Friday, May 4, 2012

Brave Like A Bear.

She’s too tall already to be wearing heels. The ice in this whiskey too cold, need to see a dentist. This corner too dark to work out if it’s chain grease or dirt or shit on my fingers.
Thoughts in the head too dumb. Too fast.  The 40-something in the corner still looking. Bubbles in the froth of my head still bursting. Emails still appearing. Music in my ears still playing.

Bernd approaches with a crippled book - Deutsches-Namen Lexikon.
“What is your name again?”
“Robin? Robert?”
The tanned pages ticking neatly in his hand, as if this were all part of an elaborate party trick.
“Robert. Robert, Robert. I see,” He points a finger, but I don’t look. I know he’s seen it. “It means, um, with light from yourself. No, wait, it means ‘Shine With Glory’. That’s it!”

With no hot water in our apartment, and a diet that consists entirely of doner and beer, I’m in disbelief.
“And yours, Bernt… what does yours mean?” Slightly frustrated, as I know I’ve pronounced his name incorrectly.
“Bernd, Bernd…”, Mumbling his own name as he flicks the pages again. “Ok, I see; ‘Brave Like A Bear’.”

People leave and some bottles are taken away and some more cigarettes are smoked.
“The boy who was behind you before, he’s a writer too. A Russian Jew.”
“A Russian Jew?
“I believe so.”
We talk more about the Russian writer, and tonic water once being used as a cure for malaria, and touch on the niche subject of music.

I decide Laidak is the perfect place to write. Cheap alcohol, smoking inside, dim lighting, wide-street-facing windows, shelves stacked with books, intriguing passersby, thought-inspiring bartenders.

“The thing, you see, about Berlin, Robert, is that many creative people come here. It’s just, we make never any money.”
Two girls walk into the bar – the first customers in the last three hours. One is pretty with paint-speckled pants. The other is dreadlocked and clutching a unicycle.
I think about malaria, and creativity and shining with glory. And Bernd sits, facing the door, muscle-swollen hands clutching a pint, Brave Like A Bear.