fill 'er up

If we all lived up to our childhood dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up, the world might be a more creative, lively place. Or perhaps not, if you're a Berliner? I certainly was convinced that I was going to be a veterinarian; I was (am) a small girl and I loved (love) animals. Case closed. Until I accompanied my coughing-wheezing tortoise to our local vet one fateful day, and the kind vet, after hearing of my desires to join his lot, proposed I assist in giving the tortoise a vitamin shot. (It had to have been some sort of placebo. The wheezy thing died within a week anyway.) I eagerly agreed, sticking the long needle into the poor tortoise's rear. And hit a tortoise vein, or whatever they have that shoots blood vigorously over metal examining tables and small girls. The tortoise kicked, protesting silently in tortoise speak; I passed out on the tile floor.

And that was the end of that dream.

But others, perhaps, are made of stronger stuff. I was witness to a gaggle of frolicking Kindergartners the other day near Zionkirchplatz; it was one of those gloriously sunny and warm days, and even though the church grounds don't really qualify as a playground, per se, the kids didn't seem to mind. All the little boys of the group, about six of them, were armed with tricycles. (The girls were picking flowers. Sigh.) While the boys rode the trikes in circles, they mimicked the emergency vehicle sound. BEE-DOO-BEE-DOO. Loudly. Incessantly. I was about to start throwing things before I noticed that one of the boys, without trike, was jumping in front of his speeding friends, screaming "TANKSTELLE!"

Tankstelle. Filling station. He was playing the gas man. And violently so. His karate-chop arm would come down, smack the riding child in the chest, forcing them to a screeching tricycle stop. The stopped child would scream. The gas man would fastidiously run over to the right side of the trike, pretend to unscrew a cap, insert his other hand as a hose, glug some imaginary petrol in the hole, and then fasten the cap again. There might have been some discussion then over windshield cleaning. And then, with a majestic raising of the arm, the frustrated yet now-fueled trike rider would speed off for more donuts around the potted plants.

After one particularly heated pit stop (the Nein! Doch! Nein! Doch! went on for at least three minutes) the gas man finally closed his tankstelle and kicked a flat football around. A practical child; a modest dream. I fear, however, that the next generation of Berliner ought to dream bigger.