It's About Kneiping and Everything Around it
So you might ask yourself that what is Kneiping?. Is it a sport? Is it an art discipline? Is it perhaps a form of sexual debauchery I have yet to learn?... Well the answer is not that simple, so let's try and elaborate a bit more on this Denglish expression that I coined many years ago. The term Ecke Kneipe can be roughly translated into 'Corner Pub', but the essence of a proper Kneipe is quite distant from your average perfumed ponce bar in Berlin.
If you are past that phase where you go to a pub just to drink, mingle and maybe have a good time, well then read on my dear fellow, for I am quite the specialist when it comes to tasteless, bedraggled, grumpy drinking. I like to think of these sessions as a fundamental training in the art of anti-socializing. Of course, this might appear as no more than a mere game for some weekend warriors, but for a sad asocial gentleman like myself, well... this is a way of life, sir: A cultivated grand passion one might say.
There are many different approaches and styles in how to partake, but the beauty of it lies in the endless possibilities and incidents that can occur out of nowhere. So I'd like to begin by describing some essential aspects about my particular style of Kneiping it up.
I like to think of myself as a pint man; a person who goes to pubs to down pints. Of course I love to drink alcohol in any manner but I find that the best way to harmonize any sort of hedonistic evening is by skillfully balancing it all through downing large glasses of German Pilsners. After I turned 65, I pleasantly discovered my ability to regain sobriety by drinking bottled beers of Becks. This lead to a whole new realm of prospects; so let me describe what an average night looks these days in my world...
STEP 1. Preparation:
In the world of drinkers, and especially the world of hopeless drunks, you must master this preparation formally, for it will save you a headache way worse than any hangover. You will drink; you will slur your words, stumble upon things, urinals and people, and some people will stumble upon you. You will brawl. You will engage yourself in seedy situations. You will lose possessions, money and sometimes teeth. You will soil yourself and others will soil you in turn, and with more than one type of bodily fluid. You might end up arrested or in a hospital. So be smart about this and don't bring anything else except for that which is absolutely necessary.
You should minimize accessories: Gloves and hats are a bitch, so make sure you are not too attached to any of the ones you bring along. Make absolutely sure your keys are tucked away deep down your inside pocket, and always put a tenner in your sock with the idea of using it as cab money at the end of the night. This of course, will never happen but you will be glad you thought about it when you are walking home the next morning and in deep need of a bevy. Last but not least be ready to leave a few newspapers next to your doorstep...I'll get back to that later.
STEP 2. The way to the watering hole:On my way to the Kneipe I start with a small ritual that has been going on for the past 11 years or so. It consists of me stepping into the Späti next door to my flat and buying a pack of John Players and 2 Sternies. Sternburg is the best quality cheap beer you can get in Berlin (there is no contender really, unless you are truly down and penurious and then you might just go for that Pilsator...). The walk to the Kneipe takes approximately 12 minutes in which I have downed both beers and I'm really starting to feel the tingly sensation of what's yet to come.
STEP 3, Getting Smashed (Divided in 4 Sub-sections of Possible Scenarios):A) The Grand Entrance
Upon entering you must acknowledge all your acquaintances with a respectful nod. You don't want to get too personal because you just might end up bottling them, or being bottled by them, at some point during the night. Nonetheless, obligations and good manners must be observed. I like to order a pint of Pils and a large gin or a Whiskey (always Irish if possible). After that, another pint, and halfway though it I start to scan the scene for some narcotic action. If I don't feel the vibe I just pull out my phone and schedule a delivery. I have made a point of deleting everyone I know off my list, leaving only dealers, doctors and booty calls. A phone can be a double edged sword when you have had over seven drinks no matter what age you are.
