Three Days in Vienna…The Turk, The Brit, & The Egyptian
I want to sigh longingly just typing the words. Ahhhhhh….
This city was different.
Every other location I touched down in, I knew not one single soul. Here, I was staying with a friend and her family.
Years ago I met Xiomy as a grad student studying in Leipzig, Germany. She is a Black Columbian national and one of the smartest people I have ever met – simply amazing woman. We were fast friends but as life carried us each on our paths, we lost touch. Through the magic of Zuckerburg’s dorm room creation, we reconnected many years later.
I had visited her in 2011 and met her amazing husband and mother. Then she had just given birth to her oldest and we caught up on the many years that had passed between. She had taken a job at the United Nations and was pursuing a PhD. She even arranged for her friends to show me the city as she was so busy with the baby. It was a spectacular time.
Fast forward to 2015. Not only does she still work with the UN, but she is also doing post doc work with coffee farmers in third world countries and had just returned from Ethiopia. Her baby is now a precocious 5 year old, and she had a 2 year old that somehow managed to take all the energy of the yellow sun that gave Superman his power and turn it into playtime. Xiomy is a native Spanish speaker and her mother only speaks Spanish. Her husband is Austrian and a native German speaker. The kids speak this German Spanish combo thing with is super adorable. Just the most awesome kids ever.
So when I first arrive from the airport, she tells me to freshen up, we are going to a birthday party for her friend’s son. Cool, I’m exhausted but looking forward to it.
We walk up five flights of winding steps as I am convinced elevators are outlawed in this country, into one of the most stunning apartments I have ever seen. Xiomy’s friend is a statuesque Kenyan woman married to an Austrian that still manages to tower above her. I’m convinced this gorgeous apartment was a safehouse during World War II or Hitler’s birthplace because dude inherited it from his great grandmother. It was hip hop video fly.
The party was this super eclectic mix of UN workers and others: Our Kenyan and Austrian hosts, a Nigerian man that works with OPEC, talked of oil, and only spoke completely off the record, a Nigerian woman that refused to be photographed, a German woman that had adopted a son from Rwanda, Germans, more Austrians, Polish, and the saddest German woman I have ever met in my life. This is how she introduced herself, “Hi, my name is Mary and I was married to a Black man from Mississippi. He cheated on me and had a child with another woman. He has moved back to the States and we got divorced after 15 years. My therapist says I need to go out more”.
I made her download Tinder.
After the dinner party, we all returned to Xiomy’s apartment and I was exhausted from my flight and the party but someone swiped right and his pictures? Lordt. Ok, I summon an iota of energy and take an uber to meet this guy at a restaurant.
When I arrive, it’s 11PM but I still order coffee. Now this guy smells incredible but I felt slightly catfished. Not big catfish, little catfish. Let’s say Catfish nuggets. He’s a little chunkier than his pic and shorter than I thought. He must have really been enjoying the streusel and schnitzel. He’s Turkish and super over manicured. Beard and hairline cut on fleek. Dude was doing the most and it was all a turnoff. But he was still super nice. I think he was just glad to have someone to practice his English with. He asks me to his place to talk more and I actually believe this guy wants to just talk. I declined, he kissed me goodnight, and I zoomed into the night in another uber.
The next day I went to the zoo with my friend’s husband the kids, her mother, and her friend that was half- Austrian and half Ecuadorian, but just looked like Bob Marley, locs and all, and his daughter. Xiomy was slightly ill, but I think she really just wanted some alone time.
We take a bus to the train, but the train shuts down. Someone got sick and the entire train shuts down. We hop on like three more trains at different routes trying to get to the zoo but it’s a domino effect and we have to exit every single one. Eventually we walk the last 30 minutes to the zoo.
That sounds like it sucked, but really it didn’t. We laughed and talked and enjoyed the unseasonably warm day. Everyone had the best attitude about the whole ordeal and no tempers were lost. Xiomy’s husband was so patient with the kids, playing with them when they whined and fussed. I see why she married him.
Finally, we made it to the zoo and they were closing in an hour. Rather than pay to go in for an hour, I eat and have drinks with Xiomy’s mother while everyone else enters. I drink my new favorite beer, Ottakringer Shandy and we have a conversation in my horrible, horrible Spanish.
After the public transit ordeal on the way there, we take an uber back.
Bob Marley is staying for dinner and I suspect Xiomy was trying to make some sort of love connection, but I already have a Tinder date with a Brit.
