I don’t say anything to that. We just look at each other with knowing smiles on our faces. Probably envious of the fact that Franz got such a plum assignment, staying at George V in Paris and eating at Maxim’s a few times during his stay there. If we knew Franz, he probably had one or two of the local lovelies accompanying him to the meals – all at Playboy’s expenses. Franz certainly knows how to live! A born bon vivant!!

‘I’m sorry my friend, but I don’t remember you ever telling me of your idea before.’

‘How can you forget? It was last night, when we were having drinks at Le Cave.’

‘Can’t be. Because I just flew back from Düsseldorf.’

‘You did?’ And he momentarily seems lost in his thoughts. ‘Must have been that I dreamt about it. But I swear, I remember even having drawn you a rough sketch on the Le Cave napkin.’

‘Must have been on another night. Do you have the sketch?’

He fumbles into his jeans pockets and then breaks out in a broad smile. ‘Verdamt noch mal, things I dream about! Anyways, let me draw it for both of us now.’ And he pulls out the blue lined calibrated spiegel – the format sheet – and begins to draw the façade of Maxim’s.

●●●

Working with Rainer is fun. He is easy going, but can at times also be insistent and blunt when called for. I am amazed at his perception and being able to see through things.

A year  after I arrive in Germany, I am planning a trip to India and am in need of several rolls of films. Instead of just going out and buying them, I am being cheap! It occurs to me that perhaps I can get a freebie pack from the photo department which is under Rainer. I pick up the phone and call him.

‘I was wondering if I could get a dozen rolls of Ektachromes from your stock.’ Not to sound too obvious, I add: ‘Maybe I can get them at the same bulk rate?’

Oder umsonst? – or gratis!’ He doesn’t miss a beat. In the laughter that follows I detect slight sarcasm in his voice. Touché! He has seen right through me.

I save the day by laughing it off with: ‘Das wäre eigentilich besser/‘ – that would obviously be better!

Laughing back he says: ‘Of course you can have them.’ But boy his oder umsonst? stung. So much so that I still remember it forty years laterJ

●●●

While I am still living in Munich and pounding away relentlessly at my bright orange Triumph portable electric typewriter, writing my book tentatively titled The Lost Identity – Personal Reflections, Rainer blows me away with a very pleasant surprise. He offers for me to become Playboy Germany’s photo editor. Susi (Pletz) and Helga Colle-Tiez the two who ran the photo department up until then have given their notices to leave.

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