We decided to randomly jump off the U-Bhan in an area of Berlin we had not yet visited. It was early and we wanted a big German breakfast of bread, meat and cheese to fully prepare us for a day of wondering around the sites.
We found ourselves above ground and wondering along wide boulevards edged with tall classical European terraces. The spring sunshine was warming the still crisp air.
Eventually, our wondering petered out and hunger drove us into a red-fronted cafe.
We sat and flicked through the menus, ordered excellent but tiny coffees and piles of food. I smoked cigarettes. The girlfriend thumbed the Berlin city guide.
We chatted idly. The service was abominable – very atypical. But with the sun warming our skin, it didn’t seem too bad.
The man brought coffees and gave me what I thought was a knowing wink.
“Not many women here are there?” Said my girlfriend. “It could,” she continued “be that I am currently in a minority. Of one.”
I nodded whilst looking around, but suggested that it was a work day and that might skew the demographic a little.
She frowned at the implied sexism and stood up to find the toilet.
A few minutes later she came back and her frown was deeper.
“It was a joke!” I wailed in preemptive defence.
“What?” she said, “No not that, it’s that there isn’t a ladies’ toilet.”
And that’s when a man wearing bright leather chaps walked in with his ‘friend’ on a leash.
Turns out, we were slap bang in the middle of the gay district of Berlin and clearly these people had googled ‘gay stereotypes as portrayed in mid-1980s music videos’ and gone crazy with the online ordering.
With the veil of ignorance lifted other little tells started to click into place. The studded leather codpiece that was attached to the wall, for example. Or the advert for poppers. Or the homo-erotic artwork. Or the huge letters behind the bar that said ‘GAY’ in neon yellow.
We were glad when the food arrived as it gave us something other than a display of historical lube adverts to focus our attentions upon.
We ate and giggled to ourselves at being so utterly out of place. Then we ordered another coffee and planned our day out, wondering if anything could possibly top this.