I had every intention of it being a relaxed, quiet night. After all, it was the day after 4/20. And, despite being thousands of miles away from California in Hamburg, at 6 pm on this 4/20 (aka the celebratory day of marijuana), I had been presented with a weed brownie and was feeling a little sleepy this following evening as a result. When I mentioned this to one of the bachelor party boys, they said they had never heard of this celebration, but did I know what other holiday occurred on the 20th of April?
I shook my head.
“It’s Adolf Hitler’s birthday.”
My face must have said it all.
“But, uh, we don’t celebrate that in Germany,” he stammered (although whether that was due to awkwardness or their drunken English will never be known). “It is just funny that you celebrated on this day.”
I assured him that my celebration was solely for cannabis and that my friend had been going on all week about how legendary his brownies were. No-one in Hamburg had even mentioned said birthday.
We were standing in line for a club at this point. And I, in my most authentic form, had a book in my hand. Not just any book mind you, but one about the existentialist philosophers. The fact it was too big to fit in my handbag hadn’t been the cause of much concern when I left my hostel hours earlier to go and find some dinner by the river.
I had taken a late afternoon bus from Hamburg to Bremen and arrived an hour and a half later in the northern German port city. Just in time to check into my hostel and watch the sunset over the water. After strolling backward and forwards along the Schlachte Embankment, a stretch of bars and restaurants in the heart of Bremen, I had opted for a Mexican restaurant.
This choice is going to be blamed on the photo of guacamole I had received from my Mum a few hours prior because I should have known better than to get Mexican in Bremen, Germany. Unfortunately for my Mexican cuisine-loving tastebuds, it was incredibly underwhelming, far too salty, and overpriced. But, I listened to my music, wrote in my journal, and was all paid up ready to leave when I decided to stay seated for just one more London Grammar song.
Given it was a warm Saturday evening (I am going to go out on a limb here and say the first one of 2018 around these parts), there were plenty of people out and about. As they were drawing in chalk on the pavement next to me and attracting quite the crowd, I had noticed one drunken bachelorette party; but, was too interested in my thoughts to be paying attention to anyone else.
All of which I am telling you as a rationalization for why I did not notice the group of bachelor party boys directly across from me.
One of them approached, wholly ignored my disinterested face and headphones in ears. While he did ask if he could sit down, he had already plonked himself into the chair before I could answer.
At some point he asked if I had been to Bali, to which I answered yes, to which he whipped out his phone and showed me at least 100 photos from the time when he studied abroad there. During this modern-day powerpoint presentation, another bachelor party boy with an inflatable guitar in his hands came over and slurry-announced that it was, in fact, time for them to move on. And I was invited to join…if I wanted.
“Why not?” I said. A response that would probably not surprise anyone who has spent any amount of time with me — no matter how minimal — but certainly surprised these two bachelor party boys. They seemed harmless, I had nothing better to do, and I had never been invited to crash a bachelor party.
Which is how I then ended up at a bar being taught something called “the Discofox,” a traditional German folk dance. It is how I ended up with a Beck’s brewery lanyard in my bag (they put it around my neck as an “honorary distinction”). Why I wound up saying “how much is the fish?” repeatedly, the lyrics to a popular hard-dance song by German group Scooter. It is how I learned “ick bin doernaanner” which means “I am crazy” in the boys Frisian dialect.
And it is why I found myself in a club at 3 am with 15 German guys, none of whose name I knew, existentialist philosophy book in hand, talking about Hitler’s birthday.
*Originally posted on April 24th, 2018*