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the thing new york vs. the american embassy (thursday, june 14, ziegelstrasse 20, 10117 berlin)


From: amerikanische botschaft

The following takes place between 11pm and 2am on the day of Wolfgang Staehle's visit to the American Embassy

For some reason I remember standing in a phone booth at a 76 Station in Palm Desert at nine-thirty on a Sunday night, late last August, waiting for a phone call from Blair, who was leaving for New York the next morning for three weeks to join her father on location. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and an old baggy argyle sweater and tennis shoes with no socks and my hair was unbrushed and I was smoking a cigarette. And from where I was standing, I could see a bus stop with four or five people sitting or standing under the fluorescent streetlights, waiting. There was a teenage boy, maybe fifteen, sixteen, who I thought was hitchhiking and I was feeling on edge and I wanted to tell the boy something, but the bus came and the boy got on. I was waiting in a phone booth with no door and the Day-Glo light was insistent and giving me a headache. A parade of ants marched across an empty yogurt cup that I put my cigarette out into. It was strange that night. There were three phone booths at this particular gas station on that Sunday night last August and each booth was being used. There was a young surfer in the booth next to mine in OP shorts and a yellow T-shirt with "MAUI" etched across it and I was pretty sure that he was waiting for the bus. I didn't think the surfer was talking to anyone; that he was pretending to be talking and that there was no one listening on the other end and all I could keep thinking about was is it better to pretend to talk than not talk at all and I kept remembering this night at Disneyland with Blair. The surfer kept looking over at me and I kept turning away, waiting for the phone to ring. A car pulled up with a license plate that read "GABSTOY" and a girl with a black Joan Jett haircut, probably Gabs, and her boyfriend, who was wearing a black Clash T-shirt, got out of the car, motor still running, and I could hear the strains of an old Squeeze song. I finished another cigarette and lit one more. Some of the ants were drowning in the yogurt. The bus came by. People got on. Nobody got off. And I kept thinking about that night at Disneyland and thinking about New Hampshire and about Blair and me breaking up.

Bar: The Thing New York
Music: American Embassy Berlin

A warm wind whipped through the empty gas station and the surfer, who I thought was a hustler, hung up the phone and I heard no dime drop and pretended not to notice. He got on a bus that passed by. GABSTOY left. The phone rang. It was Blair. And I told her not to go. She asked me where I was. I told her that I was in a phone booth in Palm Desert. She asked "Why?" I asked "Why not?" I told her not to go to New York. She said that it was a little too late to be bringing this up. I told her to come to Palm Springs with me. She told me that I hurt her; that I promised I was going to stay in L.A.; that I promised I would never go back East. I told her that I was sorry and that things will be all right and she said that she had heard that already from me and that if we really like each other, what difference will four months make. I asked her if she remembered that night at Disneyland and she asked, "What night at Disneyland?" and we hung up. And so I drove back to L.A. and went to a movie and sat by myself and then drove around until one or so and sat in a restaurant on Sunset and drank coffee and finished my cigarettes and stayed until they closed. And I drove home and Blair called me. I told her that I'll miss her and that maybe when I get back, things will work out. She said maybe, and then that she did remember that night at Disneyland. I left for New Hampshire the next week and didn't talk to her for four months.

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