exhausted because they hadn’t gotten the extra two and a half hours they’d have needed and had instead gone to Potsdam. At one point Alejandra returned, after accepting my Ouzo and said what I thought to be, “What if the guys who are sleeping here come in?”

I said “Fuck them.” She looked shocked, like, okaaaay. “No, not like have sex with them,” I said. I went on, feeling funny, “In my cowntry, (in my Borat voice) we say “Fuck them” to mean forget about them, they don’t matter; and fuck them to mean have sex with them.” No one laughed. I didn’t notice. She got back up and went out of the room. Someone, maybe one of my German roomies, Moritz or Christian, explained to me that she had asked if she could invite her male friends into our room. I laughed, half at my misunderstanding, half at the unintentional satisfaction I got out of not letting the beautiful woman have her way. She came back in and I apologized, saying yeah, bring in your friends I don’t care, but she was quiet and reserved. It was already 1130, we had to go, so I got up and told the Greek girls to get a move on.

We waited for them and in the stairwell Alejandra and Inness were with their friends and weren’t coming with us, although they did go to the same club later. The Greek girls came downstairs and introduced themselves and we walked to the train and queued up for the club. The first bouncer said we probably wouldn’t get in. I was confident. Moritz was wise. The girls all got in just fine and we were dropped off at the door. Fortunately, however, based on next-morning reports, Watergate wasn’t fun at all. It was too sceney, the line was too long, the music wasn’t even that good; Alejandra hadn’t even been able to get in, she wasn’t German enough. And at fifteen euros, good riddance. The German guys and I went to our Plan B, Via de Renate, which was a kilometer away, up the Spree. We arrived and there was no line, and even though it was a quarter past one there was hardly anyone there– downstairs.

But upstairs was a dance party, with lekker moussen (this literally means delicious little mouse, and it’s a phrase Lisa called Matthew when she saw him walking around without a shirt in our London hostel last year, when I met the German girls I stayed with last week in Essen, and at the time I didn’t realize that it means figuratively, piece of ass) running around everywhere. And because I’m a foreigner, Moritz said that the girls would probably love it if I called them lekker moussen, because not only is it a compliment but it shows a valiant attempt at speaking German and learning the lingo. So in a couple of minutes I turned to the lekker moussen sitting next to me, one particularly beautiful girl with a Hollywood smile and thin arms with just enough meat on them not to be skinny and big brown eyes and sexy brown hair and a feathered mask, for god’s sake, and oh I fell in love again.

She told me to call her not lekker moussen, which you don’t really say to people directly, but eiro hohein, which means your highness, and I did, and tried to gauge how much she liked me, which seemed to be between kind of with a hint of you could grow on me, and make out on the dance floor, which was fine, I was happy just talking to her and her sexy little friend. So we went dancing on the floor and I tried to determine how to balance casual hand touches with blatantly intimate back and belly touches, which when compared to some of the people dancing nearby, were modest. And I kind of followed her around the floor for half an hour, playing this game of touch, back away, which is like the anecdote Max told me about the elephant, how you don’t want to pull its trunk if you want it to come, but you want to lead it, tickle it a little, which when I told the Asian girl who moved for us at the poetry slam with reference to I can’t remember what, she mentioned how she used to just barely touch the bristly hair on top of the elephant’s head when she lived in Vietnam and how the elephant didn’t get a boner but it did extend its trunk and become visibly happy. But finally, when she was bouncing back toward me, which I assumed to be an invitation, I touched her again, her belly, and she held up both her hands like she’d had enough. I tried to play it off but it was over. I couldn’t deal with this when there were so many other lekker moussen running around.

So I lowered my standards. I sat on the stairs with a 19 year old blonde who wasn’t that attractive and who wouldn’t kiss me because she was worried her male friend would see. So there I am sitting a step above her repeating, Ich vill ein dich kissen, and she’s like no! no! No. So I leave her and find another little moussen in a black and white striped dress, with brown hair and fair skin, and blue eyes, an Italian from Venezia and I compliment her on her dress and she points to the golden zipper running just to the right of her left nipple and says that’s why, and I say, I hadn’t even noticed that but now I like it better and she got bored and went off to another of her friends. I walked around and saw some girl leaning against the wall, about to fall asleep and told her to wake up and talk to me. I leaned against the wall which was padded and comfortable and she told me it was four o’clock already. She studied tourism and told me about her travels and I said Ich vill ein dich kissen which didn’t work again and pretty much resigned myself to the end of the night. I tried dancing a little longer but gave up and said goodbye to Roman, my Ukrainian-born third German roommate who was still looking for some girl he had been hideously making out with, like extended mouth open, sloppy drunk based on the lack of head movement and pure tonguing and he said that the other guys had already left so I said goodbye and looked around and the party was just cresting.Downstairs they had live swing music and I regretted being so tired but said whatever and left.

I asked some dumb girls on the corner where they lived and they probably thought I wanted to rape them but I said to share a cab and gave up, and turned away and started the long walk home. Hood up, eating hazelnuss chocolate, I walked the good twenty minutes back to the hostel, where the Swedish girls were awake, fending off the Swedish boys from across the hall, who were maybe even more desperate than I was, and on the way to the bathroom I saw ol’ Alejandra being cornered by some guy with a shaved head and she asked me to get him away from her but I shook my head and said nehnehneh and brushed my teeth and thought about how it’s nice being a man, in the predatory instead of the prey role. I went back into my room ready for bed and the Swedish guys took the hint and left and the girls and I and a new German guy I hadn’t yet met reviewed the night. I told them about my ol’ line I used to use in Brooklyn, the ol’ make out and cuddle, and we laughed and then when it was silent I said it seriously and the Swedish girls didn’t respond, only the German guy did and we laughed it off and went to sleep.

This morning I looked in at the Greek girls’ room. They were gone. I chopped an onion for my pasta sauce and saw Inness and Alejandra and went upstairs and there was Robert the German guy from last night and we talked about all the lekker moussen and he described Alejandra and I said she’s downstairs and he said you know her, and I said of course and he asked me to introduce him so I said sure and led him back downstairs because I had to watch my onion carmelizing and pretty soon he was blabbing her ear off but she did occasionally laugh and so maybe she liked it…But let’s remember who we’re dealing with– a beautiful woman hardly ever laughs genuinely, and I bet dollars to doughnuts it was a decoy laugh, the kind that says, I’m tolerating your conversation just barely enough to let you continue.

So I finished my spaghetti and met a guy from Bed-Stuy who busks Shakespeare scenes and got into a play here in Berlin and then he left and I cleaned up and back upstairs brushed my teeth and put on my shades and went back downstairs looking cool and Alejandra and Inness laughed because they hadn’t expected me to have such cool shades, may have judged me a bit prematurely perhaps, although I know they were impressed with my ability to make friends, and I backed out of the room with my bag slung over my shoulder, Tschuss, I said and left the best hostel in Berlin to have a day on my own.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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