Tag Archives: Expat

My German Wife Is Impressed by a Bagpipe-Playing Lawyer

bagpipes-player-funny-man

“Stop playing that thing or I’ll shove it down your Scotch-hole.” — Photo by Jonathan Stonehouse (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gizmo_bunny/)

Back in 2012, just a few months after we moved to Germany, my wife made me watch all 5 seasons of Ally McBeal. That’s 112 episodes, each one lasting 45 minutes, which adds up 84 hours of total viewing time. (Coincidentally, 84 hours is exactly how long a man can have his testicles squeezed together in a woodworker’s vise before he begs for death’s sweet, everlasting embrace.)

As you probably know, Ally McBeal was a popular television series which ran from 1997 to 2002. It was a surreal comedy-drama, following a young, self-obsessed lawyer named Ally McBeal as she hallucinates her way through a series of romantic misadventures and magically relevant court trials, which hammer the moral of each episode into your skull with all the subtlety of a howitzer.

Ally works for a fictional law firm called Cage and Fish. One of the firm’s eccentric co-founders, John Cage, has a pet frog named Steffan (pronounced Steh-fahn.) After a series of unfortunate hijinks — involving a lot of girlish screaming, frog-tossing and the poorly timed flushing of toilets — Steffan is killed. A funeral is organized around the toilet in which Steffan met his demise, and the entire cast of the show listens as John memorializes his friend by playing the bagpipes. (The actor, Peter MacNicol, actually plays them in real life.)

I watched this scene with the predictable amount of stone-faced apathy until my German wife raised her eyebrows, nodded her head and announced:

THE WIFE: “It’s pretty impressive he can play the doodle-sack.”*

*The word “Bagpipes” in German is “der Dudelsack.”

 


 

 

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My Wife Suggests Long John Underwear to Help Fight Winter Chills in Germany

long-thermal-underwear-funny-winter

“Keeps my junk so warm I gotta smile.” — Photo by Anthony Easton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkmoose/)

We’ve all heard winters in northern Germany can be pretty harsh, right? They’re long, dark, scary and depressing, like a prolonged nightmare or just about any movie starring Jeremy Irons. Winters pass so slowly here, the Germans have constructed a series of traditions and paid holidays systematically designed to keep you from playing chicken with the next subway train you see and screwing up the U-Bahn schedule for everybody.

I don’t mind winter, but even I have to admit the winter of 2012 was a real penis shrinker. In Hannover, winter lasted from October until May. Seriously, it was May when my wife and I were finally able to turn off the heat in our apartment and not freeze to death like a couple of white chocolate popsicles. Luckily, my wife is German and she knows how to deal with these long winters. She’s always telling me to wrap myself in a blanket, drink hot chamomile tea (because Germans think chamomile is a panacea), place a hot water bottle on my lap and wear thermal underwear beneath my pants (known more creepily as “long johns”).

I generally follow her advice, but the truth is I am a profoundly lazy man. Sometimes I cannot be bothered with all 4 aspects of her winter defensive strategy, which is why, back in November of 2012, I wore thin pajama pants while working at my computer and then complained about the fact that my legs were cold. My wife came into the office, put her teacher’s bag on the floor and announced:

THE WIFE: “It is getting very cold. Your pee-jammy pants are not warm enough. Tomorrow we buy you Johnny Long Bottoms.”

Denglish 85: My Wife Reveals A Uniquely German Expression for Beverages of Extremely High Alcohol Content

The night I asked The Wife to marry me — after getting down on one knee, offering her a diamond ring and giving her a picture I drew of a squirrel (seriously) — I took her to the Rose and Thistle Pub in northeast Portland. There, we sent text messages to all of our friends and family members announcing our engagement.

Cute squirrel holding diamond engagement ring

How a ring-carrying squirrel goes from idea to reality.

We also ordered beer, and if you know much about Portland, you know it is the Microbrew Beer Capitol of the United States. (And with this in mind, I once suggested to my German class teacher here in Hannover that the US actually produces good beer. He rolled his eyes, because Germans think we only drink Budweiser and Coors Light. I laughed and played along, but inside I was seeing red, thinking, ‘Oh you poor, naive little man. You don’t even know. You don’t even KNOW,’ and then I used my telepathic powers to make his giant German head explode.)

