The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Countdown: 5 - Kiss & Tell (Part II)

As I discovered during the next couple of days, Tim was neither a troublemaker, nor a teacher’s pet. He was an outsider, but of the more or less accepted kind. He was a bit of a music nerd, you know the kind who spends his free time either tinkering on his stereo or browsing dusty, under-lit off-high-street music shops for ultra rare CDs or even vinyl.
And while I suppose that most of our class mates were still blind to it, I could already see that in two or three years, Tim would shed his shy cocoon, and find a place amongst some hip crowd, as a DJ perhaps, or even in some indie rock band. He’d probably not be the lead singer, but I could picture him as the taciturn bassist, you know, the bloke who secretly is the backbone of the group.
He was terribly cute, too, in spite of his argyle slipovers and colour-matching knee socks that his mum made him wear. He had soft, floppy, dark blond hair, large, baby blue eyes, and a small and pouty but very kissable mouth. He was terrible at football, but a surprisingly good track and field athlete. He read a lot, and mostly stuff like French poetry at that. Almost all of his friends were girls, but none was his girlfriend, if you know what I mean. Hey, sue me, but we all have our prejudices. Why should I be the exception.
Our taste in books differed, but books were the first ground on which Tim and I could found a tentative friendship. Up to then, I never had much patience for poems, and French was to me just the school subject I loathed most. Tim gave me Baudelaire and Villon, and no matter what happened later, I will forever be grateful for that. (I gave him William Burroughs and Denton Welsh, and he seemed to like them, too.)
There were a couple of other boys, mostly the sporty ones, I got along with okay, but I didn’t really feel comfortable around them outside of the gym, just as they very obviously didn’t feel comfortable around me. Those girls who took an interest in me – amongst them some of Tim’s friends – seemed to see me mostly as a welfare case. Sticky tolerance oozed from them like sap from a wounded pine tree. When I didn’t react to that with the expected fawning gratitude, they put me down as an unwashed, football playing hooligan, and I suppose they weren’t all that wrong.
Tim stuck with me, though. He provided me with info not only on other kids, but also on teachers and the administration. For all his seeming wide-eyed innocence, his vague social confusion, and not-quite-stuttering demureness, he was a keen observer, and I liked that a lot in him.
We met a couple of times after school – always at his place, though. My mum’s flat isn’t exactly the place where you want to take a new friend whose father owns an 8 room villa in Zehlendorf. We played Guitar Hero and Bioshock, and watched tivoed episodes of CSI Miami or House MD. Slowly the weather got warmer and spring began to really show off.
One evening in late April I was lying on his balcony (yeah, his room had it’s own balcony facing the park sized garden) smoking and staring at the sky. Tim was sitting inside at the open door, cross-legged, and trying to repair something in a model airplane. It was getting late and I knew I should get going. The house of Tim’s rents was close to the school, and the school was a good 15 km, that is about 45-60 bike minutes, from my mum’s flat.
Not that I minded. Quite the contrary. After half a year of having been locked up, I really looked forward to those daily rides. I dunno why, but riding my bike through the morning and the afternoon rush hour traffic was about the closest I came to even remotely feeling free, until I got through my shaking spell outside Wotton-under-Edge that is. The wind cooling the thin film of sweat on my face, thigh muscles working, denim caressing the skin of my legs as I peddled down Schlossstraße and Unter den Eichen, ducking and weaving through the avalanche of steel all around me, with engines roaring, purring or idling, car horns honking, and the multitude of breakfast radio stations blaring through rolled up car windows from all sides… it was half workout and half waltz.
No mind.
All presence.
Sheer bliss.
But right then, on that balcony, I felt lazy and complacent, as I watched the smoke dissipate in the sky above me. I looked over to Tim, his face screwed up in concentration as he reached with a pair of delicate pliers deep into the body of the air plane. I remember the tip of his tongue, surprisingly pink, peeking out between his narrowed lips. I scraped together what little courage and self-confidence I had left and asked Tim: “Want to go on a bike trip with me?”
“Hmm?” He looked up, trying to focus on me and this new idea.
“Just a one night camping trip. Maybe to the Märkische Schweiz? Next weekend? We’d be back by Sunday evening.”
He looked at me as if it was the most outrageous, absolutely unheard of suggestion. But then, after a brief hesitation, his customary shy smile appeared. And then he said: “Let me ask my parent’s for permission.”
He put down the plane, jumped to his feet and darted out onto the landing. There was the subdued murmur of a conversation, and the distinct sound of Tim’s voice pleading: “Please, mum!” And when he came back, he had a bounce in his step and a broad smile on his face.
“They said yes.”


  1. I like where this is going.And Tim too, i like him,

  2. So did I. But do you, still?

  3. What is the Maerkische Schweiz?

    Sorry, I am a new reader and was directed here through your comment on 'Leaving the Grey Room'...

    You are speaking of things like Guitar Hero and such but the rest of your blog has the very air like that of Malcolm's: that of the events taken place quite a long time ago.

    Quite Confusing, if you ask me. I like it, but how old are you now?

    Will continue reading to see if I can figure out more.

  4. Hello Jake. Welcome. Look around, and please, I will very much appreciate it, if you keep telling me what you think - of if you ask whatever is unclear.
    Maerkische Schweiz is a region in Germany, a few km to the East of Berlin. Maybe I should add a half-sentence in the text to explain that. It's quite nice there.
    I'm afraid Mr. McLachlan has a few years on me. Maybe it comes from me not being exactly a native English speaker. Or maybe I'm just so damn mature, lol. ;)
    Things should make most sense if you begin at the beginning.

  5. I lived in the Ueckermark for 6 months as an exchange student. Is this in the same region?

  6. Uckermark is to the north of Märkische Schweiz.

    So, how was life amongst Brandenburgians? (Or was it in MeckVP?) Are they anything like Nebraskans? Never been to NE but from pics the landscape could be similar... ^_^

  7. You are correct when you say that the landscapes are the same. Brandenburg is a bit more hilly than here, but basically the same.

    Taking that into account, I hated living there. I lived in Thueringen for awhile and it was almost magical - alot like what we as Americans see Germany. I lived in Gartz (near Schwedt) and while it was a cool little town, it wasn't what I was expecting. Little better than living here. I loved Brandenburg and their accent, but this region was still ravaged by War and what was rebuilt was just boring.

    My host family was pretty crummy too, as they had two small kids and were the stingiest people I have ever met when it came to money.

    If ever I were to go back (And I've wanted to ever since) I wouldn't hesitate to go back to Thueringen and build a house in a small little town or live in Koeln, Munich, or Dresden. Berlin was probably my least favourite of them all, but still impressive.

  8. @ Jake: Wow, you certainly got around. How long where you there? And you seriously didn't particularely like Berlin? Why? (Tread careful, I love my home town with a passion, lol...;)

  9. This seems like such a wonderful, fresh start on things. And I like your tone, as if you are entertaining the idea of going innocent in the new school, enjoying some of the novelty, learning the new routines.

    But... but...