TV and Movie Reviews: German-American Couple Watches “Californication”

californication-tv-show-sign-funny-german

Photo Credit: Rex Roof (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rexroof/) — CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Title: Californication

Classification: TV Series

Genre: Comedy-Drama

Trailer: (Warning: Adult Content)

Summary: Fox Mulder walks into a room — any room — and at least one attractive female decides, I absolutely must nail that guy within the hour.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds.

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Conclusions:

ME: “Hey, it’s better than watching paint dry.”

THE WIFE: *Pretending to wake up from a sex-dream* “GUH!?–KISS THE TIP!”

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German Woman Explains ‘Disc Parking’ to Her American Husband

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“Parking discs are like little time machines fueled by guilt.” — Photo Credit: “Zeichen 291″ — Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zeichen_291.svg#mediaviewer/File:Zeichen_291.svg

Back in February of 2013, my German wife and I were driving through a small village in Niedersachsen when we decided to stop and take a look around (which obviously means she made us stop so she could do some window shopping.) And as usual, my wife was behind the wheel because, A: just looking at the Autobahn gives me a panic attack, and B: I haven’t driven a stick shift since I was 16 years old, so the clutch would probably detonate the moment my foot touched it.

As she parked the car, I noticed my wife reaching for something under the seat; a rectangular piece of paperboard with a rotating dial on the front indicating the time of day. She spun the dial and set it on the dashboard facing outward. I climbed out of the passenger seat, looked through the windshield and saw she’d set the dial to the exact time we’d arrived.

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“Honey, I know you’re a good person and all, but now is not the time for honesty.”

Now, there were absolutely no other cars to be seen. No people around either. In fact, the whole place seemed to be asleep. (Asleep or dead. It’s hard to tell with these village Germans.) I couldn’t understand why it would matter how long we parked there, or if some parking inspector would actually be dick enough to check our dial and ticket us for staying too long. Furthermore, I could not understand my wife’s reluctance to take full advantage of a rule system so naive it actually bases itself on trust. Holy shit, I wanted to spin that dial so hard it would say we got there tomorrow.

Anyway, I pointed to the dashboard and said to my wife, “Why not just crank that thing super late, so if you’re asked, you can say, ‘I’m just a silly little German. I made a mistake.’ “

Without even looking, she dropped her keys in her purse, stepped up onto the sidewalk and said, “Germans don’t make mistakes.”

 


 

German-American Couple Visits the Altwarmbüchener See, Accidentally Discovers a Complete Freak Show

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Photo Credit: Johan Hansson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/plastanka/) — Subject to copyright

The other day, my German wife and I rode our bikes to the Altwarmbüchener See, a small lake outside Hannover, Germany. We just sort of stumbled upon it by accident, and, as a result, experienced the weirdest bike ride of our lives.

At first glance, there appeared to be no one at the lake. This was to be expected, as the weather that day was menacing; the sky was overcast and the clouds were turning an angry shade of ‘turn back now.’ We rode past the little food stand and the paddle boat rental place, and approached the dock. Next to the dock was a small, asphalt ramp — no longer than 10 feet — which we used to walk our bikes down to the water. That’s when shit got weird.

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Photo Credit: FBellon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/55158656@N06/) — Subject to copyright

Out of nowhere came a fat kid with no shirt on, yelling at us in German not to use the ramp. This was no ordinary fat kid, however — this one had no hands. I’m not kidding. His right hand ended at the wrist, and his left hand was little more than half a palm and the root of a thumb. Had he lost them in some horrible farming accident? I thought to myself. While in the womb, was he subjected to a strict diet of nicotine and horse tranquilizers? Neither my wife nor I had a clue, and we could only watch, hypnotized, as he scrambled to block our way by stringing a metal chain across the path. The chain extended from a post on the right and attached to the trunk of a large tree on the left. Of course he dropped the chain like 5 times, and normally I would have felt really bad for him, but this kid was a dick. The ramp literally went nowhere, there were no boats in the water and no one else around. My wife asked if someone actually owned the ramp, and he breathlessly explained it did, in fact, belong to someone, and it would be very nice if we were to get off of it.

