Dave and the Smaragd
"I just saw you sitting under this tree in the sun with your beer- now that's the way. You look like you know how to enjoy life. It makes a really beautiful picture!"
How did they react?
- Add (laughing) to each one of my lines and (smiling) to each of Dave's -
The Smaragd: "I am at work!"
Dave: "I have a day off for once, don't tell me I am not allowed to drink this early!"
Me: "No, seriously, I am mean it! Looks great! I'm Rosa by the way."
Dave: "I'm Dave. And don't believe a word this man is saying, he is just a sourpuss."
The Smaragd (grinning for one second, then serious again): "I can't tell you my name. Ich bin bekannt wie'n bunter Hund (I'm known all over town.) Plus my wife would kill me."
Me: "I suppose you are not down for a picture either, are you?"
The Smaragd: "No way."
Dave: "I am."
Me: "Awesome, thanks! Your Ehrenfeld shirt will look good on that one. And of course these plants and the bench-..."
The Smaragd: "Guess who built the bench."
Me: "Who did?"
The Smaragd: "You won't believe it. A sociologist managed to do that."
Me: "A sociologist who sits on it and smokes and won't tell me his name but his profession?"
Dave: "Oh no! He couldn't build that!"
Me: "Alright... I like you guys. You live here?"
The Smaragd: "Fuck yeah! I tell you what, Cologne is the last nest in Germany!"
Me: "Nonsense! Berlin is!"
Dave, simultaneously: "No, it's one out of four..."
The Smaragd: "Berlin!? Forget it, girl, I lived there for 10 years. I'm so glad I escaped. I was practically born driving out of Berlin."
Me: "So Dave, what other three nests are there?"
Dave: "Hamburg. Munich, sadly. It's in enemy territory (it's in Bavaria), but still, it's a good nest. Berlin. And of course Cologne."
Me: "Those are Germany's four biggest cities."
Dave: "I know. The last nests."
Me (to Smaragd): "You said you were at work. What kind of work is this?"
The Smaragd: "Turn around."
I did and faced a shop window saying Smaragd- Spice bazar
The Smaragd: "This is my beautiful store. I sell the best spices in all of Cologne."
Me: "Sounds great! I might actually buy something here!"
The Smaragd: "I recommend you do so. I am open Thursdays and Fridays...-"
Me: "Now that's what I call fair workdays. I guess on Thursdays and Fridays I'll find you under this tree, smoking. Right?"
The Smaragd: "-...Yup. No earlier than 2 PM. I have to sleep in!"
How did I feel?
Amazed. These two were true characters. I estimated the Smaragd (that's the name we agreed on) at fifty something. He had shoulder-length, grey curls and wore a ton of rings. Because of them he refused to shake my hand in the end and gave me his index instead: "You never know.". He was tall, thin and had some wrinkles. Speaking in a low voice, he took his time. He knew: The others listened. And he made the most of that. The bench turned into his stage and I, the audience, loved him. Or them. Dave took part in the play, too. The two of them were unflappable. They constantly outdid each other's brashness. I thought of those Kreuzberg dwellers who've been living in their neighborhoods since the seventies: They both smoked rollies. Dave didn't take off his sunglasses for a second. He wore a necklace with an om pendant. The spice shop fit the mold, I entered and was greeted by the smell of patchouli. A Buddha statue sat in the middle of the room. He was the only one listening to the trance music that played. The light was dimmed.
The shop is a block away from my apartment. I will definitely return for some needling and a beer. And, of course, Cologne's finest spices. Maybe the Smaragd will tell me his real name- On a Thursday or a Friday; No earlier than 2 PM.