Anyway, Portland beer is awesome, and it is often quite strong. There are all sorts of ways to discuss drinks with high alcohol content, but translating these idioms directly from German into English is easily the most entertaining. So, as we looked over the menu, my German wife announced:

THE WIFE: “I want a beer, but I don’t want something that pulls my sock off.”

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

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Video: French Team at the 2013 International Fireworks Competition in Hannover, Germany

Team-Frankreich-Intermède-Hannover-Internationalen Feuerwerkswettbewerb

“Woah nelly! Don’t get too carried away there, France.”

On June 8th, 2013, The Wife and I went to the Herrenhäuser Gärten here in Hannover, Germany, to see the 23rd International Firework Competition (Internationalen Feuerwerkswettbewerb). Each month of the summer features pyrotechnics set to music by a different European country. The June show was performed by the French fireworks team (Team Frankreich), and I gotta tell you, it was French as hell.

We were joined at the show by our wonderful friend from North Rhine-Westphalia, whom we shall refer to as “Legs for Days.” Legs for Days is a pretty German woman who is so tall she must squat every time we take a group picture lest she appear flanked by inebriated Oompa-Loompas.

Before the fireworks began, The Wife, Legs for Days and I walked around and checked out the different beer tents and concession stands. Among the crowd were French actors wearing these crazy-ass Alice in Wonderland type costumes, many of which involved stilts, props and various other accoutrement designed specifically to give you nightmares.

Here is a video I recorded of the French circus freaks in action (Warning: mild swearing involved):

Once we’d loaded our subconscious minds with enough creepy imagery to fuel our night terrors for the year, we took our seats and waited for the fireworks show to begin. Last year, The Wife and I saw the Croatian team’s performance, which was wild; a non-stop display of explosions and music, with lots of energy and not a moment of lull. This year, the French team held true to what you might expect of a people who think high art is pointing a video camera at a weeping clown at the beach while he steps on a robin’s egg or something. The fireworks display was very pretty and the music was lovely, but it was sparse. I got the feeling the French were taking a ‘less is more’ sort of approach to the whole affair.

I am an American, and to me, firework displays should be huge. Grand. Larger than life, and so rife with concussive reports and blinding lights my ears bleed and the eyeballs are burned from my very skull. Firework are rock and roll, goddammit, and these Frenchmen tried to class it up with an acoustic performance.

Check it out, but please note — these are the most interesting moments; the rest of the show reminded me I have the attention span of a fruit fly.

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Denglish 84: My Normally Frugal German Wife Chooses Fashion Over Sustenance

The Wife and I lived together for a year in the United States, from the summer of 2011 until the summer of 2012, when we got married and moved to Germany. For her birthday in the States, my wife received — among other things — a gift certificate to Fred Meyer; a major supermarket chain founded in Portland, Oregon, which sells everything from food and beverages to clothing and furniture.

The gift certificate was a generous present from my parents, and one which I thought best utilized to lower our fixed expenses. So, one evening, I suggested my wife use the money to cover the cost of our next trip to Fred Meyer for groceries. She gave it some thought and said…

THE WIFE: “I could use my gift certificate for groceries, but I also need a new purse.”

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

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Culture Shock 13: American Expat Receives Terrifying Haircut at Turkish Hairdresser in Germany

turkish salon hairdresser store front

“Welcome to Turktown, my friend.” — Photo by Will Flavell (http://www.flickr.com/photos/swept14/)

As you may already know, I’ve been having some trouble getting haircuts here in Germany. I’m still learning the metric system, and the fact that a centimeter in length is nowhere near as long as an inch. Also, I speak in broken German, so when I want a ‘high fade,’ it sounds like I’m asking for a ‘lofty shrivel.’

