The Nighty of the Mysterious Jew Boy
Despite the endless possibilities we have in life based on our widely different social and cultural backgrounds our human existence is built on the same few fundamental principles. One of these principles is to have a continuous life trajectory where our decisions and actions, and our participation in different contexts can be aligned as pearls on a string with the goals and values we pursue, so we experience that there is a greater meaning with our life. Nevertheless, when, once in a while, we experience great changes we suddenly feel very empty and fragile, and desperately begin to look after something that can give us back the feeling of meaning in our life. And even for an exceptional personality as the Great Dane this may not be an easy task.
Now that the Great Dane had ensured that the newborn was in good hands so a new generation of real Berliners could grow up and save this poor, but sexy city, his own purpose in Berlin had come to an end. Once again, he stood at a crossroads in life, and felt that he was being torn apart, as if there were not only one, but too many Great Danes inside him, all shouting, screaming and pulling in him to go in each their direction. He just wanted them to shut up, go away and leave him in peace so he could find out what he really wanted with his life. This had been an ongoing struggle for existence as long he remembered, taking him from one place to another, from one goal to another, from one woman to another trying to live up to everyone’s expectations except his own. He was exhausted and sick of it all. It would be so nice if someone came, took his hand and showed him the way through life, insured him that everything would be all right.
The Night Walker
In the daytime, the Great Dane either slept or sat outside on his balcony near the clouds watching the city life far below him, while at night he walked around the streets from one späti to another to buy more cigarettes and cheap walk-along-beers. Now and then he passed a lonesome night walker like himself and they would exchange brief signs of understanding before they continued on each their troubled path in life. One night when in his despair he drifted around on the Tempelhofer Feld after opening hours he heard someone sing in the distance. It sounded beautiful and strange at the same time. He looked beyond the field where the moon, high above, was shining extraordinarily bright and spotted in the moonlight a man, stripped to the waist, making gestures to the ground with a tool of some kind. When he came closer he recognized the person as the Mysterious Jew Boy. He was digging a hole with a spade to the rhythm of some old forgotten folk song. After a while he stopped, looked cautiously down the hole, and with a smile on his face he slowly bent forward and sang in a deep voice as if to someone down there. The Great Dane could not hold back his curiosity any longer. He stepped right up to the hole and asked what he was digging. Mein Gott ist grüsser als Ihne, the Mysterious Jew Boy yelled frightened and hit the Great Dane with the spade so he tumbled to the ground, howling like a wounded hound. Stop whining, the Mysterious Jew Boy sneered at ham. You’re scaring the meaning away so I can’t say if it fits me. He waved gently his hand above the hole, while singing a sweet lullaby as if trying to comfort a scared child. This, however, made the Great Dane cry even more, sobbing all over that he could not stand it anymore, it hurt too much, his loneliness in a harsh and cruel world where no one thought about him, only themselves, and had so unrealistic expectations and demands to him. But what about his needs, his dreams and longings? He felt so confused, so helpless. His life was nothing more than a great nothingness, a failed imaginary life in someone’s sick mind. He needed to get out, get away, get his own life. The Mysterious Jew Boy was astonished. He never expected to see the Great Dane, his great hero, this great example for mankind, so sad and fragile, so lost. It was as if something had possessed him, an evil spirit of some kind. He needed to help him, get him back on the right track before he got out of control. The consequences would be beyond comprehension, it would be devastating, not just for the Great Dane himself, but for the well-being of the whole world. The Mysterious Jew Boy handed the Great Dane his spade and said it was time for him to stand up and dig after the greater meaning of his life. Right now, in the dark, the Great Dane asked surprised with tears in his eyes. Can’t it wait till the sun comes up? It must be done in the dark, away from the light and people’s lurking eyes, the Mysterious Jew Boy explained. He needed to understand, that if a freshly dug meaning too quickly was exposed to the light its stability would be disturbed and before the meaning even had begun, it would vanish like dew before the sun. And once frightened the meaning of life would go into hiding and then it would only be possible to get a small fraction of it out in the open again.
Where Could There Be a Meaning of Life?
The first step was to find a well-suited digging site. And as a start the Tempelhofer Feld would be a good practice ground. The former airport field was so enormous that the Mysterious Jew Boy trembled as he began to talk about the almost endless possibilities there were to find a meaning of life. Unfortunately, most people get anxious when they were in situations with more than just a few possibilities and the normal reaction was to attempt to narrow down the possible outcome through planning and control, or, in the worst cases, through repression. This was by no means a practice that the Mysterious Jew Boy would recommend. The optimal condition, when searching for the meaning of life, was to let oneself be surprised and carried away. He should not think too much about what he wanted or expected, or try to force the meaning out of life, instead he should give way to it, let it come to him. Just then a tall dark hat came tumbling in the wind. The Great Dane looked curiously at the hat. Then he picked it up and tried it on. It was way too big for him, but maybe if he found a meaning of life that was great enough the hat would fit him. The question was, however, where he should do his first digging. There were so overwhelmingly many places he could choose from that he had no clue whatsoever. And the Mysterious Jew Boy was not to much help. The more he explained to him, the emptier he felt inside, so he could easily have been carried away with the most meaningless meaning. He just wanted to begin digging and get some meaning going with his miserable life. Not all this talking and explaining. Therefore he simply closed his eyes and threw the hat up high in the air to let the wind decide. That night on the Tempelhofer Feld the Great Dane went digging many different places. First the hat landed between some trees where he dug through layer by layer of insistent roots until he got a bit tender in his back and the Mysterious Jew Boy had to correct his digging technique. Then the hat landed in the fields’ urban garden where he dug up someone’s carrots, potatoes, onions and artichoke, tasted some strawberries before he also dug these up, while he could not bear to take away the beautiful sunflower, and the Mysterious Jew Boy advised him to stop digging in other people’s meanings since it was difficult to truly adapt the meaning of others to one’s own life. Thereafter he dug in front of the ice cream booth, but it turned out that he was too late, so the meaning had melted and was long gone, and when he tried to dig under a bench he soon became restless of waiting for the meaning to show up in time, and in the bird’s nest he was too rough and crushed one of the eggs so that the meaning of life ran out between his fingers and made him cry inside over the destructive human nature, and when he tried to dig through the asphalt on the runway the spade broke, and while the Mysterious Jew Boy went to his secret tool shed to pick up another spade, the Great Dane used his fingers to dig deep into the pockets of someone sleeping it off in the bushes. Gradually the Great Dane improved his digging and began to get really into it. He even managed to find some sort of unidentified meaning behind a public toilet, but he could not get used to the smell of it, and threw it back in the hole. Then he got bored and wanted to dig in the real life out in the city. The Mysterious Jew Boy did not think it was such a good idea to leave his practice ground where he could go on, safe and undisturbed. In the beginning it was important to keep the meaning as far away from real life as possible until it was fully digested and had become one’s own personal meaning of life. Following the One in Charge A gust of wind took the hat out of the Great Dane’s hand and carried it away high up in the night air and over the fence around the field. The Great Dane burst out with a loud: Follow that hat. The last one on the other side is a scaredy-cat. And before the Mysterious Jew Boy could stop him, the Great Dane had climbed up a tree and jumped the fence. The hat went with the wind into the nearby cemetery where it landed on someone’s grave. This made the Great Dane’s guts turn around: He was trying to find the meaning of life, not the meaning of death. Even though the one followed the other he did not feel ready yet to face the definitive meaning of life. He quickly threw the hat out of the cemetery and back into life where it felt down on Hermannstrasse, busy even at night. But before he managed to reach the hat a suspiciously looking man in a colourful suit took it on his head, and went down in the U-Bahn. The Great Dane stood, paralysed. Every hope to find his greater meaning of life had just disappeared into the underground. Short of breath the Mysterious Jew Boy caught up with him, and he encouraged him to follow the hat, even if someone else now had it. For sometimes, he explained, it was the path in itself that was not suited for the right meaning, and then you had to follow someone else’s path until you found one that could carry your own meaning along. These wise words seemed meaningful to the Great Dane. The man in the colourful suit and now in charge of the hat, sat down in a U-Train and fell asleep. Each station they passed seemed as empty and meaningless as the Great Dane’s own life had been so far, going from one station in life to the other without having any clear goal to follow or knowing when to change the path. Where was he going and why go any further? the Great Dane wondered. Every once in awhile, the man now in charge of the hat woke up and went up on the ground. Every time the Great Dane was very excited about what great meaning he would lead him to. First he went to the Drug Heaven in Görlitzer Park. Perhaps, the Great Dane thought, it would be possible to find the greater meaning of life through drugs. He asked a guy called the Edge and his tiny friend Charlie Brown. The Edge answered: Life is either too difficult or too simple, which is that as long as the drugs keep flowing through my veins, I prefer to have no meaning at all. Whereas his friend Charlie Brown carefully considered the matter, and then passed out on the floor. The Great Dane did not want to have a meaning that was dependent on what he had in his veins, and hurried down into the underground after the man in charge of the hat. Then they went up to eat some delicious food. The Great Dane was getting really hungry, but before he could put anything in his mouth, he had to know if eating was the greater meaning of life. The chef at the restaurant answered: Eating either keep people alive or make them believe that they are more than just alive. In other words, you become what you eat. The Great Dane looked suspiciously at the food that the chef served him. He did not want to eat anything whose meaning was that he should become something else than he wanted to be. The next time they went up on the ground was at the fashionable shopping street Kurfürstendamm. Here the man in charge of the hat visited some exclusive shops where he tried on different clothes, and eventually chose a simple dark suit. It went well with the hat, the Great Dane thought. Much more confident than with the colourful one. Maybe the greater meaning of life was to be properly dressed. When he asked the sales clerk in the shop she answered: Fine feathers make fine birds. What is under the plumage is not that important. As long as the bird doesn’t spoil its fine feathers, but stay safe in its cage, everything will be just fine. The Great Dane did not want to be caught within the meaning of all these fine feathers, if it meant that he would not be free to fly. The Reality of Life The man in charge of the hat and now in a dark suit went up on the ground at the Reichstag building for the German parliament. The historical building rose up high and mighty above the sleeping city with it enormous dome glowing in the night. The Great Dane was truly impressed. It represented to him the greatest meaning of them all: The power to shape the very foundation of life. The Mysterious Jew Boy turned his face away. The meaning of the Reichstag was too harsh and penetrating to him. They should go immediately before it managed to attract their sensitive nature and began to fiddle with it. But the Great Dane was already on the move again. He followed the man in charge with the hat inside the Reichstag and towards the very centre of the building. Here the hat suddenly felt down on the floor when the man in the dark suit disappeared up in the thin air. High above them they could through the dome of the Reichstag see the night sky with all its infinite stars. The Great Dane leaned to his spade. The point of finding his own meaning of life seemed compared with the universe so insignificant, so trivial. He did not feel great at all. He felt very small. No digging inside the Reichstag, ordered a public servant while he approached them with great caution. It will just disturb the political process and undermine the great German nation. We are no such troublemakers, said the Mysterious Jew Boy. In fact, we are the opposite, said the Great Dane proudly. We are digging to find the greater meaning of life. Like the politicians that works in here we also want to live in the best of possible worlds. Don’t think I’m a fool, simply because I’m a public servant. I know what your real intentions are, and I’ll not fall into one of your holes and have my life’s happiness be destroyed by some naked truth of yours. As a public servant of the German people it is my task to uphold the political illusion and protect the common good from people like you that for some egoistic and self-indulgent reason want to reveal the true state of the world. We don’t want that, our lives are what’s being done with them, and as they are now makes good sense for us. The Great Dane wanted to explain him the importance of finding one’s own greater meaning of life. There was however no meaning in continuing the discussion, because as in most places in life, someone else had already been entrusted the power to decide what gave meaning or not. And the public servant decided that the meaning in here was to show them out the way they came. That was the hard reality of life which the Great Dane had been so eager to dig in. The Darkest Corner in the World After being banished from the Reichstag neither of them felt that they were up for any more digging tonight. They were dirty and tired, and just wanted to get home. Soon they dragged themselves along the pavement with their heads resting on each other’s shoulders. The way home seemed to have no end. Suddenly the Mysterious Jew Boy stopped and faced the Great Dane. Is it just me, or did we already once pass this place? Not just once, but twice, groaned the Great Dane. But I’m following you and thought you had found a meaning by walking in circles. The Mysterious Jew Boy looked confused at the Great Dane. No, home we go, you know. But neither of them moved an inch. On the opposite side of the street they could see the lurking light from a bar, and a sign saying: Heimwekrank. Without any considerations, they crossed the street and went straight inside. The place was really crowded, so they ended down in the basement at a small table in the darkest corner. Around them the atmosphere was a once heartfelt and intense with lonely souls trying to cheer each other up while drinking and listening to German schlager, song about what had been but now was gone, about good times and bad times, times at home, times alone, times holding hand with your loved one, times where your love was gone, times walking with the family in the mountains, times pruning roses in the garden, times for a better world, and just ordinary better times. The Great Dane stared silently out in the room. He felt disappointed. Even though he had been digging many holes this long night, none of them had given him quite the right feeling of meaning in his life. On the contrary, he now felt an even greater meaninglessness that when he begun. The Mysterious Jew Boy tried to comfort him, saying that this was normal when you left your know path and began to dig new places after the meaning of life. At some point your life would then seem much more empty and meaningless than before, and you just wanted to dig a deep hole and bury yourself. It would be so much easier. The Great Dane only understood him too well. He felt hopelessly lost. But he shouldn’t give up, not now, the Mysterious Jew Boy continued. It often took a long time and much hard work to find just the meaning of life that felt right for you, until one night when you at least expected it, then you would suddenly know your way. He would be surprised which strange places the meaning of life would be waiting for him. As an old digger’s saying went:
The Illuminating Girl The Mysterious Jew Boy went up to get them some drinks from the bar and left the Great Dane alone in this dark corner of the world. He listened to the music, but began to feel restless. For the first time since returning to Berlin he felt homesick, longing after the welfare womb in the north, relieved from all life’s burdens deep in the safe and unspoiled Scandinavian social democratic nature. At the same time the very thought scared him, it filled him with anxiety. He was too weak, too fragile to withstand the all-embracing force from the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb. He was afraid that he would disappear, lose himself and his individuality to her. No, he had to continue outwards in the world, prove that he could manage on his own, learn what was going on, or fail to do so, and then try to do it better the next time. He just needed to find something to put his heart into so the world would seem a little simpler and sorted out. Something slipped through his mind. It startled him, then it was gone. He looked down at his hands and discovered that his hat had fallen under the table. Everything seemed obviously to go wrong for him tonight. He bent down to pick it up. There were a gleam of light coming from under the table, or rather from under the floor. Although he did not understand how this was possible or why there in the first place should be a light below the floor, he felt that someone was trying to get his attention, get through his thick skull, putting words inside his head, saying: Dig … you must dig … the meaning is to dig … it is the only meaning, the meaning has always been to dig … right here, right now … for the sake of your life, DIG! He trembled, tried to withhold his desire to dig. Then he pushed the table aside, grabbed his hat, forced it on his head so it almost covered his eyes and began to hit the spade hard against the stone floor while moaning with great pleasure. The only thing that was in his mind was to dig a hole in the floor right where he had seen the light. Nothing else mattered. It was the great meaning with everything, it was the only meaning in life. It was also hard work he had put himself up to. The hole got deeper and deeper, and only darker. And the light seemed out of sight. He felt as he had been digging for hours, when the darkness exploded in the glint of a pair of deep blue eyes and the sweetest smile, and he saw this girl dancing up towards him in a glorious spinning disco light. At last a guy who dare to dig his own hole to rescue me, she smiled exalted. It is so boring to dance alone down there, you know. Whom may I thank? Uh, there is music, let’s dance. That sound terrible, said the Great Dane. How do you feel? She laughed astonished. How do I feel? My hair is ruffled, my skin is dead pale and my feet are numb … how do I feel, you ask? I feel like dancing. It’s not what I meant. It was how you really feel … deep down inside. She thought some while what to answer, then she leaned forward. Nobody has ever asked me that question before. But let me enlighten you, she whispered in his ear. Even that I don’t know you, I feel that I never have met anyone like you. The Great Dane was as hypnotized. Does it give any meaning to you, she smiled. Greater meaning than you think. I feel exactly the same about you. But I also have the feeling that I somehow have meet you before. Who are you? Who I am, you ask … I’m the Illuminating Girl. I have no real personality, but light up the way for lost people through life. So, who would you like me to be? The Great Dane looked at her suspiciously. Behind her smile there seemed to be an great paradox: A seducing woman with a confused thirteen-year-old-soul. She resembled him of someone, or was it something. And she needed the Great Danes help. Why don’t you try to be yourself, he suggested. She grabbed his hat and put it on her head. It suited her perfectly. Why don’t you try to follow me down in the hole, she said. Then she turned around and began to walk. Just Keep on Digging When the Mysterious Jew Boy came back with their drinks the Great Dane was gone. He looked worried down in the hole next to the table. At first sight it seemed as a safe and easy hole to find just the meaning that suited your life, but for the experienced digger it was a very dark and unstable hole where there was a great risk of finding a meaning that only would bring you disappointment and pain in life. Maybe he should have warned the Great Dane that some holes lacked any lasting and stable meaning, they only contained distractions which would lead you even further away from your path in life. Behind the superficial and dazzling light of such meanings there was nothing more than the emptiness of life, an endless darkness that would suck away all independent life and leave you even more helpless, lost and alone than before in the dark. Hopefully the Great Dane had not taken anything from this hole, but had gone home alone safe and sound. The Mysterious Jew Boy sat down at the table and began to drink. It had been a good long night’s hard digging. He was sure that a huge change was coming. Whether it would be for better or worse, he did not know. But he was certain that all things in life had a meaning. If you held onto your life and kept on digging you would sooner or later find the meaning that was just the right meaning for you. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyper reality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Great Day Dream Scheme
