Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001
From: Lee Lady
Subject: ZEGG (Part 3)
To: Many friends
Maybe I should give you some idea of the general layout of Zegg. But then again, maybe not. You can look at the Zegg web page. So maybe I don't need to tell you that years ago, the Zegg location had been a Hitler youth camp. And then years later, it was a training area for the East German STASI. (And if you don't know who the Stasi were, then you're lucky, and let's not say any more about them.)
Lectures in the morning were held in the Big Tent (or Big Top as we Americans might say). Outside the Big Tent was a very large circle of concrete.... No, it wasn't concrete, it was stone, but what's the right word for this sort of thing? Very smoothly tiled, like a parquet floor, but made of stone. And for some reason this big circle was called the Campus. And all this, all of Zegg, was in the middle of a forest, in case you haven't realized that yet.
I should say a little bit about the tents. My tent. They were big desert tents. Just big enough so that I could stand up in the middle. And then there were wooden racks inside --- i.e. with slats --- with mattresses on them, so that one was sleeping maybe a foot above the ground. So it was not quite like camping out, but a lot more like it than I would have preferred.
When I got there, I looked into a tent and saw that there were five mattresses and I thought, "Oh my god, I'm not going to survive this." But in fact, I only had two other men in my tent, and they were very unobtrusive, and one of these left after the first few days because his wife and children arrived and so he moved into one of the family tents. Leaving me with a German tentmate named Felix who was really ideal. Very quiet (altho apparently he was one of the real studs at summercamp) and he almost always came to bed after I was already asleep. And sometimes he didn't sleep in the tent at all.
Oh, there was one time when he came to the tent in the very early hours of the morning and dragged out one of the mattresses, which was not something he could accomplish easily and quietly, and I heard a girl giggling outside. (Okay, a woman. But a woman who one doesn't see and hears giggling is a girl, as far as I'm concerned.) That didn't wake me up, since as it happened I was already awake then, but it did make it unpleasantly obvious that he was having a very good time and I was not.
The tents, incidentally, were segregated by sexes. But at the start, they put me in a woman's tent, so I had to go to the office and explain the mistake. And the woman said, "Oh, okay, what's your name?" And I answered, "Lee Lady. L-A-D-Y," to which she said, "Yes, but what's your name?" And I said that that was indeed my name. And then she got the most incredible look on her face and said, "You are Lee Lady?" So I had to explain, "My name may be Lady, but ... ich bin keine Dame." (See comments on my web site.)
Anyway life in the tent was not as bad as it might have been, but was still difficult. In the morning it got light enough so that I never slept later than seven AM. And my tent was right next the outdoor kitchen, and also to the volleyball court, and close enough to the swimming pool so that at about three in the morning I would hear a group of people laughing and jumping into the pool. Still another case of people conspicuously having a lot more fun than I was.
During the beginning of summercamp, I tried to dutifully go to bed not terribly late, say by half past midnight at the latest. But I was still half asleep all day, and eventually I realized that in going to bed early, not only was I cutting myself off from the part of the day when I function best, but I was also cutting myself from the social environment in which I function best. So after that I let myself hang around the pub (Kneipe) until most of the interesting people went to bed. (Added subsequently: Hm... Well, maybe the most interesting people were the ones who were jumping into the swimming poool at 3 AM. Anyway, I stayed up as late as was feasible.)
During the day, the tent got so hot that I couldn't sleep there. For the first week, an Englishwoman who had managed to get assigned one of the tents in the woods where it was shady set up for me a small tent that she'd brought with her, so I could use it to sleep for an hour during the day (with my feet sticking out). But then she went back to England (or to the Azores, actually, I think, to escort a group of people who went swimming with dolphins). After that, I would lay a big towel in the grass not too far from the swimming pool sometime after lunch, or somewhere else where it was shady even though not quiet, and manage to sleep for a while each afternoon.
Then there was the Uni building (Uni = university), with two seminar rooms where talks could be given and the A'ula, a big room for larger talks and for dancing, and a dormitory, and men's and women's showers. And assorted other rooms in the Uni building.
But most important, at least from my point of view, were the Kneipe (pub) and the Blue Saloon. The Kneipe was a small tavern, where mostly people sat at outdoor picnic tables. It was where I mostly went to meet people in the evening, often not very successfully. Unless there was a dance at the San Diego Cafe or on the Campus (see above).
And then the Blue Saloon.....
The Blue Saloon.
The name must come from literature somewhere. Maybe there's a story by Arthur Schnitzler called The Blue Saloon. Or maybe somewhere in Christopher Isherwood's stories. Henry Miller, he would be the appropriate author, but the name is not quite his style. Or Baudelaire, maybe it comes out of Baudelaire.
The Blue Saloon is not a bar but a building. Although maybe there's a saloon inside it somewhere. I wouldn't know, since I never saw the inside.
The Blue Saloon is Zegg's love hotel. One could go to the
cashier at the Kneipe and, for a nominal sum, ask for the
key to a room at the Blue Saloon for an hour. To do those
things which one was asked to please not do in the woods
where there were so many people and children around and
where sound carried so far.