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Monday, May 21, 2007

Four Days with Papa Schmidt

Papa Schmidt arrived in Hamburg on Friday evening. He wanted to come on Thursday, but I convinced him otherwise, because—even though he is a one-of-a-kind fellow—I was unsure of how/if I was going to be able to survive his company for four days.

However, the thing about Papa S. that some of you may not know is that he is some kinda freaking evil genius…because even when you try to outfox him, he will find some way around it. I found this out when he announced shortly after his arrival that he intended on staying until Tuesday. I shaved off one day—he added two more. That’s just how P. Schmiddy rolls, mayne…

The way I figure it, Papa Schmidt is about seven different types of what I’m going to call "Old Man Crazy". Don’t misunderstand me, it’s really a term of endearment. If I were, for instance, to call him a "Crazy Old Man"?! Now, that would be a whole 'nother thing altogether.

Old Man Crazy: has nostalgic flashbacks of days past, when people were honest, hard-working and grateful for a dry piece of bread to eat and a single lump of coal to stay warm

Crazy Old Man: flashes his naked back (best case scenario) or front (Worst. Case. Scenario. Ever) at you and honestly works hard to try and give your coat a single hump to stay warm. Then, he gets upset when you’re not grateful.

See the difference?

"Old Man Crazy" is pretty much the only thing that men have to look forward to once they hit a certain age. This is just my personal theory, which happens to be based on every single old guy I know. It’s very much subject to change—especially after all my guy friends are more or less way old and past their prime—complete with wrinkly(-ier?) balls, gray pubes and the like… **I’ll let that sink in a bit** :-D

Annnnnnnyway, I think my point is…by then I think I’ll have collected enough evidence to either support or disprove this theory.

Wait? Where was I? Oh yes, "Old Man Crazy" and how that is what Papa Schmidt is (x 7).

When Papa Schmidt comes to town for a visit, you can’t just expect Papa Schmidt and an overnight bag. He travels with an entourage comprised of the following: a travel freezer/cooler full of pre-made, homecooked meals (yum); a box full of random stuff that someone may or may not need at some point during his visit (Who knows? There just might be a rice shortage in Hamburg that I didn’t know about, maybe the Aldi-rice in Dortmund is just better); approx. one month’s worth of clothes and toiletries; his briefcase; a very large German-English dictionary; and maps galore (and I’m talking about places that we couldn’t even possibly think about driving to in his Ford Fiesta).

Let’s go through the crazies one-by-one, shall we?

(Click Below for More)


So, Papa Schmidt arrives at the apartment around 6pm. The first thing we have to do after his arival is unload the contents of his car. It’s a lot of stuff, so we take the elevator. We get in, the doors close and the elevator…elevates. Papa Schmidt, however, was skeptical for the entire ride.
"Are we moving? I don’t think we’re moving. Press the button again, because I don’t think this thing is moving. If the doors don’t open, we might be trapped, Raven."

He remained in doubt the whole way up, which isn’t even very long to begin with. Still, he wouldn’t believe me until the doors opened and he could see with his own eyes that we were no longer on the ground floor.

Once we were back in the apartment, he then dragged me into a ten minute conversation about elevators: how loud and slow they were back "in the old days" and how astonishing it is that they’ve improved so much (Wow, really?! Over the course of like 100+ years? Amazing!) and that today you can literally take an elevator to God’s throne in heaven—give his balls a little tickle—then ride back down to Earth in time for the evening news. It actually only takes a few milliseconds…which, in case you didn’t know, are thousanths of a second. Just for the record, "milli-" is not an English prefix. It is indeed, Latin…

My inferior, American public school educated brain thanks you, Papa Schmidt.


After we secured his belongings in the apartment, it was time to take a drive to the old apartment 117a, so that we could plan out how we were going to paint Schmidt’s old room before we actually started painting Schmidt’s old room.

Papa Schmidt promptly handed me a map of Hamburg, informed me that he already took a look at the route he wanted to take to get to 117a, but still wanted me to navigate as he drove. Mind you, I could have just told him how to get there. I tried to tell him that I’m really (really really really) awful at reading maps. He refused to hear it.

Which is how we ended up somewhere near Eidelstedt, i.e. not where we were going.

I accepted the fact a long time ago that I will never be able to read/follow a map. My friends have all learned to never ask me for directions ANYWHERE. I still get lost in Oklahoma City.

He still didn’t learn his lesson when we took our trip to Lübeck. However, he was much nicer to me than my own dad was after I got us lost somewhere in Ontario, Canada. My dad wouldn’t let me so much look at the map and told me to just go to sleep. Which was good. I get motion sick during car trips.


Don’t get me wrong, walking around in your undies is great. When you’re alone. Why do old men always insist on doing otherwise? My theory is that one day they just wake up and go, "Fuck pants…I’m old. I can wear pants when I’m dead."

With the exception of the front door and the bathroom, we don’t have any doors on any of the rest of the rooms (because they still have to be cut about a ¼ of an inch, since the addition of the laminate flooring has made them too long). We don’t have any curtains…because Schmidt doesn’t want me to drill any holes (this was smart, but unnecessary on his part…as I have no desire to drill any holes)

Anyway, this pretty much just all adds up to plenty of opportunities for everyone to see an old man walking around an apartment in his underwear.


I think if there’s one piece of information that Papa Schmidt wanted to make sure that I understood this weekend, it’s this: DO NOT DRINK DISHWASHING LIQUID!!!

I don’t know how he got the idea that I drink dishwashing liquid, but every time we wash the dishes together, he tells me: "Raven, you can’t drink dishwashing liquid. It’s just not good for you."

Oh, snap! For reals?!

