Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dieter II

We met in Monday morning’s “Fundamentals of Group Dynamics” class. There was chemistry and mutual attraction from the start. Dieter II was tall and handsome with dark shoulder length brown hair, blue eyes, fine features, and plump lips like a girl. We had been studying with the same professor for three semesters and discovered that we had read the same books, liked the same authors, in social sciences, psychology, and literature. On the last day of class, Dieter II announced that he was moving to Berlin. I sensed that he was too shy to make the first move; it was up to me to seduce him.
As we were leaving class I lurked about him and then managed to stand behind him on the escalator leading down to the first floor.
”Do you feel like continuing our discussion over lunch?” I asked.
“Sure, I’d like that,” he said.
At the bottom of the escalator we turned left to the cafeteria. I stood in front of the counter and could not make up my mind. Did I want the Königsberger Klopse or the noodles? I wasn’t hungry. I had no inclination to discuss Adorno, Horkheimer and the contributions of the Frankfurter Schule to the Studies of the Authoritarian Character. I needed a beer to calm my anxiety. Dieter II made his selection. I picked the noodles, he went for sausage and potato salad, and we both proceeded with our plastic orange trays to the cashier.
In a secluded corner we found a table with a view of the lake. I finished my beer in no time and picked at my food. Watching him eat, I got worried. Didn’t a man’s way of eating point to his skills in bed? Dieter did not taste, smell, or even chew his Würstchen mit Kartoffelsalat. He shoveled the food into his mouth at breakneck speed and then swallowed it. Would he be one of the guys who tore a woman’s clothes off, skipped foreplay and got right down to it? The way he inhaled his sausages, signaled he might climb on top of me for a few missionary minutes culminating in premature ejaculation.
“Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im Falschen.” Adorno is brilliant, don’t you think?”
“You really can’t say it any better way,” I agreed. “I try to live authentically, but it’s hard in this sea of pretense, among all these phony people.”
“Do you like Frank Zappa?”
“I like a lot of his lyrics. ‘Plastic People’ is one of my favorites.”
Dieter’s eyes sparkled like the decorations on a Christmas tree. He started to recite:

A fine little girl
She waits for me
She’s as plastic
As she can be

I chimed in:

Me see a neon
Moon above
I searched for years
I found no love

We finished together in perfect harmony:

I’m sure that love
Will never be
A product of

We stayed three more hours. Like me Dieter II was fond of Peter Handke .
“The man is a genius. Don’t you think he deserves the Nobel Prize for Short

Letter, Long Farewell?” I asked.

”Of course,” Dieter said. “No one else comes up with lines like ‘This is my second day in

America. I wonder if I’ve already changed.’”

We were made for each other. Soul mates, if such a thing existed. Neither of us felt like leaving, but the Turkish cleaning ladies in their light blue uniforms had started to move around noisily. Some were wiping the tables; others made a concert worthy of modern music with their buckets and mops. It was time to go.
“Let’s go to Pinkus Müller,” I said.
“Your wish is my command,” he answered.
Pinkus Müller was an old establishment dating back to 1816 and the glory days of the University of Münster. Its slogan was “Student life is not complete without Pinkus Müller.” There was a long history of dueling clubs whose members proudly exhibited their facial scars, drinking themselves into a stupor, thereby missing class the next morning. These fraternity members were punished with a few days of incarceration until they had sobered up. Tourists could take a tour of the university with the special detention cells, and admire the walls covered with graffiti and caricatures of evil professors dating back to 1902. There was plenty of evidence of mindless drinking throughout the centuries. On a regular day Dieter II and I would not be caught dead in this pub. Pinkus Müller was for conservative law students, supporters of the bishop, the right to life movement and other idiots. But that day Pinkus Müller felt right. We downed several pints of dark beer. I pulled up all the alcohol infused strawberries from the bottom of the glass and ate them one by one. Dieter II let me have his and fed them to me. He was hungry again and ordered the special Möppkes un Liärberbraut met Schmoräppelkes as Pinkus Müller insisted on regional Westphalian home cooking and would have none of the fancier nouvelle French or German dishes you could find in other restaurants. I watched with concern as he devoured his liverwurst sandwich topped with sautéed apples. Meanwhile I continued to suck dreamily on my strawberries, getting drunker by the minute. Although I was living with Dieter I, I had no inhibitions or guilt about cheating on him. I had only one concern. How could Dieter II perform after all this beer? Would he make love as fast and sloppy as he ate?
“Feel like coming over to my place for a cup of coffee?” He finally asked. I was primed. We walked along the Prinzipalmarkt, past the cages where the devout had speared and beheaded the Anabaptists, the Rathaus where in 1649 after thirty years of war they signed the peace treaty, past the fancy café where I had a part time job as a dish washer, and into Hacklenburg Street, where he shared a flat with a pal from his home town.

