Alone on Thursday Night

I’m home alone this evening while the rest of the family travel a hundred miles or so to watch our youngest daughter in a music concert that her school are taking part in. Given deadlines and timescales at work, I couldn’t realistically ask for time off.

So – here I am, sitting in the junk room on my own, with the music turned up to eleven – mostly to drown out next door’s dog. An old lady lives next door that has home help visit every evening – when the help arrives, her dog goes absolutely nuts for about an hour – barking continuously. You would think a dog would get used to the same nurse visiting the house over and over – but no. It’s a dalmation, famous for being mentally challenged, and idiotically defensive.

I might have to make a playlist called “Music that drowns out a dog barking”.

I’m returning to Frankfurt in Germany with work next week. The taxi to the airport will arrive outside our house at breakfast time on Monday. Another week holed up in a hotel room, and eating dinner in restaurants alone. The days will fly by – the evenings will crawl. During past visits I have occupied myself with walking the city streets, taking in life happening around me. Perhaps this time I will summon the courage to visit the enormous sex shop in the centre of the city – more out of curiosity than anything. If you didn’t already know, prostitution is legal in Germany.

Guess who stayed in a hotel near the red light district during a visit last year, without realising there even WAS a red light district. When I discovered how close I had been, it made me realise not so much how little I had noticed, but how little I judge others – if I discovered somebody that struck up conversation with me in a bar was a sex worker, I would end up asking them a hundred and one questions about their life, their experiences, their hopes, and so on.

I have never started a conversation with anybody in a restaurant or bar while traveling with work. I tend to keep myself to myself – usually armed either with a book, or a phone. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for girls going out to eat alone, with the continual prospect of having to avoid unwanted attention.

Here’s a question though – if you were sitting in a bar after eating a bar meal, reading a well known novel, and somebody happened to sit nearby and comment on the book, does that qualify as ok? Are some interactions allowed? Or would you immediately suspect the book was being used as an excuse to engage you in conversation? I think I might.

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