Out of frustration, I asked my wife to write a note describing, in perfect German, the kind of haircut I wanted. This note worked wonderfully at first; I walked into my usual ‘Fast Cuts,’ handed the note over to the goth chick with the bad forearm tattoos, and received a decent version of the haircut described. Unfortunately, because it involved scissors — in addition to the usual electric razor — the price jumped from €9 euros to €22 euros. I felt this was a bit extreme, so I vowed to try a different hairdresser.

funny big hair dork nerd geek man german

“Heeeey Joe, where you goin’ with that note from your wife of your hand?” — Photo by Todd Ordes (http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddomanbot/)

A month later, with my hair so big and puffy I looked like a member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, I walked into a little hairdresser around the corner from our apartment. Now, this was a Turkish hairdresser, and it was full of burly Turkish men who were doing more horsing around and shit talking than actual hair cutting. You can imagine the blank stares I got when I handed my note to one of the three hairdressers. This particular gentleman chuckled, making it clear he could not read it. (To this day I am unsure if he truly was illiterate in German, or if he was just being a dick.) A young Turkish kid jumped up from the waiting area and proudly read my note aloud to the entire room. Everyone had a nice laugh about it. The hairdresser nodded his understanding, repeated “Funf miiILLLlliiimeters” to dramatic effect, and gestured for me to sit in the barber chair.

What followed was a scary clusterfuck of English, German and Turkish, if you were to translate everything directly into English:

HAIRDRESSER: “So, where you come from?” *Proceeding to attach the appropriate extension onto an electric razor and peel my scalp like a Doner kebab.*

ME: “I come from the ‘ooo-ess-ahh,’ uh, America… Portland, Oregon, correct? It is up, northwest…” *Gesturing upward and to the left with both hands in the air.*

HAIRDRESSER: *With a thick Turkish accent and a hint of mockery* “Ah, oooohkay, Mr. America.”

*Once the sides and back of my head were shaved, he attached a smaller extension and cut around my hairline. That’s when I noticed the straight razor on the counter. Close proximity to weapons any kind send me directly into fight-or-flight mode, so if someone were to menace me with one, I would either break that person’s wrist and stomp on their brain… or run screaming like a little girl in a tutu with a caterpillar on her arm.*

straight razor shave germany

“Sir? Sir… Is this absolutely necessary?” — Photo by Chris Michaels (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisamichaels/)

 ME: “So, uh… from where come you, formally speaking? I mean, well then, from come you where?”

HAIRDRESSER: *Gesturing to one of the other hairdressers and speaking in Turkish* “I come from him.” *Everyone started laughing for some reason.*

ME: “I don’t understand… I mean, I understand not.”

HAIRDRESSER: “Turkey.”

*That was when the hairdresser picked up the straight razor, at which point I became visibly nervous, my complexion fading from ‘Ivory Apprehension’ to ‘Eggshell Uncomfortable.’*

HAIRDRESSER: *Smiling and bringing the razor close* “Don’t move, eh?”

ME: “Ha ha… ‘kay.”

*The hairdresser proceeded to shave around the perimeter of my hairline, focusing mostly on the back of my neck. He moved the razor in quick little strokes, handling its edge with feline grace. I made the mistake of picturing how easily he could take my eye out, or how quickly he might give me a Sweeney Todd, and it was then my complexion faded from ‘Eggshell Uncomfortable’ to ‘Chartreuse Sputum.’*

HAIRDRESSER: “You for which president, George Bush or Barack Obama?”

george w bush as monkey ripping up constitution

“Choose wisely. Your life depends upon it.” — Image by DonkeyHotey (http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/)

ME: *Thinking frantically, Which president is least likely to have messed with Turkey? My life is on the line here, and I’ve got a 50/50 chance of survival.* “…uh, Barack Obama.”

HAIRDRESSER: *Shouting* “MOTHER FUCKER!”

ME: *Oh my God, I am going to die.* “What? I don’t know! Who do you like?” *Thinking, Did the President bomb Turkey lately? Why don’t I follow the news back home more closely? Please put the razor down, please put the razor down…*

HAIRDRESSER: *After rattling off some particularly guttural Turkish and gesturing toward the TV in the corner, I understood this man was mostly kidding, but did, in fact, prefer George Bush.* “So, it is ‘Fuck Bush’ then, eh, Mr. America?”

ME: “I… I really don’t know man.” *Now more mystified than terrified, thinking, Why in the sweet fires of hell would a Turkish man support George W. Bush?*

*The haircut concluded in merciful silence, with me in no way comforted, and the hairdresser wearing a shit-eating grin. He showed me the back of my head with a handheld mirror, I nodded my approval and we approached the cash register.*

HAIRDRESSER: “So! That will be thirty euros!”