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Photo Credit: Rui Fernandes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruifernandes/) — Subject to copyright

We turned our bikes around and rode back the way we came, passing the sandy beach area and a large park. To our right was a wooden bench, and sitting on the bench was a surprisingly well-groomed homeless man. He wore spectacles, had a bike with a basket on the back full of garbage, and a half liter of beer by his side. He was reading a newspaper, but — and I shit you not — the newspaper was upside down. Maybe he was the world’s smartest homeless man, quietly honing his cryptographic skills in anticipation of the day his government calls upon him to crack a cipher intercepted from space aliens. Maybe that beer sitting next to him was not the first one of the day. I don’t know. But riding our bikes past him was like a slow-motion sequence straight out of a David Lynch movie.

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Photo Credit: Mike Lewis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelewis/) — Subject to copyright — Image cropped from original size.

Then it started to rain. Hard. My wife calls this sort of rain a monsoon (which she adorably pronounces “mohn-ZOON”), and the name fits; it was pounding so hard we were instantly soaked. My hands kept slipping off the handlebars of my bike, and I had to physically wipe the water out of my eye sockets in order to see. And as we neared the park exit, you know what we did see? A shirtless man, standing upright, rubbing his massive beer belly with both hands. He was just standing there, rubbing that shit like the god damn Pillsbury Doughboy. I asked my wife if this was a German thing: “I know your people are into saunas and health spas — is this some sort of water therapy? Does rainwater on the stomach help with digestion?” She just rolled her eyes and we continued to navigate our way through this paradigm shift.

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Photo Credit: Surian Soosay (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ssoosay/) — Subject to copyright

We steered our bikes through the park entrance and were almost home free when we encountered the final oddity of the day: three men in hazmat suits carrying laser guns. Okay, I’m exaggerating on this one a bit. It was actually just a trio of hardcore nerds with metal detectors wearing full rain gear, but still! At first glance, they looked like they stepped right off the cover of some horrible sci-fi pulp from the 50s — Attack of the Atomic German Metal Sniffers. And let’s not forget, these dorks were headed to an obviously haunted lake in the middle of a torrential downpour hoping to find precious things. Lost watches and earrings and shit. Can you imagine the conversation?

“Why are we out here in this weather, Horst? My wife has coffee and cake waiting for us back home…”

Shut your dirty hole, Gunther. Today is the day. I can feel it.”

“You don’t mean–“

“Oh yes… today we find the Buried Treasure of the Altwarmbüchener Carnival Freakshow.”

“But Horst, my wife says it’s cursed!”

“Your wife is a sow and a teller of lies! Now turn on your metal detector. You too, Norbert. A pack of twisted circus freaks left a fortune somewhere deep in the sand around this lake, and we will find it.”

“Okay, okay. Don’t get snippy. Hey, look at that young couple riding by…”

“Pay them no mind, Gunther. Only fools and philistines would be out riding bicycles in this kind of weather.”

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Photo Credit: daveiam (https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveiam/) — Subject to copyright

Anyway, my wife and I finally made it home safely and life seems to have returned to an acceptable state of normalcy — probably because the moment our bike tires left the park, the damaged membrane of reality we’d obviously slipped through managed to heal itself and close behind us like a giant, invisible vagina. Needless to say, I’m not in any hurry to return to this particular lake, but my wife keeps talking about it. She wants me to give it a second chance, you see, but I’ve seen Carnivàle on HBO. I watched Tod Browning’s Freaks in college. I know what happens to uppity city folk when morbid curiosity brings them out to see God’s little accidents. If we return to the Altwarmbüchener See, my wife will sprout a mermaid’s tail and magically learn to play the harp, and my skin will turn white as paint as I am overcome with the urge to bite the heads off chickens.

“That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, step right up! For just a few measly coins, you too can see the latest additions to our little lakeside family — Gertrude the Weeping Mermaid and her circus geek husband, Ulrich the Halfwit!”

Click Culture Shock to read more of my emotionally scarring adventures here in Germany.

American Expat Celebrates 2nd Year Living in Germany

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“Every party has its casualties.”

