Tag Archives: Deutschland

ADAC Helicopter Lands Right in the Middle of Peine, Germany

ADAC Helicopter Lands in Peine, Germany

“ADAC: Just landing wherever the hell we feel like it.”

Not long ago, my German wife and I took a day trip to Peine, Germany. Peine is a little town 40 km east of Hannover, and according to the half-assed google search I just did, it has a population of about 48,000 people. In the 1950s, 7.5 kg of medieval silver bullion were unearthed beneath the streets of Peine, because apparently, those filthy medieval Germans never discovered the piggy bank.

So there we were, enjoying a couple of brew doggs at a café in the middle of the town square, when a very loud propeller-type noise descended upon us. The wind started to kick up something fierce, just blowing shit all over the place:

“What’s that noise?” I asked, wincing as a piece of dirt flew into my eye.

“I think it’s an ADAC helicopter,” said my wife.

“… What the fuck is an ADAC helicopter?”

So, apparently, ADAC is the largest automobile club in Europe. It’s a lot like AAA in America, in that they help out stranded motorists and provide emergency life flights for their members. And since this helicopter was soon joined by a police car and a stretcher, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what we were seeing in Peine that day. Some old bastard probably keeled over in the apartment building next door — “This is it, Doris! This is the big one!” — and ADAC showed up to haul his white ass to the hospital.

Here’s the video I recorded. Check it out, and have a great week everyone!



5 More Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany


“Welcome back to my world of madness.” — Image Credit: DieselDemon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/28096801@N05/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License — Adjusted for contrast.

Remember that post I wrote a while back about my top 5 totally irrational fears and phobias? It actually started out as a list of 10, but the deadline snuck up on me so fast I had to cut that bitch in half. Here’s the second half…

As human beings, we are subject to certain basic fears. Lots of people are afraid of flying in airplanes or standing in crowded elevators. Others are afraid of things like snakes or spiders. Regardless of their source, our fears serve to keep us away from danger and remind us that no matter what we achieve as a species — no matter how tall our skyscrapers, how ingenious our inventions, or how far we explore into outer space — we’re really all just a bunch of scared, shit-slinging zoo monkeys.

Chances are, you and I share all the same phobias — only I have a few more. And by a few more, I mean supplemental fears which are not only freakish in their specificity, but also absurd and unnecessary. These are fears I have always had, but which have grown far worse since I began my life as an American expat in Germany:

Phobia #5: Eye Drops


“Is that innocent saline or battery acid? I bet it’s battery acid.” — Image Credit: National Eye Institute (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaleyeinstitute/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Look, I’m an artist and a writer. I’m naturally protective of my eyes and my hands because, without them, I wouldn’t be able to make a living; I’d just be a blind, handless trophy husband. That’s why I recoil in comedic fashion whenever something comes close to my eyes, like umbrella spikes, pencils, butter knives, hot dogs… basically anything shaped like a dick.

I refuse to wear contact lenses based solely upon my fear of anything touching my eyes. And you know that machine that gauges the pressure inside your eyeballs by shooting a tiny puff of air into them? That thing makes my eyes water before the air hits them, and then when it does, I flinch so hard I shake the whole table. Scares the shit out of the optometrist.

But you know what really sucks for me now that I live in Germany? Eye drops. I never had to use them before, but the pollen over here is both foreign and plentiful, resulting in spring and summer allergies so strong I am forced to use them if I want to open my eyes in the morning.

Of course, I can’t really say I “use” eye drops; it’s more like I hold the evil little bottle over my eye and stare right at the droplet, waiting in agonizing anticipation for it to fall. Then, when it does, I slam my eye closed so it splatters all over my eyelids and runs down my face like a porno. The only part of the fluid which ever enters my eye is that which has been caught in my eyelashes, so my use of eye drops is really more of a daily accident I now call routine.

