So what happens when a giraffe walks into a bar with a group of friends adorned in glitter, angel wings, and a wedding dress covered in blood? I guess you just had to be there…

I took a trip back to my previous home, Eskilstuna, for a Halloween party. To my own surprise I had a lot of motivation to actually be in costume and do something. It helps that my friends actually asked me out. As I pondered for days over what I could be, I reflected on my past costumes and how they have always been so innocent and not death-related.

I was a bunny, a clown, an M&M, a dark faerie, a light faerie, North Star, Peter Pan, among other things. So needless to say when I was looking through online costumes the first few things that popped out to me were turtle, giraffe, and hippo. All so cute. I chose to be tall and proud.

Photo Courtesy of Ywon Bar & Grill Instagram

So this photo actually was taken by a friend of mine that works at the Ywon Bar & Grill because, well other than the fact that were were the few people there, it was surreal. A drink in a mans hand while he stands more than 190cm tall thanks to heels and a double head, clothed in a onesie is bound to draw attention. It’s proof that I was social and actually connected to someone (rare as it may be).

And there he stood, for at least 1,5 to 2 hours talking to a stranger that was sitting at the bar. It was my friends that pushed me into this situation so I just went along with it. Drinks were shared, informal and personal topics discussed and the whole time I was thinking, “why did my friend push me onto this guy?” I mean he was a 39-year-old punk loving hipster with non-matching socks. Totally not someone to whom I would normally find myself talking, let alone with whom I would be flirting.

It didn’t actually occur to me that my behaviour or his behaviour would have be considered flirting, and given my clueless history of people hitting on me, in retrospect I wonder. He did offer me a drink and shared his own with me. He did continue the conversation and asked questions. It didn’t even think about flirtation until he made a comment about a ring on my finger and asked if I was married. I remembered stopping, looking at him and formulating an answer. And even after that, I still had my doubts. Everyone that knows me, knows that I would never make a move. It seemed safe, but there is always some obliviousness that prevents me.

We joined the group after a long time and he bought everyone a round. It was very generous and I was definitely feeling warm fuzzies, despite the sinking feeling and my doubts about his intentions or interest. And then a casual comment was dropped, and I thought “AHA I knew it!” and I felt vindicated that I was right. We all departed and he even asked me for a hug and mentioned how genuinely good of a time he had. It made me smile and I drunkenly stumbled out the bar.

Between the double cab rides and walking through town, not much of me being a giraffe was noticed or said until the evening ended. We walked down the bar street and suddenly drunk adults approached us. One harassed me, then started crying because she felt bad. A guy named Andreas felt the need to talk to me about how he can tell if people are gay by the shape of their eyes (I think he was too drunk to notice that I had huge heels on).

My friend departed and I walked down the street, fearing for my life, as my previous lone-walking home experiences in Eskilstuna resulted in being chased, harassed, or otherwise accosted in some way. But instead I was complimented by women and men alike. Even two women approached me for a photo and wanted a hug to say I was so fabulous. Their costumes were lame, like wearing bunny ears and a slutty dress lame.

And so I got back to my hotel, laid down and hoped to sleep and awake to have a delicious breakfast. Even after all that happened I still think back and wonder… What if I had said something, or did something, or did I come off as a frozen cold bitch that I feel I am? The jury is out, but at least I had fun.

When one thinks of Germany, one would think of a few things right off the bat: chocolate, efficiency, punctuality, beer, and the autobahns. Much of Germany’s successes are related to their infrastructure, modernisation, collective traffic, as well as general tidiness. But when I refer to German construction, I’m not talking about its roads and buildings and history of Protestantism, I’m referring to German construction workers. Let me explain.

Construction worker

I’m a teacher, and as a result on a daily basis I rarely come into contact with the trades or jobs that would be considered blue collar. Perhaps parents of kids I teacher, or the odd handyman here or there I see, but I rarely interact with people in this world in a social way. Most of the people I know are teachers, academics, doctors, or lawyers or somehow connected to those professions.

Odd as it may be that I have a semblance of a social life, I was invited to attend a cultural night in nearby city of a friend of mine. A bunch of people would be gathering at his house in the afternoon, and they were bringing their spouses and such, and then we would continue on to the downtown core. Knowing that I would have to work the following day, I figured and assumed that I would be heading home early and this was a great way of getting the chaos of work out of my head.

I arrived, and immediately was enthusiastically encouraged to contribute to the artistic collaboration of all the guests on the table. Cut out some pictures and glue them, draw what you like, or be controversial; no rules. I elected to draw a small portion to represent the harmony of nature; the joining of the four main elements: earth, air, fire, and water. A simple yet beautiful oil pastel spot on the canvas was juxtaposed by the contrasting political messages and generally offensive diagrams of sexual freedom, random penises, and general anarchy. This describes aptly the crowd I was in, and how much my rainbows and unicorns didn’t fit in.

People get to talking and getting to know each other as I have only two common connections, and a friend of a friend of a friend was attending from Germany. Drink in hand I was approached, of course while I was fixing some delicious cheesy garlic bread. Chitchat ensued and it was rather nice to talk to someone that was outside of the pedagogy world: a construction worker.

Everyone gathers on the balcony patio to play a game of Waterfall. A drinking game, so lightweight as I am, I only pepper my afternoon with a single cider, drunk indiscriminately slow. The people getting drunk around me were unable to discern my ninja ways to protect my feeble body from drunkenness.

Rule masters create rules: firstly, when you have to drink you must gently rub the leg of the person to your right. Okay, no big deal right? We are all strangers and what’s wrong with a simple rub on the leg to warm up each other? I guess that’s until the construction worker, who ironically was sitting to my left, started having to drink (in the drinking game), and I found my leg being rubbed quite a bit. The rubs seemed to linger, but I thought nothing of it. Oblivious.

Secondly, the next rule requires all people to compliment the person their right after they drink, thus compounding the rub with a compliment. No harm, no foul. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the game developer to my right was peppered with some nice compliments of their nice haircut, stylish shirt, and well proportioned ears, of course complimented with a gentle touch on their leg. I elected to touch rather than rub, as to not appear creepy.

Finally, the third rule happened but truth be told I don’t remember it. It was hard enough to keep track of all the other rules and events that were going on. Chip chop, game ends and we start migrating towards the door to head into the city centre for the festival.

I’m casually putting my shoes on when I find myself cracking a joke about something and suddenly a construction worker laughs, and then gently grazes my beard with a hand. It was so quick and subtle, I barely noticed it nor did anyone else. And yet I was confused enough to pause and think about it, laugh, and chalk it up to friendly banter and descend the stairs.

Standing outside, putting on my coat, I get a wink out of the blue. It was at this moment that I realised that maybe I was being completely oblivious to the attention I was receiving. Being approached by a stranger, the lingering leg pats, the compliments (which were attributed to the game rather than interest), the face touching, and the wink. So rare as it is, and, truth be told, coming from a drunk German didn’t make me think it was anything serious of if there was some hidden intention. However, I was confused. Was the construction worker flirting with me?

I guess I’ll never know for sure. As it turned out the group fell apart and we never found each other by the time I called it a night. Was it a fleeting connection? Was there something there I didn’t notice? I suspect it’s too late, and the dear construction worker is on the way back to Eastern Germany, bound to needs of German infrastructure and greater improvements.

A missed connection, if I’d ever seen one.