Tag Archives: Germany

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

german-closet-clothes-hand-funny

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

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

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

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

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

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

To which my wife replied with a heavy sigh:

“I know… I need a bigger closet.”

 


 

About these ads

American Man Accidentally Buys 10 Liters of Beer in Germany

ratskrone-beer-case-container-germany

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

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

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

ratskrone-beer-close-up-label-germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ratskrone-beer-with-kasten-germany

Pictured: “beer math.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME: “May I do this right now?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

empty-beer-bottles-case-germany-ratskrone

Score one for America.

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

An American Man in Germany Finally Sits Down to Pee

man-on-toilet-funny-sitting-to-pee

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

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

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

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

toilet-feet-bathroom-funny-dirty-clean

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

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

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


 

American Expat in Germany Moves to the Suburbs and Promptly Drinks the Kool-Aid

suburban-sprawl-dystopia-weeds-middle-class

“German boxes on the hillside, German boxes made of ticky tacky…” — Photo Credit: futureatlas.com — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/

I’ve done a lot of complaining about the horrible neighbors in our apartment building here in Hannover, Germany, but not anymore! My German wife found us a sweet house to rent, located in the suburbs outside the city. Have you ever seen The Stepford Wives? What about The ‘Burbs or Poltergeist? Our new neighborhood is exactly like that; so perfect — so pretty, quiet and squeaky clean — something is clearly amiss.

I went jogging the other day and saw a police officer casually directing traffic (exactly 2 cars) to allow a line of children to pass safely on their bikes. He was even smiling and high-fiving the kids as they went by. He didn’t arrest a single one of them. Didn’t even ask for identification, and not a single sobriety test was performed. Amazing! Maybe I’m just a jaded American accustomed to the omnipresent threat of police intervention, but I just wasn’t buying it.

stepford-wives-robot-dystopia-germany

“None of this is real…” — Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/

On my way home, I saw two women chatting on the sidewalk, both of whom were pushing strollers with fresh babies inside. They actually waved to me and said hello. As I unlocked our front door, one of our next-door neighbors greeted me warmly as well. The man even smiled. Where’s the famous ‘cold shoulder‘ stereotype everyone likes to slap the Germans with? Where did all the pushy, impatient, off-putting sons of bitches go? Oh, that’s right; they’re in the city.

I guess I just didn’t realize I was a suburbanite at heart. After leaving the city, I can already feel my testosterone levels dropping. My testicles are shriveling up like salty raisins. My gut is growing and my soft white man-tits can finally fill a B cup. This is it — the real deal; I’m growing up. The next obvious step is to get a dog, name him after a famous composer with a contrived twist, like Fetchtwig van Barksoften or Wolf-fang Pottychaos Notsmart, and get used to the sensation of picking up his shit at the park. After that comes the requisite baby, minivan and total frontal lobotomy. “Take both lobes, Doc — I don’t want a single one of my former aspirations to wake me from my slumber.”

I’m just kidding. There’s nothing wrong with suburban life or having kids. Hell, if my German wife ever decides she wants to make little half-breed Teutons, I’ll be singing a very different tune. But until then? You’ll find us at the beer garden, because the hedonistic gods ruling our zero-responsibility lifestyle demand a pilsner sacrifice.

Beer on the Maschsee

Hey, if you’ve got a sec, you can read more about my expat adventures in Germany here. Thank you for stopping by and have an awesome summer!


 

American Expat and His German Wife Return to the Hannover Adventure Zoo

01-hannover-erlebnis-zoo-2014-germany

“That’s right, you filthy little animals — we’re back.”

This summer, my German wife and I returned for the second time to the Hannover Adventure Zoo. We were blown away all over again! The place is just so badass! It’s huge, with tons of wildlife, and they even have a boat tour. The Canadian Yukon exhibit is incredible all by itself, but you can also see exhibits from Africa, India, Australia and North America.

02-hannover-erlebnis-zoo-2014-germany

A zoo so big it’s basically impossible to see in one day.

