Updated on the 15th of every month
Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Germans
Part 1 of a 3-part exposé on Germans
“Let me write an editorial series for you guys?” I asked the Montreal Clubs fellows.
“Your bumbling employ of English lexicon leaves me under a penumbra of perplexity as you feebly attempt to articulate your meager deliberations on matters of adulation,” replied Dr. Smooth in his befuddling way of using fancy words.
“I don’t know what you just said. But I promise this one will be better than the last one. It'll be great! It'll be about Germany, and Germans, and my German inamorata!”
I love those crazy Germans. This wasn't always the case, I assure you. Before I got to know them, I was indifferent. Since living in Europe, I spent a lot of time around German folk, and they simply grew on me, the beer-guzzling wurst-eating bastards. But somewhere between being indifferent and loving them I was in a vehement rage at them, and angrily spurned anyone who tried to defend them as anything but ne’er-do-wells.
My experience around German people comes from my being one of the few non-German folk living at a student residence, which is otherwise occupied by German nurses and medical students working at the nearby hospital. For several months I was lost in translation, to borrow Sophia Coppola's expression. The Germans generally ignored me. I had made some friends by this time, but they were fellow non-German-speaking transients, none of whom lived in my residence. I could live with being ignored. My attempts at socializing bounced off brick walls, and I was psychologically stable enough to not make anything out of it. This was the fall-winter of 2002-2003.
Traveling in Italy and France for the first time in my life was refreshing over the two-week Christmas and New Year's holidays. The residence was now becoming fully populated as spring approached. One generation of Germans had left, and a new one was arriving. The next generation was already repeating the same behavioral pattern as its predecessor. Again, I could mostly live without being paid much attention to by my own neighbors.
Soon after I was a camel and a straw broke my back. In the heart of the winter I had caught a bad cold, a nasty bastard that had gone to my lungs and had me painfully coughing, my entire body retching and convulsing. All my muscles were aching, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, only cough cough cough. Standing up had me seeing stars and I couldn't walk too quickly for fear of getting dizzy or losing my balance. My coughs echoed in the corridor. I could hear my German neighbors coming and going, carrying on with their daily affairs. My coworkers, worried about my absence, had called asking if they could do anything for me. I had them go downtown to get medicine for all the symptoms I had of this terrible sickness. They came to my residence, handing me a bag full of colorful pharmaceutical delights; dissolve the orange tablet in ambient water, swallow the pink one 6 times a day, mix the yellow powder in boiling water, snort this nasal spray before going to bed, eat chicken-noodle soup, sleep and get better, we hope to see you soon. Stumbling out of my room, I bumped into a German fellow on the way to the toilet: "Hey man, how are you?" Looking at him in defeat I replied "I'm sick." His eloquent remark was "Oh, ok." That was the only human contact, among my 11 floor-mates, that I had during my three days of incessant coughing. I was getting better, finally, the cold was at least moving out of my lungs. I had lived with being ignored for over 4 months, but damn it not one of those German bastards had even inquired as to what a dying hippopotamus was doing in my room, bellowing as if under torture for three consecutive days. Danke schön. As soon as I felt my health returning to me, the fear and the loathing crept in as my mind slowly regained its coherent flow. I hadn't learned a lesson about being truly alone and isolated before in my life, and it had stung me then.
I had declared the winter season my sworn enemy. It would take traveling during the spring season, as well as a brief return to Montreal to remember who I was, when life would revolve. A new generation of Germans would arrive, and one of my neighbors became my inamorata.
-- Don Kapitän, PhD in Matters of Love
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