Holy monkey! It’s been 2 years since I packed up all my crap and flew to Germany. Honestly, I thought I’d been here for 3 years, but my German wife reminded me it only feels that way. Anyway, to celebrate last night, we made a pizza, uncorked a bottle of wine and watched a movie. (Which actually means we tossed some extra onions on a frozen pizza, unscrewed a €2 euro bottle of Merlot while the movie started playing and then passed right the fuck out.)

Early the next morning, my wife interrupted my precious Earl Grey time by attempting to show me how I would be cleaning the house after she starts teaching again next week. She pushed a broom around the living room, explaining how I would actually need to lift the furniture in order to sweep beneath it. That’s when she knocked the broom handle into one of our empty wine glasses from the night before. *DONG, smash!* The sound it made as it shattered was like music to my ears.

“HAW HAW!” I laughed, pointing. “Do you realize if I had done that, you would be all super pissed right now? But look at me! I don’t even care! Please learn from my example.” That earned a grudging smile and a quiet chuckle from my wife as she continued sweeping, albeit without the verbal instruction. (Gentlemen readers, I ask you to examine the picture above. Notice how perfectly the glass shattered, yet retained its overall shape? This is the most beautiful example of household justice you will ever see.)

The past 24 months here in Hannover, Germany, have been filled with moments like this; funny occurrences, jam-packed with adorable Denglish quotes and mortifying culture shock encounters. I can honestly say I have yet to experience even one dull moment in this fine country. Every day brought something new. There was that mandatory integration class to deal with, a terribly frustrating visit to the dentist, a surprise delivery from the mailman, the omnipresence of our evil old neighbors, and two memorable trips to the zoo. These are just a few of the adventures described here at Oh God, My Wife Is German, and you, my awesome readers, have been so gracious as to share them with us.

Thank you for reading and for always being so supportive. You’re just the best audience ever, and I look forward to (attempting) to make you laugh for years to come.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

– OGM

NOTE: If you have been reading this blog and commenting on our posts for a long time, please send me an email and let me know, because I would like to make sure I have a link to the blog or website of your choice in the sidebar section titled OUR FRIENDS.


 

My German Wife Offers a Simple Solution to the Problem of Clothing vs. Closet Space

german-closet-clothes-hand-funny

It’s like a forest. An impenetrable, haunted forest.

About a year ago, my German wife was in the middle of her teacher training (Referendariat) here in Hannover, Germany. It was a busy time for her, involving lots of classroom observations, seminars, lesson plans, tests and essays. (Her future career as a Gymnasium teacher depended entirely upon her performance during this period.) Needless to say, it was also a stressful time. The days were long, the nights were short, and patience was a commodity in high demand.

One day, as my wife came home from school, I greeted her with a smooch and helped take her hoodie off. As I carried the hoodie toward the closet, I noticed she was following me. Like, she was right on my ass, and I realized she did not trust me to hang up her clothing properly. She has good reason for this though: I am a terrible folder of clothes, I hangs things in random places and my attitude toward laundry in general lies somewhere between “good enough” and “fuck it, it’s just gonna get wrinkled anyway.”

Given my spectacular failures as a dry cleaner, I wasn’t at all irritated as I opened the closet door — even though my wife was hovering over me like an anxious mother whose son is about to stick his finger in hot coffee. I understood it, and I was cool with it. I was downright surprised, however, by the sheer volume of clothing in my wife’s possession. Her “side” of the closet — which comprises 90% of the whole — was so packed I could not hang the hoodie inside. Seriously, I was unable to separate the other items widely enough to fit even one more thing.

Now, I am the sort of man who follows the doctrine that one should own only so many articles of clothing as one’s closet can hold, so it was with no small amount of amazement that I remarked:

“Woah. You have way too many pieces of clothing. You gotta get rid of some of those.”

To which my wife replied with a heavy sigh:

“I know… I need a bigger closet.”

 


 

American Man Accidentally Buys 10 Liters of Beer in Germany

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This is a “Bierkasten,” which translates to “beer box,” or “giant container full of wonderful things.”

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, which means she gets 6 weeks off work each summer. So, to celebrate the beginning of her summer break this year — and also our recent move from a horrible apartment in the city into a wonderful new house in the suburbs — my German wife decided to host a small BBQ in our back yard. She invited 4 or 5 of her co-workers and promptly sent me to the local Edeka supermarket to buy beer.

