All of the people in these stories are over 18 years old!
Young men in the morning light 01
At 6:18 a.m. on an autumn Sunday morning, it is really very early and the city center is almost deserted when I reach the entrance portal of a large department store, enjoying the unusual silence of our largest shopping street, which is usually crowded with people.
On the way there, besides the hardworking men from street cleaning, I hardly met anyone else, but in almost every entrance of the many department stores and office buildings I saw homeless men lying in their sleeping bags. Sheltered from the wind, and at least somewhat warmed by the ventilation of the respective entrances. Most of them were apparently still in deep sleep.
However, it is different here at Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz. The intense light of the morning sun, which is inclined in the sky and illuminates the entrance of this department store, seems to have already woken up the two men who had placed their sleeping bags across the wide glass doors. At first I only noticed one of them. Crouching on the floor in front of his dirty green sleeping bag, he rummages in an equally dirty-looking large shopping bag. While I’m still amazed that people are already thinking about getting up here, today, when the department store won’t even open on Sunday, I also noticed the owner of the second sleeping bag.
I see him standing exactly between the monumental columns that flank this huge entrance portal. The slender young man stands naked, except for a pair of wrinkled boxershorts, which are also green, and even barefoot, with legs apart in the almost harsh sunlight of this morning. I can literally feel how vigorously he presses his bare feet on the floor. As he stretches his arms up, I see how his narrow, hairy man’s chest expands with a deep breath. An unexpected joy flows through my whole body when the young man starts a long primal scream to greet the sun, the morning, life and me.
Young men in the morning light 02
A pleasant, fresh wind blows from the river towards me when I stand on the jetty of Bridge 10 on this astonishingly warm Sunday morning, and watch the ship traffic, busy as it always is. Various small and large ships are astonishingly nimble on the wide river, but when, slowly coming out of a side arm, a gigantic container ship pushes itself into the bustling picture that the tugs, freighters, and ferries offer me this morning, it seems to claim the fairway so much for itself that one feared that shipping traffic would now come to a complete standstill. It’s only 7:25 a.m., but as is well known, this urban port never rests.
Standing there in the bright morning sun, for a moment I enjoy the truly beautiful sight that the port city affords me today. I feel the jetty swaying slightly under my feet, and how the cool breeze dries the sweat on my skin. A precious moment of calm in my otherwise noisy hometown.
While I was still enjoying the panorama of the river, which was full of small movements, I perceived another movement out of the corner of my eye, and when I turned my head I saw two young men at the other end of the jetty. Obvious holdovers from the previous night, I’m not sure if their swaying is just due to the troubled ground we’re standing on. Viewed from a distance, they form a lively amorphous mass of colors and movements, and their exuberant youthful laughter wafts over to me. Only a second look allows me to fully grasp the scenery.
The laugh I heard actually only came from one of the two young men who sat down on a harbor bollard that was much too low for his height. He crouches with his long legs bent, and again and again a cheerfully swelling laugh breaks out of him, while he throws his arms up in the air enthusiastically and cheers on his friend.
His friend, with presumably residual drunkenness and youthful cockiness, seems to have taken a swim in the definitely ice-cold river. When I see him, he is standing naked on the dock, dripping with water. A pale, shivering boy who’s still damp, thick hair conjures up wild patterns on the skin of his legs and buttocks. Standing a little bit dazed with his friend, he gives off a slim, lanky figure, seems completely lost against this background of bright blue and passing ships, and maybe he is just a bit shocked himself, by his bold leap into the surging waters of the river.
As the water running down from his body slowly puddles around his feet, he stands there, his head bowed almost shyly, for a moment completely withdrawn. But the enthusiasm of his friend about this youthful feat not only reaches me, it also gets through to the boy, pulls him out of his brief contemplation, infects him, seizes him, and makes him awaken to new high spirits. Now also very enthusiastic, I can watch how the boy’s joie de vivre returns, how he begins to dance there on the pier, how he, lit by the bright morning sun, turns naked in a circle so that the drops of water splash from his body, and how with each of his dance steps his genitals, wrinkled from the cold water, jump merrily to the beat.
After only a few short minutes, this renewed exuberance also ends, the two young men find each other again, and crouching at the bollard together, they again become a mere colorful spot for me against the swaying background of the morning river. Only their mutual giggles at this successful joke accompanied me for a while, as I slowly walked away from Bridge 10 and immersed myself in the never-ending stream of tourists.
