Thursday, March 11, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 109:
the bankers bash in west berlin

long bout the middle of may in 1980, all 108 of us amurkin d-a-a-d stipendiaten wuz invited on a trip to west berlin with all our eggspentses paid by sum banks, witch if they give us the names of them banks, i faild to rite em down. tuwz a mixd blessin fer me on a counta how they dint allow me to brang emily along. but twuz too good to pass up, so i clumb abord the train n went.

they put us up in the berlin excelsior hotel on hardenburgstraße, witch we wuznt moren a cuple blocks frum the center of the ackshun over to that thar gedächtniskirche. the room wuz grate, the bar wuz open n free n they paid fer all our meals. they tuck us round in a bus to see all the sites emily n i had dun seen durin the two trips we had tuck together.

i broke away frum the crowd bout as quick as i could sos i could walk n give everthang that wuz a'goin on sum thought. durin the ride on the train i had red my diary up till then n as generly happens, i wuz a lil embarrassd n wishd i could git serious bout life n whutever twuz i wuz a'gone do with mine. amung minny cuncerns i had wuz wunderin whut folks wuz spozed to bleeve in. seemd lack the hole worl wuz jes waitin fer the inevtibull war twixt east n west.

wurser than that wuz how neethur side seemd to care much fer innythang but material possesshuns. twuz all a big battle over who wuz a'gonna git the mos. the communists dint bleeve thar wuz a god n ifn twuz true that thar wuznt, then lack dostoevski sed, innythang wuz possibull n nuthin matterd but this verr life. so why not git as much material goods as ye kin? aint nuthin else to go fer. in the west twuz claimd that everbidy bleeved in a life after death n how ye had to do good in this here life to git the reeward in the nextn, but i couldnt never make whut everbidy wuz pursuin n doin in the west match up with whut i had dun red of the bible, witch wuz all of it overn over again whenever me n darlene wuz a'studyin with them jehovuhs witnesses. i kep gittin stuck on thangs lack how ye wuznt spozed to gather up riches in this here worl but store up good deeds in sted, witch they wood be yer riches fer the nex worl.

whenever i wuz lil n bleeved everthang my daddy tole me, i figgerd twuz a grand battle twixt good n evil, but the more i studied on whut eethur side had dun, the more i cum away with the real eye zayshun that wuz a simple matter of us agin them. me n emily dint hang round with amurkins in frankfurt too much. our friends wuz frieda n erika, witch they wuz thonly germans we gut to know verr well, n markette frum finland n john thomas frum england n winston ngowa frum tanzania n branimir frum yugoslavia, witch he always correckted us to say croatia. thay wuz a passel of otherns that i dont member thar names, but thang wuz, everone of em wuz frum sumplace differnt, but even so, seemd lack they all -- n purty soon, ye could say, we all -- gut to seein thangs alike. ye couldnt say one side wuz all good or all evil on a counta how neethur side wood hesitate to do innythang to git its way. ye had yer soviets takin over afghanistan n yer amurkins payin muslim radiculls to fite agin em. bof sides had em a nuff atomick bombs to wipe out everthang n seems lack that kinda thang is hard to square with the bible, period.

so i walked the streets of berlin, trine to git away frum whar the forn tursts all lacked to go, a'thankin n a'thankin more on whut is it we should be a'doin? at one point i cum upon a lil narrow street. thay wuz a cadillack stuck on it on a counta twuz too big to turn roun n git out. thay wuz a lil bunch of kids gatherd round, all of em laffin n pointin thar fangers n sayin whut idiots we amurkins wuz fer wastin so much of the worls energy n awl resurves by drivin huge inefishunt cars. corse folks wuz payin bout four times as much fer gas in west germany than we wuz in amurka, so they dint wont no big cars.

but i couldnt git to no conclushun on thangs. wuz the anser gittin involved with pallticks n trine to make thangs rite? or wuz it better to wurk on savin yer own sole? did ye need to change socidey? or yer ownself? wuz it overly self-indulgent to wurk on yer own salvayshun when thay wuz so much sufferin caused by the ackshuns of yer gummint, witch twuz spozed to be under the cuntrol of the people, but it dint seem lack it sumtimes. they wuz this claim by so minny amurkins bout bein christchun, but when it cum rite down toot, wuznt hardly nobidy a'gonna give up thar possesshuns lack they dun in the bible in the early days. in fack, it seemed lack the hole relijun had been turnt into a eggscuse to try to git rich.

