Dave turned 23 last weekend. It was Friday night and I was three sheets to the wind, sitting cross legged on the floor of a colleague’s bedroom with a handful of workmates, listening to music and getting ready to head to some tropical-themed party across town. Dave called and told me to head to his flat, as everybody was there. He asked me to bring some drinks but the signal was bad; all I could really make out was that he wanted me to come over.
I made me excuses and left my colleagues and got the U8 into Neukolln, but when I got off, I received a text saying that they had now left Dave’s flat and were heading to Rathaus Neukolln. This always happens; nobody is ever in one place for long. I felt annoyed and sent Dave a text saying ‘be more reliable fs’, which may seem mild but for me is a straight 10 on the rage-o-meter.
I headed back to Rathaus and found Dave, Jojo, Caroline and two of Dave’s friends from home, Dre and Rich, all waiting for me at street level. Dave and Dre both have long hair due to a bet: whoever cuts it first has to buy the other an ounce of weed. They greeted me with big smiles and I hugged everyone, then Jojo hurried us all into the lift up to the rooftop bar Klunkerkranich. She told me we only had 5 minutes.
“Until what?” I asked, because I am a twat.
“Until Dave’s birthday!” came the reply, en masse.
See, on the surface this looks as though I am a bad person and forgot the birthday of one of my best friends. However, I maintain that a week prior, Dave mentioned his birthday as being on the Sunday, not the Saturday, which I specifically remembered because I had plans on the Sunday that I rearranged to allow for his jubilations. Dave has no recollection of this, while I am adamant he told me it was Sunday and therefore each of us simply settled on assuming that the other was a moron.
The queue for Klunkerkranich wound along for a hundred metres, so we decided that rather than pass midnight in a queue, we’d simply celebrate outside. The bar is on the top of a multi storey car park, and so we simply sat on the floor of the car park, dodging the oily pools of rainwater, with the city lights glittering beyond under a dark cloudy sky. We laid out scarves and coats on the ground and soon had our own little picnic site nestled in the concrete parking structure, perched high above the Berlin rooftops.
More friends joined, Petra and Leslie (not seen them in a couple of months) and a few randomers who were passing on their way to Klunkerkranich and decided to hang with us instead. I was already drunk and made the mistake of smoking a strong joint which sent me fucking west at a rate of knots. I don’t remember much of the conversation. Rich told me he had driven to Berlin in a van he owned as the first leg of a European tour he was undertaking. That’s about all I recall.
We left the multi storey via the lift, which Jojo and a Dutch girl commandeered and would only allow people inside if they told a joke. I was too stoned to think, and all I could drag up from my joke-telling primary school days was, “What’s black, white, and red all over? A sunburned penguin”. A real knee-slapper, that one.
Our gang of ten or so wandered off into the bowels of Neukolln looking for a bar. We passed beneath a balcony with a young Chinese guy leaning on it, smoking. Petra somehow engaged him in conversation, and we soon found all ten of ourselves yelling up to him amiably. He said he was about to go to bed, but Petra encouraged him not to, and in one of the most bizarre turnarounds in recent memory, he invited us all upstairs for a party.
He may have underestimated the number of us, as he looked a little bewildered as ten oddly dressed strangers with weird haircuts filed past him into his flat. He lived with four other guys. I was so high I couldn’t even tell you what they looked like. In seconds there was music playing and the flat was full, and more people seemed to keep arriving. I drank a beer and tried to make some friends, but everything was spinning and my social skills had disintegrated. In the end I took a seat on the sofa with Rich, and without realising, I fell asleep.
I awoke to find Dave and Caroline sat looking at me, laughing. My head had apparently been lolling around and my eyebrows had been twitching. How very suave. I tried to find a glass of water to wake up but in my state I could locate nothing, and soon after, the Chinese guy found me rummaging through his fridge desperately seeking sugary drinks. I blushed, made my excuses, and without a word to the others I left the flat. I’m one of those drunken idiots who runs away and falls asleep in a bin then reenters the party 5 hours later covered in an inexplicable mixture of mayonnaise and blood (…true story).
I sat in a doorway to sober up, but instead fell asleep slumped against the wall and woke an hour later with a bricks-and-mortar pattern imprinted on my cheek and half a dozen missed calls. I slunk away into the Berlin night ignoring my phone, seeking out a burger place. I found a McDonalds and ate two chicken burgers and a cheeseburger, then got the U Bahn back to mine. One stop from my flat, I checked my phone. Caroline had invited me to Dave’s for an after party. Well, I’m not one to refuse a friend on his birthday, and so, with herculean effort, I got off the train and hopped on the one going in the opposite direction.
