Tag Archives: Expat

Funny German Expressions: How to Say Something “Makes a Lot of Sense”


“Wait… German doesn’t make any sense at all!” — Image Credit: David Goehring (https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

My wife is a very busy woman. She’s a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, and she works long hours both at school and at home. She puts in some serious overtime grading tests and organizing her lesson plans each night — in part because she’s German, and obsessive attention to detail seems to have a stranglehold on her DNA — but also because she’s just really passionate about her subject. (She teaches philosophy, and she has a major she-boner for Plato.)

This is all great and wonderful. I’m very proud of her. But with so much dedication to work, sometimes the little tasks in life are put on hold — like writing thank you cards after the holidays. Personally, I like to get this over with as soon as humanly possible. We’re talking January 15th here, at the latest. My wife, on the other hand, approaches thank you cards with an attitude closer to, Fuck it, either my awesome American husband will do it for me, or they’ll just write themselves.

So after the holidays last year, when the thank you cards had been sitting on her desk for like 2 months even though I’d already written them and all she had to do was sign them, god dammit, she finally got around to it. She’d taken the time to write some really meaningful, thoughtful words of gratitude, and signed them all with a flourish. Then, when she handed them back to me, she declared:

“Sometimes I take forever to write something, but when I do, it has arms and legs.”

*From the German expression, “Es hat Hand und Fuß,” which translates figuratively to “It makes a lot of sense,” or “It is worthwhile,” but translates literally to “It has hand and foot.”



Violent Arachnophobia: My German Wife Kills the Biggest Spider Ever

Giant German House Spider

“Hello Satan. I knew you’d come for me one day.”

There are lots of things I love about my German wife — she’s smart, funny and beautiful, to name a few — but she also has this one particular characteristic which warms my heart every time I see it: Whenever she sees a spider in our home, she grabs the nearest shoe, swings it up over her head and brings it down with ten thousand times the crushing force necessary to end its life.

You see, when it comes to executing spiders, my wife tends not to fuck around. Oh, she’s not proud of herself for killing them — she knows they’re mostly harmless and she should probably just let them outside instead — but nevertheless, her knee-jerk reaction to seeing a spider is murder, and I just love that about her.

My wife is actually a very gentle person, and she abhors violence. That’s why the spider can’t be too big. If it’s huge, she starts to see it as “more of an animal,” and can’t bring herself to kill it. Me? I’m the exact opposite. I believe in spider karma, so I’ll readily share my office with a tiny little wall crawler. I’ll even talk to it. Name it Sebastián or something. But if I see some giant, hairy bastard come swaggering in, I’ll jump up and stomp that bitch straight back to hell.

I actually wrote a blog post about this very subject last year: American Expat in Germany Nearly Killed by an Acorn, Vents His Shame upon the Biggest Spider in the Universe. The spider in that story was bigger than a €1 euro coin. But just a few nights ago, my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen when an even bigger spider ran across the floor. This one was the size of an American silver dollar:

American Silver Dollar

“Disgusting.” — Image Credit: PhotoAtelier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/glenbledsoe/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Now, we were mid-sentence when she saw it, so you can imagine my alarm when her eyes went wide and suddenly darted down and to the left. Oh great, I thought to myself, I get to spend my Friday night chasing a plague rat out of the house.

I was actually sort of relieved when I saw it was just a spider, but oh my Christ was it huge. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any spare change to toss at the beast for comparison, so you can’t appreciate its size from the video I recorded, but you can bare witness to its execution.

Check it out, and have a great week everyone!



Sexy Plato: My German Wife on Teaching Philosophy to 10th Graders


Meet Plato: Socrates’ little sex kitten. — Photo Credit: aaron wolpert (https://www.flickr.com/photos/aaron_wolpert/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

My wife is German, and she is a great big nerd. Good-looking, but a nerd nonetheless. Specifically, she is a philosophy nerd; you know, the ones who are super smart but somehow fail to notice the gaping void where their post-college job opportunities should be? Luckily, my wife saw that disaster coming and rolled her love of philosophy into a second master’s degree, which allowed her to land an awesome job teaching philosophy to Gymnasium students here in Hannover, Germany. (To be fair, I’m a nerd too, but I’m more the Computer/Sci-Fi/Fantasy type. Also, I wear hoodies 24/7 because they’re the next best thing to a cloak of invisibility.)

