Monthly Archives: August 2011

Coconuts and Peaches: Social Differences Between Germans and Americans

Last night, The Wife explained to me how Germans and Americans differ in the way they interact with strangers. She said, “Germans are like coconuts and Americans are like peaches.” I thought this was pretty clever, so I immediately stopped listening in order to concentrate on my own interpretation of the comparison.

From what I’ve gathered, Germans come off a bit cold; hard on the outside, like a coconut, and lacking that assumed social warmth to which Americans are accustomed. Germans tend not to fawn over strangers or go out of their way to impress them, so don’t expect Frau Säddlebags over there to perform a joyous Slap Dance when you ask her to take your picture in front of the Brandenburger Tor; her bunions hurt and she’s late for her favorite soap opera, Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (Good Times, Bad Times).

However, get to know Frau Säddlebags and you would likely find beneath her gruff, coconut exterior lies a soft, sweet center; a combination of generosity and loyalty reserved for true friends and family members. You would also find a disgusting, milky white fluid high in saturated fat.

Americans, on the other hand, tend to be warm; intensely sweet, like a peach, and overly accommodating when interacting with strangers. We exaggerate social protocols in order to leave the most favorable first impression upon people, so don’t be surprised when you ask Mrs. Chickenthighs to take your picture in front of the Statue of Liberty and she has a stroke trying to help you out. “Oh my God, I would love to take your picture! Just stand right there you guys — OH, what a cute couple! Where did y’all say you were from again? Aaaaaaand, CHEEEEEEESE!”

However, get to know Mrs. Chickenthighs and you would likely find beneath her sugary, peach exterior lies a cold, hard pit; a combination of gossip and paranoia reserved for her closest friends and family members. You would also find a near-lethal dose of cyanide.

And just to summarize — yes, I am American, though I am not a peach at all. I am a peanut; two salty nuts with a talent for sending small children into anaphylactic shock.

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Denglish 7: A Long Distance Relationship Between A German Woman and An American Man

In the beginning, my wife and I spent many months apart, conducting a long distance relationship between Germany and the United States. We talked on the phone, sent letters and packages in the mail, used email, text messages, Skype and all manner of online chat programs. Still, the distance was hard; a fact my wife pointed out often:

THE WIFE: “We do these months apart and then we come visit us.”

THE WIFE: “I feel like I am high on drugs with missing you!”

THE WIFE: “You know, sweetheart, long distance sucks it up.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Wakeboarding: Backflips May Not be Suitable for Children.

Last weekend, The Wife and I went wakeboarding with some friends on the Willamette River.  We put the boat in the water just outside of Wilsonville, OR, at the Boones Ferry Marina, with six individuals on board: five adults and one (easily influenced) 9 year-old boy.

After several hours of wakeboarding and drinking PBR and Canadian Club whiskey, we started swimming and jumping off the stern. Front flips came next, until some jerk (me) decided to kick things up a notch by performing a graceless back flip. I have a foundationless and totally irrational fear of breaking my neck — I am convinced I will, at any moment, compress my spine like a telescope — so when I performed my back flip, I unwittingly shouted “Titties–titties–titties!” before hitting the water.

All of the adults laughed until the 9 year-old boy scaled the ladder, turned around and launched himself backward into the air like 60 pounds of deathwish.

“Titties–titties–titties!” *splash*

His impression of me was spot-on, which is why I was informed by his parents I am no longer welcome on their boat.

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Denglish 6: The Nightmares of A Young German Student

My wife doesn’t have nightmares very often, but when she does, they tend to be hilarious:

THE WIFE: “Last night I dreamed I was in the middle of a big classroom and I had to give a presentation. All of the people talked and made noise and I for some reason screamed ‘EVERYBODY SHUTS THE FUCK UP!'”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 5: How Do You Say ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ in German?

I’ve played a fair bit of poker in my day — Texas Hold ‘Em, to be specific — and I am familiar with terms like “winning the pot,” “pot odds” and “taking home the pot.” I am not, however, familiar with this adorable gem:

THE WIFE: “Hi honey! How was poker? Did you get a piece of the pot?”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 4: How A German Woman Finds Perfect Clarity

In America, we have the expression, “crystal clear.” My wife, however, is not from around here:

THE WIFE: “Yes, I understand it now. It is glass clear.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 3: My German Wife Dispels My Hardcore Bachelor Façade

When my wife and I were first getting to know each other and she began to see through my swingin’ bachelor façade, she once described me thusly:

THE WIFE: “You are hard outside, but… I think you have soft insides.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 2: When You Are Hungover, Do You Wear Ugly-Yet-Comfortable Clothes?

I once sent a picture of myself to my wife while extraordinarily hungover, in which I wore a heavy sweatshirt, sweatpants and slippers. This was her response:

THE WIFE: “Ooo, I love it! Look at you in your comfy cloth!”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 1: My Wife Lives in A Tiny Apartment in Marburg, Germany

My wife once described her college apartment in Germany at Philipps-Universität Marburg in the following manner:

THE WIFE: “It’s in a medieval building and the showers are communal; you have to use tokens and you only get 10 minutes of hot water. The ceilings are too low for you. There are only 2 rooms. I live in a Hobbit House!”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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The Camping Chronicles: Burning the German, Part III

When it was finally time to break camp and head home, The Wife and I attempted to extinguish our campfire; this is Oregon, after all, and we are good, responsible campers. It’s not like we had wholesale disregard for Oregon’s  Severe Weather Alert — or its no-campfires policy throughout the summer months in general — it’s just that we like to do whatever the hell we want.

So we hoisted our cooler — now half-full of water from the melted ice we’d purchased — and dumped it directly onto the coals of the fire. Apparently we were dealing with the grumpiest fire of all time, because it erupted with steam and Old Faithfulled all over my wife’s hands. Now, I am not generally opposed to hot liquids shooting all over beautiful women, but we all know how dangerous steam can be. Luckily, she got away with pink skin and a blister. Score.

How could I have been so stupid as to dump water directly onto hot coals? I don’t know; I’ve been burned at least three times the same way, and the fires just can’t seem to learn this simple lesson. I guess they’re just doomed to repeat it, the stupids.

Anyway, after burning her 3 different ways during the course of our camping trip, I decided to apologize by buying my wife a peanut butter burger and a 34 ounce stein of beer at Calamity Jane’s in Sandy, Oregon. The burger and the beer were bigger than my wife’s head — and they were awesome — but she could not remember the name of the restaurant as we drove home.

I told her it was Saran Wrap Jake’s.

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