The first time I visited Austria, my cousins Heinrich and Roland pulled a prank on me by pretending they were in trouble with a crime syndicate. It was a well thought-out ordeal. As we drove toward the town of Klagenfurt, a black van began following us with its lights off. The van then turned on the high beams and pulled up beside us. I caught a glimpse of a man in a ski mask before Heinrich took off. Soon we were speeding down a winding dirt road in his VW Golf. When Roland began to pray loudly in the front seat I saw him crack a smile, and the joke was up.
Pretty soon we were at a dive bar in town, laughing about it. I was still a little shaken up by Heinrich's insane driving, and I decided to play a little prank of my own by ditching them and wandering off. Not the most clever idea, but it was the best I could come up with at the time.
After ducking out a side door, I strolled down the snowy main street of the small mountain town. There were quite a few people out, as it was a Friday evening, and I soon stumbled upon a rather promising-looking discotheque. As I made my way to the entrance, I noticed a line of about 20 people. I pretended to be part of a group already on their way in, but the giant bouncer didn't even have to look at me to see I didn't belong. He said something in German that I couldn't understand and foiled my plans.
Now, I've been told I look like Zach Galifianakis, and I have to say, the resemblance is pretty uncanny. I had not ever used this to my advantage, but The Hangover had just come out in Austria, and I figured it was now or never.
I put on my aviator sunglasses and figured I'd see how far I could push it. I lowered my glasses, looked at the bouncer, raised my eyebrow, and said with a straight face, "Do you know if this club is pager friendly?" The bouncer looked at me closely and slowly cracked a smile. He said something to the other bouncer inside the club and I was ushered in. Lucky for me, the party was filled with all kinds of awesome-looking Europeans. I was led to the VIP lounge. A few minutes later someone (the owner, maybe) came over, thanked me for coming out, and left a bottle of champagne. Once the word spread, people began asking for photos and autographs. I invited new friends into my booth and ordered drinks (the club insisted on picking up the tab).
It took about 40 minutes for my cousins to find me. It was probably around 10 or 11 by this point, and the place was absolutely packed. I made sure to make eye with both of them before calling the bouncer over. "Excuse me, but those guys have been following me around and giving me a hard time all night. Can you ask them to leave?" With three giant steps the bouncer was in their path and had them both restrained. I nodded while Heinrich and Roland struggled. In a series of surprisingly graceful moves, the bouncer managed to move them across the busy dance floor and out the front door. He said something to the other bouncer, laughed, gave me a thumbs up, and went back to his post. Check mate.
After quoting as much of The Hangover as I could remember (who knew so many Austrians spoke flawless English?), I slipped out of the club without blowing my cover. My cousins were standing around outside, defeated, smoking cigarettes by their car.
Revenge feels good. So does knowing that somewhere on Facebook there are photos of the celebrity version of me — with a bunch of random Austrians. As for my cousins: These days I take everything they say with a grain of salt, as I'm sure they have plans to get me back.