As it turns out, my wife is not only freakishly passionate about philosophy, but she’s passionate about teaching it too. She spends countless hours after work preparing lessons and materials for her students, even though I keep telling her teenagers are nothing but a bunch of filthy, stinking ingrates who don’t deserve her extra efforts and we should totally be re-watching episodes of Firefly instead goddammit.

So one evening, after she’d spent over 2 hours making extra materials for her 10th graders, my wife said she would be teaching them about the subjects of death and dying. Personally, I would have loved to sit in on that class, but she wasn’t terribly excited about it. You see, her favorite topics come from the Classical Greek philosophers — Plato, in particular. She could talk about that fruity Grecian forever. (And she does — which is why I no longer ask anything about him unless I want to wipe my schedule clean for the rest of the day.)

Anyway, she went on to explain how the curriculum required her to discuss the larger, more general themes with her students first — like mortality — rather than diving straight into the specific works of the ancient philosophers. And she clarified this point in surprisingly graphic fashion:

“I would rather teach them about Plato, but you know how when you want to have sexy time, you don’t just stick it in — you need to have some foreplay first.”



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!



The Hanseatic City of Lübeck, Germany

Lübeck, Germany

“Welcome to Lübeck, you picture-ruining sons of bitches.”

You know that vacation my wife and I took to Barcelona, Spain? Well, we took a little trip to Lübeck, Germany right after that. (Like, right the hell after. Not a moment to breathe.) Lübeck is a cute little port town in Schleswig-Holstein, and it was a member of the Hanseatic League during the Late Middle Ages — you know, when they used to pour boiling tar on each other and dropkick babies for fun or whatever.

We saw a bunch of old churches, the port with a ton of boats, the famous marzipan company called Niederegger (you can imagine how carefully I typed that), and the Buddenbrooks House, which is actually a museum dedicated to some asshole named Thomas Mann.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just pissed because my computer died and I’m still waiting for my new one to be delivered, so I’m having to type this blog post on my wife’s laptop with it’s insane German keyboard. Every time my finger punches the “Z” key instead of the “Y” key, I must resist the urge to frisbee this goddamn thing right out the window.

Deep breath… okay. Please click one of the thumbnails below to start the slideshow, and thank you for stopping by!

5 Reasons Why You Should Totally Have Sex with a German Dude


“I share this reluctantly.” — Image Credit: sunshinecity (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sunshinecity/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Here’s the deal: I am a straight, married, American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. My wife is a scalding hot German woman with two master’s degrees and a smile so stunning it could stop your heart. I did my time as a bachelor before I was married. I’m over it. This is why, years later, single life and the one-night stands which go along with it are about as interesting to me as white hot birdshit.

I have absolutely no motivation to give out dating advice, especially when it might help young German men get a little extra honey on their stingers. The thing is, as a foreign blogger in a strange land, I am compelled to make observations about the things I see around me. I also try to be as honest as possible with my readers, so this is why all you straight women, gay men, bisexual and bi-curious individuals are about to discover the top five reasons why you should totally, absolutely, 100%, drop whatever you are doing right now and pork a German dude:

#1: German Dudes Are Sexy


“Anybody else want to punch this guy right in the heart?” — Image Credit: Hotlanta Voyeur (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hotlantavoyeur/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Lightly photoshopped.

You know how the stereotypical American tourist is a fat lard with white sneakers and a mean case of type 2 diabetes? Young German guys are the exact opposite; they’re style-conscious, thin and freakishly tall. Listen, I’m 5’10” tall when I’m wearing thick soled shoes, standing up perfectly straight and totally lying to myself. But the dudes here in Germany? They are, as my wife would put it, “lighthouse tall.”

Obviously there are exceptions — I’ve seen a few short guys here too — but most of them are like the Ents from the Lord of the Rings; elongated tree people, all lanky as hell with arms and legs akimbo. And if this is the moment when you decide to be a smart ass and google the average height between Germans and Americans only to find the difference minuscule, you can take those statistics and cram ’em: Here in northern Germany, dudes between the ages of 16 and 35 are tall as fuck. I see them every single day, and their genetic good fortune pisses me off.

