Rolling over to discover the trash can that you only half remember bringing to bed with you could be a sign that trying to keep up with zee Germans for Fasching (Carnival) was a poor idea. But upon further reflection, you realize that you didn’t need that trash can after all, so you win! Until you get the text message from said Germans asking if you’d be up for beers later. Friends, they are just better at it than you are. There is no sense in judging yourself because there is really no comparison between you and them. But what’s that? You replied ‘yes’ to this text message about going for beers? Of course you did.
This is going to be a pretty dang disjointed post because I myself am feeling pretty dang disjointed at the moment. Yesterday was Fasching here in Austria, and well, I suppose it was that everywhere else as well. Call it what you like, it often ends up leading to excessive alcohol consumption. Not being a heavy drinker, I thought I would have a few beers with friends and pack it in early, say 2ish. But this was not to be.
I met a friend for dinner, and by the time we were finished I was already three beers in. An hour or so later, when we met back up to go to the Mozart Club (that’s right, the Mozart Club, and on Tuesday nights, that’s the place to be here in Klagenfurt), we decided that a bit of pre-partying was in order and split a bottle of wine. No big deal. We hit the club and met up with the rest of my friends shortly after midnight, and from there I have only a vague recollection of what happened. So the following will be a fun, piecemeal account of my evening.
Somewhere in the haze of my memory I spy Mario, as in THE Mario, of Nintendo fame. He was accompanied by a pirate, and Mario himself was wearing an eye patch of his own. Pirate Mario. It’s Fasching, right? So costumes. No big surprise. So of course I spoke with my childhood hero and discovered that Pirate Mario and his more pirate-y companion were Italian. No shit. Listening to an Italian say, ‘It’s a-me, Mario!’ while dressed the part is pretty damn funny. So I laughed. I laughed a lot. And then we went back and forth with ‘Eh!’ in our best Italian accents. Theirs were better. They were Italians. And then I threw a word salad of random Italian greetings and phrases that impressed them into buying me a drink. Oh yes, that 10 week Italian course I took in ’97 finally paid off.
‘What will you drink?’ they asked. ‘Whiskey!’ I shouted. I don’t recall if this shout was a holdover from the spirited back and forth of Italian words for things like ‘butter’ and ‘glass’, or if it was just because it was really loud in there. But I shouted. ‘Whiskey? No! Tequila!’ they cried. And tequila it was. We drank and they drifted away. Goodbye Pirate Mario. Goodbye Pirate Pirate.
Elsewhere in the mist I see Kevin, the bartender. Kevin is German, like basically everyone else I’ve met here. You would think it would be difficult not to meet Austrians in Austria, but this is not the case. So I see Kevin. He is disappointed in me. He had told his girlfriend that John Lennon was coming tonight, but I arrived with my hair cut short and without my glasses. I couldn’t even pull off early 60’s John Lennon. Maybe 50’s John Lennon, who knows how he wore his hair back then? So Kevin was sad, but not for long. I believe his girlfriend forgave him.
Kevin then turned to a girl dressed as a witch and explained that I was an American who spoke German. I suppose that’s strange enough to be worth mentioning, but I happen to know a lot of Americans who speak German. In any event, this girl turned to me and said I spoke it very well (I really don’t think I’d said anything more than ‘hello’ at this point), probably better than people in Austria speak German. She and Kevin laughed. I laughed. I said, ‘Down here it’s like a different language entirely!’ She and Kevin laughed. I laughed. ‘So you’re German too, then?’ I asked her. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘I’m Austrian.’ Well, shit. She and Kevin laughed. I laughed. The witch soon vanished, but not without a smile to show that she was not insulted. So hey, I met an Austrian last night.
At some point I spoke Spanish to Kevin’s girlfriend. She happens to be Spanish, so this isn’t as random as it might seem at first. But my Spanish was random, if slightly better than spewing the Italian word for ‘cheese’ at Pirate Mario and his mate. Kevin’s girlfriend, who has a name, a name she told me, which I found pretty at the time, but now cannot recall…Kevin’s girlfriend was holding a knife for cutting lemons. I had literally just watched her cut lemons, but then that event faded and I wondered why she had a knife. So I asked her how to say ‘knife’ in Spanish. We hadn’t been talking, and her back was to me. I just needed to know how to say it. And she told me. At least twice. Then I repeated it thoughtfully. I still have no idea how to say ‘knife’ in Spanish. ‘It is a surprise to me,’ I blurted in awkward Spanish, ‘that there is a knife in a bar.’ But that’s not what I said. I got to the place where ‘knife’ should go, and the word had already left me. So, friends, I did what any other self-respecting gringo would do. I just said ‘knife-o’. And then I got to the end and said ‘bar-o’ for good measure. She politely explained that the knife-o was for the lemons. ‘THE LEMONS!!!’ I exclaimed, for some reason using a French ‘the’. ‘OF COURSE, THE LEMONS!!!’ I withdrew and danced. I think. I know I danced a lot. I think one of the times was just then. I also fell a number of times. The floor was quite slippery.
Most of the rest is just a blur of shots. There were endless Captain Colas (which is rum and Coke, for the uninitiated), and a lot more tequila. I think I paid for a couple. Every time I was asked what we should drink, I shouted, ‘WHISKEY!’, and every time I was told no. I had no whiskey fans in my company last night. So it was mostly rum and tequila. And there were also several vodka-lemon juice shots, at least I think that’s what they were. I think those might have been the tastiest things I had. Kevin just kept lining them up for everyone, and we certainly obliged him.
There were many more Germans who came and went, and there was a Turkish man from Izmir with whom I also shared a drink. He was happy that I had heard of Izmir, but then I took his cane and tried to dance with it. I promptly fell, and he, just as promptly, took back his cane. Oh, Izmir guy. No hard feelings, I hope.
And somewhere around 5 in the morning I found myself on my way home. I was wearing a borrowed jacket because I had left mine in my apartment since the club is so close. My friends were worried I’d freeze to death, so I got a loaner. Nice people, they. Still, I was just as surprised to find the random jacket in my room this morning (ahem, afternoon) as I was to wake up next to a, thankfully empty, trash can. The headache was no surprise, though.
So, it has been fun reflecting with you. I trust that all of you had a fine evening yourselves, at least I hope so. If not, then perhaps Pirate Mario put a grin on your face the way he did mine.