Edon and Louise walked hand in hand, following the others in the group to the Biergarten. They arrived in what looked like an outdoor party. There were two huts with an opening similar to a large window on one side. In one hut was a sign with all the different types of beverages one could buy, such as wine, a plethora of beer sold by the pint, cola, fanta and something called a spezi, which is a mixture of cola and fanta. In the other hut was a sign with a list of foods, such as french fries with ketchup or mayonnaise, currywurst, a small salad and brötchen with bockwurst. There were rows of long, thin tables and thin benches without backing lined up outside covering an area about the size of a children’s playground.
The group sat down at one of the tables, taking up almost a whole row. Ariel sat across from Edon and Louise. She was too young to buy her own beer so Sasha and Milly decided to ‘help her out’. All of the Americans got tipsy, some flat out drunk. Louise knew she had to be careful. Her mother, Sally, once told her that alcoholism runs in her family, that most of her blood line could drink a lot more than the average person before getting drunk. She said, ‘’alcohol not only kills brain cells, it also causes harm to the liver and can kill you in large quantities’’.
Having little experience with beer she thought it would be alright to drink two half liters of beer. She drank the first one rather quickly and was surprised not to feel anything. She knew that with vodka, wine, and mixed drinks it only took a little to feel the a bit dizzy. She figured this must be what her mother was talking about. The boys around her drank faster and drank more. The other girls drank wine. Having three older step-brothers Louise knew that a boy likes a girl who can drink a bear with him, who’s not too ‘girly’. She ordered her second half liter. About midway through she realized that she was laughing a bit more. She told herself to ‘get it under control’. She didn’t want to be the annoying drunk that laughs too loud and doesn’t realize that everyone is laughing at her not with her. But this group didn’t seem to care. It was as if everyone had lost their sense of good taste and behavior.
Ariel moved from wine to beer and so did the others. Ariel, poor thing, started talking and laughing loudly. The others laughed a bit, but no one was laughing at her. Louise knew what it was like to be the youngest at a party. She could remember it all too well. She didn’t want Ariel to get so drunk that she could stand, like Louise had once been.
She recalled a party to which her sister dragged her. Sally told Kelly that she was only allowed to go to the party if she took Louise with her. Kelly didn’t want to take Louise but she also didn’t want to miss the party. The Boss was going to drive her. The Boss is what everyone called Kelly’s boyfriend. He was kind of scary. Louise often wondered why Kelly was dating him. He talked bad about everything and everyone. Louie never once heard him say something nice about another person.
Louise wasn’t interested in getting in a car with him, even if Kelly was there with her. She knew that the two of them would make fun of her and otherwise not pay any attention to her. But Kelly begged her and bribed her with promises of help with homework and letting her borrow clothes. Louise finally gave in and went.
Louise was 15 at the time. All of the guest were 21 years and older except for Kelly who was 17. It was risky even to allow Kelly to the party but no one dared so ‘no’ to The Boss.
The three entered through the back door of a small run down house. The Boss and Kelly disappeared leaving Louise alone in the kitchen. She hat high heels on and noticed that the linoleum floor was covered with liquid. She leaned against the counter, folded her arms and planned on just watching the others.
Some guy stumbled over to her asking if she wanted a beer. ‘’I don’t know.’’ was her reply. She knew she wasn’t allowed to drink, but didn’t want him to know.
He poured beer into a plastic red cup and handed it to her. She chugged it down. He smiled and filled her glass again. She drank a bit slower this time. Some girl gave her what looked like a cigarette and she inhaled. They passed the baby cigarette around and Louise took a few more puffs. She finished her beer and thought, ‘’I don’t know what people are talking about, beer doesn’t do a thing to me.’’ Or did she say that out loud. Oh well. She drank two more plastic cups full of beer and had another whole baby cigarette to herself this time. A few more tall people had joined the group in the kitchen. What were they talking about? Who knows, who cares?
Louise was still leaning on the counter. Kelly came into the kitchen and asked Louise, ‘’How much have you had?’’
Louise waved her hand but had forgotten that she was holding a beer in it. ‘’Not too… whoops… sorry…. Not too much.’’ The boy next to her jumped to the side but not fast enough. He got soaked in her beer. He laughed and took off his shirt asking if she was trying to get him naked. ‘’Don’t be ridiculous.’’ was her answer.
‘’You’ve had enough Louise. Come with me.’’
‘’You know, I don’t think so. I don’t even feel drunk. I don’t even know what drunk is. Where are we going? Are we leaving? We just got here?’’ Louise blabbered.
The others in the Kitchen were laughing ‘with’ her. Kelly could be so uptight sometimes. Now she just seemed pissed. Maybe Louise did have too many beers. Was the room spinning?
Kelly went to the table were The Boss was sitting. He sat in the corner with a large round light shining directly above his hands. He was rolling something. It looked to be the color and the size of a cigar, but he was putting green leaves inside. Louise didn’t know that he could roll cigars. Others made room so that Kelly could sit next to him. There was no room for Louise to sit down, so she stood next to the table, leaning against the wall for balance. Some goofy looking guy sitting in a lawn chair leaned slightly back to speak with Louise. She thought it was silly to be sitting in a lawn chair in the house.
‘’Hey, what’s your name, baby?’’
‘’Louise, you?’’ she extended a hand to shake his, but lost her balance and started to fall to the floor. He grabbed her and pulled her up.
‘’Watch out baby. You alright?’’ he asked. He continued talking to Louise but she didn’t understand anything. She was suddenly so tired. And happy.
