04 January, 2017

Naturally, Germany

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

It was last spring and I getting hammered in a basement bar in Germany. The place was located underneath a hostel named after a Gunter Grass story I had never heard of, much less ever read. I was sitting next to this Australian guy, because I was in a foreign country and of course I was. Of course all of it. I wasn’t ever going to spend a night, alone in Germany not trying to figure out whether or not their beer was better than ours (it is).

And of course Gunter Grass and of course it’s an Australian because it’s always an Australian. I have this sneaking suspicion that if I finally ever got over there, south of the equator, I’d find the entire country emptied out except for a bunch of Aborigines desperate for you not to remind the world that Australia is there and empty. They’ve had a bad run of that before.

And of course we get to talking about politics, me and this Australian (can’t remember his name for the life of me. Feel kind of bad about that, especially nowadays). Despite every reason to come at me (we’re drunk and on his home turf, a bar), he doesn’t. We talk like human beings and we have a good time and get to know each other and understand each other in a way that only two drunk strangers in the middle of nowhere can ever get to know each other. And he brings up Trump. Or I bring up Trump. Because you can’t not bring up Trump. He’s this thing. The Great Orange Juggernaut.
I start talking to him about the whys and hows of it. Not apologia, just yeah, this is us. Not all of us, but us. We’re family. Families can be fucked up and fight and hate each other, but we’re all of a single bloodline for better or for worse. One nation. E plurbus. All that Latin stuff. Don't ask me what any of it is in German.

And I tell him, if we get Trump, we deserve it. Not out of sadism or snideness or because I don’t understand what him or his cabal (then only hypotheticals, boogeymen of the lowest order) want to do to my fellow Americans, but because if we get him, it’s because America is too idealistic to see this shit coming or to stop it. Because of course somebody will see the light of day and do the right thing. Because we’re Americas. Except that, of course, we’re Americans. Fucking up stuff is what we do. Not seeing things coming is what we do. We're the nation that gave Jackass three movies.

So, yeah, of course we got Trump. Of course of course. The American experience is built on the belief that we should get better than we deserve. Whether its your great grandpa escaped the Cossacks or your grandma coming north for work or my own dumb family looking to get into mining or for some place with enough space to pop out ten kids at a go. We’re dreamers. We believe that all of the Indian killing and slaving and civil wars and basic depredations that we inflict on each other aren’t our character, rather that they’re somehow exceptions. And maybe they are (but probably not).

So, of course Trump. Because that’s the world we built. I don’t know if this bullshit has come home to roost, but it’s gotta go somewhere. It's what happens when you don't plan for the future. When you don't see these things coming. When you've heard this story before, but you refuse to remember how it ends. Maybe. I don’t know.

Thinking on this, I started thinking on something else that’s been going through my head this past year or so and I hate it almost as much as I hate the fact that the next time I’m blotto in a subterranean biergarten I’m going to have to either apologize and beg for forgiveness. It’s a quote from True Detective Season 2 and I hate that it makes more sense to me than anything Latin that I’ve heard in the past five years.

“I strong suspect we get the world we deserve.”

That bullshit cowpoke was right. We get the world we deserve. We always do. Even if we don’t see it. And maybe that’s the most disappointing thing in this whole goddamn mess.

Except it isn’t.

And it wasn’t. I woke up late with only a bit of a hangover. Just enough to want to sleep in a bit longer. After that I got a breakfast of hardboiled egg and Redwall-esque lunch meats and got a street car down to the Reichstag. I had myself a balmy walking tour. Saw the Rhine. Saw the Holocaust Memorial. Saw the wall. And I was walking along, the feeling of deja vu suddenly hit me like a brick. It was like I had walked over somebody's grave. As it turns out, it was Hitler's. Because of course it was. Ugly apartment building. Crowded with tourists. And the Fuhrerbunker. Because of I accidentally walk into one of the most evil places in the world (which, as I recall, had a tennis court across the street).

Then I moved on. I met up with the friends that I was looking for. I got a coffee. I saw Checkpoint Charlie and I moved on with my life and walked all the way back to Mitte to my hostel and proceded to start drinking again. Because, fuck it, I was on vacation.

Sorry. You’ve probably heard that one before.