Sometimes the desk fan isn't enough and you have to go out into the sweltering heat and pack yourself into shiny metal boxes on rails to get to the Berlin lakes. We were well prepared with sandwiches, mineral water and wine. I fought my girlfriend tooth and nail on this one.
'You mean we have to go out into the HEAT and BAKE on dirty SHORES with random GERMANS in Speedos?' I decided that I had no choice but to placate the g.f. and get with the program. I couldn't picture the combination of me away from my laptop; sitting in direct sun; drinking; not dying from heatstroke.
Truth be told I haven't been swimming in years. The last time I attempted to haul my elephantine ass into a water scenario was in a lake in the Czech Republic about 10 years ago. I was with a bunch of friends on the shore of a suburban lake outside of Prague. I was standing there in the water minding my own business when a communist relic in a canoe paddled up to me and shouted at me. I said 'niggu, proSEEM' which is Czech for 'nigga please.' I couldn't see my transgression. The man kept gesticulating and pointing at my midriff.
"What?!! My BELLY is too BIG for your BEACH????" That wasn't the case. Many other beer-swilling Czech men with prominent paunches paddled freely about us. No. It wasn't the belly. It was the shorts. After some deliberation I discovered that I wasn't allowed to enter the water without the requisite communist Speedo. There was no use explaining to the frustrated Czech man that Where I Come From Got Dammit Only Fags or Olympic Swimmers Wear Speedos. And that it was a lake. And that no possible damage could come to the lake from my raggedy-ass shorts. I just had to leave.
Ten years later I'm on the shore of a Berlin lake and a helicopter is hovering over us. Me, the g.f. and her friends from work all stared up at the whirlybird from our semi-comfortable perch on the burnt grass shores of Baggersee. We had just completed a full circle of the lake on foot. The girls couldn't decide on which stretch of garbage-strewn shore would work best for their recreational purposes. Now that we had found a spot, we had The Eye in The Sky hovering over us. The chopper had circled the lake a few times before deciding to hover directly over us for several minutes. The girls were getting giddy. They wondered if they were spying on us. Being as we are foreigners. With alcohol. On a German lake shore. Having the godawful audacity to enjoy ourselves. I told them they were paranoid. Foreigners can't be seen from helicopter altitude and they couldn't possibly identify the clear substance in our cups as alcohol. If that were in fact illegal on this particular shore.
"Tango Foxtrot Niner this is Bagger Eins. Do you see the man without the Speedo? Over."
"Negative Bagger Eins, proceed to the man without Speedo and provide areal recon, over."
But then it became crystal clear to me: The chopper would land near us, whipping up a storm of dirt and dead grass. An SS storm trooper would charge our fair beach blanket donut dip and accost us with a lesson in German law with the proffer of an outstretched arm and a Speedo for me. If that were the case, I would have to shed my prudish cultural inhibitions and display my yam bag just like the rest of these deluded Euro-fools. I kicked back on the beach blanket under my straw hat, red Hawaiian shirt, Blues Brothers shades and knee-length shorts. I smiled to der himmel uber and mouthed the words 'Bring It On, Deutschbag."
The ladies were getting very nervous. I was calculating the cost of helicopter fuel and pilots and salaries of the feckless fools hovering 30 meters overhead and deciding that the myth of a broke Berlin was due largely in part to gross administrative waste. The copter hovered. Meanwhile a crew of two garbage cleanup men swept our perimeter. I wondered when the Blitzkrieg would begin. Eventually they all left, ground and aerial recon alike. I looked around wondering what other sight may have attracted the interest of the helicopter police. Then my eyes beheld an awful truth in the tall grass behind us: a buck naked man stretched out on a blanket, no Speedo anywhere to be seen.
I'm not going to digress into my encounters on nude beaches around the world. I'm just going to quote a shy journalist woman from my hometown newspaper who, upon going to her first nude beach for a story, discovered the same Awful Truth that I had witnessed many times up to and including today: "A scrotum is not easy on the eyes."
So the teabagger behind us was probably what drew the helicopter. Or not. It's hard to tell with these Rule Types. After more than a year and a half living in Berlin I still have absolutely no idea what the rules are. So I go where I'm told to go by the crowd, hauling the booze, the chips, the blankets, the donuts, the attitude. But you will never catch my Moby anywhere near anything resembling a Speedo. There are some things you don't need laws for; only common sense.
Photo grabbed off the internet. Nobody would claim credit for an image that bloody obscene.