[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]
It turns out that partying with people over 30 isn’t all that different than partying with younger people my age. I guess once you’ve got enough alcohol in your system, everyone acts like wild teenagers. It’s the original great equaliser.
So Amanda’s flat-warming party was slated to begin at 8, and since I have no life I got there at 8:05 and was the first one there. Amanda handed me a beer, a Rothaus Pilsner, the pilsner of choice down in Ichenheim and a beer I’m particularly fond of. We had a few minutes of casual conversation about work and stuff, and then the first of the other guests arrived. It was a German couple, some long-time friends of Amanda that she met at some point during her previous 5 years in Hannover—a guy named Oliver with a beard and long curly blonde hair, and his girlfriend Lena, a pretty German girl with dark brown hair.
I busted out my mad social skills with Oliver while Amanda and Lena talked, and learned the basic information about what he does and where he’s originally from and whatnot. He was sympathetic to me because he lived in Ireland for awhile and knew what it was like to be new to a foreign country.
Anyway, more and more people came filing in—mostly Germans of various ages but also an Australian guy and his German girlfriend. I talked to him for awhile. Apparently he teaches geography and economics at the International School, and because I have a substitute teaching certificate I’d probably be able to offer myself as a substitute teacher there, which apparently pays really well.
But one thing I gathered just from talking to a few of the teachers there is that when it comes to language teaching, you don’t really need any qualifications whatsoever as long as you’re a native speaker. I kind of suspected that, but I confirmed it last night. You don’t need a TEFL-certification even though it helps, and you don’t need a college degree even though it helps. Apparently any native English speaker can easily find employment in Germany.
I was a bit surprised when Frank, the boss and owner of Planeo came to the party. I’ve never drank with my boss before, but hey, it’s a different world. He told me he was surprised to learn that I didn’t have my working papers because he assumed I had to have them if I’d been hired at Inlingua. But apparently this wasn’t a problem—his company just contacts the bureaucracy and says they need papers and that’s that. All of this Ordnungsamt bullshit was kind of just unnecessary tedium on my part. So that was nice to learn.
I went out for a few cigarettes throughout the night. It actually turned into a very nice night, not too cold at all (the alcohol probably had something to do with that as well) but there was a lovely fire in a pit in the patio out back. Amanda lives in a little apartment building with just three apartments in a little back alley and right across from her landlord’s house. While we were out smoking her landlord came and grabbed a beer and smoked and talked with us. He seemed like a nice guy, but so did everyone at the party.
At around 11:00 some people started to leave, and me being about as buzzed as I normally get when I drink casually by myself, I decided I might as well get out of there as well. I hadn’t been talking much because I didn’t know anyone there except Amanda and Alan, and I mostly found myself just scanning the room while other people socialised and I sipped on my beer.
I went out for one last cigarette and intended to walk home right after, but some of the other people who had the same idea went back upstairs and I figured what the fuck? How often do I actually go to a party? I might as well stay a little bit longer.
I went back upstairs and grabbed myself another beer and sat down, talked to Alan a little more, learned about the political climate in Khazakstan, and watched as the others filed out. Soon it was just Alan, Amanda, myself the two other guests who first arrived—Oliver and his girlfriend Lena—and a couple of gay German guys who I hadn’t yet met or talked to. That’s when Amanda passed around the vodka shots. I made a half-hearted attempt to refuse but she poured me just a little one so I figured why not? I was at the point where I’m just over the “buzzed” line but if I stopped after one more beer I’d be just fine. But that’s also the time where you’re the most susceptible to doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do like take shots of hard liquor.
Some more conversation ensued. Someone mentioned London, and I found myself telling everyone my London story about being pissed on in St. Christopher’s hostel. That story was a big hit. I finally got some use out of it.
The gay guys went home soon after, then more shots were poured and mine is now at least three times the size of the original one. But the first shot had lowered my inhibitions just enough to take that second shot, and I found myself toasting with the rest of them and downing the nasty poison. There was no turning back now. All my chips were on the table. I knew I’d be paying for this tomorrow with a nasty hangover, so I might as well enjoy it now.
I guess Amanda had the same idea because she cleared the living room floor, tossed on some faster music and cranked up the volume. Amanda, Lena, and Oliver start dancing to the music which I think was something by The Cure, and the next thing I know I find myself up and dancing too. When that song ended, another random song started and the dancing continued. Alan was a bit more reserved about it than the rest of us but he soon got in on it too. So for a very long time the five of us were just drunkenly dancing like complete fools all over Amanda’s apartment. Quite a few beer bottles were knocked off tables and bits of shattered glass were all over the floor so everyone made sure their shoes were on and we just continued dancing.
I’d rather not go into the details of what a complete ass I made of myself, but needless to say I was totally drunk and had no inhibitions whatsoever so I had no qualms about any of it. Playing really bad air guitar, climbing up on the beams above the living room (though Oliver did that first), and shouting my own made up lyrics to some of the songs, like during James Brown I would shout things like, “Jesus loves vodka” to the beat which everyone thought was hilarious.
I found myself lying on the floor a few times as well, and at one point they picked me up by the wrists and ankles and swung me back and forth. Normally I would find this extremely uncomfortable and would tell them to please don’t fucking do that, but in this situation I just laughed and leapt to my feet when they let go to continue dancing. At one point Lena pointed out that I was bleeding from the elbow, which I hadn’t felt at all and still have no idea how it happened but I just washed it off and kept partying.
Every time Amanda went over to the stereo I expected the volume to go down and for this dancing to end, but it always went in the opposite direction. I expected the Polizei to show up at any time, but they didn’t come. Then finally Amanda’s landlord walks through the door and I figure it’s time to wrap it up. But he just walks over, grabs himself a beer, and dances with us for about twenty minutes before saying goodbye and leaving us to continue the ridiculously loud escapade.
We continued dancing around like morons for a long time until finally the music stopped and Amanda at the stereo didn’t seem like she was putting anything else on. That felt like the right time to leave, so I stumbled around the apartment speaking German for some reason. “Jetzt soll ich gehen. Wo ist meine Jacke? Ich bin betrunken.” Lena was the only one still standing and she helped me find my jacket and said “Guten nacht” to me.
The walk home was much more fun than the walk there, as I stumbled along the sidewalk listening to Moby’s Hotel on my I-pod and passing by all the other people outside of bars that were just closing and who were also stumbling along, just as drunk as I was. I got home and somehow didn’t pass out for another hour as I kept myself up in order to eat something and drink massive quantities of water.
And today I feel much less horrible than I imagined I would. I’m definitely feeling the effects but there’s no headache or sick stomach or anything. I knew I’d have to pay for it but if this is the price I sure as hell got my money’s worth. So that was easily the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been back in Germany, if it wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in Germany period. Looking back at my own actions last night I definitely feel a twinge of embarrassment because I was so damn foolish, but the whole point is that everybody else was too. There’s something deeply satisfying about that kind of bonding experience, where you all just fuck your brain up and act as stupid as you can while throwing judgment completely out the window. It really brings you down to earth somehow, perhaps by reminding you that underneath all that intellect, you’re really just a dumb animal after all.