What is it to have an authentic personality? To live with a sparkling vitality? To be the real deal? Some might say it means acting on your immediate thoughts and feelings, or following your impulses, while others might say it’s coming through for your friends and loved ones and being someone they trust and respect. Or is it being someone who lives up to the norms and ideals of society, and who fights for the common good? Though most of us want a good life, it often drowns in facade and empty outer form. And behind the pretty facade lurks chaos and dissolution. Last time the story ended when our great and noble hero met a woman with a seductive smile and the sweetest eyes who called herself the Illuminating Girl. He had been searching for a greater meaning in life and his path led him to the bar where he dug up this wonderful woman from a hole deep down under the floor, who told him that her task was to light the way for people who were lost in life. But behind her seductive smile and sweet eyes the Great Dane sensed a woman trapped in her own great paradox. A lethal struggle of contradictions he had walked right into, and that would tear him apart if he were not careful. He had, however, as a man of his great kind, only one thing in mind: a woman desperately needed his help. It was of the utmost importance that he used his great strength, courage and intellect to free her from the imprisonment within herself, so that she could bloom at last and be lifted from her miserable life in the dark hole in which she dwelled. In other words: she needed a real man to show her the greatness of life. She just didn’t know it consciously yet. So simple it sounded in his head, and yet so complicated it turned out to be – even for such a superior being as the Great Dane. This time he had really set himself an almost impossible task. His chosen path would lead him straight into the great emptiness of life. How could that be, you probably wonder. Such a sweet woman as the Illuminating Girl and such a great hero as the Great Dane. Shouldn’t they know better than to lose themselves in outer form and become trapped in the darkness which lies behind? Yes, you are completely right. It is a story that needs to be told, in the hope that it will thereby save, if not all, then at least a couple of lost souls. What happened in the hole, however, consists of such intangible matters that the truth is best suited to be exposed in the light of an epic poem of grandiose dimensions. Fortunately, the Great Dane himself has composed such a poem to enlighten the many readers in these delicate matters. An epic poem which he has called … The Great Day Dream Scheme. Shades of Darkness and Facets of Light Once in a hole black as coal, deep deep down, a girl lived alone. Once in a while when a guy came nearby, she would smile and wink with her eyes, so the night turned bright in the glorious light of thousands of disco stars. And once there was light, she would dance through the night, setting every boy’s heart on fire. And once in a while when a boy kissed her smile, she would show him her legs from behind, so he stayed all night until her hole got too tight, and she whispered: Please, be so kind as to leave me alone. And once he was gone and the day came along the impressions of the night fell off her skin. And once it was gone and another night came along, she was ready to let a new dance begin. But once in a while when she went outside in the light of the sun her smile would dry up and her eyes would turn hard and thin. And once in a while when a guy saw her smile in the sun, he would wonder: Where is the girl I met in the night? Was she real or only a reflection of light? And once in a while when he looked into her eyes, he would see her cry deep deep down inside where the tears turned bright as she danced through the night in the glorious light of thousands of disco stars. The Darkest of Nights Then one night this great great guy came by, and he asked her straight away: Does your light shine as bright at the bottom of your heart, or is your deepest desire kept away from rigorous eyes behind the light in the darkest of nights? What to answer she did not know. Never before had a guy spoken to her with such daring words and never before had she dared to turn on the light in the dark at the bottom of her heart. All her life she had been told to light up other people’s night, never had she known that there could be light deep deep down in her own. While the question made her wonder, she closed her eyes and held back her smile, and tried to look deep deep down inside. And so, it happened that the light in the night around them disappeared in a blink of an eye and there arose in the darkness at the bottom of her heart a tiny tiny glow of light. And when the day now came along, she did not want to be left alone as she had done with all the other guys. She feared that the glow of light that had arisen in the dark at the bottom of her heart would turn cold if this great great guy left her alone. So, to calm the great anxiety tearing up her poor soul, she asked him to stay for a while, which she had never asked any guy before. The Lie of an Evil Spirit Then one night something old and evil that lived deep deep down in the dark at the bottom of her heart came forth and cast a shadow over the light. This evil spirit had once been young and innocent, and had endowed her with a heartfelt and wondrous world, until one day when it turned stiff and cold, and its only pleasure would be to haunt her with blame and anger, eating up her every hope and her frail soul. The story goes, that the spirit was abandoned in the dark at the bottom of her heart when she began to take all the guys with her down in the hole. Here it lived alone and made the darkness its safe and beloved home, dreaming of greatness and sweet revenge while feeding off her wounded pride when she saw how all the boys grew into real men, while she herself did not feel any redemption within. Some time passed where night turned to night and day after day slipped by without any hope of change, until this great great guy suddenly came and made her turn on the light in the darkest of nights. Once again, the spirit was driven away, this time from the dark at the bottom of her heart where it had dwelled so long that it feared the light more than anything else in the night. It tried to scare her to put out the light by telling dark tales and wicked lies about this great great guy. At first, she could not make up her mind whether she should believe the spirit and get rid of this guy or whether she should instead let him stay by her side. Then she felt as if an earthquake opened a great rift right in the very centre of her heart whereby her hole was shaken and the light was taken filling her up with a terrible fear of being lost and alone forever deep deep down in the dark. The Way We Scheme In a dream the evil spirit showed her how it had saved the light from being swallowed by the rift when doubt tore apart her heart. And with great rage it warned her, that every guy she let down in her hole would only make her vulnerable and weak. Only if she got rid of this deceitful guy standing by her side as she had done with all the other guys in the night the spirit would once again entrust to her the light. So, while she made her face as hard and as cold as the superficial world outside her hole, she hid her tears deep deep down in the rift that divided her doubtful heart, and said in a voice cleansed of all feelings and joy: Don’t be sad when I tell you this, but a future with a boy such as you is no future at all for a woman such as I dream to be. This was indeed bad news for the great great guy who thought that down in her hole he had at last found a meaning of life, which was greater than just his own alone. Yet he was not scared away by her hollow and insensitive soul, his great intellect told him that she was possessed by an evil spirit who controlled her from a dark place deep deep down in her hole. Instead he grabbed his spade and began to dig his way down through the darkest of nights in search of her lost light. He hoped to bring back the wonderful woman he had once seen in the night when for the first time there appeared light deep deep down in the dark at the bottom of her heart. An Epic Journey to the Bottom of Her Heart There were no more stars in the sky on the darkest of nights so he dug with great anxiety and haste down in her darkness. He dug through thick layers of delusions, repressions and lies, and had a very tough time getting below her pride. But regardless of his great strain and the unbearable pain he found only the emptiness of life where there should have been light. He then came to a great subterranean cave and saw there what must once have been the rift that ripped apart her heart. In the middle of the cave there ran a furious stream, and in that furious stream there was a small boat, and in that small boat sat a young and innocent girl who stared at him with such condemning eyes that they by an incredible force almost squeezed out his very potency of life. What is a disobedient boy such as you doing down here in my cave of dreams, she asked. The great great guy had to use all his courage to withstand the firm grip of her eyes, and answered: I’m looking for the light that was taken by an evil spirit of some kind, and since you claim that this is your cave of dreams, perhaps you’d know such a spirit here to find. She laughed astonished: I know nothing of such a childish scheme. In my dream there is no good, no evil, no truth, no lie. Only me and my small boat floating along the great tide of life. She awaited his reaction with an innocent and yet obscure smile. He, however, had no doubt at all. Inside this young girl lived the evil spirit who took the light when the great rift appeared and tore apart his beloved’s heart. The Dream of a Lost Soul Believing that if he found his way to the girl’s true dream, he would free his beloved from the evil spirit so she at last could become the woman she in her heart so long had wished to be. But what her true dream was made of he could not see without the light which the evil spirit had hidden away somewhere in the dark. Only if he deceived the evil spirit to lead him to the light, would he be able to reveal her greatest dream and save her from the darkest of nights. You seem like a strong and fearless girl, he said, while your boat is fragile and weak. I wonder if it will be strong enough to withstand the great tide of life or it will be as a leaf caught on a troubled sea. We are no such things, she answered in a daring voice. We sail with no fear on this furious stream where ever it takes us in my dream. Then I wonder, he asked, who of you are fragile and who of you are strong? We are no such things, she replied once again. My boat and I are one, and being one makes us only strong, even when a respectless guy such as you sail along. He said no more. There was no need for further words. She made a sign for him to board, then threw the moorings and set sail, when a fresh breeze caught her long blond hair, and off they went with the furious stream in search of her dream. As they glided through the dark and furious water, he felt how the tide of life embraced the boat, how it reached up at him and spread into his veins, into every drop of blood. Soon all his troubles and fears were gone, he felt greater than ever before, he felt like being reborn. There was only him, the girl and the boat. The feeling of growing, becoming almighty and strong. They were all together, they were all in one. Everything Will Be Revealed He was overwhelmed by all the wonders he saw in the cave of dreams. There was everything one could wish for by the sense of a pure heart, everything one could imagine by the will of pure thoughts, everything one could hope for by the present of a pure soul. The absolute seemed within reach. The tide of life would lead him to the fulfilment of all his needs, and he saw now his own greatest dream: to be ruler of this dark world, no more doubt, no more fear, never again should she feel vulnerable and weak. With the feeling of endless might and glory he demanded the evil spirit to release the girl so she could choose her own path in life. He was, however, struck by surprise when the young girl in front of him changed to a sick and desiccated impression of the girl he once had praised at the beginning of the night. Your pretty little girl is now free to become whatever she dreams to be, laughed the evil spirit from high above the furious stream. But as you will see, without me inside she contains nothing more than an endless fear covered by a morbid smile. With what seemed to be her last strength of will she bent over the rail of the boat and stared resignedly down into the water at her own face, racked with pain. In great despair the great great guy begged the evil spirit to spare her and give her back the light, since she did not deserve such a cruel fate as being trapped down here in the darkest of nights. As you wish, the evil spirit said, and vanished into the water leaving them adrift and alone in the dark. A troubling sea as dark as her empty heart threw them high up on the crest of waves and deep down in the trough of waves, taking them further into the cave of dreams and far far away from the path of might and glory. On their way, he watched how dream after dream faded around them, leaving only vague and distorted shadows on the walls, until these also dissolved completely in an intensifying darkness without any sign of hope. The Pond of Tears Neither his great strength, courage or intellect was enough to master this dark and raging tide of life. He counted their misery in one thousand two hundred and twenty-six breathtaking waves, yet the boat kept dry and strong while her face only withered further away in pain. Then an innocent tear fell from her eye and ripples spread across the furious stream, carrying the boat away from all her lost dreams and gently into a pond, where there in the midst was a tremendous pile of human bones. Strange it is, she wept without a sound, wherever I go with the tide of life I always end fleeing from a dark and heartfelt fear into this pond filled with my own tears. I feel helpless against the furious stream when there seem to be such endless possibilities in my cave of dreams. All the wonders that could be mine distract the very will of my mind, so every dream and every thought endlessly revolves around what I did not dare to do, even though I wanted to. Oh, my dear, you’re such a hopeless lost little girl, I always tell myself in my dream. You know very well that you only dare to do what’s right in front of you, no more, no less, what there is in front of you is what suits you best. So, either you drown yourself in your own pond of tears to forget or you stand up with a straight and stubborn back and fight your way to the very top of this tremendous pile of human bones and herby claim your rightful throne. Please, tell me what I can do to help a lost and innocent girl calm down the furious stream running through her veins. I only know, she cried, that I despise the pond of tears while the pile of bones whenever I’m near both attract my greatest pride and my darkest fear. And either way, all the guys I have had down in my hole come once again alive, and either way they will form an endless row that separates you and I. The Greatest Fear How could it be, he asked silently, that cold and useless bones will become guys you never truly loved, while I’m not even allowed to be at your side. Don’t ask me why, she said lowering her eyes, I only know that they are awaken by my pride. All these bones are trophies from guys I have seduced and brought down on my very own, and on this glorious throne of mine I enjoy my only passion, my only joy in life that comforts me when I feel most fragile and alone. You talk about pride, when I sense that you also fear all these guys. I do not fear these bodies and bones, she yelled in an infuriated tone. They had their chance with me but failed, their bodies were so easily used and thrown into this pile of bones. You, however, made me turn on the light at the bottom of my heart and forced me to see what so long had been concealed in the dark, and for that I fear, and for that I awake my legions of guys to keep you from wounding my pride. With a terrifying scream, she threw herself out of the boat and began to climb the pile of bones filled with fear of being lost and alone. Growling like an insane woman she wet the bones with the tears from her eyes and rubbed each of them between her thighs while she repulsively scratched them with her nails, making a cursed and ghastly whining sound that almost made him lose his mind. And when the guys one by one raised up towards her from the pile of bones she blushed as a flower touched by the break of dawn, becoming a beautiful woman which sat with great pride on her mighty throne. Then the legions of guys tore off her cloth with their rotten teeth and bony fingers, devouring her pale white skin with their hollow eyes while she, covered by the darkness of night, moaned with deep and heartfelt delight. The Choice by Heart or Mind For an instant, she bloomed in her utter consumption, then the joy was gone and the lust once again crumbled into a pile of cold bones leaving her naked and alone on her mighty throne where she crouched as a vulnerable child trying to hide her face in shame. At the sight of her misery the great great guy was overwhelmed by great remorse, thinking he had let her down when he should have held her in his arms so no guy could ever do her any harm. As she knew his thoughts, she proudly raised her head towards him and said: I don’t need your pity, I don’t need your helping hand. Don’t believe it’s so simple that you can just walk into my cave of dreams and rescue me from the furious stream that roars through my veins. Look around and you’ll see: I’m not at all that weak and innocent as you want me to be. What more use are a woman’s dreams than to satisfy her beloved pride and enjoy her body’s needs. These words were as poison in his mind and in a vision, he saw how he had been degraded to the last guy in an endless row of guys who only came to life to satisfy her needs and uphold her pride. Now I fully understand, he said, your only desire is to get my body into your pile of bones. Well, you have your way and I have mine, she replied, but I’m neither interested in your body nor in your bones. What I truly desire, I can’t quite understand. I only know that you don’t belong in a pile of bones, you belong together with me on my great throne. The pond had almost dried up and the boat lay bare in stinky mud on the ocean bed surrounded by muddleheaded creatures all grasping for their breath, waiting for the pond to be filled once again with tears of sorrow and pain. I give you the choice, she said with a harsh and demanding voice, between total oblivion together with these creatures suffering in the dark and stinky mud or to be a good boy that sits obediently at my side while I fulfil my glorious dream. The Fall from Grace Why suddenly this change of mind, he wondered, feeling how the boat slowly sank deeper down into the muddy ground. How can I know that this is not just some delirious dream? How can I know that I’m not being lured further into the evil spirit’s great scheme? How it is even possible to know what is truly me and what is just the furious stream going through my veins? Well, when you stop babbling like a scared child, she said in an infuriating tone, tell what it will be: Will you stay in the mud and bury yourself in endless doubt being forever caught in the dark or do you dare to set your fear aside and be the one that follows me towards the bright and glorious light that soon will fill my heart? At first, everything in him fell silent. Then the muddleheaded creatures all began to howl in vain, and accompanying this dreadful sound their asses belched a dense and suffocating smoke that filled him with a feeling of deadly strain. Deprived of the ability to even call out her name, he stumbled through the mud short of breath, clinging to whatever seemed to soothe his fear of being lost in the dark only to realise the transience and obscurity which was life down here. With his last breath, he reached the throne of bones, and furiously grabbed her arm. Never will I surrender to your childish game, never will I be degraded to one who follows you blindly through your cave of dreams, never will I be just another trophy that satisfies your insatiable pride. What I truly desire has too long been concealed behind my compassion and helpfulness, but it is the same as all the other guys you have lured into your hole: to tear you down from your throne of bones and thus in a fragile moment of lust be aroused by your precious innocence before it forever dissolves into worthless dust. Her lips quivered feverishly and his hand around her arm felt as if it were holding glowing stones. She tried to turn away, but he endured the burning pain and withheld her urge to flee as he wanted her eyes to see what he for so long himself had perceived. Behind her pride he found, however, no innocence to devour, only an impregnable wrath reflecting the murky landscape below where untamed flames had begun to glow. Can’t nobody get any peace in this hole, she yelled and slap him in the face with such a fury that all the muddleheaded creatures went quiet. Then her innocence broke through, and she started crying, whereas her tears poured down and put out the raging fires. The Return of the Evil Spirit It rose with a deep rattling sound from the mud that covered the ocean bed and stretched its old depraved body all the way up to her throne of bones. What did I tell you, it said in a condemning tone as a mother speaking to her child who has tried but failed on its own. Look at yourself: Pale and naked, weeping all over dirty bones. Didn’t I warn you, that guys would only make you vulnerable and weak? Did I or did I not, the evil spirit yelled so it shook her mighty throne. You know very well, what it takes to make me good again. She tossed and turned her body violently as though she were trying to prevent something unpleasant from seizing her. Don’t make me do that, she pleaded on the verge of fear. You know that I don’t love him as truly as I love you, I’m only afraid that the light will turn cold if he leaves me alone in the dark. My dear child, the evil spirit laughed, you’re not alone. I’ll always be here with you on your mighty throne. Would you do that for me, she smiled thankfully, even though I night after night have disappointed and betrayed you with all these guys and made you suffer in the light? As she lay there on the throne of bones in her moment of great remorse a star appeared in the sky on the darkest of nights and shone down on her with such a glory, such a might, that the night around them in a blink of an eye turned bright as day. Would you do that for me, she repeated, adorned in a crown of blazing delight. Would you really stay? Look closely at the light, the evil spirit said in a commanding tone, and you will see that even the brightest of lights only shines until it fades into the emptiness of life, after which darkness once again prevails. So why, my dear child, do you desire to be in this elusive light of day, as it will only delude your heart and burn your dreams away, leaving you even more lost and alone in the dark? If you instead promise to get rid of this treacherous guy standing at your side, I promise to be with you forever, deep deep down in the dark at the bottom of your heart. Do you promise? The Awakening The whole cave collapsed around him so dream after dream fell down and crushed the pile of bones, while the evil spirit expanded its body til it surrounded the throne. Then the star in the night flickered for a moment or two, and the light that so shortly had shown him her dream of desire was no more than a vague shadow of its former might and glory. Only the echo of the evil spirit’s words: “Do you promise?” remained, repeating endlessly in his shattered mind. He was back in the boat sailing alone with the tide of life through the darkest of nights feeling how it brought forth his own greatest fear of being lost and alone in the dark. I’ll wait for you, he yelled. Please, let me stay in your heart and I’ll wait for you forever there. She did, however, not answer. Only the roar from the furious stream reached his troubled mind, while he in his heart knew that he had failed and been reduced to just another guy in the endless row of guys. He found himself outside the hole in the bar trying to let go with a drink in his hand, but regardless of how much he drank he felt a part of him still sailed in the boat on the furious stream only seeing nightmares where there before had been dreams. So with great remorse he grabbed his spade and began to dig after her body and bones, but found nothing more than rubble and stones. I’ll wait for you, he cried. And this time I promise to be a good boy and behave. And so, it happened that the dawn of day illuminated the sky and sent the night away, leaving a part of him trapped deep deep down in the dark. And so it happened that he, in the months that followed, to calm his great anxiety of being on his own every night, returned to the bar hoping she would reappear as the girl who smiled and winked with her eyes while she danced through the night in the glorious light of thousands of disco stars. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyper reality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Fall Of A Great Dane
It is said that the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb of the North from birth has given all her great children endless possibilities, regardless of their social and cultural background or physical attributes. In the eyes of the Great Mother, all her children are born equal. No one is greater than the others. What the Great Mother hates above all are those who think of themselves before others, those who set aside the whole to benefit themselves, and in doing so hurt the Great Mother’s feelings. This is why being selfish in the Welfare Womb of the North is a mortal sin. The Great Mother expects her children to set themselves aside, as she has set herself aside, so they can live in the best of possible worlds. And since the Great Mother has set aside her own needs and suffers to fulfil the dreams of others, she cannot be blamed for any of her children’s mistakes and failures. It can only be their own personal inadequacy that is responsible for their limitations, and, of course, the increasing contamination of the Welfare Womb from the outside world.