corse ye could walk yer laigs off n not cum to no ansers when yer astin such hard questchuns, so i cum back to the hotel n had me a good dinner. the nex day, witch twuz a mundy, they give us whut they call freie verfügung, witch that means free decree wurd fer wurd, but whut it meant wuz how we could go n do whutever we wonted. they give us dm70 as taschengeld n far as i could tell, mos everbidy did the same thang with it, witch that wuz to git over to checkpoint charley n go thru to east berlin.

twuz my thurd trip behind the iron curtain so i dint wonta walk round lookin at the places meant fer tursts, witch i had dun seen mos all of em. i tuck the mos deeserted side streets n tride to git to whar folks wuz livin thar lives without specktin no amurkins to cum by. i walked n walked till i cum on a bookstore that wuznt lack nun i had seen. they wuz sellin thangs lack the bible n new testament n other relijus texts. folks wood cum in astin fer eckumenicull or liturgickull texts. twuznt nuthin lack the big bookstores on alexander platz or spandauer straße, whar they wood have big sines sayin 'die klassiker' with arrows pointin at the sacred texts of the communists, the marx n engels n lenin stuff but nary a copy of no goethe or schilling or nietzsche.

i stayed thar lookin at the books fer quite a spell. twuznt a big store, so i could see mos everthang they had, but i wuz innerested in how twuz so differnt frum whut ye wood see in the better known places. i kep waitin till i gut a chants to talk to the woman that run the place. i gut to talkin with her n twuz odd how she sed almos the same thangs folks in west germany wuz a'sayin, witch she figgerd thay wuznt no way the worl wood let the germans to be together in a sangle cuntry agin. n she also sed sumthin that stuck with me to this verr day, witch she sed all the fussin n fitin n threats of war twixt the two sides wuznt all that importunt. all the problems in the worl cums frum inside folks but thar too scaird to look inside fer the anser. in sted, the spend thar hole lives lookin fer the anser outside, witch ye caint fix the outside usin a insterment thats deefecktiv inside.

that evenin them banks sent us out to a play, der hofmeister by jmr lenz, witch we all watched it n then gut into a big fuss n fite, all as plite as could be, bout whut we had dun seen. twuz almos as if we had seen differnt plays even tho the hole thang wuz in plane german, witch we all shoulda been able to unnerstand that by then. after all, we wuz all students thar a'studyin thangs lack geschichte n philosophie n deutsche grammatik n mos everthang ye kin thank of ceptn english, so shorely we could follow a play. i wuz purt shore i had unnerstood mos ever wurd, but thay wuz others jes as shore bout whut they thunk they had seen. thay wuz even a young lady amung us who had her a copy of the play in bof german n english, witch she had seen the same play i had, but even tho she wuz proovin her point a'usin it, thay wuz plenty that dint bleeve it.

nex nite they had a big party fer us all. turnt out they wuz wontin to thank amurka fer all the hep we had give em a'usin that marshall plan. i never saw such luxry. they had em a bank house with the finest art on the wall n antique furnitchur n a strang quarter providin the musick n the best food ye could eat n plenty of fine wines n good beer. n the idee wuz to let us all mingle whar we could talk.

twuz a nuther sprize. i dint meet a sangle person that had the kinda doubts bout the amurkin way of life i wuz havin. not a one seemd to thank twuz bad fer the soviets n the usa to be pointin atomick weppons at each other. they dint seem to keer bout the way we had the germans set up to be the furst fiters ifn the war cum or how twood put germans agin germans, whuther they lacked it or not. in sted, they wuz all talkin bout the cars they wuz a'gonna buy n how glad they wuz a'gonna be to git away frum the germs, witch they used that wurd moren inny bunch i ever met. they wonted to git rich n enjoy all the good thangs in life.

i couldnt git a sangle one of em to unnerstan the differnts twixt lookin fer the anser on the outside n lookin fer it on the inside. one feller even tole me twuz the rite of ever christchun to git rich on a counta thats whut god wonted fer em. i ast him why wuz it jesus had spent all his time with pore folk, but he sed he dint wonta argue relijun, so i quit astin him.

next day, most of em flew back to thar places in west germany. i larnt then that i wuz thonly one that had tuck the train, witch i wuz glad i had dun it on a counta havin so much to thank on, mainly how it seemd lack we wuz all watchin histry together, but still not seein the same play.

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