One day, in a social setting, I asked a medical student here in Germany why the guys seemed so tall. He didn’t think his countrymen were any taller than mine, but suggested if there were a difference, it probably had something to do with diet. My ingenious theory, however, was that German winters typically last longer than those in the States, resulting in less sunlight and an overall deficiency of vitamin D. I went on to explain, beer in hand, how this would logically require the human body to adapt in order to increase surface area, resulting in a lanky populace better equipped to absorb sunlight. (Of course, according to my theory, Inuit people living in the Arctic should be tall enough to touch the goddamn sun, but hey, I was drunk at the time.)

Now, I have absolutely no explanation why German men tend to be so thin. Consuming the traditional German diet is like getting down on your knees and praying for a heart attack. The abundance of meat, bread and beer certainly hasn’t made me any sexier, so what the hell man? Maybe it’s just portion control. Maybe it’s greater emphasis on walking and cycling as means of daily transportation. All I know is young German dudes tend to have awesome bodies. Six pack abs are everywhere, as are broad shoulders and sculpted jawlines. This is why, on a worldwide scale of beauty from 1 to 10 — with 10 being the most beautiful — I am considered a British “7,” an American “6,” and a German “warthog.”

You know what else German guys have going for them? Style. They wear cool clothing that isn’t garish or overtly macho, and their hair tends to be stick-straight, allowing them to shape it into dazzling works of art. They stay ahead of all the latest fads and trends, so overall, their appearance is hip and fresh to the eye. (Or fruity as hell, depending upon your attitude.) Good style seems to be an inherent cultural trait across most of western Europe, but right now it’s definitely working to the advantage of young German males. That, or sexy unicorns are pissing in the groundwater.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, there are exceptions to every rule; not every young guy you meet here is going to be devastatingly handsome… but most of them will. Christ, with all the moussed hair, trendy jeans, blessed height and Olympian physiques, living in Germany is like being trapped inside one huge boyband. So if you’re into pretty boys, come on over; you’ll have a mouthful of beautifully shorn scrotum before you even leave the airport.

#2: German Dudes Are Smart

 -- Image Credit: Johan Bichel Lindegaard (https://www.flickr.com/photos/accidentdesigns/) -- Subject to CC 2.0 License. Adjusted for contrast.

“Oh, well you’re just the whole package, aren’t you… you NERD.” — Image Credit: Johan Bichel Lindegaard (https://www.flickr.com/photos/accidentdesigns/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Adjusted for contrast.

Alright, look — there are stupid people in every country, even in Germany — but it is important to note my wife and I do not make a habit of associating with knuckle draggers. Instead, we gravitate toward Germans who tend to be educated, well-traveled and able to consume alcohol in social situations without winding up tasered senseless and thrown into the back of a cop car. We’re arrogant snobs, is what I’m saying, so please keep this in mind as I make another sweeping generalization about the young men of northern Germany.

First of all, most of them are bilingual. They start learning English in the 3rd grade, and I know this because I have the incredible misfortune of living right next to a primary school. Every morning I get to hear these little nerds singing English nursery rhymes while I’m trying to work:

TEACHER: “The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout…”

SCHOOL KIDS: “The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout…”


Anyway, their language studies continue right on up through high school, and even if they don’t pursue it any further, they’re exposed to English on a regular basis through TV, movies and music. Hell, most of my German friends even speak a limited amount of some additional and totally unnecessary language, like French. Does this automatically make them smarter? Hell no, but I triple-dog-dare you to try and find a stupid polylinguist. Something about forcing the brain to switch between languages makes it more flexible and dynamic. I believe this is because a language isn’t just a bunch of words; it’s a different way of thinking. Regularly alternating the way you think is going to make you a more interesting person, if not outright more intelligent. So when you’re enjoying pillow talk with your new German lover, not only will he be able to understand your every word, but he will probably have something insightful to say just as soon as you remove that ball gag from his mouth.