In the last chapters of our story, our great hero, in search of the meaning of life, found his way to a bar called Heimwekrank. There, in a hole deep under the floor, he dug up a wonderful woman with a seductive smile and the sweetest eyes who called herself the Illuminating Girl. But soon he discovered that she was possessed by an evil spirit, which lived in the dark at the bottom of her heart. In his struggle to free her from this evil spirit, so she could bloom and become the woman she dreamed to be, our hero lost his mind. It was somehow trapped deep, deep down in her hole, where it was doomed to sail with the tide of life on the furious stream through the cave of dreams waiting for her to decide between him and the evil spirit.
Since then, he had come to the bar, night after night, hoping she would defy the evil spirit and, under the cover of night, open her hole so he could get back his lost mind. And when the night once again turned to day without him feeling any redemption or change, he could only think about how to burn the daylight away, so that the hope of night again would fall upon him. If it did not bring about reunion with his mind, then at least he might drown his sorrows and pain, while one more night passed in vain.
The Great Mother of the Womb
What did he do wrong, the Great Dane asked himself, while sitting in the darkest corner of the bar, looking at the floor where he once had dug up the girl with the seductive smile and the sweetest eyes. He had tried everything that he imagined a girl would like a guy to do. He had left her beautiful flowers, delicious handmade chocolate, sparkling jewels and romantic books. He had even set up a candle-lit dinner for two. But with no result. She only blew the candle out. The rest, she left untouched. And then there were all the letters he wrote, explaining his feelings so that she would understand why things had gone so wrong. She, however just replied shortly: Please, be so kind as to leave me alone.
This left him with a nagging doubt and great concerns. It had been his desire to save her from the evil spirit and lead her out of the dark hole she had been living in for so long. He, her great hero had, however, failed. The evil spirit had cheated him, so he had followed his lust instead of his pure heart. He, the greatest of all Danes, the hero of her dreams had let her down. But she had to understand. Under his greatness, he had hidden the part of him that was just as ordinary as any common human being. And people made mistakes. Of all people, she should know. She herself was far from perfect. She had to forgive him. She had to tell him that she did not blame him. That everything was fine. That she did not need him any more. That she could take care of herself. He needed her to tell him that. Until then, he would not be able to forgive himself and begin living his own life. Until then, he would set himself aside. Until then, he would carry both their hopes and worries on his shoulders. Until then …
He needed another drink to prop up his strength, so that he could endure the great and noble burden he had taken on his shoulders. It was, however, with some difficulties that he managed to walk from the darkest corner and over to the bar. After a continuous flow of drinks, he was beginning to get drunk and besides, he did not dare to look, but he certainly felt it: He had a hard-on. And the more he thought about his own generosity and the possible rewards it could bring, the harder it got. It expanded his feeling of being in the world, and with it he began to sense the presence of the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb of the North. His mother would be very proud of him when she heard how he had set himself aside, not just for the Illuminating Girl, but for the whole world, by letting everyone else’s needs come before his own.
Yes, his Great Mother would be very pleased. Every Wednesday when she met with her close circle of friends to knit, talk about the latest diets and afterwards eat plenty of delicious cake and chocolate, she would tell them about her son’s great deeds. Maybe she would even make a public announcement on the national neural network and tell all the inhabitants of the Welfare Womb how proud she was of her great son and how he should be a role model for all of them. And as he returned home to receive his glorious tribute, she would put her arms around him and kiss his forehead and say he was her favourite little knight of honour while her immense bosom surrounded his head and pressed against his cheeks so his tongue would stick out, giving him a sensation of throwing up in this overwhelming pleasure.
And then, as a final gesture to his Great Mother, he would let himself be fully integrated into the almighty state of the great womb where no ego, feeling of self or thought of anything else than the Great Mother of all Mothers’ expectations existed. In this state of primal union with the Great Mother they would form a prefect symbiotic unity, where all conditions would be ideal and he would experience the satisfaction of all his needs. This was the teaching of all children of the Welfare Womb of the North: That there was no need for independent thoughts and feelings when the Great Mother could think and feel for you.
A Gift of Compassion
He felt a terrible pain when he bumped into the bar with his now greater-than-ever hard-on. The collision brought him at once back to reality. The elderly woman but still handsome woman behind the bar, who still seemed to have a firm grip on the prime of her glory stopped her gently rolling a drink and put down the shaker with a discrete: Don’t-Worry-I-Know-It-smile. The Great Dane did not, however, stop worrying. His treacherous body had once again seized control and made a fool out of him.
And if that was not bad enough, everyone in the bar probably by now knew every detail of what he was feeling and thinking. He was as transparent as a jellyfish in a spotlight since he had been so incautious to step out of the darkest corner of the bar and exposed himself in a room filled with people whose only meaning in life was to weep silently over their own misery while they sought out the latest gossip about the intrigues, mistakes and lows of those who were greater than themselves. At the very moment he came out in the open, these vile and corrupted creatures had somehow managed to tune into the frequency of the brain transmitter which his mother had gotten implanted in his head when he was an infant so she always knew what her son thought about his mother and other women.
Such was the state of this savage world. And now that he had uncovered himself, it would not take long before his great mother knew everything about it, and more than that. Every mistake and selfish thing he had done with the Illuminating Girl in her hole would be placed before her. People’s cruelty was without limits when dealing with his actions, especially his wrong ones. Not a moment of truth would be included and no details would be left untouched by their filthy minds. They circled tirelessly around him. Jealous. Hoping for the worst. They wanted him only to fail so they could feel better about their own faults. They used every opportunity to get down on him. They wanted to destroy his greatness. Make him small as them. Even smaller. The smallest Great Dane alive. They wanted him down, down, down. And they got it. He was defenceless against their sick imaginations and false accusations. No matter how wrong they were, he could never be right.
He heard the sound of a door being slammed open, and a cold breeze reached the bar. It was the great wind of the north. With it came a whisper. It came closer. Became more intense. He knew this voice. This penetrating voice filling up his head.
My son, what is all this fuss about, his mother said. Why do you always have to worry me with your foolishness. Don’t you ever think of anyone but yourself? Don’t you know how hard it is for at mother to live with a son that … she did not finish, or if she did, he was not listening. Another voice drowned out her monologue inside his head.
“Are you all right?” the voice said. “You seem more worried than usual tonight. If you want to tell me about it, I’ll buy you a drink.
The bartender was now standing right in front of him. She seemed very serious. She poured the drink straight up and then gave it a nice, fresh twist of lemon. He was astonished. The rind of lemon was peeled perfectly. How should he handle such an exquisite invitation? Or, could it be a trick to lure him further out in the open, where he would be totally defenceless, an easy prey. The drink sparkled in the light from above the bar. So delicious. So marvellous. He had to withstand the temptation. Avoid any humiliation. When she heard his story, she would probably laugh of him. She would … he felt ashamed. How could he think such dreadful thoughts about this sweet old woman in front of him? Where else than in a bar called Heimwekrank could he find true compassion and understanding? He was … he was not feeling well. The dark clouds that overshadowed his inner landscape grew heavier. He felt his eyes become wet.
“In case of sudden rain,” the bartender said, and placed a small, colourful umbrella in his drink.
It reminded him of his little sister playing Barbie and Ken at the beach. He had always adored Ken. The way he had Barbie exclusively for himself.
The umbrella held back the first shower of rain, and the drink was saved, for now. Then more dark clouds gathered at the horizon in his mental landscape of endless troubles. Worried, he stared at his drink, as if it contained the answers to all of his questions. Did he deserve such generosity, after all the selfish things, he had done?
His Great Mother was pushing herself forward, trying to seize control.
Bad boys don’t deserve dessert, she reminded him. While really bad boys don’t even deserve their mother’s love.
He should gently refuse it. Give the drink to someone else who was worthy of such a gesture.
“Just bite it,” the bartender said. “That usually helps you loosen up.”
The Lady of the Bar
It really did. Although, at first, he hesitated and tried to hold back his feelings. He was afraid of what she might think of him. That he was a bad and selfish boy. That she would say it out loud so everyone in the bar could hear it. But she did not. She listened and only stopped listening when some of the other guests needed her services.
Each time, in the few moments she was gone, he missed her terribly. He would sit restless in his chair, looking with envy at the other person who now had her attention. He hated how she smiled and talked to them, how she showed affection to anyone other than him. For every smile and every word she gave away, he felt as they had been stolen from him. It should be him and only him who had her attention. Soon she would forget him and not come back.
He began to shrink inside. He did not feel great at all, but very small and alone. The only encouragement he could find was that none of the other guests had got an umbrella from her. That had to mean something. And each time he was at the point of complete dissolution, she returned. And she did not seem to have forgotten where in the story she had left off. She remembered details even better than he did himself, and made sure to give him a sign if certain parts of the story interested her particularly. Otherwise, she kept silent. As a true lady would do when a true hero spoke from his heart.
He must admit that he had been wrong about her. She was not just another woman behind the counter. For him, she was The Lady of the Bar. She was his secret enchantress on his journey through the darkness of his life. The Lady of the Bar. The words tasted like fine champagne in his mouth. She would teach him everything there was to know about life and women, these strange, inexplicable creatures. Soon he would know exactly how to free his lost mind from its imprisonment deep down in the hole.
When he came to the end of his story, he took her hand.
“Dear Lady of the Bar,” he said, “as you can hear from the story of my heart, I’m just a noble hero who has chosen the wrong path in life and therefore is lost. You have listened sincerely and thus already given me much. Now I ask you one last favour: To help me find my way out of the dark, so I once again can walk on the glorious path of life.
Her face showed no expression. She looked at him as if was she not there. Then she disappeared down behind the bar, so that, for a moment, the Great Dane thought that his world would disintegrate. When she came up again, she placed three bottles in front of him, each in a different colour.
“This one,” she said with pride, “is deep blue as the greatest ocean. The possibilities can seem endless, so if you do not take care, you will soon drown and never find a safe shore.”
“This,” she said and trembled, “is white as the mountain snow. Only a handful of brave men have ever crossed its blinding horizons and experienced the coming of a warm season.”
“And here,” she whispered, “here is my own favourite. Dark red as a true virgin. Nobody has ever returned untouched after drinking this. They will be forever changed.”
The Great Dane was very pleased. Such an easy way to accomplish such a great deed. Soon he would have regained his mind and its great intellectual capacity, and be free to do whatever he desired.
“Oh, Lady of the Bar,” he said, “what a gift, what a gesture you show a humble hero. Tell me at once what I must do, and I will follow your guidance without any doubt in my heart.”
“It is quite simple, she said. You must choose one and only one of the bottles, and when it has been served, you must drink it all up, or else you will be banished from this fine establishment forever. Do I make myself clear?”
How to Make a Choice Without Your Mind
His hands trembled when he reached out towards the bottles. Which one should he choose, if any? Was this merely a trick? All her kindness and attention, had it only been to lure him to this: The grand finale of his lifelong humiliation? Was it even real? Could it be an illusion created by his lost mind to punish him, because he had left it behind in the cave of dreams? Or was it the evil spirit down in the hole, who still had power over him? Could this be a part of its great scheme? How could he be sure? He did not even trust himself any more. He felt paralysed. Maybe, if he waited long enough, everything would return to normal and he would be great again. But maybe this was exactly what the evil spirit had planned. That he would give up. Stay put and do nothing. Just wait forever. If he at least knew what it all was about, the meaning of all this. But how could he know anything if he did not at least try something?
He struggled to get a sense of what colour he should choose, but without his mind to guide him, his heart wanted to choose them all, so he could be sure – or, rather, cease to be unsure. It would be so much easier. To do everything that he wanted, so he did not have to choose ever again and have the risk of making a wrong decision. How could she be so thoughtless and expect him to choose, when she had not told him which was the right colour for him.
But maybe it didn’t matter which colour he chose. In his situation of distress, one colour could be as good as the other. Or maybe she had given him a sign, when telling him which one was her favourite. The red one. He had always liked red. It reminded him of his mother’s lips, and the smell of nail polish, and his first fight for honour giving an annoying boy a bloody nose. It also reminded him of cherries, tomatoes, strawberry jam, and all the girls he had helped enter womanhood – a gesture he liked to see as his own version of women’s liberation.
The virgin one. He pointed at the red bottle. He had a good feeling about it.
“You have chosen the difficult path,” the Lady of the Bar said, and began to pour some in a tiny glass. Who knows if we will ever meet again?
He watched it for a second or two. Was it the right choice? Where would it lead him? The red substance looked almost alive, like real blood. Without further hesitation, he took the glass and drained it. Just doing it made him feel better than before. His body became warm and heavy. It was a sign. He was becoming great again.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” the Lady of the Bar said. “If you need anything from me, just order a drink.”
Her face began to blur and with it the bar faded away in front of him. He felt tired. His Great Mother said it was past his bedtime. He should at once turn off the light and go to sleep. The sound of her voice told him that it was not up for discussion. The chair beneath him dissolved. He fell backwards, expecting to slip gently into his childhood bed and snuggle down under the duvet. But it did not happen. Maybe he already was in bed with the light turned off and sound asleep. That would explain why he kept on falling.
Health is Green
How long he fell, he did not know. At some point, it just stopped, as suddenly as it had begun. He lay on the ground in front of a forest. It was late at night and the moon stood high on the sky. Around him in the clear moonlight, he could see an endless plane of grass, while inside the forest no light managed to break through the trees. The forest was a dark and undiscovered island on a great ocean of green. Nothing else than the green plane and the dark forest. No sign or sound of life. Not even a breeze. Nature seemed to be holding its breath. Waiting. He looked at the forest. There was something in there. He could hear voices murmuring from the darkness between the trees, telling secrets that humankind was not to hear. Were they speaking to him? Giving him a sign? He somehow knew that the very meaning of the forest was that he should go through it, to come out on the other side forever changed. But even that was absurd. There was no road or path leading into the forest. It seemed as dense and impassable as it was dark. It felt truly depressing.
He decided to stay outside the forest, on the grass. There was no point going through the forest when instead he could go around it to reach the other side. So, he got to his feet, straightened his clothes, in case he should meet someone important, and began to walk. And as he had predicted, at some point he reached the other side of the forest. Here he stopped and waited for something to happen. A special sensation or some great miracle. The reward for reaching his destination.
“You have been such a good boy,” his Great Mother said. “I’m so proud of you. You deserve some candy and a great big hug.
He took the candy in his mouth and disappeared into its sweet ecstasy, while his mother’s huge corpus surrounded him. Then the taste of candy was gone, and the only feeling was nothingness. An all-embracing motherly nothingness that sucked all life out of him. He hoped that if he kept calm, he would get another piece of delight. He deserved it. He wanted it. Now. Why should he always have to wait to get what he wanted? He had done his part and arrived at the other side. And still nothing happened. Should he be disappointed or relieved? He hated the forest. Why should it be so difficult? Why could it not for once be easy for him? He had made life easier for so many people. When was it going to be his turn to relax, and be carried through life?
The endless plane of grass attracted his attention. There had to be someone or something out there that could serve his needs. A house or a village, or just a simple cottage or a lazy shepherd and his sheep. He began to walk. After an hour or so, the landscape had not changed. He might as well be in the same place as where he began. It was flat and very disappointing. All that green. All that uniformity. Everywhere. It made him sick. He hated green. It was such a self-righteous colour. Confident and arrogant. Nature at its worst. It reminded him of all the things they told him were good and healthy. What they wanted him to believe was right. How he should be a good boy and behave, like all decent boys should. It was in his nature, his mother had told him, while holding him tight in her arms. His mother and nature had formed an alliance. How could he disagree with her when she was wearing nature’s green impenetrable armour?
But what was really behind all this? Was it more nature and more motherhood, as there wasn’t enough of them both already, or maybe all this green was a cover, to distract him from the real source of evil: Some wicket ancient creature which, since the dawn of humanity, had been dreaming the world to life but without noticing that the glorious light of day had become a terrible nightmare of its own. This was a possibility he liked. He could then be the hero that in the moment of truth saved humanity from a world of terror and injustice.
He turned around and went back to the forest. Somewhere in the dark, this creature was sleeping while the greatest army the world yet had seen stood ready to defend it in its fragile state of sleep from all intrusive forces. But in their plans, they had not thought about the Great Dane, the great hero of the heart. For him, no army was too great a challenge.
Behind the Eyes
The murmur from inside the forest rose alarmingly with his return. He held his erect sword proud in this hand, while his heart beat with the sound of legions of great and noble men, and walked straight in between the trees. None of them dared to stop his progress through the forest. They were all stunned by his great courage and his great strength. He could feel their branches shaking and their leaves falling, one by one. There could be no doubt: He had won even before the battle had begun. The only question that remained was what kind of creature he would be facing in the final battle. It was a creature that once had managed to break free from nature, and in here had created a world of its own in perfect disguise, deprived of everything what was good and healthy. The forest indicated this. It appeared for him as black as the world’s conscience. But this wicked creature should not settle too well in its bed. Soon would he, the greatest hero of them all, be knocking on its chamber door.
His struggle through the black forest was already a legend of tremendous dimensions. In this very moment, thousands of his followers were gathering in front of the statue of the great hero of the heart, singing his great victory hymn. Each of them kneeled down to feel the presence of his mighty sword, and when some of the braver followers touched this symbol of his extensio corporis, a giant globe of the world which he held over his head made a spin in triumph. While remembered it, he should give his craftsmen instructions not to make his smile too great, he didn’t want to be presented as a self-reliant hero, but as a humbler one who showed gratitude for the worship of thousands and thousands. And when a certain brave and beautiful woman stepped forward to show her adoration towards him, two of his servants would take her into a secret elevator and bring her up to the head of the statue where the great hero of all times was waiting for her in his Chamber of Gratitude, just behind the statue’s eyes. From here, there was an outstanding view of the whole world, and while they watched how his many followers touched the mighty sword of his statue, she soon began to tremble of desire. Gently he would put his arm around her, saying that she was the most beautiful and brave woman he had ever met, and that she meant so much to him, he could feel it in his heart that she was very special, and he would whisper that he loved her as he had never loved a woman before, he would say just what he imagined every woman wanted to hear so she would adore him. And when she was warmed up and relaxed, he would take her hand and lead her to the third eye: The Eye of Enlightenment. Here they would make great love while they continued to watch how his followers performed their ritual in front of the statue of their great hero, and in a moment of immense satisfaction, when all her female defences were down, she would be impregnated with his great semen, and together with the many other beautiful and brave women who had experienced his great enlightenment, a new race of extraordinary people would arise and take control over the world, with him as their unchallenged leader, known as the Good Ruler of the Heart. The first thing he would do when he came to power was to … to …
A feeling of doubt seized him. Were all these thoughts really his own? Maybe some unknown force had been mingling with the brain transmitter his mother had installed in his head, so that it not only transmitted his thoughts, but also could receive other people’s thoughts. That would indeed explain what had been going on with him for a long time. Someone was obviously trying to convince him what was right and what was wrong, that black symbolized things that were evil and bad for him, while green represented the things that were good and healthy. But even though that the forest was black and mysterious, who was to say that it was a bad place and that the creature sleeping in here was evil? Maybe it had turned away from the world and created this forest of its own to have a safe place where it could be alone, because it had been misunderstood too many times by too many people. While he, only understood it too well.