She was leaning against the wall again, but began to slide sideways down the wall. Something fell on her head. She grabbed at it. It was a telephone. Where did that come from? She pulled herself up on the cord and found the culprit hanging on the wall. It must have jumped out at her as she slid down. She hung it up and tried to stay more alert. Her sister said something to her. The guy said something to her and her sister. The Boss didn’t look pleased. This scenario repeated itself a few times.
The guy stood up to keep Louise from falling again. He grabbed her waist and told her that he was going to help her. He walked with her into the bathroom and turned on the sink. Louise thought she was supposed to wash her face so she did. He said she could, ‘’lay down on one of the beds’’ if she wanted to, he would watch her until her sister was ready to leave.
The two walked out of the bathroom in the direction of the bedrooms. All of the sudden The Boss appeared and smashed a fist into the guy’s face. Kelly pulled Louise down the hall in the other direction shouting behind her, ‘’she’s only fifteen you dipshit.’’
‘’What!? She said she was 18.’’ he yelled.
Louise never said that, or had she? No, she wouldn’t lie. Kelly was holding her up asking, ‘’what were you thinking? That guy could have raped you. Are you stupid?’’ She continued to walk down the stairs with her sister. ‘’Forget about it. It’s ok. Nothing happened. You just need to sober up before we can go home. Sit here and don’t do anything stupid.’’
She placed Louise on a dirty, dusty couch where others were sleeping. Or were they passed out? Kelly chatted with the others and danced to loud music. Finally The Boss said it was time to go. So they left. Kelly sat in the backseat, but she couldn’t hold herself up and kept laughing about nothing at all. Kelly told her to ‘’be quiet’’. She told her to ‘’get it together’’. The Boss threatened her life, if she didn’t sober up before they got home.
They got home and Louise was able to say good night to her mother without Sally noticing anything. She then went straight to bed without another word.
She could remember this all too well. She didn’t want anything similar happening to Ariel. She didn’t want anyone laughing at her. She felt like Ariel’s big sister. She wanted to protect her from anything bad happening. After Louise drank her second pint, she reminded everyone, that the Jugendherberge was going to close any moment and if they didn’t want to get locked out, they all needed to get going. She kept an eye on Ariel making sure she got into her room.
After making sure Ariel got into bed, she spent a little bit of time with Edon just goofing around. She told him good night and headed to her room. There she found Ada sitting on the floor next to her bed crying.
‘’What is going on Ada? Are you alright?’’ Louise asked.
Ada barely looked up and said she had to throw up. Louise grabbed the trash can and held back Ada’s hair as she let it all out. Louise listened to Ada poor her heart out after she had stopped throwing up. She was saying something about how lucky Louise was and how she was keeping a journal. She talked for a while until Louise finally helped her into bed. She wasn’t sure what to do other than just be there. Helen was already in bed and also felt sick. Louise began to wonder where Sophy was, maybe in Jonathan’s room, but she thought Sophy was a virgin, surely she wouldn’t stay overnight. Louise went out of the room to find her and found Milly and Sasha and one of the model girls standing in the hallway instead. The beautiful model girl and Milly were in some kind of conversation about missing the shower head.
Milly, ‘’Do you miss your shower head as much as I do? It is the best. Always does the trick.’’
Model, ‘’I know, I can’t live without mine, although now that it’s not here, I just do it manually.’’
Louse figured they were talking about masturbation, although she had never even thought of trying the shower head and wondered how that would work. Louise liked to masturbate, but would never admit it to anyone. This model girl and Milly kept going on and on about it.
‘’Don’t look at me like that Louise’’ said the model, ‘’you know you like to masturbate. All girls do. They just don’t talk about it. Boys do it in front of each other, I don’t see why girls don’t.’’
Louise hadn’t realized that she was making a face. She must have turned as red as a tomato and was glad that she didn’t have to reply, because Sasha cut in, ‘’You’re right. We do. But I don’t need to know. I’ve got Milly.’’
Milly jumped up in his arms. The two made an interesting couple. Milly was thin and short. Sasha at least two heads taller than her. She wrapped her legs around him and let her upper body fall backwards so that her hands touched the floor and she could look at the bystanders upside down. She screamed and Sasha shook her as if they were alone. ‘’Wow! This is my favorite position. You guys should try it some time.’’
Louise turned red and wanted to leave but didn’t right away. She didn’t want the others thinking that she was prude.
She gave up looking for Sophy and just went to bed. She figured Sophy was smart enough to take care of herself. She laid in Bed thinking about the her experience so far…
So this was what is like to be set free. She had the freedom to drink and to do just about anything she wanted. She could jog around the town without permission. She could go into any store, she pleased, even the stores that would be an ‘over 21’ store in the USA. She had to take care of her own things, do her own laundry and was responsible for her own actions. She could go anywhere in town, in her free time, with whomever she pleased. She could go to the disco with adults and not be looked upon as a crazy wild teen with no ambition. In Germany she was an adult at 18 and treated like one.
Her trips to the Biergarten became regular and over time she learned to regulate how much she could drink without getting tipsy. It seemed to take longer for some of the other girls to figure this out. There was more than one night that Louise helped her roommates into bed, sometimes some of the other girls.
One time she even had to help a girl by putting her under a cold shower. Things like this happened regularly during the second week as a group. Louise felt accepted and respected. It was a crazy and fun time. It wasn’t until the third week that Louise let began letting her guard down. She and Edon began to find other things to do rather than go to the Biergarten every night.
© Rebekah Schmidt and Ten Years in Germany 2013, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rebekah Schmidt and Ten Years in Germany with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.