Arnon Grunberg


Not a very difficult task

Yesterday afternoon I had coffee with Andrea in Prague. The more regular reader of this site may know Andrea as a commenter. To other readers I will introduce her as a young woman from Brno.
We went to a café near my hotel where Andrea ordered a glass of red wine and I asked for mineral water, white wine and mozzarella with tomatoes. I didn’t have time for a proper lunch.
Andrea said: “Excuse me, I have to use the bathroom.” Three minutes later my phone rang. It was Andrea. She said: “I’m stuck in the men’s room. Can you help me? I cannot open the door.” I went to the men’s room and I opened the door, which was not a very difficult task.

“Why did you go to the men’s room?” I asked Andrea.

“There was a line for the ladies room.”

“Fair enough,” I answered. “I hope this is not going to offend you, but did you lock yourself up in the men’s room because you wanted to kiss me?”

Andrea got a bit angry. “Your accusations are really upsetting,” she said.

“Listen, I’m not accusing you of anything. I just don’t like to be raped.”

She drank her red wine; I ate my mozzarella.

“Did you ever have sex in a bathroom?” she asked.

“In the fall of 1998,” I answered. “In an Italian restaurant in Siena; in the summer of 2008 on a train between Zurich and Munich. Next time will be in 2018.”

Then I had to go to the book fair for a discussion about Europe and identity.