Young men in the morning light 03
It is an early, but already bright, Sunday morning when I climb the dusty path to St. Michaelis, our main church, and, completely lost in my thoughts, step up the many stairs leading towards it.
Halfway up the hill, my inner devotion is disturbed by a young man who, muttering into his mobile phone, quickly overtakes me. With the flawless appearance of a photo model: athletic, tanned, in fashionable, very short cargo shorts, and with light slippers on his feet, he walks quickly past me, also in the direction of St. Michaelis. Looking at his receding figure, I feel a glow emanating from him, that equals this summer morning, and the sun-bleached hair on his legs, speak to me of the days he presumably spent on the deck of his sailing yacht.
After the ascent, I mingle with the colorful crowd of worshipers and early tourists who have already gathered in front of the large portal of the church, to let this, as always, slightly chaotic hustle and bustle affect me. While elderly women, who are carefully dressed up, quickly strive towards the open church doors, and thus the beginning of the Sunday service, a round German man attracts my attention, who has gathered an Asian tour group around him, and explains the architecture of the imposing building in apparently perfect Mandarin, and with sweeping gestures. It is a little painful to realize how much this self-proclaimed guide enjoys the attention he has been given. But neither suspects the chubby gentleman in this “his” moment, nor will he ever realize that this day does not belong to him at all.
Because the unexpected miracle of this day happens when the cackling tour group reveals the center of the picture, and disappears to the right in the backdrop.
There he sits, the young man whose skin had spoken to me about salt and sea water. He has settled down on one of the boundary stones opposite the steps of the church portal, and he looks at the people facing him with his head held high. The light of the already strong morning sun literally shimmered the air around him.
Sitting directly in front of the entrance to the house of God, the young man had taken off his shoes and socks along with his already bare legs, and offered us his beautiful bare feet as a token of his vulnerability and innocence. When he then raised his open hands to extend them to the people in a gentle and welcoming gesture, the young man offered a picture of simply overwhelming grace and beauty.
As I looked around after a brief moment of immersion in his radiant sight, I became aware that obviously none of the many people around me had paid any attention to this moment of extraordinary beauty. Each and every one of them seemed to me to be completely blind, and completely trapped in their own world.
Since we were in the strict north of Germany and not in India, I painfully realized that I would unfortunately hardly be able to kneel down in front of this unknown man, and, as a sincere sign of my humility, to kiss his bare feet. How I would have loved to feel the fine hairs on the back of his feet on my lips.
Young men in the morning light 04
The weekly market takes place on our small town hall square, on this very early morning, but both the number of stalls and the number of visitors are astonishingly low today. The place in front of me is almost deserted in the hazy sunlight, and only a few of the alcoholics usually found here have already turned up for an early shift.
While I look a little disappointed at the desolate scenery, a man stands next to me quite suddenly, whose approach had escaped my attention. Tall, slim, dressed entirely in black, and admittedly with a youthful demeanor, but on closer examination, already at a more mature age. His head tilted slightly to one side, coquettishly, he asked, if he could speak to me.
A little frightened as I was by his sudden appearance, I immediately prepared myself for a physical argument and felt how my entire musculature tensed. But what actually happened then really hit me completely unexpectedly, and for a moment it left me almost speechless with astonishment.
He came over to me because he wanted to tell me, what a cool, yes really cool shirt I would wear, that would just look great on me. Studying my puzzled face, he added that he just notices something like that, and that he was one of the few, who then speaks directly to people, and tells them how good they look.
Assuming that the man was trying to make a stupid joke on me, I mumbled a few noncommittal expressions of thanks, eyed him as inconspicuously as possible, and tried to give my voice back its briefly lost self-confidence. But before I could figure out this really strange situation, the very sympathetic and sincere looking man took the initiative again, and a second time put me in boundless astonishment and increasing embarrassment.
After smiling at me, “May I?” he had asked, and as I nodded unsuspectingly, I found myself standing in the middle of our weekly market, in the deep embrace of a man who was completely strange to me. As soon as our bodies had broken away from this short but close contact, he tilted his head to the side again, and while he was still saying: “You are really a very sweet one!”, he leaned over to blow me a kiss on my lips. And after he had stroked the bare skin of my shirt neckline, he turned around and walked away. As I was standing there in our marketplace, I felt quite confused, stupid and duped, but when our tongues touched each other for seconds, that had been like a revelation that made my skin tingle. And raising my gaze up to the sky, I noticed how much not only I, but also the sun had gained strength in the time passed.