The Gay Dog
Had my Uncle Ernst lived, he would be seventy-five this spring. He was forty-five when I first saw him, but the top of his head was already bald. As he sat in our drawing room with Father’s sister, whom he wanted to marry, I climbed on his lap to kiss his bald pate. He smelled good, and looked well fed and happy, unlike the rest of the grown-ups in Germany after the First World War. Thirty years ago I was quite old enough to know that he could not possibly own the green wig which he promised to wear for the wedding. But he was the kind of guy who in spite of everything might turn up with one, even if he had to rent it.
Uncle Ernst married Father’s sister in the Frankfort town hall, the old Römer, and without green wig. When we came out of the dark building, the spring sun was shining and Uncle Ernst sent the cars away. The wedding party walked all the way home, bride and bridegroom in front, the rest trailing them at a distance, and everybody saying what an Unikum my uncle was. Now and then he halted to show his new wife something in a window or to point with his cane at a balcony or a piece of sculpture. He even stopped a while to chat with a friend, and my father was annoyed. It was Uncle Ernst’s passion for impromptu chats in the street that many years later killed him.
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