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  • "Where do you want to eat?"

    A similar discussion had led us to this part of Frankfurt with restaurants and pubs, noise, lights, and people filling the streets. We avoided the red-light district, took the Underground and walked a bit, deciding halfheartedly on a Turkish place (sight unseen) but the stand looked forlorn and there didn't seem to be anywhere to sit. Across the street, a knot of people queued at a Lebanese place.

    "That looks interesting," my friend said with a shrug so we crossed the street.

    Jaywalking, I veered right to avoid a pair of policemen. Cute. Official. I imagined Germans frowned upon things such as jaywalking, and I didn't know nearly enough German to talk myself out of trouble, not even with darling officers.

    We joined the much-jostled line and made our way to the front.

    "Hummus!" I shouted to the man behind glass. "And a Fanta!"

    "A what?"

    "A Fanta!"

    I mimed drinking.

    "Oh!" he shouted. "A Fanta!"

    "A Fanta!"

    I handed him money. He handed me food and drink, and I joined my friend at the surprisingly empty picnic table she found adrift between kebabs, burgers and drunks. I took a seat facing the street and bit into my sandwich.

    Parsley exploded into the space between teeth. I was certain to find it there for days, but I was grateful for the hummus I'd missed for days in the Adriatic. A vegetarian option that didn't involve pizza! I sipped my Fanta and looked around.

    "What's going on there?"

    The cute cops had crossed the street to talk to the driver of a car parked at the curb. Had they pulled him over ? Was he already there?

    A couple joined us at the table and a couple of girls at my left, which would have been right, if I were facing forward. All of us watched the scene unfold as did many of the people milling in various states of inebriation.

    Two bottled blonds in very short dresses climbed out of the car with a brunette friend. One pulled on an enormous faux fur vest, took it off again and climbed back into the passenger seat. The two girls slid into the back, out, in. Nobody seemed sure of where they should be but the cops made it clearer when they pulled out the driver and nudged him into position with his hands flat on the hood.

    The girls climbed out.

    "What are they doing with him?"

    A large, swinging belly separated the man and the car. Neither young nor old, he looked out of place in a polo shirt and loose baggy pants that might have been sweats. The girls in his car looked ready for a night on the town.

    "Hussified is the word I was thinking," my friend offered.

    "Are they hookers?"

    One cute cop searched the car while the other shook his head at the slovenly man who appeared to be talking smack.

    I finished my sandwich. A man eating his own outside the Doner Kebap Haus looked on in interest, watching the car and the cops rather than the girls at his side.

    "What does everything strange involve sandwiches?" I asked.

    A tow truck showed up and circled. Out of nowhere came five cops in bulletproof vests.

    "What's going on here?"

    "I don't know," I said, "but we have to go soon! We need to get up and leave for our flight."

    The girls climbed back into the car. The man shuffled paperwork on the hood, and we rose to leave.

    "That was more excitement than we had all day yesterday."

    A few blocks from the hotel, drops started to fall.

    "It's raining!"

    "Of course, it is."

    That's how things seemed to go on the trip: walking, sights and rain. With four more cops in vests standing at the curb near the hotel, it seemed like maybe we'd thrown them into the mix.
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