I was reluctant when my hairstylist wanted to set me up with another one of her customers: a tall, blonde, gorgeous, German nurse. I’ve been on a lot of bad dates, like the one where I sat in silence across from a Pilates instructor who looked at her watch and said: “Let’s give this another 15 minutes, shall we?” and we sat there still not speaking until she got up to go. Or the time I met a woman from Chicago though an online dating site who turned out to have Tourette Syndrome. When I was living and working in Berlin I even had one bizarre date with a Russian hairdresser who looked like a younger version of my mother. She insisted on cutting my hair after we went to the movies in what must have been some Slavic idea of foreplay.
But Ulrike didn’t leave me much choice in the matter—sort of like Hitler’s invasion of Poland. She didn’t wait on my stylist to forward my contact information, but looked me up during a slow spell on her shift at the ICU. Here is her initial email:
Hi Paul!! I am hoping this is you’re email Adresse! I got it from google…NO I am not a stalker!!! LOL. I am thinking we might want to be going out for Coffee sometime? Anyways, LEt me know! Ulrike B—–
I confess that I did what most men would do when receiving an email from a German nurse who could, in her spare time, dabble in high-end porn films: I searched the Internet for more pictures. Sadly, I was only able to come up with a brief mention of a stint as a yoga instructor and this:
Resident’s React to Proposed Homeless Shelter
“I just don’t think the homeless are good for this neighborhood, because this is a nice neighborhood and this isn’t going to make it any nicer. It’s going to make it harder for the decent people to sell their houses,” said Ulrike B—–.
I freely admit that this should have been a Sign. I mean, as if the ‘LOL’ wasn’t enough.
Still, I found myself trudging to the Weary Traveler Bar last Wednesday night to meet her. Readers will be pleased to know that I wore my good jeans, the tight ones, and tried to will myself taller: You are going to have to bring your A-game Paul, I thought to myself. Maybe you shouldn’t wear underwear….
Ulrike turned out to be even taller (easily 6 feet, although her heels, which she later admitted she wore on purpose, didn’t help) and even more good looking than I remembered. We exchanged pleasantries in German and sat down, where our relative torso lengths allowed me to more or less finally look her in the eyes.
Here is what she opened with: “Hey so, you are short! Ha, one in the ‘con’ side, right?” I will state for the record here that I am in fact 5’9 and 3/4″. I feel this is only a touch on the short side in the United States, and probably quite tall in say, the Philippines. I remember thinking that this was going to be a long night.
“But you’re not so old as I was thinking,” she continued. “I was actually telling my mother about this date and I said you were old, maybe 40 or older. ‘Maybe this is good for you Ulrike’ she says to me.”
“Well, I’m 39.”
“Wow. I want you to know though: I’m just looking for friends right now. I just got out of a, you know, abusive relationship: he killed my cat.”
“Jesus, your ex-boyfriend killed your cat? I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah, well, I went to the Bahamas and he starved it to death. It wasn’t on purpose. He just can’t take care of anything.”
“Starved? How long were you gone for?”
“Three days. But it was a small cat.”
Thankfully at this point our food arrived. I ordered another whiskey even though I wasn’t finished with my beer. I figured it might be helpful to have some hard alcohol in my system to cushion the shock.
“I hope you didn’t mind that I looked you up online?” she asked.
“Oh not at all. Though that photo though of me isn’t very good.”
“I know,” she said. “I almost didn’t come on this date. But my girlfriend said ‘go anyway. Ugly guys try harder.’ Not, I mean, that you’re ugly…” she hastily added after she saw the utter astonishment on my face. Here again, I will freely admit that between Brad Pitt and Paul Giamatti, I tend towards Giamatti. But I usually only let people I’m related to call me ugly.
I decided to change the subject.
“So do you like your job? You’re a nurse, right?”
“Oh, I love it. Intensive care. I work the night shift: less people. I hate dealing with the people. We get the heads or the bellies.”
“You mean, to treat?”
“Yes. I don’t like the heads. They tend to linger. Tumors and stuff like that. Bellies go faster. Mainly med-evaced in from little hospitals.” She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I’m going to tell you something that might save your life: never have anything done on your belly in a little hospital. They always fuck it up.”
“I’ll try to remember that.”
“But you know, everyone says it must be hard to work in the ICU, so many deaths and all that. I don’t mind, you know? Sorry, but like: some people shouldn’t live. I’m like ‘pull the plug!’ I like to see people die!’ She laughed.
This was the first, and I hope last time anyone tells me, without irony, that she likes to watch people die.
“So tell me Ulrike, are you happy in the U.S.? Or do you think about going back to Germany?”
“Oh I couldn’t go back to Germany: too many Muslims. A blond woman like me, you can’t go to the disco. All the Turks come up to talk to you. Short little men on the dance floor rubbing themselves on you. We’ve got a real problem in Europe with them.”
“Muslims or discos?”
“Exactly. These people are taking over. It’s like there aren’t any real Germans left.”
Apparently, then, I had stumbled into a date with one of Doktor Mengele’s Gestapo nurses, cryogenically frozen at the close of World War II and revived by the secret Nazi underground resistance and shipped to the United States to undermine the American health care system, one patient at a time.
“I see. Well, there are Muslims here too of course.”
“Sure, just not so many. But then, you have the blacks.” Anytime someone uses the definite article before a race or ethnicity, you know to brace yourself. “I tell them: there is a difference between Africa and African-Americans. I’m like: stop your whining. Go back to Africa and see what it’s like there.”
Now I know racism still exists in this country. I mean, despite Obama and all. But I’ll be damned if I was going to let some filthy foreigner take bigotry away from hard-working American Southerners. I felt it was time to make a stand, even though she clearly had a height advantage on me, and as we had already found out, had no compunctions about cold-blooded killing. Although it might cost me the chance of ever impressing my high school classmates at that 25th reunion, I was determined to put her in her place.
“Um, well, I don’t think that’s quite the point.”
Ok, not my best effort, I admit.
“I’ll tell you the point: the point is that some people are a waste of space.” She drew her hand across her throat and I decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Or getting the hell out of there.
We parted civilly, sort of like Hitler and Chamberlain after the negotiations for Czechoslovakia, and I walked back home to try to digest what had just happened. I resolved never to go on another date with the Germans.
This morning, I got this email:
Hey Paul, Just wanted to say thanks for the nice evening, i had fun. Looking forward to seeing you again!
Paul Houseman is a (still) single writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Smew, and on his mother’s refrigerator. If anyone is interested in dating him, drop him a line. A picture wouldn’t hurt either.