There’s so much to see, my wife and I always try to get to the zoo as early as possible. (We also pack as much beer as we can carry, which is totally allowed.) The sheer number of animals boggles the mind, and the thematic details are just amazing. It’s like Disneyland, only filled with deadly animals. You really have to see it for yourself.

04-hannover-erlebnis-zoo-2014-germany

This one is not so deadly, but if you get too close he’ll kick you right in the zipper.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this video, but even more importantly, we hope you can visit the Hannover Zoo in person! You’ll love it!

*** As usual, this video contains a few swear words. (If it didn’t, it just wouldn’t be any fun at all.) ***

Would you like to see our first video from the Hannover Zoo? Check out our post, The Hannover Adventure Zoo – As Experienced by A German-American Couple in Germany.

And for more information about the incredible Hannover Zoo itself, check out www.zoo-hannover.de

Thank you for visiting our blog! We hope you have a fantastic summer!


 

My German Wife Kills Two Birds with One Stone

two-birds-with-one-stone-funny-parrots

“Wait, who’s getting stoned?” — Photo by Benny Mazur — Subject to copyright — Light contrast edits made — https://www.flickr.com/photos/benimoto/2977350640

Toward the end of 2012, my German wife and I were cleaning our former apartment in Hannover, Germany, before our dear friend Looney Tunes came for a visit from the States. We wanted the place to look really nice, you know? Not at all like it normally does. I mean, hosting a guest is not a time for honesty regarding your living space; it is a time for false representations and unmitigated lies.

So after we churched the place up real good, it was time to buy groceries. (One cannot hope to entertain cultured guests with a mere half bottle of Chablis and some old KY Jelly. We aren’t savages, for Christ’s sake.) That’s why I decided to head down to the local Netto discount supermarket and buy some eggs. On my way out the door, I called to my wife and announced I would also be purchasing bread, to which she replied:

THE WIFE: “That would be, of course, two flies with one slap.”

*Translated from the German expression, “Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen,” — hitting two flies with one slap — which conveys the same figurative meaning as the English expression, “Killing two birds with one stone.” (One a side note, my wife argues it is, “better to kill flies than birds, you meanie.”)


 

Why Americans Don’t Like Soccer – One Opinion from an American Expat in Germany

portland-futsal-soccer-sucks-ball-funny

“When in doubt, go for the scrotum.” — Photo by John Fischer — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/stickergiant/

It wasn’t until I moved to Germany, but especially since the 2014 FIFA World Cup, that I actually watched a single game of soccer. Okay, so technically I’d seen a few games before — one in Portland and another one in Seattle — but I had no idea who was playing or what was going on because I wasn’t paying attention. Why wasn’t I paying attention? Two reasons: 1.) I don’t follow sports because I am a huge nerd, and 2.) I am American.

Oddly enough, lots of American kids actually grow up playing soccer. I know I did, and I hated every minute of it. I had no coordination at all, and my grasp of the mechanics of the game were confused at best. It just seemed like a bunch of kids running around in a cluster, kicking each other in the shins until the ball went out of bounds. I’ve seen the old VHS tapes my Dad recorded in the 1980s, and they’re exactly like that — like a pack of yipping hyenas toying with a baby gazelle until it dies.

funny-soccer-sucks-kids-team

“Go Timmy, go! OH MY GOD HE KICKED THAT KID IN THE MOUTH.” — Photo by martha_chapa95 — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/56192190@N05/

My soccer team was named “Footloose” and I once earned a trophy with the title, “Mr. Offense” engraved on the front. Although I was proud of that trophy, I never felt like I’d earned it — probably because the “offense” I provided all summer consisted entirely of itching beneath my shin guards and staring off into space. I don’t even know which position I played. Probably defender. Anyway, I never put together the fact that every single kid on my soccer team got an award each year, and that my contributions to the game involved absolutely no goals scored ever. Ever.

