How To Win Friends And Wear Eyeliner, Also Philosophers’ Graves

Meeting people in Berlin has been a challenge since I arrived. I already discussed at one point that Germans are very closed off, and that it is hard to find friends when you’re already alone. To qualify this statement, even a Frenchman from Paris, whom I met on Wednesday, said Germans are cold. A guy from Paris said that people in Germany are colder than in Paris.

So a week ago, on Saturday evening, I found myself to be extremely bored. I knew no one, but I wanted to go out and do something rather than spend the whole night staring into a screen writing an ironic blog. In desperation, I typed “How to meet people in Berlin” into Google. It was that bad.

One of the first things that appeared on Google was . I was afraid to click on it at first, since it looked as if it might be some sort of “adult friend” thing or another, but it turns out to be a very useful site. People with interests make groups to share their interests, which other people share, and you all get together and do whatever it is you like doing.

Those of you who know me know that I’m not a politically correct guy, that I can be a bit blunt, and that, though I lean towards social democracy, I used to be very conservative and still retain some of that mentality, though to a much lesser degree than before. This is important, as my first meetup event occurred at an anti-war co-op café with pictures of Marx everywhere and posters claiming 9/11 was an inside job.

Those of you who know me also know I’m not at all edgy. I am pretty conformist albeit somewhat eccentric. So how did I dress “edgy” for the occasion? I put on a t-shirt and didn’t iron it.

I walk into this place that smells like cigarette smoke, like everywhere in Berlin, since people smoke in all the hip bars and clubs here. I was one of few people not donning some sort of hemp material. I was really out of my element, even more so than in the past few weeks. But I had to meet people.

Eventually, I discovered not everyone there was crazy and I actually made a friend. Which is something that hasn’t yet happened. In the first month I was in Berlin, I friended one person on Facebook. In the past week, nine. Not that that is a sign of making friends, but it is a great improvement in the number of people I know here.

(This isn’t to begin a pity party about how alone I am, for the record. I’ve been making friends, and I’m merely saying this to recommend ways to make them.)

I’ve been heading to these events all week and things are really starting to look up, at least socially. Jobs-wise, you all know what is going on; romantically, that fiasco’s for a different post; psychologically, frustration is mounting, not going to lie. But at least I’m meeting people, and already things are beginning to improve slightly since I’m not staring at the ceiling all night.

On Wednesday, I did the music permits as per usual. This time, I was almost last in line. One of the other musicians, Joe, is an awesome guy from Yorkshire. He was right behind me. We spent four hours chatting and killing time while we waited for our numbers to be called. Since it was nearby, I suggested we visit some graves in the area. Funnily enough, he used to dig graves for a living.

Schinkel, Hegel, and Fichte are all buried right next to each other. Here are some snaps of their graves on this absolutely freezing, snowy morning.

Grave of Carl Friedrich Schinkel, German philosopher

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Grave of Hegel, Germany's most incomprehensible philosopher

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Grave of Fichte, right next to Hegel

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I confused Schinkel with someone else, and must clarify here that he was, in fact, an architect and not a philosopher.

I like to think I’m a decently intelligent guy. I like to think I’m decently cultured. I like to think I like finer things (when they can be cheaply obtained).

But I also am a huge fan of death metal, the harder the better. On the one hand, I find it challenging to play and not just noises. On the other, I really enjoy the harshness of it and the driving riffs.

Liking metal hardly precludes one from being intelligent or cultured. I picked my mum up from work one day while I was blasting Overkill, and she said, “How can someone who’s such a snob about music like you like this stuff?” I just do.

I convinced my friend (shoutout to Em) that we should go to a punk/metal bar on Saturday. I had been to one Friday, wearing a button-up shirt and jeans as usual, so I stuck out like a sore thumb. It was time to make me look hardcore. We went to Primark, perhaps the preppiest store in Germany, since I was just looking for a black shirt, and they happened to have metal t-shirts. I picked up a classy number, an Iron Maiden shirt with a skull on it, which came with pre-made holes. If I’m going to be a poser I might as well go all out, eh?

I threw on black jeans and boots. I picked up a camo sweater, since it’s been absolutely unbearably freezing this week, since I didn’t want to ruin my actual jacket in case we went somewhere really scheisty.

I also wore eyeliner for the first time ever, just to make myself look even more hardcore. The results were successful, and I didn’t look like a total noob at least. Creds to Em for applying it.

We got to a punk bar on Rigaer Straße, where all the punk bars seem to be hidden. After a few Sternis (Sternburg Beer, basically German Pisswasser that’s very cheap) we were in good shape. Unfortunately, beer makes one need to go to the washroom. On this continent, there are no washrooms anywhere when you really need one. I am very opposed to urinating in public, but I had to do it, I’m sorry, it was simply too much.

This was probably the most hardcore thing I’ve done in a while, perhaps beat only by calling my ex’s very fake best friend a c*** to her face and standing there while she gave a poor excuse for a slap on the face. But what was so hardcore, you ask, about urinating in public? Well, I learnt the hard way tonight that if you’re going to do it, you really really need to make sure you’re not peeing into a thornbush. Yes, a thornbush, a briar, whatever you want to call it. I wade into this bush, unaware of its pronged protuberances, and present myself to it. Eventually, because I’m shwasted like a white girl on study abroad, I fall over with myself exposed. Where did I fall? Straight into the freaking bramble. Every part of my body was pricked in some way as I felt the pain of a thousand slightly annoying stings. But I couldn’t cry out in agony, lest the police hear me. By the way, the park was surrounded by four paddy wagons for some reason. So I had to bear it, and press myself into the bramble more in order to lift myself out of it. Pretty hardcore, huh?

We totally didn’t fit in in the clubs. It was obvious to these people with dreadlocks, black cargo pants, and, yes, dogs, that we were posers. So we went to some club, where a girl told me my makeup was beautiful. And I think another tried to get me to dance with her after she kept shaking my chair using her butt, but it was too loud to understand her German so I just looked at her confusedly.

The eyeliner only took about twenty minutes to get off of my face the next morning. This is not something I’m going to begin to add to my look on a regular basis.

And this is the same guy who just went to a jazz jam session and played drums and accordion at it. Quite a week, quite a week-end.


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