*I paused, wallet in hand, thinking, That is way more expensive than I had anticipated, but one cannot be frugal when shopping for uncut throats.*

HAIRDRESSER: “I kid! From me to you. It is eight euros.”

ME: “Eight euros, okay.” *Thinking, That is way cheaper than I had anticipated.*

*I tipped him an extra euro (which is actually a really nice tip here in Germany), wished him a good day and shagged-ass right the hell out of there.*

funny running man

“Thankyouseeyoulaterhaveaniceday!” — Photo by FaceMePLS (http://www.flickr.com/photos/faceme/)

When I came home, I went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and discovered I’d received what was absolutely the best haircut I’d had in Germany thus far. Maybe it was so good because I finally had my hair cut by a man, and who better than a man to understand the subtleties of a man’s haircut? Maybe Turkish hairdressers are just really talented? I don’t know, and I shan’t question my good fortune. However, it wasn’t so long ago I would have laughed had you suggested I might someday move to Germany and switch political parties at the provocation of a knife-wielding Turk.

Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”

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Video: Expat Bachelor Weekend Ends with Frenzied Housecleaning and the TUI Marathon in Hannover, Germany

Over the weekend of May 5, 2013, my German wife was at an overnight bachelorette party with her friends in Braunschweig, Germany. I had the apartment all to myself, so I did what any self-respecting American male would do when his wife is out of town; I stripped down to my undies, watched porn, ate beans straight out of the can and drank a fifth of vodka.

The next morning, as I emerged from my coma of bachelorhood with nervous bowels and a headache, I left the apartment to go do whatever chores my wife had asked me to do before she left. I had no idea what those chores were because I wasn’t listening, but the point is I was in no mood to find myself in the middle of the goddamn 2013 Hannover TUI Marathon.

What follows is a video of this marathon, which I recorded with shaking hands and thinly veiled contempt.

I retreated from these strangely tribal sounds and dragged myself home. My wife was due to return from Braunschweig very soon, and she likes to keep our apartment nice. Now, remember, for the past 24 hours I’d had the apartment all to myself, so you can imagine how thoroughly its state of order devolved from “Euro Chic” to “Hurricane Pig Grenade.”

Check out these pictures I took 5 minutes before my wife walked through the door, when I was scrambling to clean up everything like a tornado made of panic and teardrops.*

* What has two thumbs and is totally up for the Husband of the Year Award? THIS guy.

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Denglish 83: My German Wife Unhappily Transports Bean Bag Chairs at an Elementary School

While we were living in the United States, my wife worked as an assistant teacher at a primary school. She had to help out with lessons, sing and dance with the children, and do all sorts of other activities that would make me want to uppercut the nearest kid I could find.

During one particularly hectic week at school, my wife was asked to help tidy up the playroom for an upcoming visit from the school board. This included putting toys away and rearranging furniture items, like tables, stools, desks and — apparently — bean bag chairs. I didn’t quite understand the way she articulated this last item, so I asked her to repeat it:

THE WIFE: “I said, ‘We even had to move the sit-sacks,’ “

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

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Culture Shock 12: Confused American Expat Throws Socks in German Toilet

Socks in a German toilet

“AWWWWWWWWWWwwww…”

Before I even get started on this one, I need to ask — is it a German thing to keep the laundry basket in the bathroom? My German wife put it there when she set our apartment up, so maybe it’s just a small apartment thing (or maybe it’s a wife-with-poor-spatial-awareness thing). In any case, I am accustomed to the laundry basket being kept in the bedroom — not the bathroom — because very few things have any business being in the same room where I make pickles.

Okay, so on the morning of Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I accidentally tossed my dirty socks into our toilet here in Hannover, Germany. I had just returned to our apartment after walking around the Maschsee (not jogging, but walking, because my pollen allergies were going nuts and I felt like hell… plus I’m a huge pussy), and I stepped into the bathroom to undress and take a shower.