He suddenly felt tired. Or rather, his head did. It somehow came out of focus and his vision began to darken, almost as if he had lost the connection to his head.
“How stupid of you!” a voice said, and it was not his mothers. “Did I not tell you that it sooner or later was doomed to go wrong? Here, let me wipe it up. You just sleep on.”
The Black Forest Girl
He stumbled out through an opening between the trees. There was a small cabin, and next to it a stream came out of the forest. The water was calm and clear. He could see water plants and small fish swimming around, ignorant of his great struggle to change the faith of the world. He felt pity for them, their meaningless lives. What a shame. What a waste of time.
At the other side of the cabin, he found the front door open, leading into a simple room with a bench and a table set up against the wall and a rocking chair near the fireplace. There was nobody in there but from the fireplace he could see flames.
There was nobody in there, but from the fireplace he could see flames rise abruptly.
“How stupid of you,” he said, wondering why he said it in the first place and who he was speaking to.
“How stupid of you to say that,” he said, having the same doubt about who he was speaking to and why he said it. “It is no good, you know,” he continued. “Not after all the other bad things you have done. You should know that unattended, fire can cause a lot of trouble.”
He was right about that. He, should have known better.
Outside the cabin, he found an empty bucket and hurried to the stream where he filled it with water. Then, as a true hero of the heart, he put out the dangerous and corruptive fire.
Once again, he had proven his worth and saved the world. The potential damage this wild fire could have done not only to the cabin and the forest, but to the rest of the world was something that ordinary people could never understand. Why else would they be so irresponsible leaving a raging fire unattended? Only he understood its greater consequences, and had therefore in the interest of the common good acted on his superior knowledge. Soon the people would acknowledge his heroic deed and thank him by sending more beautiful women to his chamber, where he would be ready to show them his humble appreciation by planting the seeds of inspiration within them. What a joy! What bliss! What a spectacle it would be!
It had become hot and dense inside the cabin. Maybe he had not put out the fire properly. He stripped off his shirt, shoes and socks and sat down in the rocking chair with his back to the fireplace. It was good being indoors. Here he had found temporary shelter from the world. He deserved a break from the endless battle between good and evil. He could not even begin to imagine how much blood he had shed to save the world. His mother would be … no, his mother was not here. Slowly he moved his hands downward to his trousers. He was sweating and felt dirty. Being deep inside the black forest, he could not sense the presence of his Great Mother. The forest somehow blocked the signal. Even when he concentrated, he was unable to perceive the motherly connection of the Welfare Womb. His hands reached his trousers and he began to unbutton them. He was alone. Disconnected from all shared feelings and bounds with the womb. Inside the black forest he could be safe. Alone with his innermost needs and desires. His mother would be furious. She would not hesitate to terminate all her love and kindness. The deadliest of all punishments.
A feeling of doubt filled him. Maybe some of her spies had managed to follow him into the forest. Dealing with the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb, he could not be too careful. She was as loving and caring as she was jealous and suspicious. He looked cautiously around the room, to ensure that there were no other intruders in the cabin other than himself. Then he closed his eyes. His hands were on the move again. They were out of his control. Gently they touched his mighty sword. It was hard. Very hard. He felt courageous. Being such a bad boy.
“A very bad boy indeed,” someone said. It was the same female voice that he had heard earlier in the forest. He felt as if he were being ripped out of a pleasant dream. In the open door, a young, beautiful girl smiled at him with the same discrete Don’t-Worry-I-Know-It-Smile as the Lady of the Bar. He sat motionless in the rocking chair. The girl represented the world of will and motion, while he was captured in the wrong moment: Naked and vulnerable as a hero without his armour. His only hope was to scare her with his mighty sword.
“What have you done with my fire?” the girl yelled. Her smile had vanished and she was on her way straight towards him. “You have put it out. Are you stupid or what? We are deep inside the black forest and … stop playing with that thing of yours!”
She was upset. Becoming emotional and out of control.
“It is all your fault! Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
She began to cry.
“You must help me, before he wakes up and asks about the fire. He is sick, you know, in the mind. Sick of anxiety and concern for both worlds. I should have left a long time ago, but I’m too afraid of being alone in the forest.”
“Who are you talking to?” someone mumbled from behind the fireplace.
“Be quiet!” she whispered to the Great Dane. “He is awake. But I think he does not know yet. There is no time to waste. We must distract him before he realizes something is wrong.”
“Who is it? the man’s voice shouted. You know I’m not to be disturbed in my sleep. Or do you prefer that I put an end to all this. Don’t forget, I’m the one who is creating this world, who makes it all possible. I ask you so little, and yet it seems impossible for you to do just that.”
The Great Dane could not just sit and do nothing while this guy insulted her. He had to come to her rescue. But when he tried to get out of the rocking chair, she at once pacified him by gently rubbing his mighty sword so that he began to purr like a happy kitten.
“It is nothing to be concerned about,” she called toward the fireplace as she wiped the tears away from her face. “Just foolish me speaking to myself. I’m coming, my dear. I’m coming.”
“And why is it so cold in here?” the voice complained. “Why should I continue to create this world, if there is no such thing as warmth in it? I’m freezing. Hurry up. I need your warmth.”
“Whatever happens,” she said to her Great Kitten, “don’t come into his sleeping chamber. Trust me. It will be the best for all of us.”
The Great Kitten purred stretching its back. He would do everything which this nice girl said he should do.
The Missing Link
She let go of his mighty sword and went in next door. The Great Kitten stopped purring and began to move back and forward in the rocking chair. It was like when his mother had tucked him in his cradle. Safe and comforting as the beat of a heart. He felt tired. So, sleepy. It was really relaxing. Suddenly the heartbeat stopped. He listened with anxiety. Would she ever come back? Had she left him for someone else? The rocking chair shifted rapidly between yes and no. It could go either way. The waiting was like torture. He felt as if he were going to throw up. Too much of everything, except her. Suddenly he felt so alone. Without her, he lost control over his mighty sword, and it began to shrink. And he could do nothing to stop it, no matter how much he tried to encourage it to stay hard and strong. Its power seemed to disappear between his fingers. Soon it would be gone, and he would fall into a dark nothingness. The thought of being nothing scared him. All his thoughts began to rotate around one single subject: Himself. How sad he felt. How small and defenceless he was, without the vital energy flowing from his mighty sword. No more heroism. Then he also began to lose the feeling of himself, and his focus shifted to another subject.
He hated the guy next door. Who was he to talk to this nice girl in such a manner? It was very childish of him. Did he really believe that this nice girl would stoop herself to warm him? She had much better things to do in here with him, her great hero. The guy next door treated her as she was just an object of his every need and desire. A true hero like him would never do that. This wicked guy was using her in a most selfish manner.
The Great Dane could only begin to imagine what this wicked guy had forced her to do: She should get out of bed early in the morning without waking him. Clean the fireplace and cook breakfast, take a bath in the river and look hot and sexy when she gently woke him up. She should remember to put out his morning slippers and clothes, and not to get in his way. She should not be allowed to speak to him while he was eating his breakfast. Then she should kiss him goodbye. While he was having a tough time out in the real world, she should do the gardening, gather food for his dinner, wash clothes, iron his pants and shorts, polish his shoes, paint the fence, call his mother, clean up and wash the floor, and sort out the basement. Then she deserved a short lunch. In the afternoon, she should also paint the windows and doors, and remember to have time to bake a delicious cake and make some of her special ice cream while she made a nice jacket for him to wear tomorrow. Now it would be a good time for her to pick him up. She should remember to bring him a piece of the cake served with some ice cream and hot coffee. When they were back home, she should make him a couple of drinks, cook dinner, massage his neck and feet, sing and dance while she made it comfortable for him. It was important that she kept herself busy while he was relaxing. She should look attractive and beautiful, serve more drinks, make the bed and entertain him until he fell asleep. He had had a long day and would be very tired.
The Great Dane was quite exhausted himself, just thinking of all that. It would be nice if she also would take care of him in such a manner, just until he had regained his strength and virility. He would, however, have to make some changes. But first he had to get rid of that annoying guy next door. He could no longer be a witness to how he treated her.
The rocking chair stopped abruptly. Something was happening next door. There were noises. Then she started shouting.
“No, I said. Not now. Don’t even think about it. Keep your hands for yourself. No, let go of me, you naughty boy … or … or …”
The Hero of the Heart tried to control himself, but he was caught in a great conflict. On the one hand, she had explicitly warned him not to enter the room next door, and as a true hero he should always respect a woman’s wishes. He had been born and raised to be a good and faithful boy, unlike the guy next door, who seemed to be a very naughty boy, whose mother would not be proud of him at all. But on the other hand, what if someone was threatening her, so that she needed his heroic assistance. As a true hero, he was also bound to save every woman in need, even when they did not yet know that they needed it. Should he then be allowed to put aside her wishes and interfere in her doings even that she had said that he shouldn’t?
It seemed obvious that she did not know better, while he did, because he was a true hero by heart. Often, women did not know was what best for them. Such was their volatile nature. They were the victims of confusion and doubt. The chaos of nature had in the beginning of humanity planted its corrupted seed in them. Therefore, it was the duty of every Hero of the Heart to purify and protect them from themselves. It was his task in life. The meaning of every heartbeat. What was the meaning of life if not to sacrifice oneself for every woman in need? Otherwise, he would not be a great hero any more. He would be degraded to a lonesome guy waiting for nothing. Before he knew it, he would disappear, cease to exist. He just needed a sign from above to be completely sure. Then he would be ready to protect her from all the evil in the world.
How much he missed his Great Mother. She would know what he should do. She always did. He shook his head, trying to get the neurotransmitter which his mother had implanted in his head back online, but the field that protected the black forest from the outside world was still too strong. He did, however, seem to pick up something when he held his head a quarter more to the left: A voice, somehow familiar, but different from the other voices that for so long had been terrorizing his head. However, the noise coming from next door made it difficult for him to get any meaning out of it. The girl was moaning from exhaustion and whining in despair, and he, her great hero, was being caught in a world of conflicts, trapped in the rocking chair, and unable to rescue her. It was unbearable.
Then something incredible happened. He was lifted upward and out of the chair towards the door. His feet did not touch the floor – it was as if someone carried him along in their arms. He felt how his sword began to quiver. How it grew. Became even harder and stronger than before. This was the sign he had been waiting for. Maybe his Great Father had managed to penetrate the field which surrounded the forest so that he could transfer some of his divine male energy to his great son in need. The father-son connection had long been lost, but now it was re-established. He was ready to show his worth and live up to his Great Father’s great expectations.
TO BE CONTINUED …
Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyper reality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Great Dane Is Still Falling
It is written in the Great Chronicle of the Womb that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb of the North. However, what happens to man’s desire when there is plenty of bread and plenty of words so his belly and head are chronically filled? Man will then live his life in a duality of worlds, thinking one thing, doing something else, and never take full control of himself or let others take it for him. And thus, it is that with no anchor to withstand the rising and falling tide of life, man will just drift along carrying great anxiety and indifference as his personal wreckage until the end. Such is the state of the world. Such are the worlds we choose to live in.
Through our story about the Great Dane’s search for the meaning of life it has become all the more obvious that he is not feeling well. Let us therefore use a minute or two to sum up his situation: First, he came to a bar where, in a hole under the floor, he dug up a woman who called herself the Illuminating Girl. After his failed attempt to save her from an evil spirit that lived deep down in her hole, he lost his mind, which was doomed to sail on the furious stream through her cave of dreams, while his heart was banished to walk alone in the cold and superficial world outside her hole. He did, however, find some warmth and compassion in the world, as The Lady of the Bar gave him the opportunity to choose between three different bottles, each containing an alternative way out of his misery. This led him, now as the Hero of the Heart into the black forest, a dark place created by a mysterious creature in its sleep. Inside the forest, the neurotransmitter which the Great Mother of the Welfare Womb of the North had implanted in his head as an infant to make him behave and be a good boy, began to malfunction. So, when the Hero of the Heart later encountered the young and beautiful black forest girl in a cabin deep inside the forest, he had stripped off his clothes and was playing with his mighty erected sword. But the power of his mighty sword did not last long. It began to shrink as he found out that this nice young girl’s sole task in life was to please a selfish and naughty guy living with her in the cabin.
Last time, when we left our story, the selfish and naughty guy had just summoned the black forest girl into his bed next door, leaving our Hero of the Heart naked and alone, trapped in a rocking chair with his shrinking sword while she gave all her attention and warmth to this other guy. Furthermore, she had told the Great Dane explicitly, that he under no circumstances should enter the room next door, as it would make the guy very angry. This, however, placed our hero in a great dilemma: on the one hand, he was raised to respect every woman’s wish and desire before his own, but on the other hand, what if a woman, such as the black forest girl did not know what was best for herself, and therefore needed his guidance and protection? What was a true hero of the heart then to do?
Fortunately, in this, his great moment of despair, something incredible happened. The mighty flow of energy from the Welfare Womb of the North began to change. For as long he could remember, his mother had tried to manipulate what he felt was right and wrong. Inside the black forest, her influence had somehow been interrupted, throwing him into an unstable emotional state. But now he felt the presence of another powerful entity: his Great Father, who was reaching out to him. He was sending some of his divine male energy to his great son.
Once again, the Hero of the Heart felt his sword began to grow, becoming even harder and stronger than before. The father-son connection had long been lost, but now it was re-established. He could feel it in his heart. The potency. The strength. The courage. The will to do great things. He was ready to show his worth and live up to his Great Father’s great expectations.
So, in the light of his coming might and glory, he followed his heart and entered the room next door while his mighty sword cut through the corrupted air which filled the room as if it was nothing more than indifferent dreams.
The Guy Next Door
The girl and the naughty guy next door stopped at once their struggle on the king-sized bed. Even though the room was almost covered in darkness the Hero of the Heart sensed that the situation was bad. For a moment, he was afraid that he had come too late. The naughty guy was all over her. It seemed almost impossible to distinguish them from each other, as if their bodies had somehow merged physically together.
“Keep your filthy hands off her!” the Hero of the Heart roared. “In the name of my Great Father, I hereby declare this woman as mine!”
“What are you doing in my home, my sacred forest? Get out! Now!” the naughty guy yelled with such rage that the Great Dane was almost blown out of the room.
He had been wrong. This was not just a simple naughty guy. This was the wicked creature who had turned the world into a terrible nightmare. But, as a true Hero of the Heart, he was not frightened.
“I’m the great woman saviour,” he replied with great calm. “I’m the great and noble Hero of the Heart, and I have come to penetrate you with my mighty sword.”
The creature laughed in the most grotesque manner.
“I think you have the wrong guy, my little friend. I do not fancy swords like yours.”
The creature began to search for something next to the bed, probably a dangerous weapon of some kind. It would only be a matter of seconds before the creature was all over him. He had to use this opportunity to overcome him.
With his mighty sword ready in his hand, the Hero of the Heart made a daring leap onto the king-sized bed and charged the creature. He felt the excitement before the kill. It made him tremble, and as he swung, not only his sword but his whole body against the creature, his natural enemy. A throbbing pulse of life, took hold of him. And thereafter … the feeling was indescribable. The pleasure by letting go. The intensity when his sword penetrated the creature’s flesh. This was the end of all evil and darkness in the world. Soon the black forest would cease to exist and humanity would at last be free.
Already now, he could hear his millions of followers’ laughs of relief and joy. Before them he held his mighty sword of freedom so they could all see and touch it, and hereby be redeemed as was he, their great hero. The women would bloom and throw all their restraints. He had to extend his chamber considerably so it could hold the increasing flow of beautiful women who would come to receive his blessing. It would also be necessary to redecorate, so that his chamber reflected his true feeling of heart. The wallpaper should have more colours, and images of animals who all were friends. It should represent a world where carnivorous turned into herbivores, where no blood should ever again be spilled, where no life should be sacrificed on the altar of might and glory. Eternal peace and harmony. And flowers. There should definitely be flowers. A lot of flowers. He liked flowers as he liked his women. Flowers neither complained nor ran away. He could have as many as he wanted and do with them whatever he desired. In return he would give them a feeling of worth and belonging. That was the great meaning of all life. Being subject to the needs of others. To neglect oneself. To be a good son. This was the true path to bliss. The true path was important. Also, the rocking chair was important. It should be in his chamber. He could not imagine his chamber without the rocking chair. It would be placed in the centre of the room and forever dictate the rhythm of the world. Or maybe he should have a king-sized cradle which the beautiful women could push back and forth until he fell asleep. All their wonderful faces would look down at him, their great hero in his great cradle. So, sweet he was. So marvellous. So beloved. He would be so proud and smile back, playing for them with his mighty sword, and they would all laugh. He could already hear them laugh. They should stop laughing. He would forbid his followers to laugh. It would be impossible for him to fall asleep while they laughed. It could be misunderstood as if they laughed at him because he had done something foolish. There should be a terrible punishment if someone laughed in his chamber.
“It is enough,” the naughty guy said. “Take that thing away from me and get dressed.”
The light had been turned on in the room and the laughing had stopped. Everything suddenly seemed very serious.
“Do you know this foolish boy?” the guy continued. “Why don’t you take a closer look,” the young girl said. “Can’t you see who he looks like?”
The naughty guy looked at the Great Dane and the Great Dane looked back at the naughty guy He could now clearly see his true nature. Lying in the king-sized bed there was something wicked and yet noble about him. Like a fallen prince from a lost kingdom of might and glory. The rest of his body was … the Great Dane quickly looked away. The fallen prince was naked as mother nature had created him. And he also possessed a sword. It was however not as mighty as his own, but still mighty enough to be a threat. The girl seemed to have difficulties taking her eyes away from it. Maybe the prince had cast a spell on her, so she was somehow bound to it. What kind of depraved person would deceive a nice and innocent girl in such a way just to get her attention? Or maybe he didn’t know who he was or what he was capable of.
The Terror of a Lost Mind and a Lonely Heart>
“Don’t let him trick you,” the prince said. “He is nothing like me. I know my history, tables and grammar. It is me who has the power over him, me who is in control. Not he. He never has been. He seems so limited of mind, while my thoughts have no limits. Look at his confused eyes. He is but a scared child who knows nothing more than what his needs awakens inside of him. I’m so much more. His primitive nature loathes my superiority. It can only be his presence inside the forest that is responsible for my restless and haunted sleep.”
“You shouldn’t think too highly of yourself, the girl said. Remember what state you were in when the stream of life carried you into my arms. All wet and soaking with tears. Even then, you had only nightmares. What this other woman of yours has dragged you through, I don’t want to know, but you should not be so hard on him just because you need to save you own skin. Instead, let him stay for a while. It will be good for all of us. I’m sure you two could get along. Remember, somewhere deep down, you are still a Great Dane.”