Phobia #4: Crowds of People


“Raise your hand if you’re emotionally unstable! …You? I knew it.” — Image Credit: Stéphane Gallay (https://www.flickr.com/photos/isa_lias/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Good Christ I hate being around large crowds of people. Concerts, festivals, conventions — it doesn’t matter; they’re too bright, too loud, and they present way too many social factors for me to consider all at once. And they have so much potential energy! God, it freaks me out. What if they all got mad? Like, at the same time? The way I look at things, every crowd I see is just one emotional trigger away from becoming a riot.

Let’s say there’s a fire; am I the only one who considers the sheer impossibility of so many people passing through the fire exits simultaneously? Forget the flames and the smoke — you know you’re gonna get trampled to death first. And what are the odds at least one person in any given crowd has a gun? In Germany, that number is thankfully much lower than in the States, but still, even here, I’m certain at least one dude is packing heat. And how can you possibly relax when, as a statistical certainty, some small percentage of the crowd has a serious mental illness? Clearly I have one, but all I’m gonna do is talk shit about it on this here blog. What about the violent schizophrenics? Hell, the drug addicts? It only takes one tweaker to ruin your day. That’s all I’m saying.

Okay, I feel like I’m not getting my point across. Like, I can’t possibly explain just how fragile a crowd of people can be. Imagine you’re at an Elton John concert. You’re drunk. You’re having an awesome time. Then some asshole decides to start screaming right in the middle of “Tiny Dancer.” A high-pitched wail which pierces right through the music. No reason, just some crazy dude losing his shit. Even a short yelp will put the entire crowd on edge. But a prolonged scream? At the very least people will be alarmed and start looking for the nearest exit. Hell, Sir Elton himself might even stop playing the piano until security got there. But that sort of thing almost never happens. Why? Because most of the time we all behave ourselves. But that’s just the thing: It all hangs in such delicate balance! I simply cannot relax. Large crowds of people both frighten and exhaust me.

And this fear has only worsened here in Germany, what with all the Christmas markets, fairs and festivals going on. There’s a major social gathering going down in every German city, all year ’round. There is no escape, especially when your spunky German wife insists upon attending at least one of these powder kegs per year. God dammit, just thinking about it now has me reaching for the Xanax. “Oh yes, you beautiful, wonderful little pill… take Daddy away from the bad thoughts.”

Phobia #3: Things Falling from the Sky


“It’s not beautiful, it’s menacing.” — Image Credit: Crysis Rubel (https://www.flickr.com/photos/crysisrubel/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Do you ever look up at the sky when it’s sunny, bright blue and cloudless, and think to yourself, “Wow, there is absolutely no ceiling there. A little atmosphere, sure, but really nothing between my soft, fragile skull and the chaotic universe beyond?” The Earth is being pounded by meteorites all the time. Just look at the Moon, with all its scars and pock marks. Over the years, that thing has taken a real pounding, and the universe is not a gentle lover. No, the universe is a dangerous, violent bitch, just flinging shit in all directions. When I look up at the sky, I cannot stop thinking about which chunk of cosmic space debris has my name written on it.

This fear actually extends to anything dangerous hanging over my head, like construction equipment. The economy in Germany seems to be doing pretty well, so there’s always new construction going on. I can really only speak for Hannover though, when I say I can’t walk across the Kröpcke without passing beneath a lot of scaffolding, a few ladders, a crane and a bucket full of bricks. How qualified is that dopey bastard in the hardhat to be hoisting a slab of concrete over my head? Not nearly enough, I say, and that’s why I pass beneath construction zones as quickly as possible, shuddering and reciting a silent warning: Motherfucker, if you drop that thing on my head I will haunt you so hard. I will haunt you until you die.