She asked me to bring home exactly “3 six-packs of Ratskrone pilsner,” and she asked me to do this because one can buy Ratskrone (like most German beers) in half liter bottles. But unlike most German beers, you can score a sixer of this shit for like 2 euros. That’s cheap as balls, even by American standards. So I grabbed one of the trolley suitcases we use to carry groceries and shagged ass to the store.

ratskrone-beer-close-up-label-germany

“I’m coming for you, my little golden children!”

Once there, I grabbed a shopping cart and beelined it for the hooch aisle. Of course there was only 1 six pack of Ratskrone left. How could a simple errand in Germany ever go wrong? Luckily, the clerk — a friendly young man wearing a beer-stained apron — was stocking the shelves nearby, so I approached and did my best to speak German with him:

ME: “Excuse me please. Do you have more of these things? These large… six bottles of Ratskrone beer?”

CLERK: “Uh, let me ask.” (He walked into the storage room and yelled a question to his boss, who then yelled something in return.)

CLERK: “Sorry, we’re all out, but we do have these…” (He said, pointing to a big plastic carton full of individual Ratskrone bottles. NOTE: These cartons hold 20 bottles of beer — 10 liters total — and in Germany, everyone knows who buys them: college students about to get obliterated.)

ME: “Oh. Have these bottles the exact same prices?”

At this point, the clerk walked back and forth between the six pack aisle and the carton aisle, explaining to me the price difference in lightspeed German. I nodded as if I’d understood a goddamn thing he said, thanked him for the help and proceeded to calculate the logistics on my own.

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Pictured: “beer math.”

The Wife asked me to buy 3 six packs, I thought to myself. That’s 18 half liter bottles no matter how you count them. I’ll just get these loose sons of bitches instead.

So I put the six pack back on the shelf and placed 18 individual bottles in my shopping cart. Then, I remembered you can buy an entire plastic carton full — 20 half liter bottles — and you get a better deal, so I grabbed an extra two bottles to make it an even 20. That’s when I realized, Shit, the chick at the cash register will think I just want 20 loose beers and forget to give me the sweet carton discount, and there is no way in hell I’m going to be able to clarify my intentions in German.

So, I placed all 20 beers back in the carton, lifted the entire carton into my shopping cart, and went to the cash register. The cashier — a kind, nerdy little woman with glasses — scanned one of the beers and rang them all up. What follows is our conversation, if you were to translate everything directly into German:

CASHIER: “That will be 9.59 euros with refund, please.”

ME: “Okay. Must I take this plastic thing with me?” (I asked, pointing to the container.)

CASHIER: “Uh, no, you don’t have to… but you won’t get your carton refund back.”

ME: (Looking very confused.) “May I not, right now, this plastic thing give back?”

CASHIER: “Well, when you return the glass bottles, you will get your refund back on those, but if you don’t bring them back with the container, you will lose the container refund.”

ME: “I am very sorry, but I am, at this very moment, learning German.”

CASHIER: “Oh, no problem,” (she said, continuing to speak German, only now leaning forward and pointing to things on the receipt.) See, here is the bottle refund, and right here is the container refund…”

ME: “Right, but can I not, exactly now, return the container and get money?”

CASHIER: (Thinking for a moment…) “Oh, I understand. Let me ask my manager.”

The cashier hollered some German words over the PA system and then sat there, waiting, while the rest of the people in line glared at me. The manager appeared — a very thick, very bleach blonde woman — and listened as the cashier explained my intentions:

CASHIER: “This customer does not want the plastic container. Can we just ring everything up again and give him the container refund back?”

MANAGER: “No.” (Then, speaking directly to me…) “You must return the container with the bottles in order to receive the container refund.”

ME: “May I do this right now?”

MANAGER & CASHIER: (Speaking in unison–) “No.

ME: “I do not understand correctly. Must I first exit this food store, walk through this food store, and then give back the container?”

MANAGER: “The container must be filled with empty bottles of this exact type of beer. Otherwise, we cannot be sure you bought them here.”

ME: (About ready to cry…) “Should I just have purchased 20 bottles of beer without the container?”