We never got to drink the coffee. His roommate retreated to his room as soon as we arrived. Ten minutes later we ended up on Dieter’s single bed. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Despite his greedy eating habits, Dieter II was a slow, delicate and attentive lover. He started by nibbling my neck, then covered me with kisses and very very slowly worked his way downward. I had given up bras in the 11th grade, so when he peeled off my T-shirt, he had no obstruction and started to caress my nipples with his tongue. Unable to contain my excitement any longer, I ripped off my jeans. He took his time, made me ache in anticipation of his next move.
I stayed all night. There was no point in going home. I had missed the last bus and I’d be in trouble with Dieter I whenever I got home. Why leave now? We had sex three times and must have resembled acrobats doing the impossible on a tiny bed. The most exciting moments happened in between the acts of fornication. My first orgasm. Ever. Between the second and third time Dieter got hungry again and fixed himself a Schmalzstulle. I declined a helping of the brown bread spread with goose liver fat, but accepted some of his father’s home made apricot Schnaps. After two hours of uncomfortable sleep, pressed against the wall on his hard single bed, he woke me up with a cup of coffee, the one he had promised me in Pinkus Müller.
“How did you get so good at making love?” I just had to know. Dieter II had suffered from a tight foreskin early in life. This had made erections and penetration painful. Too embarrassed to tell his parents, he waited until he moved to Tübingen for his civil service to undergo the simple procedure that liberated him from his foreskin. In the presurgery years he had become a skillful lover, experimental, adventurous, and unbelievably accomplished in the art of pleasing a woman via oral or manual stimulation. When I mentioned my good luck to my gay friend Halina she commented: “Now you understand what lesbian sex is all about.”

Monday, November 10, 2008

Germans in American and German Films

The anticipation for the new films from Germany at the Museum of Modern Art was high. A double feature. "On the Line" (Auf der Strecke) is Reto Caffi’s graduate project from Cologne’s Academy of Media Arts. It tells the story of a shy security guard who works for a large Zürich department store. He is infatuated with the bookshop clerk who works in the same store. He spies on her and follows her to the subway. The second film, "The Other Day in Eden" (Gestern in Eden) was written by Jan Speckenbach while he was studying at Berlin’s Film and TV Academy. Speckenbach tells the story of a man who goes to a nudist colony in the former East Germany to manage his recently deceased father’s affairs. At the colony, he starts a sexual relationship with the nurse who was his father's girlfriend.

My friends and I who have lived in New York City for more than 20 years were disappointed by these films described as “stories not about those from the East or those from the West, but just Germans, grappling with life, love, and trust” (Eddie Cockrell). We knew that American film and TV portrays Germans as Nazis, deranged scientists and insane psychiatrists. The Germans in those films never talk. They bark. For a more flattering portrayal of the Krauts there are the occasional Bavarians in lederhosen doing the Schuhplattler dance.

The Germans in the new films from Germany smoke nonstop. They have trouble connecting to other human beings. They throw themselves into raw, animal sex with no foreplay, no romance. No tender words are spoken. The Germans in the new German films are people without a conscience allowing a gang of four to beat up and kill a young man in the subway.

Which version is better? The Germans portrayed by American film or the Germans portrayed by German and Swiss filmmakers?