Given the popularity of soccer among American kids, it seems odd we don’t really follow the sport into adulthood. It begins as a “soccer mom” hobby, with all the minivans and orange slices, but it stays there. Oh sure, it’s gaining popularity every year, especially in cities like my hometown of Portland, Oregon, which has it’s own professional team (the Portland Timbers), but soccer still trails far behind football, baseball, basketball and hockey. I have a few theories on why Americans have been so reluctant to embrace the sport, and they are as follows:

  1. We only root for winners.
    Americans are all about winners. Heroes. Legends. VIPs. We think very highly of ourselves, and we abhor anything which might take away from our godlike confidence. Obviously our national soccer team has become a force to be reckoned with, and a US victory in the World Cup is an inevitability, but we’ve been very reluctant to commit ourselves to our team. I think we would rather turn our backs on the sport entirely — coming up with reasons for our disdain after the fact — rather than feel the sting of defeat in the global arena. It’s like we allow for absolutely no learning curve when it comes to competing against other countries. If soccer were checkers, we wouldn’t flip over the board because we lost; we just wouldn’t play the game at all. “Pffffft, Checkers. That game is for fags.”
  2. We don’t like sharing the ball.
    Soccer is very much a team sport. Virtually every single goal is assisted in some way by another player, and getting the ball near the goal in the first place probably required the entire team working together in unison. You can’t really have a Michael Jordan running up and down the court, schooling everyone single-handedly. Or a Mark McGwire, crushing home runs with arms that are thicker around than my thighs. Sure, there are the stars — the big names, like Thomas Müller on the German national team, Lionel Messi with Argentina and Neymar Da Silva Santos Júnior, who took a Columbian knee to the spine playing for Brazil — but the game really comes down to fundamentals, like passing, position and crossing. I think Americans find fundamentals boring; the back-and-forth of it, seemingly without end. What we want to see is one person, one shining, heroic example of all that is man, rise up and crush the other team with high drama and sweat-soaked glory (and bloodshed, if possible).
  3. We are disgusted by diving.
    “Flopping,” “diving” or “taking a fall” — whatever you want to call it — we hate it. Americans are a macho bunch, and we pride ourselves on our ability to dish out a beating… or take one. Seeing a grown man throw his arms up in the air, twist his face in pain and roll around on the ground like he’s dying — only to see him stand up a few seconds later and continue playing like nothing ever happened — makes us sick to our stomachs. I don’t think anyone actually likes flopping. Even my German wife makes fun of it, putting the back of her hand to her forehead, crying, “I’m dying, I’m dying.” The first time I saw someone take a dive, I was positively outraged. “What is this shit? WHAT IS THIS SHIT!?” So, to me, it seems like the rest of the soccer-loving world puts up with flopping like it’s a necessary evil. Sure, they’ll roll their eyes, but they have fully accepted it. Americans just aren’t ready to do the same… yet.

I loved watching the 2014 World Cup, especially as an American living in Germany. I was just so curious about everything, and with Germany winning it all and taking home that hideous trophy, I was in the perfect position to become a lifelong fan. I think a lot of people enjoyed the hell out of the World Cup — Americans included — and the sport is now more popular than ever.

FIFA-World-Cup-2014-germany-thomas-muller

Pictured: Thomas “Jesus-With-A-Soccer-Ball” Müller

It would be awesome if every country in the world had a vested interest in competitive soccer. I think it would bring us all a little closer together. I’m not saying it would give us world peace or anything, but it might make us a little more respectful. Like the Olympics. Have you ever wanted to punch a man in the throat just because he won a gold medal and he wasn’t from your country? If a woman from another country defeats the woman from your country, does that really make you want to slap her in the tits? No. It makes you respect the athlete — and hopefully the country from whence they came — and try to do better next time.

So let’s watch a little more soccer, America! We have an awesome team! (And we even stole Jürgen Klinsmann, a badass coach from Germany.) Speaking of Germany, let’s cheer for them now… and then kick their hairy asses in the 2018 World Cup!

Read more about my experiences as an American expat in Germany watching the FIFA 2014 World Cup.