englisch Too Big a Fool to Refuel

Too Big a Fool to RefuelStatesboro, März 2003

Translator: Jörg S. Tittel, New York
Original title: Zu dumm zum Tanken (14/12/2000)
published in:
Das Schweigen am andern Ende des Rüssels
– als Demo-CD für: Das Schweigen am andern Ende des Rüssels, Hoffmann und Campe, Aufnahme vom 27/3/01


Already I had turned away, had hidden in my silently glittering Chevrolet, in order to peacefully debate with myself what should be done next, when suddenly the voice rang out. A high friendly voice that poured over me like a torrential flood of vowels and consonants, from a speaker somewhere underneath the roof of the gasoline station. It poured over me, the Chevy, the gas pumps; loud and clear, and yet utterly incomprehensible.

I somehow managed to crawl out of my hiding place, looked around inconspicuously to see whether the guy with the hat had returned, perhaps amused by the lectures I had endured. I looked around in all other directions whether any other car might stop – another man with a hat might want to ridicule me. And discovered nobody. But as I was
standing there and didn’t dare reach for the gas nozzle, my eye fell beyond the gas pump – to the opposite side of the street: where the pumps of the competition where waiting. That was it, the solution !!! And it was so simple! In the twinkle of an eye I relaxed and: drove over to the other side.

Before refueling I observed the place and the things: they seemed to be exactly like the ones whose very complexities I had tried to grasp on the other side. Tailored replicas, merely the coloring had been rearranged from red-black to red-blue. Luckily, I was the only one in attendance and therefore had the choice between, oh, let’s see, roughly twenty possibilities: naturally I drove toward the one, which to the cashier – at least from the window where I suspected him to be – was the least bit visible. I stepped out, seized the gas nozzle with a casualness, as if it were a $10 bill shoved over a bar with ease, and pushed it – Relax! Relax! – into the nozzle of my Chevy. I chose the gas sort, pushed the red button, took a deep breath and – took another deep breath and – had to admit, that nothing happened. Nothing at all. Oh, I really could have howled, and since that was out of the question: I could’ve just smashed the whole affair to pieces, and since that was out of the question: tried to calm down.

After all it was not the first time that this country had left me speechless…

– In front of a pretty hot Texmex Chic at a pretty hot “Fuckerware Party” in Phoenix, who chatted me up – me of all people ?! – who immediately understood that I was a dimwit who clumsily tried to justify his stammering with “Sorry, I’m German.” She walked away, leaving me with a plain “Nazi”;

– In Manhattan, close to the Empire State building, where a nimble-fingered guy was shoving around three cards on a cardboard box with such provocative slowness – “Where’s my apple?” – until I was absolutely certain and lost $ 20 when the card I pointed to was turned around;

– At the entrance of a dump gorge in LA which I took to be at least the Laurel Canyon during my nocturnal search for a suitable parking space: where early the next morning the sheriff drummed his Billy club along the car roof, so that I, waking up, stared right into his colleagues’ barrel: “No overnight parking, Sir”;

– And also in a Chicago suburb, years ago, I was left dumbfounded, at B.L.U.E.S., where Johnny Dollar & The Scan’lous Band provided the evening program: lots of nobody’s, nevertheless better than any Fleetwood Mac or Chicken Shack, whom we had so far thought the greatest. Constantly somebody from the audience walked upon the stage and played along, so that there were more and more of them, unbelievable. But then, as the three incumbent Background singers glittered before me – “Shubidi – a, shubidu – a” – probably because I was the only one who hadn’t signed-up for the contest, as they held their three microphones in front of my face – “shubidu – a, shubidu – a” – where my mouth was supposed to be, only a horrified dullness reigned, there –

– suddenly the voice rang out. It rang out again, the voice from above, the voice from the speaker, it rang out again and a tremendous torrent of vowels and consonants poured over me, loud and clear – yeah, that’s right – but totally completely a hundred percent entirely incomprehensible again.

As the stream of syllables dried up with a small crack, I stood there fulfilled with noble simplicity and calm greatness; grace, dignity and a buzzing emptiness whirled through me from head to toe. I was nothing but a completed hollow body, a resonator of the Categorical Imperative, breathlessly surrounded by the gasoline pumps of this world. (…)