"No, Renate. I don't dance because I can't and I therefore won't."
"I've never been 'Renate' in my life!"
Oops. I'd made the cardinal mistake, confusing the twins. In my defense none of us were within eight hours of sobriety.
Remember the Partridge Family episode where Laurie teaches motorcycle bad-guy Snake Murphy how to dance and manages to get him through the box step so he can take her to a prom or something? I'm not that good. I can't even waltz. I can do a little tap and copy some line dances from musicals because I ran sound in theatres and would have to see the production 100 times and, well, doing theatre sound is pretty boring (though it pays well) so I'd try and follow along a bit while waiting for the next sound cue to come up.
Anyway, the only reason I was at their apartment that evening is because I was the hero of the day, getting them back in after they'd locked themselves out. It was tricky but I pulled it off without breaking anything. Before I set to work on the break-in I brought down a bottle of wine and two glasses to calm the pair down as they watched me try various means of gaining entry. They wanted to thank me, inviting me for dinner delivered from the curry place next door and providing many bottles of wine. I had to stay at least long enough for Renate to get there so she could be told of my brilliance.
The people in my building don't talk to each other terribly much despite our commonly despised building owners. None of the apartments have balconies (odd in this town) and because I won't allow smoking in my apartment, it's two floors down if I want to light up. It was standing with Blondie by the front door, having a cigarette one night about a year ago, that we met Ingrid and Jürgen, neighbours who lived in the back building.
They started talking to us -- me and my now ex-girlfriend -- and we stood there talking so long that I went upstairs and grabbed a bottle of wine and some glasses. It broke the ice. Within a week or two we'd been invited into their place and drank wine and talked all night. Blondie would be there more often, going downstairs to talk if she couldn't sleep. Their front door is often open and they're right there in the living room into which that door enters. They both enjoy the company.
Jürgen made it to my guinea pig dinner party last year when I subjected half a dozen guests to what I'd planned to cook for Blondie's family for Christmas dinner a week later in Belgium; Ingrid couldn't make it. While Jürgen works from home and is well-known in sound circles for his discoveries and developments with speakers, Ingrid writes for a reputable medical info Web site and was either in the office late or out of town.
We're not that close as "friends" but there is a friendship, cultivated primarily by Blondie. When Blondie finally told them of her plans only a week before she moved out they were rather shocked. Renate is often there to visit on weekends, Frankfurt being a rather desolate place. A couple of days before Blondie left we were at their apartment with a few bottles of wine I wanted to try, answering a barrage of questions from all three while desperately trying to get them to change the subject.
I found out about Ingrid's twin sister in a manner normally which is otherwise a lazy Hollywood cliché. One day I passed Ingrid in the building on my way to work and then ran into her again her a few minutes later at the coffee shop in a different dress. As I started to ask her how the hell she got there she asked me who the hell I was and we were both stammering as Ingrid showed up. All were mildly amused and later that evening we were properly introduced.
Over the past year we've gotten to know each other fairly well, often talking on the street or later at night in their apartment since there's no smoking allowed in mine. It was natural for them to buzz me to open the front entrance so that they could get in. They also figured I was their best shot at gaining re-entry as they buzzed my door again. Upon my success they declared that a celebration was in order and would countenance no protest.
It was at this point that Kurt, my upstairs neighbour with the shit musical taste and with whom I'd managed a cease-fire appeared. The touchy truce came about after I'd gotten into a surreal conversation with his brother and brother's lover on the escalator one day while coming home from word. Ingrid knows Kurt and invited him in and she and Jürgen my praises. Kurt seemed to realise that I'm not quite the piece of shit he'd taken me for and we finally started talking to each other. We chat often now.
Shortly after Kurt left dinner was delivered and an hour later Renate finally arrived, her train delayed for some mysterious reason. German trains punctual? Don't believe the hype. After the initial greeting, a bit of drama due to sisterly misunderstanding, a trip to the nice whisky bar and a return, Jürgen put on some music.
He started with some jazz and then decided on Michael Jackson's Thriller. I'm no big fan but I know that particular album well; most people who work or have worked in audio do. I don't know a sound man who doesn't have that CD for testing the speaker rigs before a concert. Hearing it through Jürgens newest speakers had me in awe. I didn't it possible that he could top the six-cone towers of his I'd heard only a month before.
The girls started dancing and shortly thereafter Jürgen was roped into joining them. I retained my position on the couch and after Renate had failed three times to convince me to get up, her sister decided to give it a go. With all the wine and whiskey, and in the dark room, I couldn't clearly distinguish the sisters anymore and so put my foot in my mouth. I was only able to make amends by standing up and, thanks to a slow track which had just started, shuffling back and forth, left and right for three minutes with some minor bodily contact. Ingrid handed me off to Renate at some point. Having survived the ordeal I was allowed to sit back down. We all talked a bit more and then left for our respective beds some ten minutes before daybreak.
Three days ago Ingrid came home as I was taking a smoke break and started talking. I wasn't up for company but she very clearly needed to talk. And so we sat outside as she complained over and over about her upcoming trip early the next morning to %city% to once again have a discussion with %pharma_company% and once again explain her position that the site where she is editor-in-chief is an information site with an excellent reputation and not a PR company. She couldn't be bought and would have to explain that again to them through ten hours of meetings. It took more than an hour before she got it out of her system and I was allowed to make a graceful exit upstairs.
Last night I went down for a smoke and Jürgen came outside as he finished a conversation on his cell phone. I figured it was Ingrid he was talking to and so I casually joked about Ingrid still being stuck in %city% with the pharma goons. Jürgen made small talk and then asked me to come inside, offering me a beer I didn't want but knew he needed me to drink.
Ingrid is not in %city%. She's in Frankfurt with her sister. Renate has breast cancer. Discovered yesterday, she's already at stage two and it's malignant. Chemo starts today. The operation for removal and additional exploration is slated for next Wednesday. Ingrid, whose job has given her rather extensive medical understanding, is now terrified for herself as well as her sister. The two are coming together to Munich tomorrow and Renate is staying in town over the weekend.
I'll dance with her tomorrow night.
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