The Meeting of Minds Under the Lubrication of Beer Is Often More of a Collision.
Helmut, a blogger of German origin, had just sat through a two-hour open mic session at the Stand and he hadn’t laughed once. Helmut found the session as painful as a G-string two sizes too small; he was confused. He had always prided himself on his keen sense of timing and dry wit, and yet he left unmoved.
Helmut spent his time traveling while blogging about anything alternative, organic, and hopeful, and he had a good following. He had this idea for a piece on laughter therapy and decided to start with the great British dry wit.
Now he was confused . . .
Helmut walked down Great Western Road, pondering the use or abuse of the English language by its natives.
He had researched his subject before he left Germany and the Stand was the comedy club in Glasgow, where all the best comedians performed.
Perhaps Tuesday is not the best night to visit.
He spied a pub advertising German beer and went in. It was the same pub Lesley liked to visit, and as she was the only person sitting at the bar, he pulled up a stool beside her and offered her a drink. When she said “Maisel’s Weisse,” he looked at her with more interest.
Lesley had a fondness for German beer, and as they worked their way through the selection, Lesley began to open up. By the time Helmut was on his third pint, Lesley’s accent became easier to understand . . .
“It was the teapot outfit that did it,” said Lesley. “I told her if she was going to wear that onstage, I would not be responsible for my actions.”
“Your partner is wearing a teapot?” said Helmut. “This is funny?”
“Nothing’s funny about my ex,” said Lesley. “Especially her principal boy.”
“Principle boy?” said Helmut.
“About as camp as steak pie,” she said.
“Begging your pardon?” said Helmut. “Principle boy?”
“Aye, you know, a woman dressed as a man . . . dancing . . . singing?” said Lesley.
“This is funny?” said Helmut.
“About as funny as herpes,” said Lesley.
Helmut smiled. He knew about herpes.
Helmut was a young man with an earnest face and long legs that got in the way of everything. He was an ex–media student with parents who knew everything, including the great “tartan colony” of Scotland. Helmut had grown up on tales of bagpipes, football hooligans, castles, and shortbread: nothing like the Great Western Road he had just walked down. It was full of people from other countries. In fact, he was served by an Australian, got in the way of a Serbian cleaner, and managed to trip up an Indian—all in the one pub.
Lesley was the first real Scot he’d talked to, and he had lots of questions to ask. However, all she wanted to do was talk about the “frigging Pantomime,” her “ex” and how “glad” she was to be “rid of her,” and how “all the gay bars are best avoided,” and she was not easily diverted.
She, having just left her partner along with all “her pantomime rubbish,” had months of bottled-up emotion, and three pints down, Lesley was simmering with sarcasm as she launched into her descriptive criticism of the Riding Room, a three-point-nine-star gay bar.
Helmut interrupted her. “I am not gay,” he muttered.
“That, my friend, is obvious,” said Lesley with a tilt of her pint.
Helmut, unsure how to take such a comment, ordered another beer.
After their fourth pint, Lesley and Helmut moved to a table, where his legs sprawled out in front him tripping up the odd drunk.
Lesley pulled out the Stand leaflet poking from Helmut’s top pocket and after a quick flick said, “That’s your problem.”
“Begging your pardon?” said Helmut.
“Tuesday is Red Raw night, or as they laughingly put it here, ‘a night of new talent yet to be discovered.’”
She drained her pint.
“Heard that before.”
She tossed the leaflet across the bar. “The clue is in the ‘raw’ so-called talent.”
Helmut, with a downcast look, folded up his leaflet.
“It is all, as you say, becoming clear,” he muttered.
“That’s what they said at the panto players,” said Lesley, “‘make way for new talent.’ Sent my ex loopy trying to beat the new talent. And for what? To prance about a stage in thigh-high boots?”
“I have given up on the comedy,” he said, trying not to think too much of thigh-high boots.
“You should have tried Friday,” said Lesley.
“Maybe skip the clubs,” muttered Helmut.
“Mind you still a hit-or-miss,” said Lesley.
“I am really more interested in healing than stage,” he said.
“Should visit Lochgilphead then, that place could do with some therapy,” said Lesley.
Helmut, a literal man, looked up Lochgilphead on his mobile.
“And how do you spell this Loch-what?”
Lesley laughed, bemused. “I was joking.”
Helmut, engrossed in his mobile Guide to Bonny Scotland app, didn’t hear.
“I mean it’s hardly worth the two-hour drive”—she looked at his app—“or the bus trip.”
“Past Loch Lomond,” Helmut muttered.
“On a bus?” she said. “Not exactly sightseeing.”
He looked up. “Will there be bagpipes?”
“Bagpipes?” laughed Lesley. “On Loch Lomond? What do you think they are, wild animals?
Helmut, thanks to a few pints, was now in sync with Lesley’s barbed comments. He threw his head back and let out a hyena-like laugh that stopped the pub.
“Jesus,” muttered Lesley.
Helmut loved to laugh, especially at things no one else saw funny. A date for Helmut usually ended at the first joke.
He stared down at his app.
“I come from a small village. It too is full of funny people.”
Lesley eyed him suspiciously and sipped her pint.
“There is Deirdre’s creams, I suppose.” She looked at Helmut.
“Yes, she sells them in her Vegan is the New Black shop.”
“And Daisy’s salon.”
“Daisy? Is this not a flower?”
“She does a spot of massage, although I hate to say not on a par with Deirdre’s.” Lesley wiped her mouth.
“Then why say this?” said Helmut.
Lesley pushed her empty glass towards Helmut. “Funny man, aren’t you?”
“You, Lesley, are the first to say this—where I come from, they say seltsam.”
“What’s that mean?”