A once in a lifetime opportunity.
If you asked Dante, there are many kinds of hell. The flatterers, the sorcerers, the hoarders and even the lustful have their own layers. And so they should. Participants in one of the seven deadly sins, the lustful are responsible for harrowing tale I am about to share.
It was the fall of 1992. I was nineteen, and the walking, talking definition of naÃ¯ve. I looked to be about twelve years old and had made the audacious decision to bring nothing but tie-dyed hippie skirts and a yellow velvet tuxedo jacket on an eight month-long backpacking trip through Europe and Northern African. Worse, I was – typical American – monolingual save some high school French.
I had been backpacking on my own for several months. I had about $80, the world’s worst Army/Navy store external frame backpack, and a crumpled Eurail pass. Due to my enduring poverty, I had slept on the night trains each and every evening for the last six weeks. If you’ve never had the pleasure, let me summarize it for you this way: You awake from a terrible nightmare, breathe a sigh of relief, realize your face is hermetically sealed to a naugahyde seat, let out a low moan, and try to fall back asleep.
As for the destinations, my selection process was haphazard at best. I’d arrive at the train station, assess my options, perform some sort of sleep deprived calculation, and board whatever moved me. Although I’ve never tried to plot it, I’m confident there’s Spirograph art less frenetic than my route.
So it follows that on this particular October evening, I’d spent the day in Munich kicking around the Deutsches Museum. After tearing myself away from the exhibits on metallurgy and amateur radio, I opted for a night train for Frankfurt. I boarded, found an empty car, and tucked in for the night. Several hours later, I awoke to find that a young British man – ‘reading’ a doorstop-sized Shakespeare anthology upside-down – had joined me. When he realized I was staring at him, he began to intone, ““What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
I rolled over and faced the wall. Seemingly realizing his window of opportunity was closing, he ventured to propose the ridiculous. “Have you heard the stories about strangers who meet on a train and spend the night making passionate love?” He raised an eyebrow and continued, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
I groaned, got up, and began to gather my stuff. “Maybe it is for you, buddy, but I needn’t jump at the first pseudo-intellectual pathetic offer of the evening. At least buy a girl a stiff drink.”
Annoyed, I stumbled through the train in search of another room. By this point, the coaches had filled up considerably, and I passed several compartments overflowing with jolly Germans swilling beer and slurring drinking songs. I could be mistaken, but I may have even seen some lederhosen. Unfortunately for us all, I wasn’t in the mood.
Eventually I came upon a quiet cabin where two young men were sleeping. The one closest to the window was clad entirely in black and had something of a death metal look about him. A young Alice Cooper, if you will. The guy sleeping on the middle seats was blonde and wearing a German army uniform. The third spot, closest to the door, was wide open. I stashed my bag, pulled off my hiking boots, and quickly fell asleep.
I’m not sure how much time had passed when I slowly started to wake. I sat up, confused, and looked around. The room was dark, and the train was gently rocking toward Frankfurt. As I realized it was still the middle of the night, I suddenly sensed that my socks were off. Wasn’t I wearing them when I fell asleep?
I glanced at the German soldier next to me. In the moonlight streaming through the window, I could see him hurriedly fidgeting with his pants. At this time, I recognized my feet were cold. And kind of…wet. Our roommate must have noted the sudden activity and awakened. Alice Cooper Jr. was sharper than I was. He quickly assessed the situation, realized what was going on, and decided to freak out. Although not entirely sure of the etiquette or protocol, I found myself joining in. Soon thereafter, a conductor appeared.
With the exception of some basic phrases, my German is non-existent. That stated, I’m not entirely sure what transpired between my new paramour, my heavy metal roommate, and the train conductor, but I have a clear recollection of the phrase, “Aussteigen! Aussteigen!” (which I believe more or less translates to “Get off!”) being shouted repeatedly as the soldier was drug from the room.
I crouched into a small ball – careful to keep away from my own feet – as Private FÃ¼sse was drug past. As he crossed through the doorway, the soldier pulled back and reached above for his backpack. I glanced up and noted with a fair amount of irony – albeit without much surprise -that he had a big pink footprint patch sewn to the front of his pack. Have foot fetish, will travel.
Have you heard the story about the young girl and the German soldier who meet on a train, and he jacks off on her feet while she’s sleeping? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity…