Herr Lippert said one day, “I’m going to take Pauline out.” He didn’t know that Frederick had been thinking the same thing. “I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, Frederick, but she seems to fancy me.”
Frederick thought she fancied him more and felt jealous, especially because for the first time in his life he didn’t feel confident, so he said, “I wish you luck.”
Herr Lippert then asked, “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
And Frederick couldn’t admit that he didn’t have one. “Of course I do.
“And what is her name? I might know her.”
“I don’t think you do.”
Herr Lippert never got her name out of him. And later, during the same conversation, he asked, “And what does your girlfriend do?”
“She ‘s a middle-class flapper, who doesn’t need to work but does. She works as a shop assistant, engages in sports, goes dancing, wears makeup, and is very sexy. I met her in the Grinzing, sipping new wine.”
A new woman sipping new wine at the Grinzing: the image intoxicated Herr Lippert. He realized that the woman Frederick was talking about could’ve been Pauline, except Pauline was a social worker and married.
“She seduced me the first time we went out.”
“No, no, she’s a new, liberated woman.”
Herr Lippert was envious, but he decided not to show it. Instead he said, “Free love is not without risks.”
“I know. I know. We talked about it. We were careful and practiced withdrawal. It takes great restraint.”
“And you exercised it.”
They went by tram to the Grinzing. That was where, several months before, Frederick met Bridget and had the adventure he talked about. It was what he also had in mind when he and Pauline made their way into a small courtyard garden where they could relax with either coffee or wine. The vintners’s house advertised new Heuringer, and Pauline was anxious to try some. It was a good sign, as for as Herr Lippert was concerned. The owner of the house told them that he had the best Heuringer in Grinzing, and it would’ve been hard to disagree with him. They both chose wine. Herr Lippert felt inspired, not so much by Pauline…she seemed distracted for some reason …but by what he envisioned happening after dinner when he had her alone in his flat. Herr Lippert ordered a bottle of wine, knowing that one bottle wouldn’t be enough, and they sat and drank and talked while they waited for their dinner.
Herr Lippert said, “I hope we can be very honest. We’re living in a new age, which requires new thinking, especially in a place like Vienna where people like us are…”
“I’ve looked forward to this day for a very long time.”
“We haven’t known each other for very long.”
“That’s true, but…I thought from the first day that I saw you…”
“Didn’t you start this conversation out by saying that you hope that we can be very honest. Herr Lippert, you’re a dangerous young man. First you try to disarm me. Then you behave typically.”
Herr Lippert said, “This is all new for me, but you were aware of it, weren’t you?”