We meet at the seediest McDonald’s I have ever visited…at least that I had visited that day, (the one in Stockholm required payment to enter the toilet) and take the train to city center. We walk a bit and enter a smoke filled pub. As much as I love travelling, and in the many ways other countries are ahead of the States, we win at outlawing smoking in public places. The smoke is so thick, I feel like I am walking into a cumulonimbus. We go upstairs to the non-smoking section as if the smoke will defy the laws of physics and remain downstairs. In a land where waitresses do not work on tips, we sit down at a large table in an empty section. She reminds us that it is for large parties. I point out the obvious rows of empty tables and she repeats her earlier sentence. It wasn’t’ rude. Their culture seems to be notorious for just following rules, even if they defy logic.
So we have drinks and he’s witty and the accent is intoxicating. He’s working as a consultant but is originally from London. He’s completely bald but mentioned that his hair was “ginger” before it fell out. We have great conversation and the most delicious beer I have ever had in my life. Not a love connection but I know if I were to visit again, I could count on him for a pint.
He walks me to the train station and kisses me goodnight.
So I neglected to mention that I haven’t had sex since my last relationship ended and really, really, really needed to have sex. There’s something about the last man having been in you that clings to your skin like soap film. It takes another man to wash it off.
I’m a woman….Not a Halle Berry or Nikki Minaj looking sister but I do ok… Like all women, sex is easy to come by – but I didn’t want to be with just anyone. It didn’t have to mean everything but I wanted it to mean something. I needed to be able to lay in bed swimming in my own filth in a nursing home, watching the slow march of death, as a 95 year old woman, and remember through the fog of life this man, and his body and the sex… remember and smile… or at least not wince.
So the morning of my last night in town I set up my last Tinder date for this trip. We both swiped right. Well, that’s a start. He sent me a message and I agreed to meet him at 8:00. Then I head out with Xiomy’s mom for Austrian Neutrality Day. It is a huge government holiday which celebrates when the country collectively said, “Fuck you, we are not joining your war or any war, and oops sorry about the Hitler thing”.
We visit the square and park, a historic church in city center, and a shop where I grab a souvenir for my mom and a Vienna magnet for a Nomadness Travel Tribe accident victim. There are singers, games, and food. In the midst of all of this, I get a text from Xiomy to expect a call from her friend Todd. I’m like, uh ok. Wait. What? I never get a text from him and totally forget about it.
Hours later, we arrive at Xiomy’s home and she says I just have to meet her friend Todd. She starts to tell me how great he is and her husband sucks his teeth. Todd tried to date her before she married and works with her at the UN. She gives me the phone with him on it. He’s at this coffee shop babysitting his girlfriend’s best friend’s son but sure come meet them. We were like 12 year olds in an arranged marriage.
I hand the phone back to my friend and she is smiling super big. But he has a girlfriend. “Oh, she’s in South America for four months”. Basically, take your shot.
But I already have a date set for the night and so I hurry to meet Todd because it’s my last night in Vienna, and Europe, and Xiomy will not take no for an answer. The quick nap I thought I was taking was not happening.
So I get there and Todd is cute, but balding, but cute. Not in a movie star way, but in a he’ll let me copy his homework and then we can make out on my parents sofa way. The kind of man that will take you to dialysis and bring you saltines and peppermints when you are old.
But the kid he was babysitting? Oy! He only spoke French, lives in Paris, and his mother is from Sierra Leone. When he referenced me, I understood his words to be the equivalent of “doodiehead” in French. He was around 9 and I believe this little boy hated me in the way the French are notorious for hating Americans.
But I have this great conversation with Todd. He’s super smart, aware, intense… I see why she insisted I meet him. This despite the fact the kid interjected every second paragraph. Just when I thought this is the weirdest datelike thing I have ever been on, in walks Naomi Campbell’s little sister with long gorgeous locs. Ok, maybe not, but she looked like it. Simply stunning and psychically flawless. Even her locs beat my locs ass. She is the brat’s mom and the best friend of Todd’s girlfriend. Oh and she speaks French. At this point, I’m uncomfortable and also questioning my sexuality.
The laser beam daggers her eyes shot me were icy and sharp. Awkward. Ever the diplomat, I try to soften the mood with a story…She let me finish and said simply she disagreed. Man, I could not get out of there fast enough.
Luckily my tinder date Daniel was just arriving. I had text him to meet me at this coffee shop. As it was a national holiday celebrating government non commitment, 95% of everything was closed. I exhaled. He could have looked like Quasi moto with flies circling him ala Pigpen on Charlie Brown, and I would have left with him. I didn’t need much of an excuse to leave.