MANAGER: “No no, this way is cheaper.”

Having recognized the word “cheaper,” I nodded my understanding vigorously, apologized to everyone like a repentant criminal, stuffed the receipt in my pocket and took off. Once outside, I placed the bottles inside the luggage trolley and walked home with the empty beer carton swinging in my hand, letting every single one of our new neighbors know my wife and I spend our Tuesday evenings consuming lethal amounts of beer.

“Hey there, Günter! How you doin’? Yep, the Missus and I are about to go on a real hellbender. You’ve still got that ambulance on speed dial, right? Har har! See you in church!”

empty-beer-bottles-case-germany-ratskrone

Score one for America.

To read more of my emotionally scarring adventures in Germany, please check out my other Culture Shock posts.

An American Man in Germany Finally Sits Down to Pee

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“Quick honey, take a picture, for I have finally achieved my finest moment.” — Photo Credit: Gabriel Cabral — Subject to copyright — Image cropped from original size — https://www.flickr.com/photos/120663298@N03/

I have never been the sort of man who sits down when he pees. Quite the contrary, in fact. I have always taken great pride in my ability to remain standing while exorcising my bladder demons: the stance, the posture, the sigh and inevitable piss shiver… it’s all manly as hell. And if I ever had trouble starting the flow, I would chant a little mantra, saying, “And now I become… Urinatus” — and then imagine myself as a triumphant gladiator in ancient Rome, looming over a fallen enemy. I whip out my sweaty hog, salute Emperor Commodus and then piss all over my foe’s lifeless corpse. Ahhh, sweet victory.

As an upright urinater, I enthusiastically teased every single one of my friends who admitted to squatting when they make water. They claimed it “feels better,” or that it was “just more comfortable.” Hogwash! I’d say. Sitting down to pee is the white flag of the henpecked husband. It is the dying gasp of the masculine spirit. It is that final moment before a man’s testicles drop off and his penis withdraws back up into the visceral cavity, leaving behind a soft pink dimple which will soon blossom into a fully functioning vagina.

These are the things I would say, that is, before my German wife found us a house in which to live. We left our old apartment with its epically horrible neighbors and found ourselves a new home outside the city of Hannover in a nice, quiet, suburban neighborhood. Our new place is glorious. It’s all white, with big rooms and lots of light, and it has that perpetually clean look some houses just seem to retain. It looks so clean, in fact, I cannot bring myself to sully its ivory brilliance. I also cannot bring myself to clean this giant son of a bitch, especially because our new house has 3 separate bathrooms. Do you like getting your face right down next to the toilet bowl so you can scrub it? I sure as hell don’t, and that brings us to the point of this particular blog post.

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“Look out toilet seat, here comes the hurricane!” — Photo Credit: dirtyboxface — Subject to copyright — Image adjusted for contrast — https://www.flickr.com/photos/dirtyboxface/

You see, even I must admit that when a man pees standing up, there is an inevitable amount of splash back. Even if he keeps his urine stream right in the middle of the water in the bottom of the bowl — you know, where God intended — little droplets will unavoidably find their way out and splatter all over the place: the rim, the floor, the walls… after just a few tinkles, all of these things will be colored a fine shade of urethra gold. And they’ll be sticky too, so you gotta clean everything up regularly. (Unless your wife goes out of town for a week. Then you can mark your territory like a filthy dog right up until she gets home, when you clean everything in a frenzied panic 5 minutes before she steps through the door.) But I have decided to avoid this scenario entirely; I have chosen to sit down when I pee.

I am proud to say I have never once urinated while standing up in any of the bathrooms in our new house. The toilets and surrounding areas have remained spotless, and my wife and I are very pleased. Oh sure, it took some getting used to. For one thing, it takes a lot longer to piss when you gotta drop trow completely. I mean, you gotta put some effort into it — a little planning and forethought, am I right, ladies? Gone are the days when I could just snare my junk like a frightened rabbit and aim it at the big white hole, make it cough and then stuff it back before the flush cycle is over. I get it now. And to all those friends I mocked in the past? I am sorry. I too am a squatter, and I am proud to join your bare-assed ranks.