The other day I saw something I’d never seen before. It’s something we’ve all seen in one manifestation or another, in cartoons and sitcoms, but which very few of us have witnessed in reality. It took me a while to realise how lucky I was given that it is so vivid a trope in our comedic imagination. It was the birthday of my beautiful girlfriend whom I love very much. We spent the day ambling around the city, browsing through the boutiques and high-street retailers. Drinking, and eating, planning the lives of our future children, checking our phones, and so on. Around four thirty or so we stopped at Cafe Maelu, a confident little place about a ten minute romantic toddle from Marienplatz depending on the number of selfie-sticks you have in your way.
Steam from the chatter of the patrons and of the coffee machine flushed the lower windows and the soft gleam of the tiling underfoot was smudged with mud. Up the wooden staircase we went, where we took the only remaining table for two left in the crowded upper floor. Here people relaxed eating cake and sipping coffee. It was the kind of place that felt like it was aiming for the status of ‘institution’ of cake and coffee in the city. Some chuckled to themselves as they read; a woman in a faded black jacket, with sallow cheeks and a sharp nose frowned at the man opposite her as though he’d once again done something irrevocable; the landing filled with people craning their necks looking for space, before emptying again as they descended. We ordered two pieces of strudel and two hot chocolates from the smiling serving girl who possessed the rarest of commodities in German customer service to my experience so far: mercy. Two dainty saucers were placed before us. Thick wads of sweetened baked apple packed one on top of the other within a pastry casing, which was ever chased by the diabetic liquid of the creamy chocolate. The consumption of it all uncomfortably sped the beating of my heart.
There I was minding my own business thinking about the sexy lingerie I’d bought Amore for her birthday, the way its lustrous green bursts across her fair skin-tone, the way it accentuates the lines and curves of her frame, and the way it makes her feel about herself, when I was wrenched away from the pleasant haze of this distraction by that cartoonish anomaly referred to above. There was a great rending tear as the wood fibres buckled beneath the enormous weight of her backside, which came to a juddering halt on the merciless tiles of the cafe floor after she had plummeted downwards like a church bell from the sky. Red-faced and disheveled, she groped with difficulty beneath the swell of her roiling buttocks, to extract a splintered and defeated, woebegone digit, that gory victim, the severed leg of the chair. There she waited with confusion while five or six grim-faced patrons set about her gigantic frame under the collective gaze of the cafe, hauling her up from the floor as if winching a grand piano in through a fifth floor window. The mutilated chair lay pathetically on its side. Utterly humiliated, puce seeping into every crevice of the wide canvas of her face, the woman cast her eyes once more around the room whose atmosphere she’d violated beyond repair before attempting to lumber surreptitiously down the wooden staircase which seemed to creek in alarm least it should suffer the same fate as its kin and doom us all to exile on the second floor forever. We had seen a chair capsize beneath the weight of its erstwhile user, for the first time in our lives, and we all knew it.
I returned to my plate, now pensive of mood.
“So what’s the plan for this evening, Amore?” she asked (we have the same pet-name)(we have different first names)(you hopefully assumed that already).
“I dunno… I thought we were gonna go out, no?”
“Ma, certo!” she replied (she is Italian)(I’m Scottish, just for your information).
“Have you not booked that place you wanted to go?” (I couldn’t remember what it was called)
“Aye” (told you I was Scottish).
“Si Amore, for half eight. I’m excited! It should be a good night!”
There is something about the way that her face lights up whenever she is excited that I have loved since the moment I met her. She was beaming back at me at the thought of that evening’s coming fun and nobody was going to stop her from enjoying herself. Naturally, I was far from excited at the thought of engaging in small talk with her colleagues and their significant others and in truth even at that moment could feel the numbness inside my chest taking a more active role in my over-sugared (übergezuchert?…) and, dare I say it, traumatised mental state (I had just seen an actual chair buckle beneath the weight of its erstwhile user! In real life for god’s sake! In a cafe! I was in an episode of Loony Toons!). She has the charming and life-affirming tendency to view everything through the lens of our relationship: “I can’t wait for the bambini to hear your funny voices during story time,’ she’ll say after I casually impersonate a League of Gentlemen character or; “Imagine being in bed così and having the bambini here” (Ah – The Amore Years, Post-Lingerie); or “It’ll be so nice when the bambini can do the dishes and not us” (not me). Always the same lifeful smile which she wore on her face now in anticipation of vomiting on herself. I love this woman with all my heart.
Couch Club, eight thirty and not a moment later, and believe me I tried after Amore decided she wanted to go to an Afghan restaurant for dinner to eat goat testicles. But Couch Club would not be moved to push back our reservation by one second. And this meant that Amore had to console herself with their ‘French Pizza’, whatever in the name of Gesù is that, to quote her.
