Quick ride to clear my head the other day, dear worst-reader. Didn’t work, though. In fact, I was so perturbed by the trek I’m sure it caused me a strange dream the night after. In short, the dream was thus: along with another male adult, I’m on a grassy knoll coaching four boys who are playing soccer. Oddly, I’ve never played soccer. In fact, when I was kid and when I played, it would have never come to mind to play a sport that was/is easily labelled a communist sport. I mean, come on. You can’t use your friggin’ hands? Whaaaa? Ok. Back to the grassy knoll.
The grassy knoll is next to the German A3 Autobahn on route to either Köln or Frankfurt and there’s no barrier between the grass where the boys are playing and the Germanic über-roadway. Myself and the other adult male are trying our best to keep the boys from playing their sport into the on-coming traffic. So much for coaching, eh. And so…
The boys are constantly kicking the ball onto the Autobahn and thereby stopping traffic. Let me repeat that for the worst-hearing or the unimpaired (intellects) who’ve never left the confines of not having a passport: no one stops on-coming Autobahn traffic in the land of Huns. Or? On the other side of the grassy knoll, by-the-buy, is a dense forest and with every pause from having to watch the boys, I’m looking to that forest. And while doing so, eventually, somehow, an opening in the forest appears and I suggest that we seek another place to practice. The other male adult agrees with me but the four boys do not. The boys want to keep playing/practicing where they are–and it’s obvious they will have their way.
In a rebellious fit mixed with a bit of pseudo-rage, one of the boys kicks the ball onto the Autobahn and then all four boys command that I fetch it. And guess what? I did NOT fetch it. That’s right. Fcuk that! I ran off to the opening in the forest and then woke up in a cold, blurred sweat. Awake from my rebellious dream, I immediately ran downstairs to my Jura espresso machine, which was already on and warmed-up on account I over-slept and my better-half was awake and I clicked the button for a double espresso. I drank it and then my wife commanded that I take the dog out. But get this: my dog, Beckett the killer pug, runs over to me all excited and perturbed and in his mouth is a deflated and dilapidated old soccer ball.
Confused, I look out the front window of our house while contemplating and sipping espresso and soccer and see four boys on the street staring at me, waiting for me, gesturing: where’s the fcuking ball you a$$hole! And so.
A dream within a dream very unlike Hamlet. Or? Perhaps a better question is: what does it all mean?
The good newz is, there’s an east-west spectrum of riding terrain along the Rhein. If I go east, within about half an hour, I’m in a mountainous-forest area that is pure joy to ride. When going west, but adhering to the Rhein River, there are numerous spectacles of industrialisation worth riding through–and not because they are to some an eye soar, which also means that while riding there will be less pedestrian and/or bike traffic. Yesterday I rode through the town of Neuss, for example. It’s a quick twenty kilometre north-westerly ride where one must cross the Rhein via Düsseldorf’s most southerly bridge. Once across there is a short jaunt on a bike pathway that is between the river and a bunch of fancy-pants houses that all have a spectacular view. Indeed. Some of the housing that overlooks the Rhein is a sight to see. The old-money wealth that purchased its way into such a view of the river must be very proud of itself. Yes. We’re all proud of old-money, eh? I mean, not that I’m bitchin’ & moanin’ too much on account I can’t have such a view. Old money is an issue these days, eh? But I die-gress.
The moment I trekked my way through Neuss town centre and began to navigate through the industrial harbour, I felt better. Suddenly there were no more cars, no more pedestrians, no more bicyclist. And then I saw a young maiden sitting on a bench next to what looked like a contra-bass. Obviously she was waiting to be picked up and my little knowledge of Neuss told me there must be a music school nearby. Yeah, the Huns still have lots of music schools all over the place. Anywho.
After passing the harbour area and getting a good close up of some of those barges that dock at loading stations, I had to resort to some fancy-pants GPS to help me find the quickest way to lunch. I was getting hungry.
I rode through the industrial, port area of Neuss and then re-crossed the Rhein via the Rheinkniebrücke which is only a few twisty kilometres north of the previous bridge I crossed. I then rode to the Düsseldorf Altstadt and reminded myself that I would have NO Bier with lunch. I then splurged on a bowl of lentil soup at a cool little out-door soup & stew stand. While eating lunch I conversed with an old German couple, she from D’dorf but her husband was from Nurenberg. The husband was almost blind and kept asking his better-half to help him find a piece of sausage in his soup. The better-half sparked up a conversation with me after her husband mistook my bowl of stew for his own. Here’s a translation of the conservation that ensued:
“We’re biking, too,” the old lady said.
“Good for you,” I added.
“But my husband’s almost blind. Here darling, have another piece of sausage with your stew.”
“With traffic as bad as it is, biking is really the only way to get around these days, wouldn’t you agree,” I asked.
The wife shovelled another piece of sausage onto her husband’s spoon. He was eating cabbage and carrot stew with pieces of bratwurst in it. I couldn’t help but stare at the man’s thick, bottle glasses. For a moment it looked like he was so blind that he might not find his mouth with the spoon. But then he blurted out something about Hitler. That’s right. That’s how easy it happens here. I looked to his wife and she nodded and I then assumed that the old man was probably dement. But then he turned to me while chewing a thick spoonful of stew and meat.
“You have an accent,” he said.
“Yes, sir, I do,” I agreed.
“You are American,” he said. “I will never forget the Americans. It was two weeks after I turned seven years old. It was late 1945. The Americans began to occupy Nuremberg. We were still wondering if my father would return from the war. It was just my grandfather and my mother. My mother kept herself barricaded in the basement of our house most of the time. My grandfather was still in charge of the city’s electrical grid. My grandfather took me to work with him back then. The G-I’s were fixing the electric grid of the city. When the first G-I’s came to greet my grandfather at the electric station I stood at attention and yelled at the top of my lungs… Heil Hitler! But then I saw for the first time a Neger1. And this big black G-I came over to me and gave me a Hershey bar. After that I yelled Heil Hitler to every G-I. I got a Hershey bar every time. It was wonderful. My father never came home.”
Rant and ride on.
- Yes, old Germans still refer to Africans as “Neger” and while I’ve questioned the use of the word, most Germans then just inform me how stupid Americans are if they don’t know the difference to the slave-trade, bigoted pejorative use of nomenclature ↩︎