Phobia #2: Doorknobs


“Laugh all you want, but that thing is covered in herpes.” — Image Credit: r. nial bradshaw (https://www.flickr.com/photos/zionfiction/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

It may surprise you to know I do not have OCD. I don’t wash my hands a thousand times a day or anything, but I do hate touching doorknobs — especially the ones in public restrooms. I will seriously pull my sleeve up over my hand and use it to open the door rather than allow that sullied metal to touch my skin. My wife just laughs and shakes her head when she catches me doing this. Oh sure, it’s cute now, but imagine seeing me do this as an 80-year-old man; you’d be forced to assume I’ve gone senile. “That poor old bastard — his brain is just riddled with dementia. He probably wipes poo on the mirror too…”

No, you assholes, I just don’t like having dirty hands. I keep them clean and my nails trimmed down to the skin, the way God intended. My problem with touching doorknobs — or really any object utilized by the general public — stems from my lack of basic knowledge in the subject of biology. How many germs are on the average doorknob? What is their half-life? Is it possible for germs to infect one another, so you’ve got the flu, filled with measles, filled with AIDS, like a Russian nested doll?

Screw it. I just avoid the problem entirely. Hell, with my sleeve-over-the-hand technique, I can urinate in a public bathroom without touching anything but my own pink wiener. And since my hands are always clean — and my wiener is easily the cleanest thing on earth — why bother washing my hands at all? My hands are probably cleaner because I touched my wiener.

How has this phobia worsened as a result of living in Germany? Well, my wife and I don’t need a car. We use our bikes in combination with Germany’s awesome public transportation system. And if you’ve ever ridden an U-Bahn train, you know it’s impossible to do so without touching a few door-open buttons, or grasping one of those straps or poles for standing passengers. This is where my sleeve technique fails me; if I try to hold onto a shiny metal pole with a layer of slippery cotton in my fist, I will lose my grip and fall down onto the even filthier train floor. Now I’m being laughed at and infected with viral hepatitis.

Also, on the S-Bahn, where you sometimes have to climb a few steps, it’s expected you help women with strollers board or exit the train. This means, in order to be a proper gentleman, you have to touch the handlebar at the front of the stroller… right below the filthy baby. You know the little demon farts all over that thing. Just all day long. Probably does it on purpose.

Phobia #1: Russians


“Raise your hand if you’re having an awesome time! …No one? …Anyone? …Bueller?” — Image Credit: Brandon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bpprice/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

There are cool people in every country and there are shitty people in every country. We’re all just human beings in the end, so I try not to make generalized statements about anyone based upon nationality. However, I’m gonna go ahead and do that right now by admitting Russian people scare the shit out of me.

I’m talking about Russian nationals; the ones born and raised in the Motherland. Men and women. Young and old. I am equally afraid of them all. Why? Because of Rocky IV. Just kidding. It’s because 99.9% of my experience with Russians — in America and in Germany — has been scary.

When I was younger, my friend and I were accosted by a Russian man wielding one of those huge, round bottles of wine that cost like $2. I once dated a Russian woman who turned out to be an unapologetic gold digger (but she was hot, so fuck it, right?). Her mother was a mail order bride — clearly miserable — with visible disdain for her American husband. I knew another guy — this one closer to my age — who married a Russian mail order bride and she absolutely hated his guts. (To be fair, I didn’t like much him either, but this young woman would later go on to commit manslaughter by driving over a hobo. I am not joking.) I listened as a Russian contractor told one of my co-workers he could custom-build a 2,500 sq.ft., 2-storey, 4-bedroom house for her under $100,000 dollars — and he whispered it to her, so you just know he was full of shit. That, or the materials were stolen. Anyway, a few years later I had two Russian men knock on my front door and try and intimidate me into moving the fence behind my house, claiming it was over the property line — and they wanted me to move it within 24 hours. (It was totally over the property line, and I was legally required to move the fence, but my point is they were dicks about it.) Here in Germany, I’ve seen countless drunk Russian men on the U-Bahn hassling people and outright daring them to say something about it. I went to a party last summer and there was a Russian guy there — 6′ 7″ and built like a brick shithouse — who, upon hearing I was from America, tipped his head back to swallow a shot of vodka and declared: “I do not like America.” Holy shit, nothing makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end like a slurred Russian accent. Sounds like they’ve got a mouthful of marbles.