Normally, I start things off by placing a clean pair of boxer briefs and a towel on top of the toilet lid because it’s right next to the shower and can be reached when I emerge, sexy and steaming, from the stall. I then remove my running pants and set them on top of our laundry basket with my right hand while simultaneously using my left to strip off my socks and undies. I then hold the lid of the basket open with my right hand and place the socks and underwear inside with my left.

Wicker laundry basket / hamper

THIS is the right hole. Not the other hole. The other hole is bad.

On that Tuesday morning, however, I forgot to place a clean pair of boxer briefs on top of the toilet. I was completely naked except for my running socks, so I walked into the bedroom — wiener proudly flopping about — and grabbed a fresh pair of undies. I walked back into the bathroom, put the boxers on top of the toilet with my right hand, peeled off both socks with my left and threw them straight into the toilet.

Normally, the laundry basket makes a nice bump sound when its wicker lid closes, so you can imagine how I froze in place when I heard the sharp clack of the plastic toilet lid.

Something has gone awry, I thought to myself, standing up straight, eyes opening wide. My God, soldier… what have you done.

I opened the lid of the toilet and, sure enough, my socks were in there. Like, all the way in the hole, soaking up the water. They were drowning in those sullied waters, where a thousand grumpies had been pumped.

After I’d finally accepted the reality of what I’d done, I grabbed my iPhone and took a picture to show my wife. (This is what I normally do when faced with the results of my own clownshit stupidity.) Then I stuck my hand in the bowl and, pinching my socks between my thumb and index finger like a little girl picking up a stick with dog poop on it, lifted them out of the toilet. Of course, I still had my iPhone in my other hand and the socks were dripping filthy peniswater all over the place, so I panicked and flung them into the shower stall.

Socks in the shower

Pictured: poor impulse control.

I stood there for a moment, thinking, Private, you have failed to defuse the situation. Seeing no reasonable alternative, I snapped another picture, set my phone down and stepped into the stall.

“Okay, socks; you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but we’re about to take a very sanitizing, very molten-hot shower together. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. And if you decide to get cute and brush up against my ankle while my eyes are closed, I will find your children in the laundry basked, beat them with a meat tenderizer and set them on fire.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”

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Wedding Tips for Marrying a German: 5 Things to Know Before ‘Die Hochzeit’

Oh-God-My-Wife-Is-German-Logo-No-Text

“… to have and to hold, to honor and obHEEEEYYYY!”

I am American. My wife is German. We got married in the States and it was awesome. So awesome, in fact, I was inspired to write this blog post for the benefit of every American who has married — or is about to marry — a German person while in the United States of America.


‘Die Hochzeit,’ meaning ‘Wedding’ in German, sounds rather intimidating, doesn’t it? Unless you’re familiar with German pronunciation, ‘Die’ is probably the word you’d least like to associate with the happiest day of your life, and ‘Hochzeit’ sounds, at least to me anyway, an awful lot like ‘Hogtied.’

funny hogtied couple

Pictured: the bride, about to die… hogtied. — Image courtesy of Orin Zebest (http://www.flickr.com/photos/orinrobertjohn/)

But marrying someone from Germany really isn’t the frightening ordeal one might reasonably expect it to be. In fact, the wedding process will most likely be a totally smooth and completely awesome experience… with the exception of these 5 little details of which you should probably be aware before you bring your German over to the United States to get hitched:

1: Your German Will Be Unfamiliar With diamond Engagement Rings.

Until very recently, giving diamond engagement rings was a tradition largely ignored here in Germany. I have seen more and more jewelers carrying these sorts of rings as of late, but the vast majority tend to be unadorned bands. Thick, depressing, German-as-hell wedding bands. But we are Americans, godammit, and we want our fiancés to wear engagement rings mounted with bright, shiny, blood diamonds. And we want the cost of these diamonds to absolutely decimate our savings accounts, because if they don’t, it means we don’t love our fiancés enough.

funny german engagement wedding ring

German Design: Functional AND intimidating. — Image courtesy of Jyri Engestrom (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jyri/)

Another thing about Germans and their wedding rings — many wear them on their right hands. They wear them on their left hands during the engagement period, switch them to their right hands during the wedding ceremony and then keep them there for the rest of their Teutonic lives. I wear my wedding ring on my left hand, where it belongs, and so does my wife — we roll American style on this one. Unfortunately, this means our rings often go unrecognized as symbols of marriage here in Germany. To Germans, we appear merely to be engaged — perhaps not even coupled at all — and my wife’s diamond engagement ring looks more like a piece of blindingly expensive jewelery… or an outright invitation to hit on her. I’m not worried though. Have you ever seen a German guy hit on a woman? It’s adorable.

