One time I got a haircut in a Polish train station. I wouldn't recommend it. The woman who gave me the cut must have been an amateur ornithologist because she fashioned the side of my head to resemble a whiskery brunette birdhouse. Jutting out over my right ear was a patch of locks that had been coifed to come to a triangular peak like the gable end of a tiny roof. Just above my ear the stylist had cut into the tuft a little door, perfectly rectangular and all the way in to my white bristled scalp. I was thankful to be at least symmetrical because the left side of my dome had an exactly matching back door that I deduced must be the exact shape of the business end of the clippers. I can't fault the woman. Who doesn't like to smoke and chat with coworkers while performing the tedious tasks of a workday?
As luck -- or a shrewd business strategy -- would have it, there was a knitted beanie shop next to the Polish train station beauty salon, and I snuggled into a woolen cap for my train ride to Berlin.
I arrived late in the evening at the Mitte Backpacker Hostel in East Berlin. After checking in, I met a young, friendly Hungarian couple cooking stew in the kitchen. She had made extra stew and shared a bowl with me, and we talked about the beer bars, Communist memorials, and "Hero's Square" in Budapest. We talked about America, and I told them about my dad and where I grew up.
Usually watching TV is the last thing I want to do when I hit Berlin, but it was November, around midnight, and I knew my hands would go numb in the cold if I tried to walk to my favorite bar on Oranienburgerstrasse. Besides, I had this ridiculous haircut, unfit for the club scene in any city.
I settled into the TV room, which was occupied by three other guys, and watched the close of Breakfast at Tiffany's . When the film ended and the lights came back on, there was one guy still awake, and I bummed a cigarette off of him.
"Hey, you American?" I asked, lighting the smoke.
"Yeah," he answered.
I checked my watch for the time and noticed the date and added, "Happy Thanksgiving."
"Hey, you too."
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, May 18
Bette Davis: Benevolent Volcano
TCM 9:30 a.m. Woof, there's a 10-dollar title for a nickel-a-peep show. Seems like a long walk just for the mail, doesn't it? Somebody got deep down into the weird place to come up with that one, and I don't think it's going to translate into Average American. I want to pinch the cheekies of the exec who came up with that one and coo, "Somebody's got an English Degree. Don't you. You're a good boy. Who's got an English Degree? You're a good boy."
WB 8:00 p.m. Band Geek Drama: Now with 30 percent more itchy stink!
Friday, May 19
A Dr. Phil Primetime Special: Escaping Danger
CBS 8:00 p.m. I don't want to offend anyone who's actually shot themselves in the foot. Nor would I dishearten the fine people who work for Dr. Phil. But the revolver's right here next to my chair, and my piggies are down there wiggling. In my mind, I'm playing a big game of "Would You Rather," and the answer keeps coming up bang bang limp limp .
Saturday, May 20
Shark Attack Rescuers
DSC 10:00 a.m.
How to Survive
DSC 11:00 a.m.
Surviving the Elements: Hurricanes
TWC 11:00 a.m.
The Year's Most Dangerous Survival Stories
DSC 12:00 p.m. Oh, my GOD! Oh, my God! Everyone freaking run and panic and trample each other to get batteries, a canoe, and chocolate bars! The cable broadcasters are WARNING us of the imminent threat of hurricanes and sharks. What if a hurricane blows a shark into your damned living room. You laugh now, but wait and see who looks silly without their helmet, duct tape, and baseball bat 10.5 (2004)
NBC 8:00 p.m. Oh, man. If you don't understand the title, it's in reference to the Richter Scale. This is a made-for-TV, fear-trigger drama about an earthquake destroying the western states. I'm going to loot Wal-Mart right now. I'm not waiting to be trampled in a teeming crowd. I'm going to hijack an electric motorized cart and head right for the shotguns and sewing machines. And sweet Mary help you if you get in my way.
Sunday, May 21
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
ABC 7:00 p.m. I can't watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition . They always pick a family of clubfoot, hunchback mongoloids who live in a doghouse, and they remodel the drafty shack into the Governor's Mansion. It always makes me cry a little. And also, Ty Pennington's voice gives me a mean breakout of herpes, so this show's right off the list for me.
Monday, May 22
In Hell (2003)
USA 5:00 p.m. A Jean Claude Van Damme prison movie. An ironic title, considering it's played on continuous loop back-to-back with Marky Mark's Planet of the Apes on the ninth level of the Inferno as a punishment to adulterers and pickpockets.
Tuesday, May 23
A Very Brady Sequel (1996)
USA 5:00 p.m. A Very Ollie Smashing of His TV and Stapling of His Eyelids
Wednesday, May 24
Secrets of the Sexes
PBS 9:00 p.m. Guys are simple. I'm about as mysterious as VCR instructions. Give me a sandwich, a bourbon, and some thigh-high fishnet stockings that make me feel like a caged lightning bolt when I run a feather up and down them, and that's all I need. Like I said, simple.
Thursday, May 25
So You Think You Can Dance
FOX 8:00 p.m. No, but I sure as hell could program a better TV show. Here, right off the top of my head, I'm thinking of a show that doesn't involve judged amateur dancing and BANG! I'm already one up on you.