I got to Dave’s around 4am clutching some cheap booze I’d picked up on the way, and entering the flat I found a table laid with candles and plates and bottles. We all sat around and drank by the candlelight until we crashed one by one and, gratefully, I heaved myself away to share Dre’s bed at 5am.
Next morning we woke around 10 and got high again because we are stupid. We began cooking breakfast omelettes and got as far as the onions before we realised we had no eggs. Feeling glum at the prospect of an eggless omelette, we decided to make the 200 metre journey down the road to Lidl.
ASIDE: How funny is the word ‘omelette’? Say it out loud. It makes you sound silly, like a Monty Python character, like a fat lord sitting on his throne dictating his lunch to a servant boy frantically scrawling it all down to take through to the kitchens. Ommmelette. Omlit. Hello, I would like one omlit please, for my lunch. Yes, a Single Omlit for my Linch, thankyhou. Omilit. Omlit. Ommmmmm liiiiiiiiiit. Terrific word.
Dre, Dave and I nominated ourselves to venture out. It took us about 45 minutes to leave the flat because trying to guide Dave and Dre anywhere is like trying to herd a flock of plastic bags in a gale. After much faffing, we breezed our way to the shops, enjoying a joint en route and probably talking about philosophy or some other pure shite. We then made our mistake: we sat on the little low wall outside the supermarket to finish the joint.
While we sat and talked, I became increasingly baked, to the point where I felt a little claustrophobic, trapped in my own head, and everything seemed slightly alarming and alien for no discernible reason. A passing car spooked me. A man sniffed and I flinched. A kid silently drifted past on a skateboard and I jumped out of my fucking skin. I was sat with my red eyes bulging, staring wildly at every passing person, animal and blown leaf like a baffled fawn.
It was into this mildly psychedelic miasma that three Frenchmen staggered, three of the most spangled human beings you have ever seen. Their jaws were flapping on the breeze; they could barely stand. One was Bald, one was Balding, one had a Quiff. Quiff was by far the worst, eyes rolling, arms flopping loose by his side. They passed us, stumbling and rebounding off one another like geriatric bumper cars, and Quiff waved hello. Dave said hi, and before I could object, our groups had merged. Arse.
It was 12pm. The six of us stood outside Lidl attempting to communicate. The French guys could barely speak English, and what they did manage to say made no sense; they didn’t even know where they’d been the previous evening. Dre speaks French, and after conversing with them a while, told us that they weren’t making sense in French either. We told them it was Dave’s birthday, and Balding shook his hand, went inside Lidl, and emerged with a bottle of Jagermeister as a gift. Dave is on antibiotics, so I was handed the booze instead, and Bald forced me to do shots as he watched, or attempted to watch, what with his eyes being lidded and pointing in different directions.
A dog that was tied up a few feet away started howling for no bloody reason at this point. Quiff was trying to smoke a cigarette, but hadn’t the coordination to light it, and at any rate, he had crushed it as he got it out of the pack so that it was now protruding from his lips at a right angle. I remember sincerely hoping I have never been that bad. Jesus Christ.
Why me? Why do we always attract the weirdos? Quiff stumbled away to lean against a wall for support. However, the segment of wall he chose was immediately adjacent to a little old lady’s table. The poor old woman looked terrified of the gurning moron that was looming over her. Dave ran over to drag him away, and apologised. We eventually tired of the French half wits and went inside to buy our eggs, leaving Dre to entertain them.
Newly stocked with fresh food and eggs and booze, we tried to leave. We really, really tried. However, Dre was engaged in conversation with Balding and we couldn’t tear him away. Dave handed Quiff a carton of orange juice to try and sober him up. Quiff took a sip, spilled it all down himself, then for some fucking inexplicable reason, decided to plunge his finger into the juice and swill it around.
“Er… you keep that,” Dave told him, before turning to me, and asking me audibly, “Are we going to ditch these idiots?”
I agreed, and we left. Dre wouldn’t come; he barely seemed to hear us, so engrossed in his conversation was he. We set off walking without looking back, assuming that Dre would follow us if we left, like parents trying to call their child’s bluff. However, when we reached Dave’s house, we found that he wasn’t behind us.
Almost two hours after we popped out to buy eggs from the store five doors down, we had returned home. Dave and I entered the flat draped in the silence of failure. Caroline asked what had happened. There are two sides to life as Dave’s friend: you are either with him, or you are wondering where the hell he is. All we wanted to do was eat an omelette. Just an omelette. Dave thrives in Berlin because he and the city share an innate capacity to turn the most simple of tasks into a fucking odyssey.
“We lost Dre,” answered Dave as he breezed past, taking off his coat, “and he’s got the eggs.”