Going drinking with a Straßenpenner

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November 16, 2012 by fatcai

Wednesday 14th November 2012 was a very important day, not because a person very dear to me celebrated their quarter century, not even because my baby and I celebrated 1 1/2 years together, but because I went drinking with my new BFF, a Straßenpenner.

So what is a Straßenpenner. Well it’s not a nice word….it’s a word for some kind of bum that lives on the streets and we have plenty of them here in Germany….here’s the cold, hard truth kids. Not everyone in Germany is living the dream like I am you know….long days of thankless hard physical labour with few breaks and shit pay…no no some people have it worse off, namely, the Straßenpenner.

So I come home with the last tram on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, my now empty can of Soco and Lemonade in my hand, looking forward to getting out of the cold and into bed when I see an old man hoking through the bins for bottles. Classic Straßenpenner. So I go offer him my can and then for some reason we get chatting, and we chat and chat some more and then I need to pee so then my new buddy Lorenzo says he will find me somewhere so we go to a shady shady bar, one of the ones that only Turkish men go to to hide their faces in a continuous giant puffball of smoke so noone can really tell whether they are cheating or not at poker.

So I go pee and when I come back out Lorenzo has ordered beer and now I know we are going to be best friends forever. He tells me his life story. He is touched that I listen, that I am happy to spend time with him, that I tell him about myself, that I don’t judge. He cries. I am humbled. For a person who likes to judge others, I am not really very judgmental at all in my heart.

Lorenzo was strong enough to be gay about half a century before it became cool to be gay. Lorenzo was gay before that gay airplane pilot slept with that gay monkey in Tennessee that one time and HIV became a problem. But it’s a problem for Lorenzo because he is positive and he gets to wake every day and look forward to shoving 18 different pills down his throat with his arthritic hands he can barely move. And he is alone because he never hid the fact he has HIV but it’s hard to find an HIV partner and even if you do, they still might leave you for another man, a professor because they like the status and live with him in the apartment in Portugal that was paid for with your money but not in your name and call you a couple times a year, maybe because they are secretly still yearning for you like you yearn for him. Maybe it feels better then for just a minute, when you get that call because you remember how you loved and how it was warm in Portugal and you were happy. But then you have to swallow another 18 pills with your crippled hands and the cold damp Cologne nights don’t help the arthritis and rheumatism taking over the body that you need to walk the streets to collect old bottles to make a few extra euros to get the alcohol to drink away the time and the pain until the next call.

I fucking love honesty. And I have the utmost respect for Lorenzo. And that, my dears, is why everyone should go drinking with their local Straßenpenner because well we all need a little perspective sometimes and hell you might even get a new buddy out of it. Lorenzo and I swapped numbers.


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