At 1 am I am sure im in the wrong place until I find a conspicuous looking line. This has to be it. We are let into a hall of mirrors. A bowie-esque remnant stuck in a different time. Doors carefully and strategically opened as the nights wear on to reveal deeper layers. Four bar areas (one not opened until late in the evening at 4) A room of couches with tv installations arranged above them. A queen sized bed separates two dance floors. Reds. Taxidermied statues of hawks and badgers hovering above a female DJ with a fake mustache playing music that is authentically out of the Jazz Age.
I shift between the 3 dance floors, pushing through the thick clouds of smoke. I situate myself in a trance room following a number of cheap beers.
The spikes catch my attention first. They are on both her shoulders. She is a petite brunette. Her face is purely angelic. I stalk around her a bit never trying to look too conspicuous, attempting to enjoy the pure aesthetics of the moment while the countless wallflowers pepper the exterior of the dance floor. Guess its not just an American thing.
Later with a whiskey and coke in me, I tap her shoulder. Joking about wondering whether those things (the spikes) would hurt. “They must be some sort of self defense mechanism.” We shuffle around a bit. I offer her a drink. We walk to the bar. Outside of the red lights she is all the more gorgeous.
She’s a lit major. Hamburg transplant. Quite the eclectic taste in international literature. Primarily Zaddie Smith, Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace. The last one gets to me. She admits to having only read the nonfiction portions. She is also quite an avid fan of Marquez’s short stories. We discuss some German authors that she likes. Her heart lies with this scene of which I admit I am only mildly familiar. Thankfully as fate and chance would have it, I’ve just finished Bolano’s 2666 only hours before arriving in Berlin of which a significant portion in the concluding pages references quite a bit of German literature. I rant and rave about my newfound love for Bolano and his pivotal role in shaping my exposure and interest in all things Latin American
She is shocked and jealous that I’ve met Bret Easton Ellis at his supposed last ever book store appearance. She laughs and is in awe at my Bernal wingman story. This carries on for well over an hour until its time for the drag show. Thoughts of SF, peaches Christ, and countless other drag exposures come to mind.
We return to the dance floor. I pull her in and we kiss. We move quickly and calmly to the trance in the foreground, thick clouds of smoke encircling us. It’s all too brief. She’s hurried away not long after by friends who are ready to go. We lock lips once more. There will be no precious fallings or dramatic finds on FB later on. She is the rare kind that you spend your time fishing for but not the kind you keep.
Besides, her mentioning of an ex as source of lit inspiration indicates to me that she is a newly single, newly let loose breed that still has a ways to go. No need to complicate that for either of us any further. No disappointment. As it should be.
And in this reality the only thing to fear is regret. The clambering feeling that piles on as the worst type of headache over a sunny side up plate in the morning. And make no extended mistake. I am a creature born of regret. Brought to life under its casually savage wings, slithered out under a deep rust covered moon.
Several lifetimes have been spent attempting to redefine these conditions. But the secret weapon may not lie in the strength to confront it. It may be to define the conditions of regret and establish it as the only foe worth matching.
Fear is a weapon in this case. Meant to be turned in on itself if it cannot be expelled.