Berlin's Deutsche Oper is housed in a building on Bismarckstrasse in the city's Charlottenburg district. From the street, the building is unremarkable. The interior, however, lets you know that this is a serious, modern venue of high quality artistic expression. For a duffer like me, the setting makes it tough to feel at ease. However, the fact that they sell booze during intermission helps take the edge off.
Kerry and I, at her suggestion, spent our first official evening out in Berlin back in 1984 trying to attend an evening of ballet at the Deutsche Oper. Kerry's urban experience in Houston, Texas, told her that we could walk up to the ticket window half an hour or so before show time, pick out some decent seats, and get to it. Wrong! As we got out of the cab I noticed the sign that said "Ausverkauft!" on the ticket window. Sold out! So a quick switch to Plan B was in order. How about a stroll up Bismarckstrasse until we find a suitable restaurant for dinner, drinks, etc.? A fine suggestion. The only problem with Plan B from my point of view was that about three hours earlier I'd purchased some new shoes just for this date and, my shopping German being what it was, my new footwear was more more than a tad too small. In fact, the shoes were tight as hell. Unwilling to reveal this fact, I cheerfully went along with Plan B.
After a lengthy stroll, we found a restaurant past where Bismarckstrasse turns into Kaiserdamm, at least that's how I remember it, and had a lovely evening. During the first course I kicked my shoes off under the table to give my aching dogs a little relief after the hike. Big mistake. As the evening went on, my feet kept swelling until the likelihood of getting them back into my too-small-shoes without surgery seemed less than remote. After I paid the bill, Kerry excused herself for a moment. That was my chance. I'm not sure what the other diners thought; I don't really care. The fact is that by the time Kerry came back to our table, I was out of breath and perspiring, but I'd won the wrestling match that involved my swollen feet and my tiny shoes. I was pretty sure I'd be able to at least make it to the curb to hail a cab, and that I'd not done any lasting physical damage to my feet. As it turns out, I was right on both counts. Sometime later I relayed the first date/feet catastrophe story to Kerry to see if she'd noticed my shoe-induced agony that night. She, either truthfully or out of politeness, said she hadn't. It's probably the truth, because we had a second date, and a third, and our 29th anniversary is coming up in February. And it's been about 30 years since I threw a pair of nearly brand new shoes in the trash.