diplomat date

I’ve written in the past of my semester spent in Vienna, Austria – it was during the spring of my Sophomore year in college – 1984 to be exact. I was thin, and young, and single.

I had spent the afternoon at the Stadtpark enjoying the warmer weather and watching the ducks in the pond. I was heading back to the Graben, which was a large pedestrian mall off Stephansplatz, when a man approached me and asked in German for directions.

I began to answer him in German/English, when he smiled and said, “Hey, I’m American too.”

He was looking for the Graben, and since I was headed that way, I told him to follow me. We walked and talked, me explaining how I was a student studying abroad for the semester, he telling me how he was an American diplomat to Budapest visiting Vienna for the weekend.

Hmmm – a diplomat, eh? My somewhat sluttish roomates had had run ins with foreign diplomats in the past – big spending womanizers who got them drunk and tried to take advantage of them. In the case of my very loose roomies, they probably succeeded.

Once we reached the Graben he gestured to a cafe and asked if I would let him buy me a drink as thanks. I began to refuse, but he insisted, and I have to admit, I was enjoying his company. His name was Dave, and we sat outside and drank beer after beer, and got to know each other. I remember I was supposed to meet somebody to play volleyball that afternoon, and I totally blew it off.

It was getting late, and he asked if he could take me out to dinner. I have to admit, I was attracted to him. He was older…in his early thirties, and me? I was only 19. Not wanting our day to end, I agreed, and we set a time to meet a few hours later.

We dined at some outdoor restaurant in the city. I remember I didn’t eat much – I ordered a modest bowl of soup/stew. After dinner we went back to his car only to find it gone. He was furious because the car had diplomatic plates and shouldn’t have been towed.

We found out where the car had been towed to and took a cab there. He told me to not let on that he was fluent in German – we should just act like two Americans waiting for their car. It was a brilliant move.

We sat and watched while the two tow guys talked amongst themselves about how much to bilk us for in order to get the car back. Dave was listening, and understanding, every word exchanged between them. When they finally quoted him a rather large price, he began screaming at them in German. I don’t know what he said to them, but we were given our car back very quickly and without having to shell out as much as a single Groschen.

I was amazed by this man. The swarthiest men I’d seen at U of D wore plaid shorts with blazers and boat shoes at the football games. But this guy? He was as slicker than James Bond in my eyes.

It was very hard to say goodnight to him – he was headed back to Budapest the next day. As we stood outside the door to my Pension he asked me back to his hotel. It was very tempting, but I was a good girl.

I said no.

We exchanged addresses and wrote each other a few letters. I remember getting one on official US Diplomat stationery, which I thought was super cool at the time. I wonder if I still have that tucked away somewhere? I still have his photo in one of my old albums – it’s old and cracked. It’s hard to believe he sent it to me almost 30 years ago.

Diplomat

It’s one of those nights a girl just doesn’t forget…a whirlwind spring romance crammed into one magical, adventurous day. Do dudes remember days like that, or is that reserved for love-struck 19 year olds spending spring in Vienna?

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