Thursday, April 12, 2012

Choose Your Haircut: Skinhead or Hitlerjugend

Bitch Week at Dunkin' Berliner continues with today's installment: "Waaaah!  I'm in the Hitlerjugend!"

I believe you can only get two haircuts in Berlin:  The Skinhead and The Hitlerjugend.  I know this because no matter how many times I have gone in to any hair salon in Berlin and no matter how much German I’ve tried to learn or how much English the stylist spoke—these are the only options. I want the cut faded up the sides and back and neatly short—but not jarhead—on top.  I couldn’t explain it to them no matter how hard I tried.  Even when the stylist spoke perfect English, her clippers would slam to a halt at my occipital ridge at the back of my skull.  The scissors were picked up and a hard line between neck and crown formed. The result was the infamous look of the 1930s Hitlerjugend.  If I deigned to complain about this, they would abruptly slam the scissors on the table, pick up the previously-discarded shears and proceed to buzz cut me into skinhead land.

After a while I grew tired of this.  Colored people and foreigners were suddenly crossing the street or diving into the suicidal Berlin bike lanes.  I thought it was because I am large and scary, but my friends laugh at the thought of me scaring anyone.  I started wearing caps and hats until the hair grew back.  Eventually I bit the bullet and bought a buzz cut machine of my own at Rossmann.

The guide marks on the clippers I bought show 10 marks.  But you already know there are only two (even if you didn’t read ahead).  The ‘medium’ marks don’t cut anything and neither does any mark above the medium level.  I tried to shear the back of my own head in the mirror and the only setting that worked was the skinhead setting.   This means that if you continue over your entire skull, you will be branded a skinhead, be invited to shop at Thor Steinar and have Nazi cops buying you donuts (well, this could be a benefit for a Dunkin’ Berliner I suppose).  My clippers slammed into the occipital ridge again.  I didn’t want to go further out of fear of total skinheaditude.  So I stopped.  The familiar ridge formed on the back and sides of my skull. Jahwohl, you guessed it:  I looked like something between a Hitlerjugend and the Pope.  My friends commented on it.  I gave excuses and blamed the Skinhead-o-Cut 2000 machine I used.

Today I went back to the same hair salon I had been before.  I decided to give them another chance.  There was a different woman there:  60 years old, piles of poodle hair, jowls and a look on her face like she was shitfaced drunk.  Or DDR communist.  Or both.  I sat down in the chair.  I had spent an hour on the internet locating and printing a picture of the cut I wanted.  She laughed and told me to put it down.  She had everything under control.  The clippers slammed into my occipital ridge so hard I think chunks of dandruff and skin must have flown out.  I let her continue.  She buzzed the edges of my ears and hit my head several times with the scissors as I held my eyes shut.

I can’t show you a picture of me in this blog.  I am not quite Hitlerjugend, not quite skinhead, but worse:  some kind of mutated mole who was in a fight with a hedge clipper.  I will be wearing my hat again so the nice colored people and foreigners won’t have to dive into the treacherous Berlin bike lanes as I walk down the street.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Used to Be's Don't Count Anymore...

...they just lie on the floor til we sweep them away.
- Neil Diamond

God dammit, culinary consistency would be nice.  I don’t mean in the giant-chain-Mickey D’s-same-damn-garbage-from-Muskogee-to-Moscow sort of consistency.  I would just like to have the same decent food from the same restaurant more than 3 times.  In a row.  That’s what makes me an American, I suppose.  I like to bitch when something just ain’t right.  I never could understand when one of my Limey cousins, after consuming a four course curry meal, could smile and say, ‘That was a bit crap.’  To me, not the staff.  Bit of the old stiff upper lip, I suppose.  Mustn’t grumble.

Bollox. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and I intend to do my fair share of squeaking, yessiree.  If you don’t bitch and complain, you wind up shoveling the same shit into your face for all of eternity. And that there is the real bitch.

We can’t expect much from the fast food circuit.  A different relative every other day can’t learn the menu, yada yada yada. I used to think it was kind of okay when my kebab was slightly different each time.  But that there is a slippery slope, my friends.  The next thing you know, you’ve gone from a sandwich with nicely-roasted meat, fresh sauce and vegetables wrapped in a crispy bread crust—to a soggy mush of flavorless, watery sauce, boiled meat and dry bread.  The kind that falls apart all over your nice bowling shirt.  Fuckers.  I’ve killed for less.  In one of the wars.  I can’t remember which.

Don’t go to Babel on Kastanienallee.  They used to be The Shizzle; now they’re not.

Don’t go to Dolores (American style burritos) on Rosa-Lux.  Same story.  I was a regular for my first year in Berlin.  I would tell the manager each and every time I visited that I was more than happy with everything, and not to change a thing.

Fuckers changed a thing.  Or two.  One of them was the product.  It used to be good.  It used to be fanfuckingtastic. I used to cross town to pick up a couple of giant burritos stuffed with the works and bring them home or sit by the fountain at Alex and watch people plummet from the tall building behind the Burger King.  Suddenly the Perfect Burrito became the perfect door stop.  The quality of the ingredients went down; they started putting stupid shit inside, like fajita vegetables instead of the usual perfecto mix.  Then they reduced the size of the thing by nearly half.  For the same price (around 7 EUR for the deluxe burrito).  It’s like Woody Allen said, “The food here is so bad.  And in such small portions.”  I gave them the benefit of the doubt three times.  I brought people there and I was embarrassed by how bad the food was.  These people probably think I’m some kind of fucking earthworm which sucks up any and all dirt into my gullet.  My Berlin gourmet card has been revoked and I’ll never be invited to the gala regatta yacht race and wear a crested smoking jacket with matching Captain’s cap.  Fuck.

Yesterday the schwarma at Babel was so bad that I had to throw it in the garbage can uneaten.  I had just had more than my fill of beer at Prater, so any port in storm would normally do a hungry drunk.  But the shit they served yesterday was suitable only for the bin rats.  On the way home we stopped by our old favorite, the tried and true, trusty standby kebab joint called Tayfun’s Bistro.  I’m rarely disappointed there.  I always get a reasonably good sandwich for a reasonably good price.  Last night I saw a new face behind the counter, one I’d never seen before.  I almost ordered only a bottled beer.  Out of fear.