So I’ve had a bunch of unfortunate encounters with Russian people. Is it fair to judge them all based upon my own personal experience? Of course not… but in general, Russians do seem pissed. Like, pee-yaa-HISSED. Maybe it’s the long winters. Maybe it’s the decades of economic struggle. Maybe it’s because they’ve got a James Bond villain for a president. I don’t know.

But now I want to talk about that 0.1% of my experience which wasn’t scary. Like the time shortly after I arrived in Germany and began my mandatory German language course. One of the other students was a woman from Russia. She was maybe 5 feet tall, in her late 60s, married with kids and grand kids, and she had — pound for pound — the biggest tits I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously. I was concerned about her lower back, hauling those sweater puppies around all day. Jesus Christ. Anyway, she was smart, nice, and she took the class seriously. She even helped me sign up for the next class after the school lost my file. She was by far my favorite person there.

Then I went to a different language school, where I met another awesome Russian. This time it was a dude, in his mid-30s. He also took his language studies seriously, but he had a very chill, very subtle demeanor about him, and I greatly enjoyed his dry sense of humor. After our teacher had introduced the theme for the day — say, wild boars posing a serious threat to motorists in Berlin (this was an actual theme, by the way) — we would be asked to discuss it together in small groups. My Russian buddy turned to me and asked, “Are you threatened by wild pigs in America?” I laughed, shaking my head. He then turned back around, saying, “In Russia, we are more threatened by bears.” I loved that guy.

Here’s my point: I am afraid of Russian nationals, but I still reserve a very narrow, very jaded place in my heart for the nice ones. So, Nostrovia! (And I know I spelled that wrong, you angry sons of bitches.)


Given the oddity of my phobias — especially where they have been exacerbated by expat life in Germany — I must award them with a solid 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
This is not a perfect score, however. If you can top any one of my fears in terms of overall strangeness or potential to derail you as a human being, the comment section is wide open.

I look forward to hearing from you.


P.S. If you’d like to read the first half of this post, you can find it here: The Top 5 Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany.



How to Horrify an American with One Easy German Expression

Scary Horrified German Man

“God damn, dude. Did you really have to go THERE?” — Image Credit: Vik Nanda (https://www.flickr.com/photos/viknanda/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

A while back, my German wife purchased some cheap-ass insoles from Mäc-Geiz. (Mäc-Geiz is kind of like a dollar store here in Germany, or a variety store, if you want to make it sound a little less awful.) She wanted to put the insoles in her shoes so they would be more comfortable, and she bought an extra pair for me too. I thought this was nice, and I totally intended to try them out, but these insoles were huge — the kind you have to cut down to size with scissors before they’ll fit into your shoes. I could never quite muster the energy to do this, so the insoles sat in my office for the next several months. Finally, after my wife had blown through her own dollar store insoles, she asked for my pair back. I handed them to her and asked if she would be cutting them down to size. She looked at me like I was the dumbest motherfucker on the planet and said:

“Of course. How big do you think my feet are?
Like I’m wearing kids coffins?”

*From the slang German expression, “Deine Schuhe sind so groß – voll die Kindersärge,” which translates literally (and horrifyingly) to “Your shoes are so big – totally like children’s coffins.”



Autumn in Germany: A Time of Pumpkins, Spiders and Unintentionally Hilarious German Women


“So beautiful, yet so goddamn cold…” — Image Credit: Bert Kaufmann (https://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

It would seem Summer has come to an end here in Hannover, Germany. There’s a chill in the air. Winds are blowing from the north and rain is falling with ever increasing frequency. Alas, I can no longer wear shorts and flip-flops and saunter around town like the cocksure American I am.

