Rafael

Jul. 14th, 2005 04:04 pm
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[personal profile] paulonleave

Sunday morning:  there I was, standing in Lothar's kitchen in my underwear, bleary-eyed, trying to measure coffee into the coffee maker, when I noticed that Rafael was gesticulating expressively in his kitchen window across the courtyard.  When he saw that he had my attention, he used his whole arm to beckon to me.  I shook my head, puzzled.  Then he made that "internationally recognized hand sign for 'telephone'."




I had been up late the night before, getting better acquainted with Berlin night-life, and I had just gotten up.  I didn't know whether Lothar was still asleeep or not, so I was trying to be quiet.  Seconds after Rafael made his sign, Lothar's telephone began to ring.  It took a couple of rings for me to realize that Lothar was not in his room (where the phone was), and a couple more for me to realize that Rafael was calling me.  By the time I got to the phone, the answering machine had kicked in, and Lothar himself was saying, "Paul, pick up the phone.  Rafalito wants to talk to you." 

Rafael is Lothar's ex-boyfriend.  In a setup that would be perfect for a sitcom or a soap opera, he lives directly across the courtyard from Lothar:  same floor, a mirror-image apartment.  With the windows open in each apartment, one could almost converse without shouting.  Rafael was among the group of guys at the table when I met Lothar.  (He is, in fact, the Cuban that I referred to in my posting on Lothar.)  Last Thursday, I arrived at Lothar's apartment around 7 pm, and he and I went for dinner to a little restaurant called, in German of course, Bread of Mercy.  Rafael joined us, partly, I think, to see me again, but mostly to provide ballast for Lothar if I turned out to be an asshole.  But we all hit it off quite well, so much so that before the meal was finished, Rafael had invited me and Lothar to his apartment for dinner on Saturday night.

Rafael works as a translator.  He came from Cuba to the then East Germany to study, and made a life for himself in Berlin.  He and Lothar met years ago and obviously remain very close friends even though they are no longer boyfriends.  Other qualities the Rafael exhibited during my weekend in Berlin:  he is an uncommonly good cook; as a raconteur, he frequently had me laughing so hard that tears would flow and my throat would ache; he loves Latin American music and can sing along with the greatest Brazilian and Cuban divas;  he dances with jaw-dropping sensuality; and he is hopelessly romantic.  What do I mean by romantic?  Friday morning, he left two red roses in front of Lothar's door, one for Lothar and one for me.  He also offered to lure my Bob to Berlin and poison him so that I could marry him instead.  (I think he was joking....)

Dinner on Saturday evening was spectacular:  he had baked two loaves of bread, one stuffed with bacon, one with olives, and made a cold tomato soup, a shrimp risotto and an arugula salad.  For dessert we had vanilla ice cream with guava sauce. 

All in all, I probably saw almost as much of Rafael as I did of Lothar.  On Saturday night, I ended up staying at Rafael's for while, talking, after Lothar went home.  Then it turned out that the gesturing and the phone call on Sunday morning were all about inviting me to join him and Lothar for breakfast at his place, which I did.  Then, after breakfast, Rafael lent me a bicycle and the three of us rode off to Tiergarten, a big park in the centre of Berlin, where we stripped down to our, well, to our bathing suit (Rafael) or to our nothing-at-all (Lothar, me and about 70% of the sunbathers in the park.)  It was fun in the park, particularly since I ran into almost everyone I had already met in Berlin, plus a bunch of new people who are friends of Rafael's and/or Lothar's. 

Lothar stayed in the park for a while with his friend Mattias, but Rafael and I wrote home together.  After we locked up the bikes, we said our goodbyes.  I didn't speak to him again, but I saw him eating dinner by himself in his little kitchen while I was cooking a rather bad meal of rice, chicken and sauteed peppers for myself and Lothar.  When I left for the train station on Monday morning, Lothar and Rafael had both already left...

Next:  Berndt (and the anti-circumcision woman)

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Paul Leonard

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