How I Stumbled Upon World Peace
I don’t give a rat’s ass about what your mama says, I say it’s cool to consume alcohol with strangers you meet in the dog park late at night till they invite you to their home. Better yet, do it in a foreign country you’ve never been in. Make sure you don’t speak the country's language either —it makes everything more fun.
...And that’s how to find world peace.
Anyways, I swear this guy looked like a real life Shaggy, but like a pure Aryan pretty boy version and a real tall and lanky one too — but just a little more hip with his jean jacket and fixie. He would be sipping a Berliner Kindl. His accent made me wonder if there was a Huntington Beach near Berlin in the way his voice rang low, in the way his words were subtly but noticeably drawn-out, and in the way his conversational topics encompassed surf and skate culture. This German boy was out Californian-ing me without having ever been to California. Who the hell does he think he is?
I mean since he’s apparently better at California-ing than I, I figure I’d throw out all the other stuff regarding where I’m “Really from” because I got a few other countries I figured I could represent. I mentioned my French/Spanish, Taiwanese/Chinese ancestry, and told him how I could speak Taiwanese and Mandarin besides English. This white boy then proceeds to speak to me in near perfect Mandarin (Just a few phrases though, IMO I’m a little better, whatever).
A curious conversation, a few beers, and a Facebook add later, tall blonde Shaggy has to leave, probably in search of some Club Matte (do you capitalize it?) and/or some Amsterdam indica or something. He says he is a 5 minute walk away from the park and the the hotel I’m staying at, and that we should definitely longboard together sometime. I agree, despite the fact that I do not own a longboard. Maybe I’ll buy one next week.
A few days later, I get a Facebook message from this guy, and it was surprising because I thought he’d be busy working sales at HSS or something. I was part of this big group chat, and since it was a group chat, I didn’t read anything, but I thought saw the word “dinner” somewhere in the chat so naturally I showed up. He said the cuisine would be “real Szechuan” and and said it would be spicy. So I stopped and thought about it for a second and I wondered if my stomach could handle it—it being food that wasn't currywürst or döner for once.
I walk over to his apartment that following Friday and make friendly conversation with a Bavarian man I met outside the door when I pressed all the buttons on the buzzer pad because the host’s Facebook last name was not on there (but the address was correct). As I enter this large and comfortable flat I am greeted by another Bavarian man who was overly apologetic for choosing such a boring major as economics and a very introverted Argentina man who came to Berlin to make it as a DJ in the techno scene. We proceeded to quietly bond over shelling peanuts that were on the dinner table before our host shows me his self built garden box on the tiny patio for a taste of what I’ve never seen in the US outside of my grandma’s backyard called none other than “Gū-tsai” in Taiwanese.
Over in the kitchen I saw 2 fellow yellow women, hard at work brewing some bold yet aromatic fumes which filled the vast and apparently multicultural apartment space. Both Chinese, one was an exchange student in Berlin that Ku’damm surfer bro supposedly met at the university he was studying in when he was in China. The other Chinese girl knew him from school in Munich, but was born in Berlin, so of course her facial expression was way more apathetic, but it matched her Berlin black jeans.
An hour and a half later, we put down our kimchi bowls and clunked our white wine glasses together and dug into the spiciness. Well, I did. Our host did as well. Half an hour later I was just about done with my plate, and I looked around realizing that the two girls who had cooked this delicious yet sharf meal had actually eaten the least amount. I saw pink faces, red eyes, and tears streaming all around me, pleading for milch, bitte! I laughed and took another sip of white wine to pretend it wasn’t the spiciest Chinese food I’ve ever had.
After we finished, the Argentinian DJ puts on some extremely strange yet funky (and therefore appropriate to Berlin) remixes of some old songs. Then some real late and loud guests came in— a Chinese girl who lived briefly in Pennsylvania, and an Indian girl from Sydney who could do this wonderfully cringey American accent. But they were the only other actually fluent English speakers, and they brought a 16€ watermelon and vodka, so they I enjoyed their company. Apparently, them and the Argentina guy were randoms just like me; DJ Pink Floyd techno remix helped the inebriated Berlin beach bum who couldn’t speak Mandarin as well as me find the keys to his apartment when he was locked out once; the pint-sized Pennsylvania Chinese girl and her accompanying Australian friend (side note, Australia has surpassed America in average obesity rate, so they’ve out America’d us) were having a conversation about whether or not crass language was taboo in Europe, before hip Shaggy spontaneously joined the conversation to substantiate how false such claims were, prior to giving them a ride with his mother in passenger seat.
Later, another Indian guy showed up, a Polish woman, and a bunch of other countries appeared as well for the rest of the food and drink, but most of them were able to handle the spice.
It was refreshing to be around people who knew about their culture for once. That way I felt the curiosity in the questioning rather than ignorance expressed through implied preconceptions I so often hear from Americans. When I said I was from California, that was something people acknowledged before the questions about ancestry. We were such a diverse group, yet we functioned as merely people. There was no need to be similar. In the exact opposite way “edgy” individualism is ironically homogenized and sold in the polished storefronts of Mitte, Warschauer, and Kreuzberg, merely being distinctively diverse at this motley meal proved to be an unexpected hub for unity.
All in all, the whole experience was pretty similar to any 6 am train ride from Kreuzberg on a Friday night.
Even at the 4 am train ride home from the club we came from even further East. On that Friday night.