Behold our favorite restaurant in Heidelberg, namely because it sits next to our building and it serves the most "edible" German fare we can find. The goat cheese salad is to die for and they just came out with their ice cream menu for the summer. And Germany is *not* minimalist when it comes to their sundaes. But I can forget about all that because it employs stalking waiters. In fact, I think we may have to move.
For our first 129 dinners, Ryan and I were able to remain anonymous. After that, I imagine we probably graduated to the title of "The Americans." Then they employed a certain waiter, we'll call him Stalker, who took a certain liking to us, but I didn't think much of it because Stalker can't speak English and our German isn't good enough to carry a conversation. Then one magical night a group of 20 Americans crashed the place. So upon seeing the panic in Stalker's face, I offered, "I can help if you want," which I didn't really think he'd take me up on because we had just finished dinner. But he did. And that was silly, really, because any number of Germans in the restaurant were capable of speaking much better English than I was of speaking German. This situation is a much longer and more complicated story than is worth hearing, but let's just say that at the end of the night, even *I* got a tip.
After that I was Stalker's best friend. I couldn't pass the freakin' place without Stalker running out from behind the fence to greet me. Some unsocial days I would cross the street *first* and walk on, yet out came Stalker, seizuring over my "chance" appearance in the same neighborhood. And it was sweet...for a while. Then we'd have dinners where Stalker would put in our order and come back to us for a little Wie geht's chit-chat and stand there in that contrapusto way that made you wonder if you should invite him to sit down since conversation had lulled. But he crossed that "just your server" threshold when he invited me to have coffee on his break. Despite my successful explanation that I only had a couple of minutes because I, myself, was on break from class (German class is only a building away) he possessed super-power abilities to look as though I had killed his bottle-fed kitten. With the urgent need to get back to class I agreed I'd stop by after class.
At the time I was developing some awareness of his stalker tendencies (because why else would I choose to cross the street?) but the presence of his girlfriend was a relief because it more clearly characterized him as "eager friend" stalker and not in the "slimy hornball" variety. She's perfectly nice and intelligent; coffee was great but post-coffee began my epidemic of broken promises. Actually I wouldn't say they were promises that I made to Stalker but coffee was when he started making deals, centering around the idea that our friendship would be the ultimate learning experience: You bring your homework here, I will help you learn German and you teach me English. A TV big-wig will discover us and decide to produce a reality television show about our experience. One of us will win a million dollars from dominating various physical challenges in the midst of our language acquisition, but we'll split it because we're the bestest of friends. Because the world will be so taken with our magnetic personalities and will to succeed, we'll become celebrites for a couple of months, do our tour of the talk-show circuit, "write" our individual books with titles that allude to our secret lives during the taping of the show, if not blatantly titling one of them My Secret Life During the Taping of the Show, profit off of our subsequent uncensored "behind the scenes" DVD and the regular series release for a couple of years, only to have our faces immortalized in the non-selling, overstocked auctions of Ebay.
He said come tomorrow after class and I said okay. I didn't go. I walked around the block to be able to avoid him and enter my building from the opposite side. I let a week blow by before allowing us to go to dinner and interaction was a little strange. Enough to make my ass clench but apparently not his because he *told* us we would meet him the following week for his birthday. We showed up one night for the birthday and he showed up the next night (misunderstanding), irate that we weren't there...of course I ran into him on my way out to pick up some dinner and he demanded we come down right away to have a drink with him on his birthday. That awkwardness lasted almost 4 hours. He tried to invite us over for BBQ because we *accidentally* revealed that we like grilling, but we lied and said that we were leaving for Italy a couple of days earlier than we actually were, which led us on many occasions to, again, hike around the entire block instead of taking the normal two-minute route. And really the rest of the story simply goes that on some confident days when I'm craving a goat cheese salad, I go, he invites me to coffee the next day and then I don't show up, and then he sees me on the street and we have an awkward interaction. It's become a cycle. And I think it's time to lay it to rest......even if it means I have to take the long way home for the rest of my life here.