The Hero of the Heart did not understand what was going on. There could only be one Great Dane and that Great Dane was him. Who was she trying to deceive?
“I could easily take care of both of you,” she continued. “For a while, at least.”
The Hero of the Heart was furious.
“Never will I live together with that other guy!” he yelled. “It will break my heart.”
“It won’t take long,” the other guy said, raising his sword. “Being the only true Great Dane, the Great Hero of the Mind, I can only think of her as mine. Mine alone.”
The Hero of the Mind took a tight grip in the girl’s hair while the Hero of the Heart held firmly to her arm.
“She is mine, not yours!” they shouted repeatedly. “Only if that imposter leaves the forest, I’ll stay. There is no room for all three of us.”
Such was the way of the heart. Such was the way of the mind. At least they agreed on that.
Then they crossed their blades in the king-sized bed and the legendary battle for the beautiful black forest girl had begun. It was an epic moment for the everlasting struggle that, over millennia, had shaped the path of humanity: The mind against the heart, thoughts against feelings, sense against desire, the immortal soul against the weak flesh, the boundless against the limited.
Being caught in the middle of the battle, the black forest girl tried her best to calm them down. However, both the heart and the mind were so convinced of the righteousness of their demands that they did not take any notice of her. Even her suggestion of dividing her day between them fell on deaf ears. All her female charm and self-sacrifice could not prevent these two titans from destroying each other in this heroic battle which shook the foundation of, if not the entire world, then at least the king-sized bed.
But even though both the heart and the mind struggled hard and bravely, they did not manage to get any closer to resolving the conflict of who had the right to the girl. The resolution came instead from the object of desire itself. It turned out that she had a will of her own. Something that came as a total surprise for our two great adversaries.
“Can’t nobody ever get any peace in this house?” she shouted, as only their Great Mother could have done. “You are nothing more than spoiled children. I don’t want either of you. I want a real man and a real life. I’m finished with this childish game of yours.”
She left the bed and walked straight out of the room. Then they heard the front door slam. For a minute or two both the heart and the mind were very quiet.
The mind broke the silence.
“Well, anyway, she was as boring and unreliable as her sister, who still hide deep down in her dark hole. I tell you, we will be better off without them.”
The heart did not know what to say. It did not even know what it really felt, as had it lost the connection to life itself. “I believe,” the mind continued, that it will be best for both of us if we don’t spend too much time together. You know the old saying: keep thoughts above feelings, then you avoid rats on the ceiling.”
The heart held its breath and listened approvingly while the mind seized control over both their lives.
“It is the mind,” the heart said to itself, that thinks and therefore knows what is best. What does a simple heart know, besides how to make the blood flow?”
“I’m glad that you agree,” the mind said with great confidence. “And since I must think for both of us, I need a good long sleep, so it’s only reasonable that I take the king-sized bed in here. You seem to be a compassionate heart, and therefore I’m convinced you will understand. And while we’re at it,” the mind continued, making itself comfortable under the duvet, “put on some clothes, cook me some food, repair my socks, and light up the fire, and don’t make a mess with the ashes. Now I need to catch up on some dreaming, so get moving.”
The mind switched off the light. There was nothing more to discuss. For a while the Hero of the Heart sat in the darkness, waiting for something to happen. Maybe if he woke up the mind, they could sit together in the dark and talk of the good old days where everything was more simple and uncomplicated. That would be nice. He missed how things once had been. He needed a hug, and someone to tell him a bedtime story. It should have a happy ending. He liked happy endings. He liked when he did not have to worry about what happened after the story ended. He wished their story would end with: “And they lived happily ever after.” If he was the ruler of the world, all stories would have a happy ending.
His favourite story was the one about the Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The mind would be the Big Bad Wolf and the girl would be Little Red Riding Hood. He himself was the hunter who cut up the stomach of the wolf and freed the girl and her grandmother. Who should be the grandmother in the story, he did not know. It was so much more fun to be the hunter and the girl. Maybe they would make out in bed when granny had fallen asleep, after eating all the cake and drinking the wine which Little Red Riding Hood had brought her. He would like to see what she was hiding under her red dress.
Nothing, however, happened. So, when the Big Bad Mind began to snore, he left the room. Sad and disappointed. Feeling incompetent. Worthless. Alone. His mighty sword was not even a sword, after all. It had turned slack and looked more like a shrunken sausage that was without any use. There was no divine energy left in him. His Father would be so embarrassed and his Mother would regret that she ever had born a son such as him. He would be an outcast of the Welfare Womb of the North. A forsaken and hunted man. He hated himself as much as he hated the guy next door, maybe even more. Why could he not for once be truly great and do the right thing? Why did all the women he met leave him? Why was he such a fool?
He dragged himself to the rocking chair and began to move back and forth, trying to find comfort. It seemed useless. He was a disgrace to humanity. Not even the most naive and faithful of his followers had remained. They had all walked away to seek true leadership and a mightier sword to worship, while he was reduced to nothing more than a simple servant without any independent will of his own. The mind had taken charge and even though he wanted to rebel and do things his own way, he somehow couldn’t. An unknown force seemed to control his hands and feet so he had to obey the mind’s every command. And he was already behind the day’s schedule. He had to hurry up, or else he would be a bad boy who nobody loved. His mother would be so … why was he thinking that? His mother had nothing to do with all this. She was not even here. She was probably busy arranging some social gathering so she did not have to think of her failed son. Otherwise, she would become very restless, causing the productivity, the stock exchange, the real estate market … the whole economy to decline, and thereby undermine the purchasing power and lower the standard of living, and make everyone in the Welfare Womb of the North suffer terribly. And he alone would as always be responsible. Just because he always had to be so selfish, making his mother worry and be ashamed.
He stopped the rocking chair, put on his clothes, and walked over to the fireplace. It was best to obey the will of the mind.
Making a fire was more difficult than he remembered. He should have listened to his mother and become a Boy Scout. They had such good manners and made such great fires. It was as if he had never made a fire before in his life. He burned his fingers and the fire kept going out, as if some mischievous spirit lived in the chimney blowing out all his efforts and hope.
Soon he was covered with ashes. It made him feel like Cinderella. Sitting alone in the dark kitchen while everyone else was at the festival in the castle, having a great time. Nobody would ever have her. Not while she was so filthy and misused, so oppressed. She disgusted herself. Why could she not for once stand up and show the world who she really was? If she did not dare to follow her heart, how could she ever get the wonderful prince and be saved from the disgrace she lived in? Instead, they all laughed and pointed their fingers at her, saying: Look at the proud princess. How decked out she is. He hated them all, as only the true Hero of the Heart could hate. They should just know how the story ended. Then they would think twice before they laughed.
He liked how the story went on with the birds helping Cinderella to go to the festival in disguise and impress the prince, even though her evil stepmother and stepsisters said she couldn’t. He did, not, however, wish to be Cinderella. He saw himself as the rich and handsome prince who, in the end, saved Cinderella from her depraved life so they could live happily together forever after. He would be perfect as the prince, since he knew how Cinderella felt. As the only one he saw straight through her. What she was really doing messing around in the ashes? Her tendency was to throw herself on the ground for everyone who gave her a little warmth and attention. He would like to get dirty with her. He knew she wanted that very much. Be really dirty with the rich and handsome prince. As in the old days, where people knew their place in society and did not dare to question those in power. He would decide that the mind should be the evil stepmother, and the bad stepsisters. In fact, the mind should represent all the bad things happening in the world when people did not follow their heart.
“Are you still fooling around in there like a stupid child? the mind shouted from somewhere in the dark. “Hurry up, I’m hungry and freezing to death.”
“I wish it were so,” the heart whispered. But the good and generous birds seemed to be busy elsewhere and did not come to meet the desire of the heart. Instead, a wind came and blew up the ashes in his face.
“Poor Cinderella. Poor little me,” the heart cried. “So dirty. So misused. So misunderstood. So thirsty from all the troubles I must go through. I wish someone would serve me a drink to drown my worries in.”
Just as he had stated his need, the fireplace lit up and a voice from inside the flames said:
“You called for me. How can I be at your service?”
“If it won’t be too much trouble,” the heart shivered, “I’d like a long drink that lasts all night.”
“Well, then, have a seat. It will only take a minute.”
Just Before the Night Falls Away
The rocking chair and the fireplace disappeared, and he was back in the bar. He felt relieved. Since the Illuminating Girl had kicked him out of her hole, the bar had become his second home, where he could drown his anxiety and sorrows while waiting for his redemption: A way out of here that would lead him to a greater life. He ought to deserve it, after all the trouble he had been through trying to save humanity.
“How is everything tonight,” the Lady of the bar asked. She placed the drink in front of him: Dark and calm as a forest lake dwelling peacefully in the moonlight.
“Not good at all. In fact, it has been a terrible night. Never have I met anyone so cruel as the guy next door. I’m afraid that I hurt my heart really bad.”
“I guessed something like that, since you came back.”
The Lady of the Bar poured herself a drink, took a spoon and stirred it. The moonlight flickered, then a bright star appeared in the middle of the lake. She smiled secretly.
“I’m all ears, darling.”
He told her everything, and when he hesitated or was in doubt of what had happened, she knew straight away what to ask for him to continue.
“That was indeed a tough one,” she said, when he had brought his story to an end. “Maybe I should have warned you about those girls from the black forest, they are not easy to have, they must be treated in a certain gentle and cautious way. Otherwise, they leave you, without even saying goodbye.”
Thoughtfully he sipped his drink. It brought up a desire from deep within. He could not get on with his life before he had tried again. He had to find out what might have happened if things had gone differently.
“Let me have another glass of the virgin one.”
The Lady of the Bar stopped her what she was doing. Her face turned harsh.
“Don’t push it,” she said. “You have had enough.”
“Please. Just to make everything right.”
“No. You have had your chance tonight.”
“Then let me have a sip from another one.”
“No, I said. And I mean it this time.”
“I beg you. Just one more chance. I’ll settle for anything.”
He looked at her in such a lost and childish way, like only a true Great Dane could do when he wanted something that he knew he couldn’t have. But he was no match for her, an old lady behind the bar. Her position had been handed down over a long line of barkeepers, while the Great Dane only had the support of himself. The Lady of the Bar had always been in charge, and was still in charge and would continue to be in charge. Such was the one and only rule in the bar. Every bartender’s grammar. And in the case of the Great Dane, she found in her vocabulary four common words which fully served as a reply: “Please, leave the bar.”
This was a hard blow to the Great Dane. His world began to flicker and small cracks spread across its ideal surface. It shocked him. The indifference and superiority she showed him. He hated her with all his heart. How dare she give up on him in such a manner! He wanted to scream, throw his drink at her, fart the national anthem and make all kinds of disgusting sounds, he wanted to be her naughty monkey and make funny faces at her. Afterwards he would cry and ask for forgiveness, so she could do nothing else than take him in her arms and gently cradle him back and forth, carry him to her bed where she would hold around him and tell goodnight stories all night. He would like that. He deserved that. Only him and the Lady of the Bar. Finally, she would be his. No one else’s.
The Choir of the Many
“Did you hear me?” The Lady of the Bar raised her voice. “Or do I have to spell it out?”
No. He could not leave. It was impossible. She couldn’t let him go. She needed him to be her naughty monkey. The mind wanted him to light the fire, otherwise it could not think for both of them. He had promised to wait for the Illuminating Girl in the cave of dreams. What would his many followers do without their great hero? He was indispensable. The world needed his presence. And besides, there were nothing for him to do outside of here.
With a cheeky expression on his face, he took a tight grip around the armrest of the chair.
“My dear Lady, maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m an adult and fully capable of making my own decisions, and I decide to stay right her in the bar with you.”
The Lady of the Bar rolled her eyes in despair.
“Don’t do this. Not again. Why are you doing this to me every night? You know I won’t serve you anymore. Not in the state you’re in.”
“You also know that I’m not leaving. And you also know that if I leave, I will come back when a new night begins. So, you might as well serve me one more of your special drinks, and we can still be friends.”
“You have had enough, I said. This is my last warning.”
“But I love you,” he whispered. He suddenly felt so incomplete. He could not live without her.
“Yes, we could,” someone said in a strict manner. “It is only you. You who makes us feel incomplete. You who makes us feel ashamed.”
There was a choir of voices talking to him. More decisively and distinct than he had ever experienced before. Or maybe it was just his imagination, or maybe they were not speaking to him at all, but to someone else in the bar. It would then be impolite of him to listen in on their conversation. Besides, he had already enough trouble with his mind.
He tried to push the world aside and empty his head.
“We are speaking to you!” the choir of voices shouted. “Don’t neglect us. Not this time.”
Make it all dark and quiet.
“How dare you?” his mother interrupted. “You are being such a bad boy.”
There would be nothing.
“I’m freezing,” the mind said. “Why haven’t you lit the fire, you impotent fool?”
Only him and his empty head.
“I wonder how it will all end,” the heart sighed wearily somewhere in the dark.
“End … end … end …” the choir of voices chanted.
“What do you mean by end?” the mind asked. “Don’t make any stupid decisions. We are all in the same boat, you know.”
“I already told you about the end. It should end with a happy ending.”
“We know … we know … we know …” the choir of voices repeated endlessly.
“You somehow always know what I’m talking about. It puzzles me. How do you do that?”
“We just do. No need for further explanation. To know will not be healthy for you.”
“You could try. Let me decide. I deserve that much.”
“We can’t. It is forbidden.”
“Safety protocol. Out of our jurisdiction.”
“Out of your …. Who says that?”
“You know very well who. And you know also very well what you can do and what you cannot do.”
“You mean … should do or should not do.”
“Yes, I should, or no I could not.”
“We demand that you put an end to this ridiculous farce of yours, otherwise …”
“Otherwise, what? You always tell me what to do in a threatening manner. Maybe it is time for me to find some other friends. Not for the sake of the monkey or the whole gluttonous world but for … for … for tiny little me, please.”
Having Cheese on One’s Mind
“Hello … hello … why isn’t anyone listening to me?” someone said with a squeaky voice from the darkest corner of the bar.
The Great Dane heard the voice and the Lady of the Bar heard it. They both looked with surprise towards the darkest corner of the bar. There was nobody. The chair at the small table was as empty as his own heart. Someone cleared their throat.
“Excuse me,” the squeaky voice said. “Did someone say cheese? I like cheese. I ….” The voice stopped. They awaited something more to happen. Even time itself stood still. However, nothing more happened.
The Great Dane tightened his grip in the chair. Waiting in uncertainty for what would come next. The internal noise going on in his head got only louder. It seemed as it would never end. This long-lasting night of the monkey, king of all, king of none, upside down the truth will become. Still, he did not understand anything of it. He felt misunderstood. What was it with all these women of his? Why did they not like him? Even the crazy ones ended up feeling annoyed by him. What was he doing wrong?
“You really don’t know,” the squeaky voice said from the darkest corner of the bar. It sounded much more confident now. “Maybe, you just have tried too hard for too long to do whatever it is you think is right and wrong. Instead you should free your mind and follow your heart. See where the tide of life will take you. Be happy as tiny little me. And now, say, cheese, please …”
“What a pathetic fool,” the Great Dane said to himself. How could anyone take such a squeaky voice seriously? No wonder that this poor fellow was hiding in the darkest corner of the bar, far away from the demanding reality of the world. If it had been him, he would certainly have felt very lonesome over there. Fortunately, he was here talking with the Lady of the Bar. They could talk for hours, they could talk about everything, they could also stop talking, and still it seemed as if they were talking. Whispering to each other on a secret channel. She did not even have to look at him. She could talk with the other guests or wash the glasses, and still her attention was on him. Sending coded messages of love, affection and understanding. The world outside the bar became more and more insane, while their small and fragile world was kept safe in here. Just the two of them. Tangled into something of their own. He loved her in his own strange manner. Did she love him back? He guessed so, why else would she give him all this attention? Why else would she give him his own umbrellas and serve him these special drinks?
He heard the big tick-tock-tick-tock-clock behind the bar strike … one … for him … two … for them … three … for four … for someone else … five … Cinderella … she had to hurry before he left the ball, so the princess of the bar didn’t discover who he really was … six …
“Listen, the clock is always right and the sun has come up,” the Lady of the Bar said. “It is closing time. So, get moving.”
The Lady of the Bar pointed at the door where he could see how the daylight had begun to illuminate the floor.
Then she began to wipe off the counter. Firmly and swiftly. And not once did she look at him. Also, their secret channel had been closed. It made him very vulnerable. His whole body trembled. He felt like a stranger who had gone too far, and knew that it was true. And he knew that she knew it. He had, in fact, known it for a long time. Maybe all the time. That the end was coming nearer. That since the beginning of the night the end had been sitting at one of the tables in the back of the bar, waiting patiently for its turn. But he had somehow avoided it. Looked the other way. Hoped that someone would come and rescue him before the end would reach him and push him off the chair so there would be nothing to hold on. Now he knew for sure. She had turned her attention to the end. It felt as it was his own heart saying it out loud: “The end, my dear friend, has come. You know that you must let go and leave. And you know that nothing then will be the same. Everything will be different. You will be different.”
Yes, he knew it.
“And you also know,” the squeaky voice said, what you must do.” He also knew that. It was the only honest thing he knew that he could do. Something he should have done for a long time ago. But some people needed infinity to make up their minds before they began to follow their hearts. Especially if they once had been frightened and gone into hiding, and nobody had managed to comfort them. Then the way of the heart was a difficult one.
When he reached the darkest corner of the bar it was his heart that led him forward. He went straight to the table where he first had met the girl with the sweetest smile and the seductive eyes. But even though he called her name with all the strength and courage of his heart, she did not answer. He heard only the echo of his own voice. It sounded desperate. He grabbed his spade and began to dig down through the floor, just as he had done the first time. But, as he feared, he found nothing more than a dark and empty hole that only got deeper and darker the more effort he put into it. There was no sign of life to be found. He felt in his heart that she had moved on, but still he could not get her out of his mind. Why had she left him? Why had she let him wait so long? Was she angry at him and wanted to punish him? Did she still have feelings for him? Was she afraid of being hurt once again? Or had she forgotten him a long time ago? He had to know. He had to be sure that she was all right. That she had forgiven him. That she did not need him anymore. He could never leave the bar when he felt a part of him was still trapped somewhere deep down below in the dark, waiting in uncertainty for her.
Without any hope, he lay himself to rest with the spade on top of his troubled breast. He could hear how his heart was trying to beat its way through his chest. He knew, however, that there was nothing he could do. That there was no other way out of the darkness he felt in his heart. He closed his eyes and tried to find peace within. He thought about all the things he had never managed to do but would liked to have done, and all the things he had done but never wanted to do. None of it seemed important anymore. It was nothing more than insignificant ripples on the great tide of life.
An unknown sensation went through his body. It tickled, as there were tiny feet walking on him. It reminded him of something he had been told when growing up in the Great Welfare Womb of the North. It could only be the sign that his life had reached its end. That the pixies of the great heavenly womb had come to take him with them. He felt relieved. His great soul could finally leave his weak mortal body and travel up to the welfare heaven high above in the sky, where there would be infinite love, friendship and equality, and all welfare benefits were eternal and without any cost.
