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Meeting Clifford

by - 7 Dez 2009

Travelling around the world sometimes you get to know people that are so unique it actually makes you believe they cannot be real persons but stepped out of some sort of sitcom. I am talking about people like Clifford Krause, a 43 year old man with a black mustache, who we met lately in a fruitshake bar in Saigon.

Waiting at the counter for our fruitshake suddenly a 43 year old man with a black mustache walked up to us yelling: „Hey you guys are so nicely dressed and you look so clean, so you are definitely not Americans!“ Laughing out loud he continued: „I am American, you know, and I noticed that the American backpackers after a while they get too lazy to take a shower or they feel too hot to wear a shirt. But you guys look so nice – are you from Belgium? Yeah, you must be from Belgium, because Belgian people always dress very nicely.“ He did not even wait for our answer and kept on blabbering: „The fruit shake is really good here. You should try number 29. I think I’m gonna get 29. I work here as an English teacher, you know, I am from New York City, you know. How long are you here in Vietnam?“ We had just told him that we were going to spend 3 more weeks in Vietnam when he interrupted us because he suddenly remembered why he had come to the fruitshake bar in the first place: „Oh, I think I should order a fruit shake! But what should I get?? Oh yeah, I’ll take number 29! That one is really good!“

What was I saying? Oh yes – I have spent the last 5 years in Korea. I was about to open my own language school there but then they cut my visa. So now I’ve been trying here in Vietnam, but now they want to cut my visa here as well.“ He only interrupted himself to take a short sip from fruitshake number 29 and went on: „Since they want to cut of my visa I am planning to get married. One of my students is going to introduce me to a Vietnamese woman that I could marry.“ We exchanged a bewildered look as we were quite astonished that Clifford shared such delicate plans with two complete strangers and the casual and plain way he reported about it. Clifford obviously sensed our bewilderment and felt the need to go into detail: „The appointment will be tonight. You see the flowers on my motorbike? Yes, I just bought them for her.“ All three of us could not help to be a little amused about this tender gesture and this encouraged him to tell us: „The woman is a nurse and she is only 30 years old! And she is beautiful – I saw a picture! She looks really good!“ After having taken another sip of his fruitshake he said: „I really hope she agrees to marry me. I have lost already 10.000$ here, all my savings are gone and I just dont want to go back home and start all over again.“ Trusting in Clifford“s straightforwardness Sarah did not hesitate to ask how much this marriage would cost him. „Oh well, I think I just have to pay for a vacation in Thailand and this woman will also get the American citizenship in return – I guess thats a fair deal, dont you think?“

Sarah still had some some doubts about faking a marriage and so she asked Clifford: „But what are you going to do if you’ll meet another woman later on that you would really like to spend your lifetime with? Can you just file for divorce?“ And the answer he then gave us was probably the most disturbing part of the whole conversation – we still dont know whether Clifford just got our question wrong: „Oh well, If I want to get another woman I’ll just ask one of my students. He knows all the hookers here in town. Yeah, the man is crazy, he knows them all, he knows all their different prices and qualities. He will just make me a list from which I could choose whenever I need a woman.“ The smile on our faces froze which probably gave Clifford the feeling that it was time to change the subject. „…ehhm, right….so what did you say where you are from?“ He was delighted to hear that we come from Germany: „Oh you are German! My grandparents are from Austria!! I like Germany and Austria a lot. You know, my grandfather when he still lived in Austria he knew all the Nazis there, yeah, he really knew them all!“ We could not really detect if we were supposed to be shocked or impressed.

Before we said goodbye Clifford wanted us to keep his business card „as a souvenir“ but I am quite sure – with or without his business card Clifford is just unforgettable!

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