Soon will come Fall — or “Autumn,” if you want to romanticize the death of Summer and the obliteration of all things warm and good in the world. Fall in Germany does bring a few half-decent things with it though, like Oktoberfest, colorful tree leaves and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Of all the German vegetables, the only one I cannot remember is harvested in Fall. No matter how hard I try to cram the name into my brain, “Kürbis” just won’t stick. Kürbis means “pumpkin” in English, and as we all know, pumpkins are perhaps the most useless of all vegetables on earth. Oh sure, in America we eviscerate them, carve horrifying shapes into their sides and then illuminate our handiwork with candles for Halloween, but they don’t really do that here in Germany. You can bake pumpkin slices and eat them if you want, but I promise you won’t like them unless they’re drowned in butter. Now, pumpkin seeds are pretty good all by themselves, but they’re a bitch to clean and dry. And pumpkin pie absolutely rules, but so would cat shit pie if you threw enough sugar at it.

Anyway, my German wife and I were walking along a street in the Linden-Nord district of Hannover when we happened by a Turkish produce stand. They had these massive pumpkins on display, and I pointed them out to my wife, amazed by their size and unusual shape. My wife, however, kept right on walking and said:

Pumpkins look creepy to me. That one looks like a spider butt.



Death, Dying and Impermanence: An American Expat and His German Wife Tackle Life’s Biggest Questions


“What does it all mean, mein Schatz?” — Image Credit: Cristina L. F. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/xanetia/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic copyright.

Not too long ago, I had a birthday which pushed me closer to 40 years old than 30. I took a close look in the mirror, saw a few more gray hairs on my head, and even a few new ones in my eyebrows. In my goddamn eyebrows. Now, if you’re over 40, you’re probably rolling your eyes about now — ready to tell me all about the horrors of life at your advanced age — but you don’t need to; I’ve been worrying about aging and mortality since I was 6 years old.

It all started in the first grade, on the very first day of science class. The teacher held up a rotating model of the solar system, spun the planets around and said:

“These are the planets, and this little guy right here is Earth. See it? That’s us. We orbit this big yellow ball in the middle, called the Sun. The Sun is a star, and like all stars, it is going to swell up someday and become a Red Giant — engulfing the Earth and all the rest of the planets in the solar system — and then it will explode.”

After taking a moment to appreciate the horrified looks upon our adorable little faces, the teacher added:

“But don’t worry… this won’t happen for billions of years. You’ll all be dead long before that happens.”


“Don’t touch the big one, kids. It’s hot.” — Image Credit: Image Editor (https://www.flickr.com/photos/11304375@N07/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic copyright.

Time and emotional scarring have no doubt clouded my memory of what our teacher actually said, but I do know the scientific facts presented were lost upon me entirely. Instead, what I learned that day was a deeper, darker truth: I am going to die.

I spent the rest of that afternoon sprawled out on the floor of my classroom, pretending to write numbers for some kind of math lesson or another, when what I was actually doing was staring at the floor, tracing its dusty, pockmarked tiles with my newly hollowed gaze, thinking to myself, I am going to die someday. My Dad is even older than me, so he’ll probably die first. And my Mom is going to die too. But even if we all lived forever, the Sun would just grow really big and burn us all to death anyway. Oh my God, it’s gonna to hurt so bad… And I literally pictured a burning yellow ball of unimaginable scale pressing up against my face, frying the skin off my skull while crushing everything and everyone I’d ever loved into a swelling crescendo of horror and agony.


“Bye Mom! Bye Dad! Thanks for all the popsicles!” — Image Credit: Maxwell Hamilton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mualphachi/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic copyright.

Although I’m all grown up now, I’ve never forgotten that particular day. Not just because of the brutally honest lesson in astronomy, or the long hours of painful realization and introspection afterward, but because it marked my first awareness of impermanence; that ceaseless metronome ticking away the seconds for all of us. You. Me. The plants and animals. Hell, even the Great Pyramids of Egypt. We’re all dying and eroding back into the stardust from whence we came. And when viewed upon a long enough timeline, absolutely nothing remains the same forever. So if fluctuation is the natural state of things, what is the point of life? Why do we struggle so hard to create things when nothing we make — organic or inorganic — can possibly last longer than a microsecond in the blind, uncaring eyes of the universe?