After he said it the first time, I chuckled. He looked me dead in the eye and said, "This isn’t a laughing matter…I’m serious."

For a split second, I had to think back. Did I have like some kind of foam around my mouth when he arrived? Was I sporting Pril-breath? Did Schmidt tell him that I like the taste of soap? What ever gave him the idea that I was jonesing for a nice tall glass of dishwater?

While washing my coffee mug on Sunday, I was tempted to drink the soapy water…just to spite him. You, know, in a "forbidden fruit" kinda way.


Papa Schmidt wanted to get to 117a at 7am on Saturday morning to start painting Schmidt’s old room. I managed to convince him to push up the starting time until 10am.

"Raven, this job is going to take more than an hour. Possibly more than two…or even 3 or 4 hours. Do you understand?"

Yes, yes…I understand. Do you understand that I KILL people when I have to wake up at/before 7am?! The closest person standing to me. Dead. Just like that.

We left the apartment at 8:30am to go have breakfast at Favorit (formerly known as Backatelle aka THE best restaurant in Hamburg, according to Papa Schmidt).

Papa Schmidt was astounded by the lack of traffic on the streets at 8:30am on a Saturday morning. I tried to explain to him that it’s SATURDAY and some people like to do this thing called "sleeping in". Especially, if they stayed out all night until 8am. I may as well have been speaking in Swahili…

"But Saturday is still a work day. People still have to work. Do you understand? Who would want to stay out until 7am in a big city? That’s preposterous!"

Later that evening, after the paint job was finished and we ate our dinner, Papa Schmidt and I took a stroll down to the Reeperbahn. It was about 9pm.

"It’s not crowded here at all!"

I didn’t respond, as I was trying to stick close to him in order to prevent him from being approached by hookers and strip club bouncers. Oblivious to my efforts, Papa Schmidt just whipped out his camera and proceeded to photograph everything…including the hookers.

Saturday night, I decided to tell Papa Schmidt that I have to work on Monday and Tuesday, so he would have to amuse himself until about 5:30pm. As of this writing, I’m currently hiding out in my favorite café in the Schanze.

Around 11:30pm on Saturday, I made up an excuse to leave the apartment, walked down to the gas station down the street, bought myself a beer and called it a night.


Papa Schmidt forbade me from switching on the flash setting on the digital camera that he borrowed for the trip, the reasoning being that, "The flash uses a lot of the battery’s power and somebody has to pay for that electricity…"

Sure, whatever. However, taking 20 pictures of dark blobs isn’t the best use of the camera’s power source either…


It started off with a seemingly innocent topic of discussion. Wonfuzius had helped paint Schmidt’s room, and Papa Schmidt was asking him questions about Asians. Every Asian.

Wonfuzius was fielding the questions as best he could and even I was amazed by his restraint, as he was already upset because of a botched haircut straight out of a manga comic book. Then, later, we were all eating dinner back at the apartment, when Papa Schmidt asks out of the blue:

"Do people eat a lot of rice in Korea? What kind of meat do they eat?"

Wonfuzius responded, "The same kind of meat that we have here: beef, pork, poultry, fish, etc."

Not satisfied, Papa Schmidt went on, "Yes, but how do you know? I saw once on the news that in Australia they were illegally selling kangaroo meat!"

"Kangaroo meat isn’t illegal though."

"Well, they were labelling it as beef! How do you know what it is that you’re eating?!"

I glanced over at Wonfuzius who was just as perplexed as I was. Papa Schmidt put on his serious face, vigilantly continuing his tirade:

"When people start packaging kangaroo meat and try to sell it as beef, what’s to stop the government from taking away all of your rights?! It’s the first step, how all of the lies and deception begin! The rich guys sit in their fancy houses and drive their fancy cars and the rest of us have to eat kangaroo meat!!"

Silence reigned in the living room. I got up to take the dishes to the kitchen.


Still, Papa Schmidt is good people. He’s just at that age where stubborn men only get more stubborn, set in their ways and sometimes just downright bizarre. But…he means well. Just like my dad…and probably yours.

By Sunday night, after driving to Lübeck and the Baltic Sea (Travemünde), I had a newfound respect for Schmidt, who was cooped up in a car with Papa Schmidt, whilst touring various National Parks around the United States. That’s hardcore.

After just one day of travelling, including an hour-long traffic jam outside of Hamburg, I came home and decided that I really needed to get high.

Again, I left the apartment around 11:30pm, got myself a beer from the gas station, sat in a nearby park and partook of the green goodness. It reminded me of my brother’s old roommate, Danny, who was a really nice guy, but tended to be a bit taxing in large doses. We’d tell Danny we were going to pick up some food, but really we’d just climb into Remy’s Explorer, drive to the other side of the apartment complex, hotbox the shit out of that mofo and then drive back to his place.

We always forgot the food, but Danny never seemed to notice and/or mind. He’d just go out again and pick up some food for us.

Have you ever talked to Papa Schmidt?

Have you ever talked to Papa Schmidt while high?!

The difference will amaze you.

Tomorrow is his last day. It’s also his birthday, so I got him a present (I wrote your name on the card too, Schmidt). I’ll bet you 5 Euros that he’ll make a big fuss about how unneccessary the gesture is. In his opinion, old men are supposed to give presents, not get presents. I completely agree with this view, but the way I see it, when Papa Schmidt leaves tomorrow evening for Hameln, we won't have to expect another visit from him for about 4 or 5 months. He’s going to leave behind a clean apartment and about 2 weeks worth of food and provisions, saving me the trouble of having to go shopping. Also, I will have gotten a steak dinner out of the deal (from Block House…the second best restaurant in Hamburg, according to Papa S.), not to mention a nice long blog entry of our adventures…

My little ol’ present? Pales in comparison…

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