The Madhouse

(Essay)

Berlin. The rumbling of heavy trucks and early street rage gently shook me out of my dreamscape. Mornings are so busy and imposing. The city seems to be in distress, but for all the wrong reasons, like an ant hive innocently poked with a branch by a little boy, who is taken away by his mother. The fuzz doesn’t care about the absence of a threat. I had seven hours of sleep but didn’t feel rested. The dream was disturbing and exhausting and dismissed me with a pounding heart as my swollen eyes caught the first glimpse of a bright, hot, hazy room.

The underground train station was just a minute from my doorstep, but like so often I missed my ride by a few seconds. All the commuters that had to give up on the train looked at each other for consolation of being left behind. A blond girl caught my eye. She wore skinny jeans, a grey fake fur jacket and had an empty backpack. Her legs were thin and she was severely intoxicated. It was 9 am. She didn’t seem to bother about any train or schedule. It was hard for her to stand up. She looked like a wooden puppet struggling to hold on to it’s strings. After a few minutes the match was lost and she slumped down against a dirty tiled pillar. The next train arrived.

I didn’t win the lottery that day. Once the train door came to a halt right in front of me. That never happened again, ever. I am usually stuck between two doors, surrounded by pale, empty faces pushing inside the compartments. Behind me people fell up and down stairs to catch the train. Some waddled swiftly, resembling alert ducks, and others stumbled like sprinting storks. There was no grace in this commotion, and they got rejected.

*

University, what a treat. I watched the youngsters feed at the start of the new semester. Like hungry, impatient dogs they swallowed every bit of information, thoroughly looking left and right with dead sincere vigilance. You could almost hear them growl. Every chunk seemed so crucial to survive. Undistracted by welcoming words of different authorities i candidly observed their physique and anxiety. During the first break I finally got complete vision of thighs, hips and bosoms of the new girls. They were displayed outside, smoking cigarettes, and inside, reading magazines, and talking about parties and their boyfriends. And they all drank a lot of coffee. No matter how late someone was or how scruffy from a rough night, coffee came first.

We had a lecture about the Marketing Mix. The teacher introduced himself: ”Some of you will love me and some of you will hate me. The majority usually hates me.“, he said with a self-absorbed grin. While the others were captivated by the show I got stuck staring at female hair. Hair that made the space between the back of two ears the most beautiful part of a living being; hair contouring the transition of neck and head, endlessly erogenous and elegant. But it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t help to guess the dimensions of those voluptuous cheeks they rested on. There seemed to be an inevitable, visual symbiosis between neck and bottom. A 19-year old guy sat next to me. He wore denim pants and a denim shirt. His skin was very pale, almost translucent. In a world made out of blue jeans he would have been invisible. In his hands a completely shattered Iphone, which still worked well enough to scroll down a hundred Facebook entries. It was outrageous, but also beautiful. Never had i seen glas so jagged but still perfectly smooth and harmless for our delicate fingertips.

I tried to focus on the girls again. The older ones of the pack eagerly nodded towards the lecturer. They answered the most trivial questions to get the fraction of a step ahead in their evaluation. Heads turned around when someone spoke. There was no clear pattern. Sometimes people needed to see who was talking and sometimes they didn’t. I watched one of my favorite girls fidget her fingers while she looked around. It was obvious that not the speakers appearance but her own subtle body movements and the resonance of her looks in the masses occupied her mind.

After the lecture I went to the cafeteria. I tried to read, do my homework, do anything productive, but I couldn’t concentrate. The maintenance guys had taken my favorite table at the big window through which you see the river. They had serious conversations and organic milk. My lack of sleep was catching up. I took a quarter of a caffeine pill. It was bitter. I saw a familiar looking girl sitting across the room. She had thick, maroon hair and her straight-cut fringe rested on the frame of her big glasses. Her body was curvy and her style honest and unpretentious. She got up to get some coffee and revealed her beautiful, big behind. I wanted to ask her if she wants to have sex with me on the toilet. No, I had to focus! I thought about my date last night. She didn’t give me a release and I had no time to masturbate after she left. I wanted to tell her that this is not working. No sex is not working.

I saw another girl I used to observe during the meals. She changed her hair color from blonde to light red. She had the body of a little girl. The face was cute, with big eyes and a domed forehead, like a baby. I wanted to have sex with her. An intrusive smell of food suddenly burst my bubble. The mensa had filled with feeding students. Piles of food suddenly surrounded me. Greedy and lip-licking, strange people stuffed their faces and voraciously swallowed their loot. I packed my things and went to the library. Outside the library I stopped and took a long look around me. I wanted to remember what the world looked like drenched in daylight.

*

I entered a vast field of fragmented, glowing tubes, illuminating every gap and corner, leaving no place to hide. An environment designed to perceive, to get work done; a venue for creation, not recreation. Everyone was on their own, facing the demons of procrastination and paralysis. I put my heavy backpack under the table. It was filled with paper, pens and way too much responsibility for a casual evening. I started to stare into the quiet masses. Ambitious and exhausted the students bent over tiny letters. The air was dry and warm from all the portable devices. Laptops were grinding away in the heat and under the constant strokes of swollen, sweaty fingertips. Books were stacking up, water bottles lay there patiently, waiting to hydrate the idle, sticky tongues. Only water was allowed, no juice, no food, no fun.

People wrote things down, scrolled down lists and papers, listened to music, browsed through the pages of magazines. Old faces without hair, young faces with braces and too much hair. Most faces were blanc, some were smiling and a few students were whispering. Some were barely staying awake. Their eyelids were just so heavy. Some had tacky pictures of their girlfriends on their desktop, to get a little reassuring company in this period of desolation. One guy took his watch off and placed it on the desk to oversee his work space. The lidless eye stared at him like an empty minded robot, ready to report even the slightest violation of schedule.

Why couldn’t i focus? It was my body. The pain was catching up. The pain from too little sleep. My body felt numb and tired and noisy. It was hard to get anything done with a grainy screen behind your eyes. I wrote a message to a girl from class and let her know that I was holding on to the scent of her hair, as my bright clearing in this thick, dusky forest. The girl next to me caught my attention. Her body was so perfectly round and at the same time blessed with a slim waiste. Her cheeks were not flat from the chair, they were still very round. I imagined her on top of me, with my hands burried in her hips and her juices pouring onto me with joy and relief. She was writing a long paper about metal plating, lots of numbers and tables. The sun outside was gone.

I browsed through some pages of my script to get an overview of the endless content still ahead. Fifteen minutes later I seriously needed a break. After the short distraction I rememberd now how tired I was. The girl sitting to my right started to peel an orange. I waited for the smell to impact on my nostrals. Time was dilated. It felt like a minute until my mouth was finally gushing out saliva – much longer than I expected. Thinking of fruit made me notice a silent hunger, but it wouldn’t be silent for long. I worried that soon it will turn me into a raging sociopath. I did some stretching on the floor to release my jammed spinal discs. People didn’t seem to care.

“How the hell does anyone study?“, I asked my self in utter disbelief. I couldn’t just stare at the charts like a drooling, lobotomized ape and hope that something will memorize itself. But I couldn’t produce scripts either. My handwriting had become a nuisance since elementary school. It was just plain and simply ugly, and my wrist hurt from it. My bottom started to hurt now too. Damn you curvy, flat-grooved hardwood chairs! It was getting late, red battery lamps everywhere. For most the plugs were too far. I had given my charging cable to a girl I liked and traded four hours of valuable, digital notes for a tiny gain in her affection. I realized that there was no point in this. The madhouse had broken me; down into irritated spare parts without purpose and origin. I went home.

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