This is the part where you might suggest I find some religion or seek help for my obvious depression / anxiety disorder, but I don’t need any of those things; I’ve got a German wife. She is pragmatic and down-to-earth, and when she is presented with the big questions regarding life and death, she will restore the warmth to my heart by asking very simply:

“Why does our time on earth have to be limitated?”

If you would like to read another classic Denglish quote, check this one out: My German Wife Explains the Optimal Weather Conditions for Seasonal Allergy Attacks

Moving from an Apartment to a House in Hannover, Germany: My Wife Exemplifies the Classiest Exit Strategy Possible


…upgrading our living conditions SO hard. — Photo Credit: Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/payitforwardphotos/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

As you know, my wife and I live in Hannover, Germany. She is a native German citizen — bright, beautiful and freakishly enthusiastic about her work as a Gymnasium teacher — and I am an American expat; dark and introverted, spinning graphic design projects from my home office like a funnel-web spider tending to its silken trip-lines: “Oh yes, my pretties… come closer. Let me sink my venomous logo into your fledgling business enterprise…”

So normally I’m the hateful side of our little German-American relationship, and my wife is the loving side; she genuinely enjoys people and always looks for the good in them. But after living in a questionable apartment building with psychotic inhabitants and an apathetic management company for two years (See: Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane), even she was ready to burn the place to the ground and piss on the ashes.

She checked the house rental listings every night for months until finally she found the perfect opening: A little house in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, still close enough to commute to work, but far enough away we wouldn’t be tempted to climb on top of our new roof and pick off our former neighbors like a couple of wildly underqualified Marine snipers.

We got the news our rental application had been approved, and then we started packing like mad. We boxed everything up, hired a moving company and got the hell out of that apartment. As we drove away, gazing at the building as it receded from view, my wife stuck her hands out the window — both middle fingers held high in the air — and shouted, “Adios Amigos!”

Of course, with her adorable German accent, what actually came out was:

“Ahh-Dee-Yahs, Ahh-Mee-Gahs!”

If you would like to read another classic Denglish quote, check this one out: My German Wife Is A Huge Fan of HBO’s A Game of Thrones

The German Accent: Ain’t No Place for the English “T-H”


“You just put your lips together and… blow.” — Image Credit: tiffany terry (https://www.flickr.com/photos/35168673@N03/) — Subject to CC Generic 2.0 Copyright.

I love my wife’s accent. It’s cute — sort of ambiguously European — with a rare subtlety which likely stems from so much time spent in the United States and her years of being married to me; an American book nerd who experiences heart palpitations whenever someone misuses the homophones “there” and “their.”

But who doesn’t enjoy a good foreign accent? They sound cool and unique. More attractive, even. (Except for that God-awful Cockney English accent. Holy shit.) So I cherish what precious little remains of my wife’s German accent, and record it whenever she lets fly with a real zinger. Yes, her mispronunciations make me laugh out loud, but I do not mean to mock her; I truly enjoy the linguistic differences. (And this road goes both ways, I’ll have you know: My wife laughs her sweet ass off whenever I try to say “ice cubes” in German. The word is “Eiswürfel,” pronounced, “Ice-vuhr-fell,” but I can’t stop saying “Ice-TZWUHR-fell.” Makes her lose her shit every time.)

One remnant of my wife’s accent is still going strong, however, and that is her total disregard for the English <th> sound, as in “theater,” “weather” or “Thor, God of Thunder.” (And yes, I am a comic book dork, as well as a fantasy nerd and sci-fi geek. I loved the movie Prometheus. It rocked so hard I’ve been hassling my wife to watch it with me since 2012.) So it was with much glee that I wrote down my wife’s quote the other day, after she came home from a particularly arduous day at work and demanded immediate relaxation, saying:

“I want to watch a movie so hard. We could even watch a sci-fi. We could even watch your ‘Pro-mee-toys.’ “

If you would like to read another classic mispronunciation post, check this one out: My German Wife Gets Stuck in Traffic, Struggles Adorably to Pronounce the English Letter ‘J’