I sat alone in my favorite German bakery, sipping my coffee, typing on my iPad, watching the flow of the crowd. Small shop. Five or six folks is a multitude. The shop clerks scurried. Oven doors slammed. Essence of bread floated through the air.
An older man walked in and sat at the table next to mine. Only three tables in the place. I’d spoken to him on occasion, so I murmured a quick “Morgen,” and went back to typing.
He smiled and forced a conversation. “Blah, blah, Berlin, black, blah, blah.” Clearly he expected an answer.
I didn’t disappoint. “What?”
“In Berlin,” he said in German. “The President. Black blah, blah, blah.”
“Nein, nein, nein!” His irritation showed he knew he was talking to a fool. “California,” he blurted.
I only knew two Presidents from California. “Reagan?”
“NEIN!” It appeared he was about to crap his pants and fling a healthy handful my way.
“NEIN!!!” A handful wasn’t going to do the job. He was going to have to scamper out to the car and retrieve his shotgun.
“The GOVENOR! CALIFORNIA!” Curious onlookers started taking bets.
“Jerry Brown?” An ambulance was called in case this guy didn’t make it.
“CALIFORNIA! GOVENOR! BLACK blah!”
Relief flooded the crowd. My conversationalist mopped his brow.
“In Berlin,” he said, his face beginning to fade from red back to winter white.
“Film,” he said, staying in German, trying his best to keep it on my imbecilic level. “Lots of money.”
“German is hard,” someone muttered. Small comfort. Some of the women had tears in their eyes. Tears of pity for the demented foreigner who could only speak in single syllables and barely knew about the greatest German ever. Except he’s from Austria. And he isn’t the President.