Travel Oops: “Und Now Ve Dance…”

Scan 63

Cologne (Köln), Germany, May, 1995

The ill-fitting, bulky black pleather pants seemed suctioned to and definitely gripped to our German tour guide’s legs.

Meanwhile, the yellow tinted John Lennon glasses he wore had migrated down his glistening nose. He unbuttoned his tweed jacket, revealing a black T-shirt that covered a bit of a paunch.

Mike Myers as Dieter

Mike Myers as Dieter

He looked like a portlier version of comedian Mike Myers’s Saturday Night Live character, “Dieter,” from “Sprockets,” the comedy sketch about an avant-garde German talk show host who suggests to guests: “Und now ve dance” with spasmodic, pseudo techno, pre-twerk moves.

I was glad tour guide Dieter’s boss let him wear vinyl and black rather than some green and red lederhosen knickers nightmare. That, no doubt, would have completely crushed tour guide Dieter’s spirit.

While it was not a good look, the fact that he unbuttoned his jacket was the only sign, however, that Dieter may have overheated. He wasn’t, for a moment, going to let anyone see him crack as the result of an unseasonably warm day in Cologne, Germany, and some non-breathable plastic threads.

Cologne cathedral

Kölner Dom, Cologne’s impressive Gothic cathedral.

Without looking, he motioned toward the Kölner Dom, a UNSECO World Heritage Site and the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, as if it was nothing more than his parents’ basement. He then briefly mentioned something about the Cologne Cathedral being bombed 14 times, almost to the ground, by fighter planes in the early 1940s. He did not add that this was during World War II.

It was pretty clear that Dieter did not want to be leading Americans, or rather any tourists, on a walking tour of Cologne. But that was his job. I wondered what compelled him to do something he obviously loathed. Did he do this to fund a laser light show that he synchronized to dripping faucets? Or perhaps he needed to finance his Kraftwerk cover band or maybe he needed to buy acrylics for his modern art collection entitled: “Schwarze Kreise auf Schwarzem Hintergrund” (Black Circles on Black Backgrounds)

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