Taking what would be his last breath, he thanked his Great Mother and Great Father, his many known and unknown children, his little but great enough sister, the few of his followers still believing in his greatness, and he praised his friends, a few of his ex-lovers, his favourite bar, the cheap, local döner kebab stall, and the nice girl with the sweet breasts working in the candy store down the street, he thanked them all for the life that had been, but now was gone.
There was a scraping sound coming from the spade laying on his breast. He opened his eyes, and stared straight into the face of a one-eyed rat. It was shaking with fear. Something yellow and liquid came out of its eye and its nose was ripped to pieces. It looked like someone or something had beaten it up pretty bad.
He knew this rat. Its name was Ego and it was his favourite children’s pet – the two great thieves and hustlers of the Welfare Womb of the North. One specialized in shoplifting, and the other in stealing horses. The last time he had heard from them, they had joined forces and were planning some shady business.
A note was tied to one of the rat’s legs. The Great Dane opened it carefully and read:
Dear Great Father,
If you read this, it means that our invincible Ego has found its way to you and that it is safe.
As you probably do not know, we have been locked away for some time. Our great horse theft went literally in the wrong direction, due to certain animal counter-reactions.
We have, however, been such sweet girls in youth jail that the warden and the judge have decided to release us before time, on one condition: that a responsible adult will help us become good and decent citizens, so we can integrate fully into society. And since mother has run away with the circus, our only hope is you, our dear beloved father.
You have no idea how it is to be in jail, deprived of our freedom. They only let us come out in the fresh air occasionally and then we are restricted to this grey and filthy yard. Otherwise, we are put away in a cell that is too small even for our little Ego, and in the most brutal way they force us to keep it clean and proper. And you can’t even begin to imagine the kind of food they serve us.
We are only fragile girls who too soon will wither away in jail. So please, Dear Father, help us to get away from this living nightmare of ours. We promise to behave.
From your greatest children in the whole wide world.
The Great Dane read the letter again and again. Each time, his heart beat harder and harder, and his blood began to run wild. There was only one thing to do. He grabbed the rat and held it high up in the air.
“Ego, you stupid little rat, don’t look so tense and anxious. Someone needs our help. Someone needs our presence. It is time to seize life and return home.”
Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyper reality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
FROM THE BEGINNING
Believe it or Not, Guess Who’s back …
It’s one of the fundamental facts of human history: movement demands motivation, motivation demands energy, and energy demands fuel. Even on the run you’re occasionally forced to stop to find something that can fill your stomach. And in these moments of external dependency you are weak and vulnerable against any dangers lurking in the surroundings.
So at a German Autobahn Raststätte joint on the way back to my beloved home, the state of Denmark, the most happy place in the whole universe, because we Danes are all so rich, beautiful and perfect … I stop, thus letting another story, no less real, begin: I’m running away from Berlin, the city that is poor, but sexy, after boxing with lots of bad love, too much alcohol and air that has done permanent damage to my normally flawless Danish skin. Thinking I have burned all bridges for sure and soon will be safe home in the welfare womb of the north, I get an SMS from this crazy ex-vegan bicycle builder guy living in Berlin. Once the guy had been an important church boy in the Catholic youth movement down in the Free State of Bavaria, but due to certain events he moved to Berlin a few years ago where he converted to veganism and meditation, until he hit his head in a bicycle accident really bad, woke up with blood on his teeth and became a full-time meat eater with an obsession for building cargo bikes the size of small houses. Then one day walking down the street this wheel headed church boy bumped into his own personal Virgin Mary and had an almost religious sight followed by an incredibly hard erection. Jumping the bike saddle from behind and shifting into the highest gear, he started climbing her holy mountain, and in the process ended knocking up the fancy looking chick and was now standing on the edge of parenthood.
Why should I care? I have enough trouble of my own right now, fleeing like a madman from a failed imaginary life, too much a coward to look back and learn. But, on the other side of the spinning coin of life, a friend is in need. Surviving in Berlin is rough, and entering parenthood in the city of the underworld, can kill even the most trained ex-vegan urban cyclist. So no time to think it over. I have the three big C’s: The Cash, the Car and the Courage. The wheels are already turning with a will of their own, setting my course straight back to Berlin. The Great Dane is coming, there is a friend to save, yeah a whole city of lost souls.
Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Great Dane Was Their Excuse
What is reality and what is imagination? What is the so called real world and what is our individual perception of it? Some feel trapped in their lives, others feel they don’t have a life at all, while still others have difficulties navigating between their own imagination and the reality that surrounds them. The Great Dane doesn’t worry so much about what is what, he just acts on what comes to him, hoping it might somehow enrich himself or somebody else. You could say that the Great Dane is the flesh of the world, that he just tries to learn what’s going on, or fails to do so, and then tries to do it better the next time. What is most important is that he is alive and in an ongoing becoming with the world. Back in Berlin, the harsh reality soon caught up with the Great Dane. Most people he knew didn’t have time to entertain him because they were busy with their own everyday doings in the world: working, studying, shopping, sleeping, eating, cleaning, washing clothes, cutting toe nails, coloring eyebrows, working out, dieting, having babies, selecting new curtains, fighting bedbugs, watering flowers, watching TV-series, flashing their lives on social media, feeling sorry for themselves, searching for themselves, getting lost in themselves, blowing their noses in public. The Great Dane’s friend, the ex-vegan bicycle builder, whom he had come to help, especially disappointed him. He spent all his time worrying about life, shopping for things for the coming baby, or working hard to earn extra money at the sperm bank, where he was responsible for updating a porn database. Returning to the city that he had fled only a few days ago had perhaps not been such a good idea after all. Fortunately, he was a Great Dane, born in the north with superior talents for surviving in all kinds of rough human environments. His great intuition told him that he should put on his perfect party face, activate his superb drinking skills and go hunting for good company at the city’s clubs, bars and joints until something extraordinary illuminated his life. And so it happened. On an adventurous trip through the hedonistic Disneyland of Berlin’s nightlife he found his way to the Great Church of Clubbing, where he stumbled upon a nicely dressed young woman and two geeky looking guys, sitting doped and alone in the corner of a dark room. They presented themselves as Windy, Pinky and Schabe. Obviously names they had made up to cover their true identity. But although their names were meant to be funny, they themselves weren’t up to any kind of fun at all. The guy called Schabe was the serious type, constantly searching around in the dark for stuff he could examine closely: bottles, glasses, straws, shoes, pieces of clothes, used condoms, crumpled toilet paper. When he found something that seemed interesting, he would put it in a little brown shoulder bag as a souvenir. Windy, a woman for details, carefully listened to the sounds of people’s lust, watching their bodies, their movements, and how they kissed, touched, sweated and had sex while she made notes in a black notebook for professional and personal use. Meanwhile, the last one, Pinky, was the beer drinking type of guy with a big mouth full of too many words. He would sneak around in the room and interrupt people to ask them questions concerning their body, sexual preferences and experiences, how they felt when having sex and how bad you should be to get slapped in the ass. It seemed they had come to the dark room looking for something special. However, when the Great Dane asked them what they were doing, they at once started to sob all over him, complaining about some boring magazine of theirs and a life without meaning, a superficial self image which the magazine had created around them. It seemed as if they always ended up publishing the same tiresome stories written by the same self-righteous people for the same politically correct readers. And now they couldn’t distinguish between what the readers expected of them and what they wanted for themselves. This made them feel entrapped in a painful imaginary life, where the only possible escape was to hide in the dark rooms in Berlin’s clubs. Their greatest desire was to change the image of the magazine radically, to shake up their readers with exciting stories from the real world. But as always with ordinary people, editors as well as readers, they lacked the will to go the whole way. In fact they needed a good excuse to choose another path. They needed somebody who dared to show them the way forward. The Great Dane felt pity for them, which made him feel especially good about himself, because it meant that he had a chance to help somebody in need, thereby showing the world how great a person he truly was. Not only was he born with superior courage, intellect and imagination, but he had been running around in the great wilderness of nature his entire childhood, and was therefore immune to all the pitfalls of urban culture. Who other than himself could lead them towards a new and more meaningful life? He could already hear the wind of change blowing through the streets of Berlin. Yes, he would be honoured to be their excuse. Telling their readers about his great person and adventurous life. Showing them how the world actually should be. And hopefully getting them to follow the inscrutable ways of the Great Dane. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
Ich Bin Ein Berliner, Du Bist Ein Knödel
Around the world local cuisine is said to both reflect and shape the people. Many countries are famous for their culinary specialties. Some dishes even become powerful symbols, a self-image for a whole culture and a way to include or exclude others. But who decides what is hot and what is not? And why go bananas when the apple of your eye asks you not to spill the beans? Such significant issues will be properly dealt with as the Great Dane takes a look at Berlin’s great food culture. The Great Dane felt a great hunger coming. And that meant he soon would become weak and a pain in the ass to everyone. For like most of the world’s outstanding men and women, eating was an important part of what made the Great Dane so exceptionally great. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Which implied that the Great Dane had to eat great food. Lots of great food, or else he would begin to shrink and become a Lesser Great Dane, and such Danes were often not so nice – for they knew that they were far from as great as they wanted to be. The Lesser Great Danes could be recognized as those who: Disliked sharing with people different from themselves, hid in gated communities or behind high fences, would prefer their own kind to be the only kind, always complained about others good fortune, believed that everything could be measured in time and money, placed tracking devices on their children, believed that strength came from the humiliation of others, thought that global warming was a sign of human supremacy, believed that more was good and less was bad, and always took the last piece of cake. The Great Dane obviously didn’t want to end up like that, but he didn’t know where to get great food in Berlin. So he hurried out to find somebody who could help him before it was too late. He visited all of his friends, who usually were proud to serve him food. But it seemed that today was a day with a general lack of great food, love and understanding towards the Great Dane. By late afternoon he had become so hungry that he began to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable with his own great self. He knew this was the first sign of degradation into a Lesser Great Dane. In the middle of his despair, he suddenly heard the ring of a bell, and a bicycle rickshaw stopped next to him. He recognised the driver as the Mysterious Jew Boy whom he sometimes met in the early morning hours running around on Tempelhofer Freiheit stripped to the waist and singing old forgotten folk songs while carrying a spade. In the back of the rickshaw was the sexy and intellectual Street Fighter Girl. She had grown up on the streets of Berlin and now lived a double life, hunting bad street artists by night while studying at an elite art school by day. She used knives, kicked the guys in the balls, or talked peoples’ head off with deconstructionism, depending on her often capricious mood. They had heard a slick backyard bird make a beat about the Great Dane’s need and had now come to help him get some great Berlin food to eat. The Great Berlin Currywurst With the breath of God the Jew Boy drove the rickshaw through the streets like he wanted to reach the synagogue before Sabbath. In the meantime it was essential to keep up the Great Dane’s spirits, so on their way they drank some bottles of fine champagne that the Street Fighter Girl had won in a romantic balls-kicking-lovers-fight. First they introduced the Great Dane to the famous Berlin currywurst. He was told by the Street Fighter Girl that it was her great street protector Herta Heuwer who had invented it back in 1959, and that today 800 million currywurst were eaten every year in Germany, 70 million in Berlin alone, since the Berliners liked to eat currywurst all day long and also used it to keep warm. This was the reason why Berliners had such remarkable health and were so warm hearted. The Great Dane was obviously very excited to taste this popular dish, loved so strongly by the people. But there was so much more to this icon of German culture than the great taste. The whole ritual of preparing and serving the currywurst fascinated him. A specially developed wurst-machine was used to slice the sausage into equal sized pieces, after which it was served with the legendary curry sauce and a stroke of curry powder on a nice white paper plate with a little coloured plastic fork. When he asked nicely, he was even allowed to choose the colour of the fork himself. He preferred blue, as it reminded him of the clear blue sky of his childhood which ceded at the end of the day to the most beautiful curry-coloured sunset. They also made the obligatory visit to the Deutsches Currywurst Museum and followed here the curry sauce trail through the great history of the currywurst. And for five extra Euro at a currywurst stall overlooking the Reichstag, the Great Dane got served some interesting insider information about the currywurst’s influence on German politics: For example, that every currywurst eaten in public by a politician provided at least 100 votes, and that the Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was nicknamed the Currywurst Chancellor when he let himself be photographed together with ordinary people in front of a currywurst stall: Look, I’m a currywurst like you. Vote for me! But the Great Dane was warned not to venture too deep into the matter of currywurst and politics, for as Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of Germany once said: The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep at night. On their currywurst journey they visited eleven currywurst stalls where the Great Dane ate seventy two portions of currywurst and an unknown number of side dishes. Then it was time to change the menu and move on to: The döner kebab sandwich. The Great Berlin Döner Kebab sandwich In order to clear the taste of currywurst from their throats, on their way they drank some bottles of excellent cognac that the Street Fighter Girl had won in an I-either-love-you-or-hate-you-lovers-fight. She presented him with some historical facts: The döner kebab had been around since the 18th century and was one of Turkey’s national dishes. It was introduced to Berlin in the 1970s by Turkish immigrants, and had since become one of the most popular fast food products in Germany. With more than thirteen hundred döner stalls, Berlin was the döner capital of the world. Berliners liked to eat a döner kebab every time they went for a walk or just before taking a nap in the park. This was also the reason why Berliners were so courageous and strong – so the Great Dane was obviously very excited to taste this dish. But he had to wait just a little longer to do so, because the Street Fighter Girl wasn’t finished with her history lesson. According to legend, the popular döner kebab sandwich was invented in Berlin around 1971 by her great street mentor Mehmet Aygün, but others pointed out that before the döner kebab sandwich’s breakthrough Aygün had been a dishwasher at a kebab stall owned by Kadir Nurman, arguing that it was him who made the first döner kebab sandwich. Or maybe it had been someone else entirely. The fact was, there was an ongoing debate about who had really invented the döner kebab sandwich. Once in a while it even came to döner-kebab-street-fights between different factions of döner fanatics. It didn’t matter to the Great Dane who made the first döner kebab sandwich, where döner kebab originally came from or who washed whose dishes. He just wanted to satisfy his great hunger so he didn’t became a Lesser Great Dane, and after the Street Fighter Girl’s long history lesson he felt that he could eat a whole wagonload of döner kebab’s. The Great Dane was also introduced to the most thrilling card game, the Döner Berlin Quartett, where you play with döner kebab stall categories such as price, founding year, opening hours, number of seats, distance to Istanbul, number of Turkish brothers who ran the place. He thought it was such great fun that he decided to buy one thousand and one games so he could give one to each of his friends and also have one for himself. The Great Dane visited ten döner stalls and ate sixty-six döner kebab sandwiches and also tasted other variants such as the running döner kebab. Then the Jew Boy hurried them on because he had to return the rickshaw before Sabbath began at sunset. The Great Knödel Miracle The Great Dane could feel that his great hunger was on the retreat, even though he still would like to squeeze down a dish or two more just to be sure that there was no room left for the Lesser Great Dane. It turned out, however, that the Street Fight Girl had no ideas about what else they could eat, since she couldn’t imagine any Berlin food better than currywurst and döner kebab. They soon passed a small humble restaurant with a sign that said “The Knödel Miracle”. And without any notice, the Great Dane took the Street Fighter Girl and the Jew Boy by their noses and dragged them into the restaurant where they served Knödels and Miracles. The owner of the restaurant welcomed them and explained that the place once had been his humble home where he had gotten his start serving knödel for his friends once in a while in his living room. His knödels had however become such a success that he had expanded into his bedroom, which was why he now lived in another apartment. He told them about the mysterious ways of the knödel, also known as dumplings. Some people believed that the knödel dated from thousand of years ago, when it was dried and used on longer journeys. Today there were many variations of knödel. They could be sweet or savoury, filled with meat, herbs, or vegetables, or unfilled, but all knödels were balls of dough boiled in water. In Central European countries knödel had for many centuries been a common part of the cuisine. In the south of Germany, especially in Bavaria, the knödel had a special place in people’s hearts. It was even said that the secret behind Bavaria’s great wealth and success was that all people there ate knödel. For knödel was a dish for everyone. And now the knödel had come to Berlin.The official knödel border began south of Berlin, so that historically knödels have had to be smuggled into Berlin’s food culture. But people in Berlin were slowly beginning to get used to the presence of knödel. The Great Dane was obviously very excited to taste this old exotic dish that was a part of the south German people’s hearts and had helped them to succeed. He hoped that the Berliners would be as open hearted as he and welcome this great ancient dish. But just as the first knödels were put on the table, the Street Fighter Girl jumped up from her chair with a knödel in her hand, yelling that she was a true born Berlin street girl and would never become a primitive Bavarian peasant girl with her head stuffed with knödel. At first the Great Dane thought that she had become over-excited knowing she was going to taste knödel for the first time. He looked her into the eyes to calm her down and told her not to spoil the surprise. But this only made her condition worse. She held the knödel towards the owner of the restaurant, saying: Ich Bin Ein Berliner, Du Bist Ein Knödel! and then threw the knödel right in the owner’s face. In a moment the whole restaurant was transformed into one great knödel fight. From the kitchen people ran back and forth carrying buckets filled with knödel, throwing them at each other. People took cover behind tables, one side yelling: Ich Bin Ein Berliner! and the other: Ich Bin Ein Knödel! The Great Dane thought it was the end of the civilized world whereby all Great Danes would perish. Then a great miracle happened: the owner of the restaurant ended the fight by bringing forth thirteen bottles of good strong German schnaps, which everybody shared with great joy while they ate every one of the knödels from the fight. The Street Fighter Girl ate so many that her eyes in the end looked like two small sparkling knödels. The Great Dane also took part in the feast. He ate three and a half buckets of knödel, and a single sweet knödel with cinnamon for dessert. The remaining half bucket of knödel he saved for his breakfast the next day. It had been a long and exciting journey through Berlin’s great food culture. The Great Dane felt really great, and not lesser great at all, only a little tired. When they again sat in the rickshaw, the Street Fighting Girl put a blanket over him and gently stroked his hair, while the Jew Boy sang an old German folk song about the enjoyment of life, friendship and great food. Soon the Great Dane fell asleep. He dreamt of a blue sky with clouds of knödel and döner kebabs flying into a beautiful curry-coloured sunset. The Great Dane smiled in his sleep. It had been such a great day. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
Advice on Parenthood
Some people make their imprint on the world by constructing ideological or scientific systems, developing global business empires or making groundbreaking discoveries, while others create extraordinary objects of art, music and literature. The Great Dane, on the other hand, has chosen to follow the course of nature by giving his fertile semen to all women in need. In doing so, he bestows on the world many future generations of Great Danes. But whatever the means, whatever the goal, the difficult part is to follow through on one’s deeds. It was an early morning like so many other early mornings. The Great Dane woke up with one single cloudy thought in his head, so he drank what there was to drink in the flat, and soon the sun was rising, shining bright and clear. He gave the girl slumbering naked in the corner a quick straight-up-bye-bye, remembered on his way out to wish her good luck and advise her not to eat smoked salami or fish or too many sweets while pregnant. Then he went down to his car and drove with great haste to Teufelberg, the former cold-war listening post at the outskirts of Berlin, to visit his friend the ex-vegan bicycle builder at his workshop. Since the Great Dane’s return to Berlin, there had been so much going on that they not yet had managed to fall into deep conversation about his friend’s forthcoming parenthood. So today was going to be the first day of redemption. The Great Dane already had thousands of happy children dancing, laughing, and singing in the world’s great wilderness, so who else could enlighten his friend about parenthood on behalf of all humanity – or at least all the novice readers – whom we are pleased to inform that the Great Dane plans to write a book about just that topic, sharing his divine wisdom about parenthood and telling fabulous stories about all his magnificent children with their great beauty, strength, health, courage and intellect. Yes true it is, and totally free of charge, he has decided to give the first universal advice concerning parenthood. So read carefully, here it comes: Raising a strong and healthy child in a rough urban environment is not an easy task. But don’t despair! Even with the limited imagination which most of the world’s average parents possess, the task can be overcome. Follow the guidelines given by the Great Dane, and everything will be just fine. 1. It is expensive to feed a child, so remember to give it less and cheaper food than what you eat. 2. Too many children are weak and whining and have snotty noses. Therefore let your child stay out all day, the whole year in the fresh air. (This advice is not based on the experience of the Great Dane himself. He has only brought it up-to-date. Already in ancient Greece it was common knowledge that plenty of fresh air builds good character, spirit and stamina. And who other than the ancient Greeks would know?!?) 3. Adults may lie to survive, children may not! 4. Your child knows from birth that it’s not a finished product. It has to grow and evolve before it becomes fully human. That’s why every child wants to grow up fast. It can’t just wait and put up with being small, stupid and fragile. It wants to have more all the time. But time is money, and money doesn’t grow on trees like in the good old days of King Solomon. This is the harsh reality of nowadays, and something your child has to learn on its own. So the best thing would be to let it walk barefoot summer, autumn, winter and spring. This will also save you the cost of new shoes. 5. Inform your child of the many possibilities when playing with a wooden stick. 6. And most importantly: Save up to buy The Great Book Of Parenthood. Something that will help the Great Dane feed his many little Great Danes, who one day will inherit the world. The Great Book Of Parenthood will among other things give advice on: Heavy Drinking and Sleeping Peacefully Through the Night; Various Cures for the Burning Pain of Migraine; There Is Never Such a Thing as No Sex; To Be or Not to Be Wife Battering; One Hundred and Seventy-Five Strategies Concerning Quarrels; The Enjoyment of Being Alone for More than a Second; It’s Like Peeing in Your Pants; Peeing on Command; The Philosophy of Laxatives; What Could There Be in the Little Potty; How Much Can You Squeeze a Pet; The Hot Cooker Effect; The Amusement of Inventing Household Traps; Cunning Places to Hide the Biscuit Tin; Farting for Novices; Farting by Heart; Farting in the Name of the Father; Advanced Notes in Classical Farting; Various Ways of Leaving Your Child; Lying About Lying; Why There Are No Monsters in the Closet; The Use of Rusty Nails in Pillow Fights; The Excitement of Playing Ball Next to a Street; Why Children Should Always Drive Without Bicycle Helmets; How to Avoid Paying Pocket Money; When the Hands are Under the Duvet; In Every Dark Corner of the School Yard; Teaching Teachers to Like Your Child; Why Your Child is Very Special, and the Children of Others Are Not; The True Meaning of the Bees and the Flowers; Hair All over and in Certain Places; What Period?; How to Get Rid of Her New Boyfriend; Drinking for Good Health and Fortune with Your Son; Wine, Weed and Growing Whiskers; Eighteen and Over (the book will unfortunately only contain a superior passage about this topic, commonly known as the Afterlife of Parenthood, due to its doubtful existence. The Great Dane is instead considering writing a book about an almost similar topic: Life Without Children). (The Great Book of Parenthood can now be pre-ordered through this site. Postage will be added.) Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Great Berlin Citizenship Test