The German dude you choose to lay will probably have spent a great deal of time at university as well, attaining both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. See, higher education is of great importance in Germany, and college is virtually free — the key word here being virtually. My wife and I were once walking along Georgstraße in Hannover when we stumbled across a huge group of angry college students protesting against rising tuition fees in Lower Saxony. This was a few years ago, so I can’t remember the exact amount, but tuition had risen from around €500 euros per semester to like €525 euros. I laughed so hard I peed a little. And get this: Just a year or two later, Lower Saxony abolished tuition fees altogether. As an American, I just can’t wrap my head around free or even affordable tuition. Of course, I also can’t wrap my head around half my monthly paycheck going to the taxes it takes to cover said tuition, but still, it’s a pretty awesome system. It encourages high school graduates to go learn a thing or two about the world and stop being such narcissistic little shit twisters.

In general, Germans tend to be very well-traveled — especially the younger generations. They’re encouraged to embark on school exchange programs and spend a year or two at foreign universities. Then, after they’ve returned to Germany and entered the workforce, they are often sent back overseas for internships and additional job training — especially in the science, engineering and medical fields. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet a well-traveled individual who isn’t at least a little bit more sophisticated than an isolated one. As a result, German men of sexable age tend to be open-minded, sensitive and respectful of other cultures. So throw a condom on that gentle jet-setter, because he’s probably crushed ass from Sacramento to Singapore.

#3: German Dudes Are Humble


“You’re so money and you don’t even know it.” — Photo Credit:
Daniel Zedda (https://www.flickr.com/photos/astragony/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

In my experience, German guys tend to be extremely modest. I have no doubt there are a few egotistical shitbags running around over here, but all the ones I’ve spoken with practically trip over themselves when you pay them a compliment. And even I have to admit — it’s pretty adorable. See, I come from America; our culture is fueled by unchecked egotism and blind self-confidence. Things like bragging, cockiness, and inexplicably high self-esteem are so normal they make me homesick. But over here? No way. Good luck telling a German guy he’s smart or good-looking; he’ll probably black out and walk straight into the nearest wall.

Maybe it’s inherited guilt from the two world wars. Maybe it’s the rather intense secondary school system, or maybe it’s lack of praise or basic affection during childhood, I don’t know, but it seems like German people are reluctant to show any kind of national pride whatsoever. (Unless you’re talking about soccer. Then, apparently, they’re allowed to go apeshit.)

What I’m saying is, there’s still a lot of guilt over here, and that makes for a dating pool of young men who tend to be more reserved, less aggressive and way more grateful for the sex you’re having with them.

#4: German Dudes Aren’t Prude


On an unrelated note: This picture makes me laugh every time I see it. — Photo Credit: Jens karlsson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/chapter3/) Subject to CC 2.0 License.

When it comes to sex, we Americans are very prude. Oh sure, we’ll watch some action star cut an entire village in half with a machine gun, but a pair of tits on a billboard? None of us would get to work safely. This stems from our Puritan ancestry and the fact that, as a country, we’re still in our adolescence. We’re like a bunch of teenagers giggling in Sex Ed class: “Tee hee hee! The teacher said, ‘labia.’ ”

The country of Germany, on the other hand, is old as balls. Sure, the German Empire was formed in 1871 by the Prussians, but Germania has existed since the time before that one goody two-shoes got his ass crucified. And because Germany is right in the middle of Europe — greatly influenced by all of the countries surrounding it — its modern-day culture is very difficult to define. What I can say, however, is that it is old, and with age comes maturity. Here are a few German cultural traits regarding sex I can confirm, having observed them with my own two eyeballs:

  • Public Displays of Affection (PDA) – From city parks to beaches, German people give exactly zero fucks about being seen making out. And I don’t just mean sexy young people; I’m also talking about old people slapping waddles together like a couple of hungry sea lions.
  • Nudity – Not only are nude saunas commonplace in Germany, but so is nudity in advertising and entertainment. I try and act cool whenever I see a breast on a poster for skin cream, but inside I’m dancing around like a schoolboy: “Titties, titties titties!”
  • Compartmentalization – That very same German dude who just got done playing tonsil hockey at the park and watching sweat drop off his nards with a bunch of other guys in the sauna will then walk back into work, adjust his tie and give a presentation to the executive team without missing a beat. This is compartmentalization is action; everything has its place, but what’s cool in one place is not necessarily cool in another. They keep that shit separate.
  • Interracial Coupling – I love seeing people of different races get together, and I see it a lot more often here in Germany than I ever did in America. Sure, racism and prejudice exist here too, but it’s not stopping these crazy kids from mixing up their crayons.
  • Prostitution – I’ve talked about prostitution in Germany before, but I’ll say it again; it’s legal here, and it’s no big deal. Personally, I think prostitution should be legal everywhere. Why does the government care if you want to choke yourself while some chick dips your nuts in coffee? I think it’s awesome.

