The setting was Hamburg, Germany. We had just finished a very nice meal. The group was four colleagues, all friends. We drank lots of beer and had some great conversation. It was decided we would go a few blocks and visit the red light district. Two of us were Americans, and had little experience with such an environment.
As we neared the district, the nightclubs and bars became more frequent. Sex shops replaced dress shops. This was the thriving party scene of Hamburg, this is where the Beatles earned their chops. We passsed a police station, a drunk was pissing on the side wall. As we found a place to park, couples staggered down the street.
We entered the walled-off area of the red light district. My friend told me the terse looking German painted in 12" letters said the block was off limits to women and children. The storefront displayed the enticing wares just like any department store. Some of the ladies wore negligees, some were naked. Most looked bored. Some smoked, some looked like they were stoned. Most were nubile, attractive, a few were older. At least one was heavy, her ponderous breasts swaying as she yelled at passersby. I tried not to look like the tourist I was, but to be honest we were all just window shopping.
We moved out through the gate at the other end. We began looking for a bar, Looking at naked whores can sure make you thirsty. Girls lined the sidewalk. "Hey, buy me a drink". "Want to come to my room?" "Want some company?" We are propositioned in German and English every ten steps. A girl slips her arm in mine. I look at her, she is about 25 and drop dead gorgeous. She wears glasses and has brown hair. She smiles at me and asks in heavily accented English if I want to go to her room. I must have practically had 'tourist -- American' printed on my forehead. Did I mention she was beautiful? I tell her no. She is gone in an instant. My German friend says most of these girls are Russian.
We go to a strip club. It is a weeknight and there are few customers. Clearly the "A" team is not performing. A girl sits beside me and asks my name. I make one up and pretend I can only speak French. I turn sideways a little and ignore her. We (the two Germans and I) are having a nice discussion about the Franco Prussian War. James, the young engineer, begins to talk to the girl. I only notice this from the corner of my brain. The three of us are all of an age; kids, work, etc. The other, James, is young 25 or so, just out of school. He has no interest in history. I think he wants to hire a hooker, but is too embarrased or afraid.
It is time to leave. We pay up. Suddenly, the girl is there with the bartender. A big bouncer is hovering in the background. James is livid, he has been billed $150 for a bottle of Champaign. He foolishly bought the girl a drink and let her choose. Of course, the three of us think the situation is hilarious, until Jim said he did not have that much money on him. The Germans engage in a heated discussion with the bartender. The girl gets very loud, shouting guttural German and pointing at James. My buddies tell him he has to pay. James gives his company credit card to the barman after we promise that he can claim that night and the next several nights as business dinners. We reluctantly agree, knowing we are now out for the next several meals from our own pocket. A cheap price to pay for the ability to humiliate the poor guy for months to come. He still gets red in the face if you ask him in a fake "Schultzie" accent to 'buy me ze trink, beeg boy?'