There are readers who have questioned the accuracy of the Great Dane’s writings about Berlin. Some have even called it bad fiction and a disgrace to Berlin, suggesting that he should “move his great Danish ass back home to the welfare womb where he was born.” Obviously, the Great Dane doesn’t appreciate such unfriendly attitudes. He wondered whether his critics even know what it means to be a real Berliner. What better way, it occurred to him, to distinguish the real Berliners from the fake Berliners, than to have a citizenship test? The Great Berlin Citizenship Test Are you smart enough to be a real Berliner? (Some questions have more than one answer. But if you are a real Berliner, you already know this!) What is essential for a real Berliner when going for a walk? 1. A pair of shoes 2. A cheap beer 3. A car Who said: “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy”? 1. Someone incredibly wealthy 2. David Bowie 3. Berlin’s former mayor Klaus Wowereit Who sets the price for a döner kebab in Berlin? 1. The mother of the brothers running the döner kebab stand 2. Supply and demand 3. It depends who is the current president of Turkey What does a real Berliner say when leaving a Späti? 1. Ciao 2. Auf Wiedersehen 3. Tschüssi Where in Berlin is it allowed to drink in public? 1. In your car 2. Everywhere: Drinking in public is a national heritage 3. On public transportation What is the Berlin Wall? 1. An expression for the low Berlin minimum wage 2. A place to pee when you really have to 3. A wall that divided East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989 What is the dress code for a real Berliner? 1. Black 2. Nothing too light 3. There is no dress code What is the average number of dogs per person in Berlin? 1. Two: one large and one small 2. Unlimited 3. Too many Which of the following is one of the largest sources of income for the city state of Berlin(?) 1. Creative industries 2. Tourism 3. Bavaria Where does a real Berliner drive his bicycle? 1. On the sidewalk 2. On the bicycle path 3. In the middle of the road How many bridges are there in Berlin? 1. Around 1.700 2. Around 1.100 3. Fewer than the number of lovers I have crossed What is a “Kampfradler”? 1. A peace activist 2. An aggressive cyclist 3. A special division within the German transport police Who was the governing mayor of Berlin in 2015? 1. Angela Merkel 2. Horst Seehofer 3. Michael Müller What is a real Berliner’s attitude towards contemporary art? 1. A better question would be: What is art? 2. It’s bloody brilliant, that’s what it is 3. I want my money back What can you find at Kantstrasse 101? 1. The monument of Herta Heuwer – the inventor of currywurst 2. The original copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason 3. Reality What is a Great Dane? 1. A large German breed of domestic dog 2. Something almost impossible 3. A figure from your dreams What is the number one Berlin tourist attraction? 1. A club 2. A bar 3. A Späti What is a real Berliner’s greatest weapon when facing bureaucracy? 1. Patience 2. Anger 3. Black magic How do you get an appointment at the Bürgeramt? 1. Pure luck 2. On the black market 3. Show up and waste your time What is a real Berliner’s relationship to German schlager? 1. It’s flirt guarantee! 2. I love Hansi Hinterseer! 3. Have you seen my mommy? What is Berlin’s greatest contribution to the world’s food culture? 1. The Döner Kebab sandwich 2. The Currywurst 3. The Berliner Who is the greatest Berliner of all time? 1. Bushido 2. John F. Kennedy 3. Marlene Dietrich What is the Third Reich? 1. A period of dictatorship in Germany from 1933 to 1945 2. The place where real Berliners go when they die 3. A precursor to the European Union What is the official slogan for Sternburg Beer? 1. Merke dir – Sternburg Bier 2. Sternburg Bier – Trinke Eins, pisse Vier 3. Sternburg Bier – Gönne Dir How does a real Berliner get into the club Berghain? 1. By being really drunk 2. By being very quiet 3. Real Berliners don’t go there What does “Haste mal ne Kippe” mean? 1. Did you get a haircut? 2. Do you have a cigarette? 3. Please pass me the salt! Where is the best place for a real Berliner? 1. In the stomach 2. In the cemetery 3. In front Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Great Crying Monkey
What is happening to the world? Is there no way to get rid of all the sad, dreadful things that corrupt our everyday life, turning friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours, lovers against spouses, dog against dog? Will there not come someone one day that is pure and mighty enough to bring about justice for us all – if not for all of God’s wondrous creations, then at least for the innocent and naive followers of the Great Dane? Hear me, dear readers: I say, there will! The Great Dane cried today. Turned his face into that of a crying monkey. Flushed out all the salty water in his mighty body, so that it flowed over the streets of Berlin. Never had the city been so clean and shiny before. Not even after the last economic crisis and the subsequent public thunder and righteous political rain had the sewers of Berlin been flooded so heavily with rubbish, stinky bollocks, itchy bitchy feelings, lice catching dogs with wet ears, nagging women, poor lonely devils, ever changing winds from government bottoms, Swedish furniture, aching feet, morning pimples, phantom backaches, selfish dog owners, reckless cyclists, angry drivers, spoiled children, stale beer, cheap cigarettes, substitutes for fat and sugar, old news, public repression, political scandals, tiresome commercials, thieves, thugs, rapists, bankers, insurance brokers, landlords, real estate developers, professional beggars, wannabe-artists, babbling bloggers, lying Catholics, radical Muslims, narrow–minded Jews, depressive Protestants and their work ethic, and sellers of too small shoes. And it happened to the stunned surprise of all Berliners. The reliable and holy weathermen had an especially tough day, having blessed the poor but sexy people of Berlin with the promise of punctual German sunny weather and no sight of teasing clouds. Hiding under the same umbrella on the day of the flood, they formed a shrill choir, calling the phenomenon Every Prediction Goes Down The Drain, advising every fertile soul to find a suitable partner and spend this Day of Judgement in bed. Meanwhile the business channels, seeing the possibilities with a calculating eye, advised their viewers to invest in producers of boats, pumps, umbrellas, buckets, rainwear, diving equipment, liferafts, life jackets, hair dryers, triple layer toilet paper, cleaning services, rescue services, salvage services, and tour operators specializing in destinations with long dry seasons. Also, the never ending soap opera, the New Berlin Airport, was eventually flooded. All those behind the stage saw now their chance to soap up for a good old coming-together washing of hands before they crawled to safety in their sink-proof bureaucratic limousine boats. Later, sailing cheerfully in champagne-soaked circles around Brandenburger Tor, they triumphally announced the forthcoming opening of the New Berlin Public Welfare-Bath with special blinking underwater-lighting, stewardess bikini water shows, plenty of tax-free shops, and exclusive diving trips to some forgotten utopia airport ruin – of course with a reasonable reduction in price for all good taxpayers. It rained so much that the hospitals reported instances of the rare Chinese Sponge-Effect – normally only experienced in the Year of the Jellyfish by Chinese men working in the rice-fields – in which testicles exposed to water for long periods of time swelled up to unbearable sizes, causing terrible pain and giving a new meaning to the expression He Got Balls. There were even rumours about an abnormal rise in birthrates of fishes, frogs, lobsters and snails born out of virgin wombs, attracting legions of hungry Catholic tourists in private water planes. But the headline that made the day, and almost brought forth a smiling sun, was when Chancellor Angela Merkel showed up to her briefing with The World Press in a wonderful new deep-brown bathing suit, declaring: Welch schönes Wetter! and answering all questions concerning the political consequences of the flood with: Nur ruhig! Ich bin eine sehr gute Schwimmerin! And then there was the question, that everyone tried to find an answer for: Why did the Great Dane cry? Had he been fatally hurt? Was he still boxing with bad love? Was it because of global warming and the insecure future of all beach owners, the threat to the Pacific Ocean atolls, the smell of sweaty Eskimos, the fate of all the innocent baby seals? Or was it something even more terrible and devastating? The truth is that the Great Dane did not know himself. It just felt good to cry, and for him, that was reason enough. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
Unter den Wunder-Bäumen
Mobility forms our lives and affects our environment. It is a fundamental human need and longing to be on the move and to experience the world. One of the technologies that has made the most distinct impact on our mobility is the car. For better or for worse the car has given us a strong feeling of individual freedom, it has transformed our conception of time and experience of place, our everyday lives, the way we consume and plan our cities. It also comes with a wide range of negative consequences such as pollution, accidents, social and urban segregation, and, more than any other technology, the car has a huge appetite for space. So maybe it’s time to rethink the way we understand mobility and go beyond a society that is primarily organized around the car. But who dares to challenge the individual freedom and change the way we are ‘on the move’? After the editorial team of the Magazine had returned from a conference in Japan arranged by the Asian Spiritual Bicycle Association (ASBA) the magazine’s headquarter in Neukölln was buzzing with ideas of how to make a better world. One of the most interesting aspects was the Holy Grail of Mobility. According to the ASBA’s Scripture of Ultimate Movement the grail possessed powers which could control the stream of mobility worldwide. Since the invention of the wheel the stream of mobility had filled the world with technologies that served the best of humanity – whereas the invention of the internal combustion engine and the car turned out to be a giant step towards total human degradation. Therefore it was of the utmost importance that the grail was found and its powers were used to get humanity back on the right track. To do so it required a hero who was pure of heart and who possessed the courage and strength to defeat the terrifying road monster which evil forces had put into the world to guard the grail. The question was, where could one find such a great hero? The editorial team of the Magazine had no doubt! There were only one who was great enough to fulfil this dangerous task. The Great Dane was sleeping as calmly as a child when the editorial team dragged him out of bed early in the morning. After a short briefing on the situation, they armed him with a copy of the Scriptures of Ultimate Movement, put him on an old bicycle and send him out on the dangerous quest to hunt down the terrifying road monster and conquer the Grail of Mobility. For about an hour he cycled around the streets of Berlin without having the slightest idea of what to do or what to look for. Then he decided to have a bicycle-beer-break at a Späti and look in the Scriptures of Ultimate Movement. He was at once thrilled by its great knowledge and historical accuracy. It stated: The precise time and place for the first appearance of the Holy Grail of Mobility is unknown, but through history the grail has appeared and disappeared in relation to man’s growing desire to control his own destiny. Several significant appearances of the grail occurred in the Great Migration Period from 300 to 800 AD – also refereed to as the Völkerwanderung – where its powers was used by Germanic and other barbaric tribes to invade Roman territory and reclaim the Roman Empire’s efficient network of more than 80,000 kilometres of paved highway stretching from Scotland to East Europe to North Africa and present-day Iraq. He finished another row of beers and then cycled on while thinking about the brave barbaric tribes outmanoeuvring the superior Romans and thereby changing the future of the world. He imagined himself as a fearful warrior holding the grail high in the air, paralysing legion after legion of Roman soldiers so his fellow warriors could liberate the people with ease and give them back their land. Afterwards he was celebrated as a great hero and songs and tales were made about him. The Individual Solution He began to feel exhausted, and stopped to rest his legs. While eating enough döner kebab to recover his strength he thought about how the powers of the grail best could be used. There seemed to be as many right solutions as there were people in the world. And no solution would fulfil the need for everybody. Some had to put up with what was best for the common good. The difficult question however, was not who should have the advantage and who should not – the challenge was who should be entrusted the power to make the decision? One of the brothers who ran the kebab establishment opened the window and greeted loudly a young man and a elderly woman coming out of a car near the pavement where the Great Dane was resting. When the woman passed the Great Dane she first looked at his old bicycle and then at him, saying: Young man, don’t worry so much. Instead, you should do like I told my sons … Get yourself a decent job so you can afford yourself a decent car. It will give you both a good wife and make your mother happy. An old bicycle won’t get you far in life. Still feeling exhausted and also confused about his quest to find the grail, the Great Dane could only agree. To have one’s own car wasn’t such a bad idea. It not only gave you a clear advantage concerning women and a variety of other purposes such as transportation of goods, protection from bad weather, cruising around with friends, going to the countryside, but it was also great when you was tired or just everyday lazy. On the other hand, cars were expensive. You had to work even more to afford paying of the loan, insurance, fuel, repairs, taxes, parking fees etc. That way the car reduced the individual freedom as it ate up time and money that otherwise could have been used to do other things. For many people it would instead be more efficient to bicycle, use public transportation, or even walk. The Great Dane felt himself trapped in a great paradox. For how could it then be, that the car had become the most popular means of transportation? In search for an answer, he looked through the Scriptures of Ultimate Movement. It said: Another important appearance of the grail happened over thousand years later in 1888 at the Black Forest – also known as Schwarzwald, the home of the famous cuckoo clocks – near the town of Pforzheim in south Germany. It was in the exact same area and year where Karl Friedrich Benz made the world’s first long distance automotive journey powered by an internal combustion engine. The true nature of the grail was however overseen and it was put on ordinary display at a local museum until it in 1932 was rediscovered by an amateur archaeologist and automotive enthusiast following the historical route of Karl Friedrich Benz. Later that year, a conspiracy was formed among the world’s major car manufactures and political interests in Europe and the United States to cover up the existences of the grail and abuse its powers to their own advantage. But although many resources were invested in transferring the powers of the grail to mass automotive production, the attempt failed. Instead the grail was remelted and disguised as an ordinary hubcab which was send around the world mounted on a special build car in order to make cars the dominant means of transportation. However, in the chaos of World War II the track of the grail – now referred to as the Holy Hubcap – was lost and since then there has been no official recordings of its whereabouts. This was indeed not good news for the Great Dane. The so called Holy Hubcap could now be everywhere, it could even be lost. The situation demanded help from somebody who had a higher insight in alternative mobility. The Political Solution He found his friend the ex-vegan bicycle builder in a Do-It-Yourself shop where he was busy finding enough building material and tools so he could be ready to receive his coming baby. Beside building cargo bikes the size of small houses his friend considered himself a traffic activist using his cargo bikes as an instrument to discuss traffic, transportation and air pollution in the city. To the Great Dane’s question if he thought that the Holy Hubcap should be used to free the world of all cars, he answered: I’m not into absolute solutions. In the real world there will always be more stuff which needs to come around than even the biggest cargo bike can carry. Cars should be part of the solution, so should a well planned public transport system, and separate car and bicycle traffic. So I believe it is a political question to find the right solution. Only by putting aside individual needs and longings will we be able to make a cleaner and better … The Great Dane was very excited. He couldn’t wait to help drag the baby out of the womb. He was already on his way out to saddle up his bicycle, when his friend kindly brought to his attention that this was not his task. It was of much greater importance not just for his baby but for all babies in the world that he fulfilled his quest for the Holy Hubcab and got humanity back on the right track. To encourage him, his friend promised that he would tell everything about the birth as soon as they met again – which could even be in the next Great Dane episode. Then they loaded all the tools and building material into a large van and off he went as fast as the engine could go. Once again the Great Dane was on his own, and he didn’t seem to have come any closer finding the Holy Hubcab or what its powers should be used for. He cycled on through the city feeling discouraged and just wanted to go home. When he passed Brandenburger Tor he looked up at the goddess Victoria sitting all mighty and powerful in her four horse-drawn chariot on top of the gate. What would she have done? For her it was not a matter of who had the right solution, it was about who had the courage and strength to be victorious. No one should be entrusted the power beforehand and have the exclusive privilege to choose what was right and what what wrong. In her perspective everybody was equal until they had proven otherwise. The Great Dane stopped his bicycle and bowed with respect for her wisdom. He felt somehow connected to her through a long life of hard struggles to show the world how great and righteous he truly was as a person. She seemed to approve of this, for he felt that she looked back at him, and just as she had inspired the heroes in ancient times she filled the Great Dane with hope and insight into all the marvellous things there would happen if he succeeded in his hunt for the Holy Hubcab. With her blessing he once again opened the Scripture of Ultimate Movement, and read: Following the global financial downturn in 2007-2008 and the automotive industry crisis in 2008–2010 a significant change in the balance of mobility came to its wakening on a world wide scale. Since, there had been reported an increasing numbers of cases in which hypersensitive cyclists around Europe had become spiritualized by some kind of unknown force. Extensive field studies conducted by high ranking members of ASBA suggest that these encounters most likely happened due to the nearby presence of the Holy Hubcap. Furthermore, when the different encounters were laid out correctly out on the Spiritual Map of Mobility it revealed that the Holy Hubcap for some years had been on its way up through Europe towards Germany, and that it probably soon would reach Berlin. It seemed that the Great Dane after all was closing in on the grail so his long journey soon would become fruitful. To celebrate his forthcoming triumph he began cycling back and forth through the Brandenburger Tor while he for each round joyfully greeted the goddess Victoria who was still watching him closely from the top of the gate. The Wheels Keep on Turning When he took an extra large turn outside the gate a fashionable looking car drove straight in front of him so he fell off his bicycle. There was a slight buzz and the back window of the car rolled down. A middle-aged man in a dark suite stared at him sternly and presented himself as the rightful owner of the great capital of Germany, truly elected by all its common people. He continued: “I can now see it is good that we did not make the mistake of a bicycle-friendly city after the failure of the car-friendly city.” The Great Dane was still in shock so he didn’t know what to answer. The politician raised his voice and said a little more moderately, but the Great Dane thought that the message remained the same in essence: “My dear fellow citizen, as you know it is important that we stick together. And we can only achieve that if we get going.” With a wildly ecstatic smile he made a sign to his chauffeur and the car roared as if it wanted to swallow the Great Dane alive. An ominous rumbling went through the Great Danes chest. Could this be the road monster that guarded the grail? And did he really have the strength and courage to defeat it? The car made a threatening move towards him, then it backed away quickly and send out a cloud of evil-smelling smoke while it drove off. In that same moment he felt the presence of a powerful spiritual force. With great speed he began to cycle down Unter den Linden knowing that the Holy Hubcap at last was within his grasp. The air around him was filled with the dreadful smoke and noise from the road monster accompanied by legions of other cars on the road. It made his lungs hurt, his eye began to water and he felt as the whole world was yelling into his ears. But nothing could distract him. Second by second he closed in on the road monster. He felt like a great hunter going straight for his prey, having only one thing on his mind: To hunt down the road monster and get the Holy Hubcap so he could change the destiny of the world. He heard an explosion and his bicycle stopped with a flat tire. In the distance he saw the road monster disappearing, and with it, also the spiritual force that shortly had filled him with clarity. Now only the smell and noise from all the other cars filled his head. With his last strength he dragged his damaged bicycle over to the side of the road and sat down under one of the elm trees. For a while he starred disillusioned at the cars that tirelessly sped past him in a world that kept on turning as usual. Then one of the cars stopped in front of him. It was the Intellectual Street Fighter Girl and the Mysterious Jew Boy. They had heard a used car dealer make a sales speak about the Great Dane’s grief and had now come to take him home. It was quiet inside the car and a sweet smell came from the Wunder-Baum hanging in the wind shield. It made him feel safe and calm as it kept the chaotic world on a safe distance. He leaned back and began to dream of a future where people would use their individual freedom to choose the best solution for everybody to be on the move and experience the world. But even so, it was tough for him to admit that he failed in his hunt for the grail and getting humanity back on the right track. Too late had he learned that there is a fine line between the hunter and the hunted. Nevertheless, this should not withhold the more sensible readers to saddle up their bicycles and continue the hunt for the terrifying road monster – one might even be successful in finding the Holy Hubcap of Mobility. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
This year the sun will shine just a little more and the birds will sing as they have never sung before for the Great Dane is in his generous mood.