Now imagine a young German man growing up in this environment, where sex is accepted more openly and with greater honesty; he may not necessarily be a porn star, but he won’t have as many hangups about sex as your average American. Can’t you just picture the relaxed, easy confidence of a lover so perfectly bred? The only problem is German guys fail to realize how cool they really are; they don’t understand their casual attitude toward sex is both surprising and refreshing to Americans. That’s why in Germany you’re so likely to run into a tall, smart, handsome bastard with the soul of a virgin nerd.

#5: German Dudes Are Uncut


“Get that awful wiener out of my face.” — Image Credit: barockschloss (https://www.flickr.com/photos/barockschloss/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

Oh, did you think this was going to be one long ass-kissing session? Like I wanted to endear myself to the young male population of Germany by listing all the ways in which they rule? No. This is the part where I cut them right back down to size. (Tee hee!)

So here’s the deal: I make a real point out of not looking at other dude’s junk while I’m showering at the gym, but it’s impossible to avoid entirely, especially if you tend to walk with your head down, like I do. If I exit the shower area right as another guy is entering, I will see, in exactly the following order: feet, knees, cock, nipples, face, and then it’s “Oh, excuse me,” as I step aside, thinking, what in the fuck is with all the uncut birds in this country?

I know circumcision is not a part of Christian religious tradition, and Germany is lousy with Catholics and Protestants, so maybe that explains why it isn’t so popular here. But then, America has a shit-ton of Christians too, and most of us had our birds cut while we were still fresh out of the womb. So I’m not sure about the reasons, but circumcision is a surprisingly divisive issue. To cut or not to cut: That is the question. For some it’s about the look. For others it’s about sensitivity, cleanliness or simply not wanting to cut off parts of their baby. And according to the half-assed google search I just did, circumcision seems to be on the decline — at least in America. There are tons of reasons for this — all of which are hotly debated — but none of them matter at all, because uncircumcised dicks are fucking disgusting.

I had my foreskin hacked off as a baby, and I’m glad as hell. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Every time I go to the bathroom I think to myself, yeah, that there is some fine lookin’ denim pork. Now, does it make logical sense that an altered body part should look better than a natural one? Of course not. But still, we pierce our ears, right? We get tattoos, shave our pubes, wear makeup and lift weights to try and achieve a physique with which we were not genetically gifted. Hell, in some cultures they scar themselves from head to toe or wear rings around their necks until they can’t support the weight of their own heads. These are all examples of cultural body modification for the sake of beauty, and when a certain type of beauty is popular for long enough, it becomes the standard. (Hey, I don’t make the rules, I’m just playing by them.)

Sure, uncircumcised dongs will likely come back into fashion, as will big hair, quaaludes and 1970s porno pubes, but I for one will be crying the day that happens. (Except for the quaaludes part. Those sound awesome.) But if you want an uncut penis and you want it right now, come to Germany, because they don’t send their soldiers to war without a helmet.


Although I have strongly recommended throughout this post that you have sex with a German dude, just remember to use protection. Your future spouse is not going to want to hear about the STD you caught in Munich when you were nearly slapped to death in a nutsack hurricane. And you definitely don’t want to explain you have herpes because of that one summer in Berlin spent drowning in penis.


It’s real simple: German dudes are awesome. When compared to the rest of the knuckle-dragging primates of the world, the great apes of Germany score a record-setting 5 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
Oh, I’m sure many of you will disagree with this assessment — most of all the guilt-ridden, self-loathing Germans themselves — so I cordially invite all of you to light up my comments section like a flaming dildo.



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.