2: Your German Will Expect a ‘Polterabend’ before the wedding.

The word ‘Polterabend‘ consists of the German verb ‘poltern’ (to make a racket) and the noun ‘Abend’ (evening). If you’ve ever seen the movie Poltergeist, you’ve probably already guessed this name is, at the very least, a discouraging omen.

poltergeist parody movie poster "they're heeeere..."

“I’ll marry you! I swear! Just please don’t ever touch me again!” — Image courtesy Jennifer Mathis (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenxer/)

A Polterabend is a German wedding custom — a big, all-night party prior to the wedding itself — where guests smash porcelain objects in order to bring luck to the couple’s marriage. The symbolism of this ritual is expressed by the old adage, “Scherben bringen Glück,” which means “Shards bring luck.” And I’m sure they do, for what could possibly go wrong when you combine magic, superstition, copious amounts of alcohol and flying shards of razor-sharp death pottery?

dead ghost undead bride costume for halloween

“Best. Polterabend. EVER.” — Image courtesy of [Duncan] (http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncanh1/)

In practice, however, the Polterabend is mostly an excuse to have a raging party. And if anyone knows how to both rage and party simultaneously, it’s those wily Germans. I, however, think it is a spectacularly bad idea to go nuts the night immediately before your wedding. Not all Polterabends occur the night before — some take place a week or two earlier — but you know all those videos of people passing out right at the altar? That doesn’t happen when you’ve spent the previous evening in your hotel room, quietly rehearsing your vows and going to sleep at a reasonable hour. That happens from Polterabends.

The Wife and I did not have a Polterabend, however, because most venues in the Unites States close at a reasonable hour. Not in Germany. Here, you can rent out a place and go ballistic until the sun comes up. It’s basically expected of you. My wife was highly offended by the American peculiarities she encountered while researching Polterabend venues, because she was entirely unfamiliar with terms like “closing time,” “last call” and “noise ordinance.”

3: Your German Will Party Harder Than You At the Reception

Yes, we are Americans, and yes, we can party. But there’s something deep inside German DNA which allows them to party harder than us by orders of magnitude. A real German party makes an American party look like a bunch of diaper-wearing toddlers trying to hump a piñata.

Your German will drink, but will not get sloppy drunk — just the right amount of fuel to feed the machine. He or she will take — or be featured prominently — in every single picture taken that night. He or she will dance, sing, eat ridiculously heavy foods, laugh and then dance some more… all while you have long since passed out. Germans are cosmic partiers, you see. Your German will be the sun in the solar system that is your wedding reception, and its gravity will pull all celestial matter toward its center — including you, the wayward planet with the decaying orbit — where you will burn in its white-hot embrace for all eternity.

German Wedding Reception

Rocking you all night long… to death. — Image courtesy of JasonParis (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonparis/)

You know how Americans don’t have any traditional drinking songs? Your German has forgotten more drinking songs than you will ever learn. (But don’t sweat this part too hard; their drinking songs are pretty retarded.)

And you know how Americans don’t have any traditional drinking dances? Germans know dozens of dances, and at your wedding reception, you will be expected to participate in every goddamn one of them. Watch out for the Chicken Dance , Cowboy und Indianer (komm hol das Lasso raus) and the Slap Dance. They look great in the pictures you will see later on, but right in the moment? Right when it’s happening, as you hop around in a circle holding hands with your spouse on one side and some hairy cousin you barely even know on the other? You may think your life has spun dangerously out of control, but don’t be scared; this is all German engineering. This is the Autobahn, baby. Hold on tight and try not to look like a pussy.

4: Your German — and the other german Guests — Will refuse to drink and drive.