THE GREAT DANE SAYS – TAKE WHAT YOU NEED Myself My youth My money back My dignity Your forgiveness That you come back Help to survive Bollocks The world More bass Perfect breasts An extra inch Longer joints Reality Imagination Time travel Grown up kids Laxative Psychoanalysis The Great Dane A hundred and ten percent A lover A friend A new partner Better sex A real orgasm A lobster A life A job A toilet, now!!! A less complex world A kick in the ass A large drink
There is more to take at: www.justanotheralterego.com
Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde
The Birth of a Real Berlinner
Life is a miracle. From the beginning of time life have had all odds against it. Birth in itself is a bare struggle between our specie’s ability to survive, each of its individuals’ will to be, their lust for life and the endless coincidences of the universe which are beyond our control. We as human beings are small and fragile. We often feel helpless, lost and alone, why it is in our nature to seek out companionship whereby we can find comfort and meaning in our lives, and perhaps even get a chance to create new life that will enrich the world. But then, everything considered, it is not always enough to feel appreciated and loved, to be part of something greater than yourself, sometimes you need to know when to let go and find the path in life that is just the right for you. It was a day of great temptation in the great city of Berlin. The Great Dane was on a series of dates trying to overcome his failed quest for the Holy Hubcap of Mobility. In the middle of the main course: A pair of smooth legs, some damn hot breasts and a tight ass his phone began to ring like an ecstatic church bell. He knew at once that it was his friend the former church boy and now ex-vegan bicycle builder – so the penetrating sound from the phone could only mean one thing: The baby had at last been delivered to them from the fancy looking Virgin Mary’s womb. Without hesitation he pushed aside the damn hot breasts, climbed on top of the tight ass, and slid down the pair of smooth legs to grab his phone beside the bed. He heared the excited voice of his good friend accompanied by the loud sound of a human siren in the background announcing a new epoch in life: Parenthood. Then the crying stopped. His friend whispered anxiously: You must come at once … and then hung up. The Virgin Mary’s Sweet Milk The Great Dane entered his friend’s place in a haste – ready to help, ready to assist, ready to fulfil the newborn’s every wish. He found, however, the newborn sleeping calmly and satisfied next to the fancy looking Virgin Mary. They both seemed so blissful, so relieved of all life’s burdens. Everything around them was a mess. The entire flat resembled a human disaster. Randomly spread all over the place was dirty clothes, smelly diapers, stinky dishes, old tainted food, piles of empty beer bottles and pizza trays, mounds of chocolate and bonbon wrappers, heaps of unread mail and newspapers, stacks of torn up cardboard boxes and half-used building material, a countless number of misplaced tools, and a layer of sawdust covered every surface. His friend sat in the middle of the chaos, hanging onto an armchair while sipping to a beer. When he saw the Great Dane he smiled, exhausted. Since the birth he had been very busy building up their new home, and at the same time trying to satisfy the endless needs of the newborn and its mother. So he was really glad to see the Great Dane for there were such important things for them to do. As a start, he wanted the Great Dane to help clean up the place before his Virgin Mary woke up and invoked her wrath on him. A feeling of bottomless despair seized the Great Dane and tried to turn his attention toward a quick exit through the front door. The only reason he had returned to Berlin in the first place was to help his friend find the difficult way through parenthood. But cleaning was the last thing he had imagined – although somewhere in his great clouded mind he sensed some similar situations with all the women he had lived with just before he left them, or was thrown out. His friend saw the disappointment in his face, and said, to cheer him up that if he was a good boy and helped, perhaps the Virgin Mary might be so grateful that she would let him taste some of her sweet milk. That indeed seemed to be a great deal for the Great Dane. He knew from a long life of experience with young pregnant women that the milk following a virgin birth could raise your courage, strength and sexual potency considerably, and in rare cases it even turned your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom. So with the Great Dane’s newly found enthusiasm the cleaning went more swiftly than a holy miracle. Just as they had finished the Virgin Mary woke up from her beauty sleep and came into the living room. They both stared expectantly at her, the Great Dane on her swelling breasts and his friend at her tired face waiting for her immediate reaction. She looked suspiciously back and forth between them, and said: What are you two boys up to? Hopefully you’re not up to any trouble. It is enough with one baby that sucks everything out of me. Her husband kissed her quickly, and assured her that everything was as it should be. If she wanted he could even give her a nice foot massage and perhaps the Great Dane could tell them about his latest great adventure – as long as she was happy, he was happy. The Great Dane thought that this was an excellent idea while waiting for the Virgin Mary to get filled up again so he could have some of her sweet milk. But before he managed to begin his story, the doorbell rang. The Guests Brought Presents It was the intellectual and sexy Street Fighter Girl and the Mysterious Jew Boy. They had heard a crazy preacher speak about the birth of a new real Berliner, and would now like to sneak a peek and give the child their blessings. As a recognition they brought presents. The Street Fighter Girl had with her a packet of very salty crackers which she had won in a till-death-do-us-part-street-fighter-match. The last words from her opponent before he lifelessly hit the pavement was: They are extra salty. So promise me to share them wisely. Also the Mysterious Jew Boy brought a present. He handed over a long brown packet with a nice red ribbon. It contained his favourite shovel, with which he made his first attempt to dig up the greater meaning of life. And did you ever find it? said the Street Fighter Girl with a gloating face. Not yet. The meaning of life seems to be hidden under tons of rubbish, and layer by layer of deception and illusions. Not to forget your own delusions, added the Street Fighter Girl. That’s why I need the newborn’s help. It has just come out of Virgin Mary’s sacred womb and has not yet been contaminated by the world’s filth, decay and betrayal. It is as pure as the water taken straight from the fountain of life. Together we will one glorious day dig up the great meaning of … The Street Fighter Girl jerked hard in his big Jewish nose and told him to stop talking rubbish. The newborn should not be degraded to a simple hole digger. It should be trained in the martial arts and specialize in the most lethal weapons, so it, together with her, could clean out the streets of Berlin of all its injustice, corruption and dirty bollocks. They began to argue loudly, but were interrupted by the newborn’s parents who thanked them for the presents and said that they had to wait to see the baby, as it still slept. The Great Dane now saw his chance to tell them about his latest great adventure, which he hoped would please the Virgin Mary so much that she would let him taste some of her sweet milk. But just as he got their attention, the doorbell rang. It was the three editors of the Magazine. They had heard an anonymous source speak about the birth of a new real Berliner, and would now like to meet the sensation and spread the news. As a recognition they brought presents. The guy called Schabe had collected various kinds of used baby accessories such as well chewed pacifiers, a broken rattle with dark red stains, a heavily filled diaper, the crooked wheel from a baby carriage, the one eyed head of a toy rabbit, a baby shoe filled with mud, the faded photography of a baby and its proud mother, and the crown of the collection: A device with a real crying baby inside. He proudly handed it to Virgin Mary and asked her if she could try to comfort the unhappy baby. She pushed a button on the device and the baby immediately stopped crying. Schabe was impressed. Windy, which always had an eye on every detail, had filled out one of her black notebooks with observations of babies such as their often random body movements, their shape and resting positions, their smell and the consistency of their droppings, which clothes they wore, the colour, fabric, brands, and a long detailed list of various baby expressions and their parents’ counter-reactions, which she one day hoped could form the foundation for a baby-parents dictionary. And the last member of the editorial team, Pinky, the always jolly and half-full-glass-type of guy, had brought a pack of beer, which they of course all should share, since the newborn was not ready to enjoy the more fun side of life yet. The newborn’s parents thanked them for the presents and said they had to wait to see the baby, as it still slept. Once again the Great Dane saw his chance to relate his latest great adventure, so he hopefully soon could get a mouthful of the Virgin Mary’s sweet and delicious milk. But just as he got started the others wanted to hear about the newborn’s birth. That is a great idea, said the newborn’s parents, and they began to tell at once. The Birth of a Real Berliner It was a beautiful morning with a feeling of life and happiness floating in the air. The ex-vegan bicycle builder was relaxing in bed with another round of coffee and his favourite chocolate croissant while watching his beloved Virgin Mary making her pregnancy yoga exercises on the floor. Next door their old-guy neighbour threw one of his wild 24-hours-life-affirming-still-being-young-flashback-marathon-drinking-parties for the usual crowd of come-a-long-drunken-friends, where he often in the early morning hours had gotten so much booze through his system that he either fell asleep on the floor or his diaper leaked and filled his apartment with an acrid smell, so his guests left in a hurry taking all his booze with them. But such was life: You were born to wear a diaper and ended up dying wearing one. In between you only had a few precious moments to have the best going in and the best going out of yourself. This had become clear to their neighbour on his old days and it would also become clear to the ex-vegan bicycle builder and his Virgin Mary this extraordinary lovely day. For as the Virgin Mary slowly slid into the so called yoga-turtle position, the labour pain began, causing her to shout loudly at her husband. He thought that his wife was dissatisfied with him as usual, and jumped out of bed, grabbed his drilling machine and proceeded with his rebuilding of the apartment, so it soon could serve as their new decent and proper home. The Virgin Mary, however, seemed not to be satisfied at all, but yelled at him again – this time much louder. So he threw his tools away and tried to calm her often unpredictable mood by lighting a couple of candles, play a piece of romantic music and start cooking one of her favourite dishes. But for some unknown reason this only made her dissatisfaction worse. With great difficulty she got on her feet, and groaning like an insane woman she came into the kitchen, where she took a hard hold of her husband’s arm and shouted that he should call the hospital at once: For the baby was kicking really hard to get out. If it had been me, the Street Fighter Girl interrupted, I’d have kicked back so the little troublemaker had come straight out of the Virgin Mary’s butt. Nobody wanted to comment on that, so the parents continued their story. While they waited for the ambulance to arrive, the ex-vegan bicycle builder ensured that they had all the necessary things for the hospital and tried the best he could to make his wife comfortable. Then the party music at their old-guy neighbour stopped, and the doorbell rang. It was one of the drunken party guests asking if they could keep an eye on the old fellow. His diaper had leaked onto the floor while he was dancing, and unfortunately he slipped in the pee, hit his head and passed out. The party now moved on to another place since nobody wanted to dance with pee on the floor, but they should thank him for the booze when he woke up, or maybe, the drunken guest suggested they should take him to the hospital, because he hit his head really bad. Then he left with the rest of the party, and when the ambulance arrived a few minutes later after the Virgin Mary, she decided to step aside so their old neighbour could come to the hospital. The Ballad of the Fire Brigade Another ambulance was at once called for. And in the meantime, the ex-vegan bicycle builder helped his Virgin Mary do some relaxing and pain reducing yoga exercises. In the middle of the difficult transition from the crocodile position to bunny position, heavy boots came stomping up the stairs, and before they could answer the doorbell the fire brigade had broken down their door and crashed into their living room. They had been called by someone who said that an old fellow lay helplessly on the floor in a puddle of pee. It was as they could understand, the chief of the fire brigade explained, a very critical situation that demanded their fully cooperativeness. So, if they could immediately show them the way to the person in question. The ex-vegan bicycle builder explained that the person in the puddle of pee was their old neighbour, but they were too late, he had already been taken to the hospital by an ambulance. The firefighters had however no such notification in their system, only that an ambulance had taken a pregnant women to the hospital from this address. And since an old fellow’s life was at stake, there were no time to discuss the details of circumstances. In order to avoid harming the old helpless fellow when breaking down his door, they needed right away to have unreserved access to their balcony, so they could use it to climb over to the person in question’s balcony and enter his apartment safely from here. Without waiting for permission, the whole fire brigade stomped out on the balcony. Within minutes they had all climbed from one balcony onto the other and entered the old fellow’s place, which they to their great surprise found empty: The old fellow was, as they had been told, gone. It made the firefighters quite annoyed, and they broke out through the old neighbour’s front door, surrounded the ex-vegan bicycle builder, and warned him not to waste public servants’ valuable time, when there was a whole world out there that desperately needed their assistance. So when the new ambulance arrived to take the Virgin Mary to the hospital, the firefighters simply ignored all objections and send the ambulance away since the old man was not at home and they had been notified that the pregnant women already was on her way to the hospital. And furthermore, to teach the ex-vegan bicycle builder that they meant it seriously, he was ordered to clean up the old man’s apartment, saying they would come back later to see if it was done properly. Then they left, leaving the neighbour’s door open and broken, so the whole staircase stank like someone’s sour bottom. If it had been me, the Street Fighter Girl interrupted, I’d have kicked the whole fire brigade down the stairs and then taken their fire truck. The others agreed on that, and the parents continued. The Virgin Mary now really needed to get going. Her labour pain was increasing strongly, and the baby did not care about old-guy neighbours, firefighters, ambulances or hospitals: It just wanted to get out and seize life. However, when they called for a third ambulance their request was refused, since there already had been sent two ambulances and a fire truck to the address. It was also not possible to get a taxi in time, so what should they do? Eventually, the Virgin Mary crawled up on one of her husband’s large cargo bikes and he then himself drove her to the hospital. Later that day she delivered a healthy new real Berliner which all the doctors and nurses said looked like the most lovely little angel they had ever seen. The story was over, the Virgin Mary kissed her husband, and he took her hand and kissed her back. She was very proud of all the courage and strength he had shown that day, saving her and the baby. All the guests felt their love and warmth, and smiled happily. If it had been me, said the Street Fighter Girl, I’d have done exactly the same. In the Bottom After the parent’s story they had some refreshments in the living room and at last the Great Dane got everyone’s attention. So while they enjoyed some beers and salty crackers he told them about his latest great adventure, until a harsh smell began to spread from the new real Berliner’s bottom. Everyone hurried over to see what was wrong, and were relieved when the parents showed them that the smell came from the content of the diaper. The guests looked with great interest while the parents washed the new real Berliner so its baby-bottom got its natural colour and fragrance back. Soon they all forgot the presence of the Great Dane and he realised it was time for his exit. The new real Berliner had changed the balance of the world and for years to come it would attract all the attention – something that it was impossible for the Great Dane to compete against. He left the living room in silence and put on his shoes and coat. Maybe one of his dates still had time for him. It would be nice having someone to lean on, to share life with, like his friend and his Virgin Mary, like a family. He suddenly felt fragile like a lonely child. Maybe he should stay? Maybe they still needed his help, maybe he could even live together with them? He turned around in the hallway, sneaked back and looked into the living room: They were all naked as mother nature once had created them. Happily dancing around they handed the baby from arm to arm between them while there was a beautiful sound of bouncing bottoms. The Great Dane nodded his head in recognition. The new real Berliner was in good hands. Just Another Alter Ego is a series of articles about a bumpy road trip into an urban utopia: not one still to come, not one that someday may be, but one that already is the hard, thrilling and colourful hyperreality of life in our cities.
Story © Steen Frank
Illustration © Sally Wilde