Tales of Everday Life
The Wedding Visa
"What do you mean, three months?"
The immigration official’s words had just dug a crater-sized hole in my heart. What had happened to only three weeks outside of Schengen to get my visa renewed?
"Is there anything I can do to stay?" I asked the official at MA35, crushed.
"Well, do you have a boyfriend you’d like to marry?" she asked brightly.
I blinked. Had I missed the "dating service" window? Maybe it was next to the cashier …
I laughed nervously. She must be kidding. Then she mentioned it again. By the third time, I stared in blank-eyed disbelief as she ran through a checklist of what I should look for in a "partner" – his job status, housing registration, nationality and financial records. So much to consider.
I pictured myself firing invasive questions at some poor, unassuming man, totally violating first date protocol: "Do you have a criminal record? What kind of spousal benefits does your job offer? Can I move my shoe collection to your place?"
I wanted to stay in Vienna, but marriage?
I shrugged. Maybe it was something to consider. If anything, I’d have a good icebreaker for my next dinner party.
The Snow Queen
One night in early December, I was walking home on Hütteldorfer Strasse in the 15th District. There are often a few "ladies of the night" who work this particular street, swaying their hips at passing cars, clad in nothing more than tights, high heels, and cropped jackets, despite the bitter cold.
This night, there had been a heavy snowfall. As I passed a nightclub that evidently employs these women, I noticed one of them shovelling snow. All business and concentration in her white stiletto go-go boots, her thong showing through her flesh-coloured tights, and pom-poms swinging from her puffy white jacket, she wielded a large snow shovel with robot-like precision, heedless of the cars whizzing by.
Somewhere between laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation and crying at obvious injustice done to a fellow sister, I needed a rationalisation. I had it: The physical activity was probably keeping her warm.
Have you been a good boy, Santa?
"His name’s Nick", my friend said, sensing my obvious intrigue. We were in Museumsquartier, quietly observing passers by, when my eye fell on one man who seemed … festive, to say the least.
"He’s an American who’s been hitchhiking his way around the world for the past 24 years, and he’s very into this whole Christmas thing", my friend explained. "He dresses like this all year around …"
With a long white beard, red puffy overalls, pointy hat and a belly to match, he really did look like he had just fallen off the sleigh.
Feeling my sudden interest, "Santa" approached us with a broad smile, eager to sell us his story.
"So … where are you from, Nick?" we indulged him.
"Why, the North Pole, of course," he laughed.
Oh, it’s on, I thought to myself.
But right as I was going to splinter straight through his holiday masquerade, two long-legged teenage girls wearing belts as skirts and elf hats snuck up from behind him and then immediately fell in a three-way embrace.
"Shall we go, Santa?" they giggled. "They’re expecting us at the …"
At this point I stopped listening, utterly stunned by the scene I had just witnessed.
I guess Christmas pays off for some, after all.