As an American, it physically hurts me to admit Germans are better drinkers than we are — hurts me right in my star-spangled heart muscles — but it’s true; they grow up with some of the least restrictive alcohol laws in the world, which seem to encourage drinking responsibility, rather than drinking recklessness.  Maybe it’s because Germans youths are legally allowed to purchase beer and wine at age 16, and then allowed to purchase hard liquor at 18. There’s no excitement in it for them. They’re not breaking any rules. Oh sure, there are spectacular drunks and catastrophic failures of alcohol abuse in Germany too, but they’re not nearly so prevalent as in the States.

drunk college kids

“Where do you go to Highschool?” “Brewdogg Academy yo!” — Image courtesy of Gregg O’Connell (http://www.flickr.com/photos/greggoconnell/)

Wisely, Germany’s relaxed age restrictions on the purchase of alcohol do not extend to driving while intoxicated. Unlike the United States, there is no legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol level in Germany (though I’ve heard in some parts of the country there is a limit 0.05%, which can be achieved by accidentally swallowing a thimble full of mouthwash). In Germany, if you get pulled over and the officer determines you’re even slightly intoxicated — there goes your drivers license. You’ll be slapped with a massive fine, community service and a restriction on your ability to drive for the foreseeable future. You may even lose your license forever.

Germans grow up with this reality, and they won’t take any chances. They intuitively know how stupid it is to drink and drive. This is why you may need to organize shuttles and taxis for your German wedding guests. (And screw the American ones, right? Because they have the freedom to die in a fire of twisted metal and broken windshield glass if they so desire. It even says so in the Bill of Rights… probably.) So, unless you arrange for safe transportation to and from your wedding reception, some poor German is going to remain sober all night, and just one sober German alone is enough bring about a second Great Depression.

5: Your German won’t understand why American Weddings are so incredibly expensive.

Listen — you and me? We’re American. Our weddings are traditionally extravagant. We get hitched using so much money either our parents pay for everything, or we go bankrupt attempting to handle the cost ourselves. It’s just how we roll.

expensive wedding cake

“Is that a cake or a delicious monument to capitalism?” — Image courtesy of Anthony van Dyck (http://www.flickr.com/photos/maoman/)

Germans, however, are a practical bunch of squares, and we could really learn a lot from them about simple money management. They use local churches, restaurants, hotels and the backyards of affluent relatives to get married. Their wedding venues are cute, quaint, and so utilitarian you’d likely observe better scenery in a dentist’s office while having your wisdom teeth pulled under general anesthesia. That said, American wedding venues overcharge young couples just as hard as they can. So hard it should be illegal. Like, porno hard. But since it isn’t illegal, you’ll need to have a conversation with your German fiancé about the realities of American wedding expenses:

GERMAN: “Do we really need to rent a ballroom with an inflatable bouncy castle?”

AMERICAN: “Yes.”

GERMAN: “Are they really going to charge for food on a per-person basis? That’s like $100 per person!”

AMERICAN: “Yes, but kids are half price.”

GERMAN: “Why do we have to put a 50% deposit down?”

AMERICAN: “Because they’re afraid we might destroy the place… and we absolutely will.”

GERMAN: “Wedding cake prices range between $250 and $1000. Is this normal?”

AMERICAN: “Yes.”

GERMAN: “Do we really need to have an open bar?”

AMERICAN: “Hell yes.”

Now, before you attempt to describe the sorts of expenses involved in a typically lavish American wedding, email this infographic to your German and let it do the talking for you:

Wedding Cost Infographic

“Wait, wait… why are we doing this again?” — Image courtesy of CreditSesame.com (http://www.creditsesame.com/free-credit-score/)


I hope you find these considerations helpful and encouraging. Marrying a German is likely to be the very best decision you ever make in your life, and I congratulate you for having such excellent taste when you chose one to be your lifelong companion.

Now please, as you are planning your wedding while attempting to work all day, run errands, do chores, get enough sleep, maintain a healthy relationship with your German and retain your sanity, remember it is all worth it in the end. The organizing, the calls, the emails, the decisions and the expenses which go into American wedding planning will feel overwhelming at times. And unless you can afford a wedding planner, the stress will increase each day leading up to the wedding itself. But when that day is finally here, and things really get rolling? Everything will fall right into place. I promise.

Congratulations on scoring a wonderful German to be your spouse, and have a blast at the wedding! You’ve earned it!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

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