The Queer Riveter: VIGNETTES by Simon Froehling

playing berlin

and this is how: watch a buzzard catch a crow in the tiergarten and be overwhelmed by the cruelty and go shopping but not buy anything after all and let you stamp the credit for my coffee on your loyalty card and bitch about schaubühne because crave is completely sold out and pretend that we know everyone and even the playwright although the playwright is long dead and we barely know anyone especially me and go to the cinema instead and watch a terrible american movie but still kind of like it and take your new friend to a bar where women actually aren’t allowed and not really get into the swing of things and only realise at home that we should have bought wine and have good sex for the first time in ages even without kissing and watch tv together in the old-fashioned rocking chair and for a short while feel no jealousy whatsoever and sleep until the others get back from partying in the east and treat them all to coffee at the flea market and buy your friend a green shawl made out of raw silk and say goodbye to her because she has mysterious plans for lunch and lose the others somewhere by the vinyl and find the east german sandman but don’t buy the doll even though it’s really cheap because you think that’s far too nostalgic and cruise home hand in hand through the tiergarten and not spot a single guy who could be interested not even from afar and remember that buzzard catching that crow or was it a hawk and get invited for dinner and again the east and find an excuse to go out on our own and right at the end tell you that you smell of music much too loud and promise myself not to miss you and repeat the promise and repeat the promise and repeat the promise. and then leave again.


after all

after all the bedrooms and the kitchens, the sofas and the tables, the back seats of cars, after all the train stations and airports, the cottaging and cruising in clubs and outdoors, after all the danger, the fear and the exhilaration, after all the couples and throuples, or is it triads? all the tirades! after groups and orgies with twinks and bears and cubs and otters in leather and latex, in rubber, in nothing, after the big, the small, the medium, the tiny, the huge, the horse, the massive and the monster, after lots of foreskin (like nature intended), after cut, after bent, after beer can and mushroom, after thick and thin, after rough, after tender with truckers and bankers, with judges and divers, with artists and waiters, lawyers and painters, after all the your-place-or-mines, the showers, the bathtubs, the pools and the oceans, after all the poppers, the viagra (but never together), the roofies, the coke, the ghb and the tina, after the ecstasy, the ecstasy! and all that coming down, after the cum, the spit, the sweat and the piss, after manhunt, scruff and grindr, those graveyards of quickies, of boyfriends, of lovers, after all those hanky codes and abbreviations – the ff, the pp, the tt, the what? – after all that bdsm with the muscled, the chubby, the toned, the tanned and the way-too-skinny, after all the porn and the piercings, the tattoos and the tickling, after all the jerking and jacking but mainly the fucking with exes, with friends, with neighbours, with lovers, again and again the strangers, the strangers, after the kissing and licking and sucking and spitting, the slapping, the whipping, the fisting and the rimming, after rome and paris, berlin and zurich, after london, madrid and athens, to be honest?

to do absolutely nothing

in bed with someone

except perhaps: netflix.


Hobbies: none

As a child I could hear the ocean in the large conch that lay on my mother’s nightstand, and as a young adult a Thai lover taught me to dive. For the first time in my life I felt entirely in my element, as the expression fittingly goes.

A lot has happened since:

I received an education and found not only a job but also a vocation. I travelled a lot and had busloads of sex. I was ill for a very long time, always in love and often had a man by my side – usually the wrong one – and twice a dog. I planted trees, wrote poems, but never killed anyone (apart from myself nearly, once). I was always quite poor, which troubled me more than I care to admit. I moved to a fast, dirty and very loud city in a cheaper and much sunnier country, where I will always feel a bit out of place, as I will in its language, which I don’t mind at all. I’ve been sober for nearly as long as I was an addict. I know myself well and nearly believe the voice that keeps repeating that I’m no longer searching for anything – especially for something as elusive as love. I was rarely content, which I regret, but which will pay off when I fill books with it one day.

For now, however, it suffices to say:

I have learnt to lie down on my bed, flat on my back, entirely still. I have learnt to block out the noise and the stench, the sweltering heat, and to sink deep down into myself. I need no shell, nor do I need an ocean, and I swear: I can see all the fish in the world.

By Simon Froehling

These vignettes were either written in English or translated from German by the author.

A bilingual, German-English version of playing berlin was published in the Swiss literary magazine Entwürfe in 2006 and the Solothurn Literary Day’s anthology New Swiss Writing in 2008.

The original German version of Hobbies: none was published in the Swiss literary magazine Orte as well as the only queer German-language literary publication Glitter in 2018.

Read The Queer Riveter in its entirety here.


Simon Froehling was born in Switzerland to an Australian mother and a Swiss father. Roughly a dozen of his plays were produced or published before he graduated in 2009. His BA thesis included the novel Lange Nächte Tag, which was published to critical acclaim by Bilgerverlag. Simon has received numerous awards for his work, most recently the Network cultural prize for his contribution to queer arts in 2014. Around the same time he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.


Photo of Simon Froehling © Nikkol Rot

Category: The Queer RiveterThe RiveterTranslationsJune 2019 - The Queer RiveterLiterally SwissLS Extracts

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