Walking home we were following a guy who could not stop fiddling with his own underpants. They were clearly intensely uncomfortable and as he walked, he plucked at them, front and back. It was amusing because he was so beautifully dressed, with a calculated insouciance that, as it turns out, requires constant upkeep. He plucked at his undies from behind. He tried lifting his belt away from his lean belly in front to sort of tug from inside. With pinched fingertips he took another slurp at the back end. Finally in desperation he started shoving his hand down the front of his trousers to rearrange everything for comfort.
We were in stitches. My companion kept up a running commentary, gravely observing in an undertone as though reporting a flock of seagulls on the pitch during a slow game of cricket. The guy was in an agony of discomfort and we were in an agony of suppressed gales of laughter. It was just too picturesque. The long-legged boy and his long-legged friend had identical sloping gaits. They were tall and stooped forward as they walked, curving their shoulders, wearing a uniform of sorts: black stovepipe jeans. Leather jackets. Wide belts. Greased hair and sunglasses propped up in the slew. All of this grooming and devil may care was undermined by the incessant twitching and plucking. They reached a bench facing the water and plonked themselves down. We drew level with them. I was carrying a metre-wide loop of rusted metal I had found in the street and when I picked it up, saying, Oh! isn’t this beautiful! my companion said: so long as it doesn’t end up in my apartment – it’s lovely.
I said to the beautiful young man as he lounged there, “Du sollst diesen Slip wegwerfen, er ist offensichtlich total unbequem.” I saw him turn to his friend to say, “I have no idea what that…” So I turned back. “You should throw those underpants away. Clearly they’re just completely uncomfortable.”
His face broadened to a smile. He said, with a lilting whinge, “I want to put them in my friend’s bag but my friend won’t let me.” Australian. The friend rolled his eyes. We were all grinning like maniacs. “You should put them in the bin,” I said, pointing to the scuffed receptacle standing by them, surrounded by its usual audience of open-mouthed beer bottles like a choir of baby penguins. He said, “Just they’re these really nice underpants…” “No,” I told him, “No. They’re not for you.” “Ahhh,” he said, lying back in his splendour in the sunshine by the sparkling water, the summer of his life he bought a leather and went to Berlin.