But thank the satin fairies he didn’t look like his pictures. He looked better – and his pictures were sexy. There was a bar next door that was open and so we went in and talked. And talked. And talked…and drank.
After the intensity of Todd and the bizarre non-date pseudo thingy I had just been a part of, this was a welcome change.
Daniel works as a nurse and was pretty gentle in his mannerisms without being effeminate. He was classic European, but he doesn’t smoke. I was feeling like Princess Jasmine since he is of Egyptian descent and I don’t think Disney made Aladdin from an official country so he has morphed into my date in my mind. Daniel has green twinkling eyes and the Latino dude from CSI Miami’s lips. He was born and raised in Vienna and speaks German and Arabic. He said his English is bad which really means he speaks perfect English, but may get they’re, their, and there mixed up. He also boxes on the side. Healthcare and fighting – yin and yang. Instant attraction. There is a comedy routine where Chris Rock says a woman knows if she wants to have sex with a man within a minute of meeting. He did the two cheek kiss thing as a greeting and I was like, YAAAAASSS LAWD!
After my second dark and stormy I didn’t want anything else to drink. I had already had a beer with Todd. My flight left at 9 AM the next day and it was inching towards midnight. Daniel offered me three options. I can’t recall the first two, but the third was me going to his place.
I can’t even blame the alcohol, I blame the six pack – and Vienna.
We hopped into a taxi and rode about 15 minutes. As we entered Daniel’s building, it was like every other apartment building I had visited in Vienna, with the main hallway lights out and pitch black. This is such an odd custom to me and shows how much they trust their fellow citizens. If you were assured of complete darkness every time you entered a building in a hallway in Chicago where I live, where the infamous Cabrini Green projects stood for years, and a city that is the inspiration behind the pending Spike Lee movie, “Chiraq”, you would be assured of rape or robbery or at the very least, turning on the hall light to a homeless man showing you his penis or smoking crack. In Vienna, it is what everyone does to conserve energy.
I walk up the two flights of stairs into his apartment and as soon as he opens the door, he takes off his shoes. It is the custom. At Xiomy’ house with her, her husband, mother, two kids, and me, her foyer resembles a small shoe store. We had done it at the luxurious Nazi hideout. Austrians don’t want to bring in the dirt from outside. Doesn’t matter what the floors look like, gosh darnit, the shoes have to come off. Sock sales must be the highest in the world per capita. So I take my shoes off and he leads me into the living room. We sit on the sofa.
His place is a small one bedroom that looks every bit an Ikea ad – all beige and white and linear with high ceilings. As I noticed at Xiomy’s place, he doesn’t have a tv or a dryer. Xiomy explained to me that they believe dryers damage clothes and after a 120 minute wash cycle everyone hangs the clothes on a standing rack.
The months of being sexless, the recent string of unsatisfying dates, the dark and stormys, Daniel’s chiseled Disney Prince jawline, my hormones, and the lure of his twinkling green eyes were all the seduction I needed. Boxing apparently keeps you really, really, really fit and his body was everything I imagined it would be. It was spectacular! Four condoms and many orgasms later, I fell asleep in his arms. This was a one night stand but I guess I paid extra for the girlfriend experience as he was holding me super tight. I would remember this brief night through the haze of dementia in my bed sore infested nursing home days.
I awoke in the wee hours of the morning and had to get back to Xiomy’s to get dressed for my 9 AM flight. I also wanted to get there before everyone woke up as I didn’t want my walk of shame to be obvious. It is astonishingly hard to leave the bed of a man you are super feeling, that’s feeling you. It was like velcro was holding me in place. I kicked all of the rocks.
Eventually, I sat up in the bed and he pulled me close. I smelled his cologne again and as the sent swirled first in my nose and then in my head, I forgot all about the flight home and the things I needed to do and the business I was running in Chicago. One more time? Well, I didn’t want to be rude.
The next day…well a few hours later – he wasn’t working and suggested we spend it together. Damn. I didn’t want to miss my flight although a big chunk of me kind of wishes I did. Screw the rebooking fees. Alas common sense inserted her stinking ass and I left him and prepared to return to my friend’s home. I dressed and he walked me outside and stood with me as I waited for my uber. A few more kisses, a bear hug. He asked me once more to stay and I mumbled something about airplanes and climbed into the back of the car. The third Nigerian uber driver I had in Vienna asked me how I enjoyed the city as I told him I was leaving in a few hours. I just smiled and said, “The city is wonderful”.
Daniel and I have text a few times since I arrived but I know this was vacation and not real life. But wouldn’t it be awesome if real life was like my three days in Vienna?