B) Socializing with fellow piss-heads
It's always a good move to offer a drink to whoever engages in conversation with you. If the vibe is good you can perhaps have some sort of good verbal exchange and maybe even a profound one. I was always quite good at debating back in my college days, so I like to think of myself as a good listener and a good replier. This is a very gracious skill and you can use elements of the conversation to prepare a rather elaborate insult at some point to tense the air. An insult can work wonders, and if you are lucky enough, you might get slapped or punched immediately. I like to brace myself for this by holding an empty bottle for the obligatory courteous counter-bottle attack. Note that if this person is a hopeless drunk or wears too much cologne, they might be able to dodge the bottle which will subsequently end up smashed on your person. If that happens, and the glass shatters on you, it's absolutely necessary to make sure you don't need stitches, which takes me to the next step.
C) The Bar Brawl or pathetic drunken fight
If you end up in the likely scenario of initiating a group brawl, then I would like to caution you about some common items that you find in pubs that can serve as weapons. Use your imagination and you'll be grand. Ashtrays can be a bit tricky because the ciggie buds and dusty ash might end up in your eyes, making you an easy target. If it's just a funny little incident you should not be a complete wanker and use stools. The chances that it will most likely be over in a few minutes are high and eventually everyone is going to want to sit down again, making you that grass-hole who destroyed a stool on some poor cunt.
Remember to go easy on injuring people; be considerate, this is not some working man’s club in Cardiff or an Irish Bar in South Boston packed with beefy patrons, this is Berlin and people tend to be more normal in these aspects. Keep the fisticuffs civilized.
D) Strangers in the Night (Drug-Friends)
Another likely occurrence is that you will stumble upon a drug-friend. Your drug-friend is not your real pal, yet you are probably more yourself to him than you are with your friends. Usually, drug-friends are pretty out there so you don't have to feel obliged to hang out with them during the rest of your evening, only when you have to re-score. In some cases, your Drug-Friend might materialize into an attractive (at least at that point) person of the opposite gender or same depending on how you dance. It's vital to understand the dynamics of the situation quite quickly enough otherwise there’s nothing more irritating than not vibing with someone while on the gear. At other times, your drug-friend might be an obscure character from a different century or realm. When this is the case, hop on the Magical Mystery tour bus.
STEP 4. Getting your ass back home:So you had your fun; I sure bloody did. I'd go to an after-hours and keep on going but the truth is that I'm old, my prostate is irritating me and I'm not capable of staying awake for more than 20 minutes...By this time I probably would have gone to at least 2 or 3 other places, so it's time to figure out where you are. Needless to say, your phone is gone. It's probably lying around some bus stop or a sticky bathroom floor but you will have to deal with that later. I find it very difficult to walk after throwing up so I rather maintain composure at least for the time being and make my way back home. The tenner in the sock is now living in your back pocket in the form of a 5 Euro note and some dull change as you try to eat a döner that's not as good as it should be and think about what to do. A feeling of despair invades your whole body until you remember that you still have a bit of gear in your small pocket. This last bit is crucial for any sort of retreat mission. It will give you the necessary stamina to locate public transport.
If you are willing to get a cab, make sure you know the names of a lot of streets around your area otherwise you will be taken for a ride: and what a ride… You skip the tip because you need the change to get a Sterni before you go back home. Oh, all the Sterni's are gone? Thank God for Pilsator.
Oh, you can’t hold the puke? Oh no, can’t manage to open the door...going to puke… too late… yeah, good thing you can put that newspaper on top of it and cover it until tomorrow…
STEP 5. The aftermath:I tend to wake up with a terrible sensation of dread and horror. I instinctively pat myself up to make sure at least that my wallet and keys are there. I look for signs of any injuries which normally involve bruises on the legs. If you wake up somewhere else than your bed it's absolutely key to hydrate and briefly assess the situation. It’s important to make sure you are not in a hostile environment which can consist of pets, children, and/or an angry spouse.
You must not underestimate the fact that you might be back at it again tonight so check yourself early and you will be able to wreck yourself in good time. Since I'm done with athletics and bio(organic) nonsense, I make a point of drinking an Afri-Cola and eat some filthy, filthy, filthy meat. Cupcakes are also a great way to start your day and the sweet chocolate will make you feel much better about yourself after thinking about all the horrible things you did and said last night.
By Julian Sylvester