Date number 5: Franziska
By the time my evening with Franziska, or Franzi, came around I wasn’t really excited about repeating the story of why I moved here, what I do, my history with Germany, etc. Which was lucky because Franzi seemed pretty uninterested in anything I had to say. She warned me via text that she was going to be under the weather when she arrived. She told me she’d been inside all day with a cold, and was keen to get out. She let me know that she’d only have one Gluhwein.
We met at a fountain in downtown Munich, and when she came up out of the subway I was quite surprised. Franzi is small, slender, and her face looked like a strange distant echo of the pictures of herself she’d posted online. It’s so interesting how different faces can be. She walked up to me, introduced herself, and immediately confessed that she had told a lie. It wasn’t a cold, but an eye infection, and she couldn’t see very well. Then she reported that there was a Pegida rally going on near the Odeon’s platz, and we should go and have a look at it. She repeated a few times that when she passed them earlier they were playing Wagner. I had Wagner listed as an interest in my profile, so I wondered if she was kind of challenging me.
As we walked to the rally she told me about her job as a journalist for a big newspaper in town, and explained to me why Berlin is a great city but only for a few days. At the Pegida rally there were more anti-Pegida people that actual Pegida supporters. The police formed a tight barricade, and one Anti-Pegida demonstrator had brought a trumpet and was playing loudly to drown out the certainly awful shit the Pegida guy with the PA was saying. There were boomboxes and yelling and bullhorns and flags and it stretched out and across the Leopold Straße. All in all there were maybe 40 Pegida demonstrators, I think. It was more sad than anything else. We walked back towards the center of town, and stopped for a Gluhwein.
I was seeing lots of people with christmasy snacks I didn’t recognize, and it was fun to get the lowdown on them from Franzi, then after about half a cup of Gluhwein, she turned to me and said, “OK, it’s time for the big revelation.”
She’s a smoker, which I could tell from the moment she walked up to me at the beginning of the evening. We had to walk to find a Kiosk so she could buy a pack of Gauloises, which she described as the pretentious art school student cigarettes. She broke all the brands down for me, Rothanders are for construction workers, Lucky Strikes are for housewives (I guess German has some hard-assed housewives), and so on. Later she would tell me the ranking of the Munich beers, but she seemed annoyed when I stopped her to try and guess first. Finally we wound down at a small cafe, a place I’d never been to, but she said had been quite cool in the 80s because all the punks hung out there. She gave me some tips on good Munich bands, and, as his major evangelist, I queued up some Todd Terje on her phone, but told her to listen to it when she got home on good speakers or headphones. I’m a one man street team.
Somehow it eventually came up that I had a giant map of Germany on my wall back when I lived in the US, and she said “oh, you really love Germany, huh? So many people just say that.”
Perhaps it was just her desire to have a reason to leave that house, but I’m not really sure why she came out to begin with, and I’m sure we won’t see each other again. Perhaps she got one look at me, standing there under the Fishbrunner fountain, and thought, oh well, here’s a few hours of my life where I can practice my English. Which, is the great advantage of dating like this in Germany, I suppose, we can at least get a little language practice in on a mediocre first date.
And now the romance gauntlet has been run. As I write this there’s 2 second dates on the books, but my head is such a jumbled mess of information, conversation, and first impressions, that I’m sure I’ll repeat myself or think of I’ve told a story already when I haven’t.
In my research before moving here I read a lot about how difficult expats find it to break into German social circles and how often they end up hunkered down with other English speakers. I haven’t really found that to be the case, but meeting people has changed in the last few years, and in my experience, we’re all just looking to spend an evening with someone interesting, a little funny, and reasonably attractive. All in all, over these dates I’ve found that except for things like paying and smartening up before a first date, it’s all pretty similar. I’ve found it very rewarding and interesting to find that even in Germany I can pass the time and make small talk with nearly anyone. I want to attribute this to my North Texan heritage.
This many interactions was a bad idea, but I’m not operating in normal time and in any kind of a normal sphere. I’ve applied for tons of jobs during the day, drank far too much coffee, and I have to fill my evenings while I wait or any news on the visa. They papers are supposedly being reviewed and I’ll receive a call at some point, but as the clock continues to tick, as I run out of jobs reasonably apply for, and as January 31st approaches, it’s time to start annoying the shit out of bureaucratic buffoons down at the Immigration Office.