“As if winching a grand piano through a tenth floor window!” I said, to Cassidy (Amore’s colleague), and Spencer, her boyfriend, as they pissed themselves laughing under the low-light din of the bar. Amore was on her seventh new cocktail of the night and I was ruing the lack of couches in Couch Club. But the atmosphere was good: lots of sexy young people, us foremost among them. And the French pizza wasn’t half-bad either. As I looked about me taking an inventory of all the guests I felt proud of Amore for her social expansion since her arrival here in Munich last March. In addition to Beverley and Spencer (who I did actually like after all), there were numerous Italians who laughed in amazement any time I said so much as a “grazie” or a “prego”, and even a German for crying out loud! He’s the boyfriend of one of the Italians in the group whom Amore knows from school and who I’d spoke to at a house-party once before where the first thing I did upon arrival was mark my territory in the bathroom. The conversation goose-stepped towards WW2 quicker than I wanted with him then, and that was, I confess, all my fault. He was keeping his distance from me now, and fair play to him for it.
I was enjoying a conversation with an extremely weird person called Giuseppa who was on her 8th White Russian of the evening and who kept toasting my health and then collapsing into an evil laugh before her next gulp. She’d brought a small bag to the bar with her which Amore rightly assumed was for her, but which turned out to be some nice lingerie for Giuseppa herself. She was perched on the stool Couch Club had seen fit to reserve for us, and was swaying somewhat as though she was atop the mast of a little boat that had somehow bobbed out to sea somewhere unexpectedly nice. And indeed she could speak Russian, and indeed so can I as it happens (perhaps more on that later). It seems that languages are a life-saver when you decide to leap into the unknown or Bavaria like I have, by the way. Although I find it tedious when musicians sing about singing, anyone who knows a little bit about languages will tell you that it never gets old talking about words. So there I was sitting with Giuseppa comparing and complimenting each other on the size of our mutually Russian penises when the motion was carried without either input from us to move to a club by Cassidy (thank, you).
Yeah it plays a lil bit of like, Bruno Mars, some Techno, some EDM, and a lil bit of RNB, she said as everyone somehow found themselves outside in the chill, putting their coats on. Va bene, I said, and then went back into grab Amore and to prevent her from paying the tab. So away we went, leaving Giuseppa toddling off in the opposite direction with a distended belly full of double-cream and the profound conviction in me that weird people are the best.
As if winching a grand piano in through a 15th floor window! – Adam McIlroy
It had been so long since I had been in a club that, despite the brutal summary of its likely vibe, I was still quite excited. The €10 entry fee was a bodyblow to that excitement however, which is why I allowed Amore to pay for it in her drunken and confused state. FILM CASINO was the name of the place and it struck me as being like Institute in Aberdeen if it was holding a premier for Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away. €2 each for cloakroom rights was a further jab I was unable to parry before reaching the dance floor.
Amore was at the bar with Cassidy and I was gyrating against Spencer. The place was rammed, mainly with rowdy Turks. Dancing next to me there was a small Lithuanian girl with a cruel face wearing a white cocktail dress. Her brutish companion wore a chain around his neck and an excessively branded t-shirt. Toxic by Brittney Spears was playing. All of a sudden a ring of flame erupted around the upper level of the floor as people detonated sparklers. Everyone other than me and Spencer started cheering. Amore returned to us with Cassidy and a bottle of beer I realised immediately wasn’t for me. Between chugs she kissed me all over my face and licked the inside of my mouth, hanging open in protest. She had eyes, as my ma would say, “like piss’oles in the snow”, and had gone through the looking glass. She twerked to the music wildly, creating space on the floor where none had been by bulldozing everyone in her path reducing me to the role of butler as I tried in vain to give chase and apologise to those impacted by the events, and also to try to target her in whatever seemed the least harmful direction.
Can’t come down
Losin’ my head
Spinnin’ ’round and ’round
Do you feel me now?
Hey, nice shoes!
She went careening into a party of rowdy Turkish men, one of whom shouted something in her ear, laughed, gave her a hearty slap on the arse, and then sent her back into the middle. Cassidy and Spencer didn’t seem to mind, Amore didn’t seem to have noticed. I however had reached my limit so I went back downstairs to the smoking area to sulk. Leaning against some metal fencing, smoking passively, I caught sight of an attractive woman with a nice arse. Well, a big arse, which is the same thing these days. But it didn’t make me feel any better. I just didn’t get it. Why didn’t people find big bums funny anymore?