Tag Archives: Health

Rehydrating After the Gym: Why Popular Sports Drinks Fail to Impress My German Wife

Gatorade Sports Drinks v.s. Evian Water

“Wait, so sugar and salt work BETTER than water? That totally makes sense.” — Image Credit: Anna Hirsch (https://www.flickr.com/photos/antigone/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

As you probably know, I’m an American expat and freelance graphic designer working from my home office in the city of Hannover, Germany. Like a lot of self-employed creative types, I am a spiteful little shut-in with introverted tendencies and a general sense of loathing for the bright, colorful world outside my nest of shadows. (Imagine a black-cloaked Nosferatu-type cringing in pain from the merciless gaze of the sun: “Hissssssss…”)

When I do manage to gather the willpower necessary to leave the house, it is only so I can go exercise at our local German gym. And since I make my own hours, I can do this whenever the hell I want. My poor wife, however, is a Gymnasium teacher; she’s gone all day long, and then when she’s home, she has to plan lessons the rest of the evening. It’s a tough job, so when she finally has time to go to the gym, she considers it a luxury.

My wife considers clean, abundant drinking water a luxury as well, and cannot fathom the attraction people — especially Americans — have for popular sports drinks. Sports drinks are supposed to help athletes replace the water, energy and electrolytes they’ve lost during training or after competitions, but I think we all maintain a little skepticism regarding their effectiveness. Even German people are skeptical about them, which I find rather contradictory, since they also believe herbal tea with honey is a panacea capable of curing all diseases and prolonging life indefinitely.

Anyway, the other day, when my wife came home from the gym, she set her bag down and took a long pull from her water bottle. She looked at it closely, then turned to me and asked in her adorable accent:

THE WIFE: “What do all the sport people drink again? Jen-er-ate?
ME: “…Gatorade.”

Graphic Designer in Portland, Oregon and Hannover, Germany - Grafikdesigner Illustrator Copywriter

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


“…and THIS, children, is the face of insanity!” — Image Credit: Okko Pyykkö (https://www.flickr.com/photos/data_op/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

We’re all afraid of something — spiders, heights, confined spaces — these are all common phobias. And while they scare the everloving shit out of me too, I have an additional set of fears which are far weirder and less rational than the rest. Fears I have always had, but which have been made far worse since I became an American expat living in Germany.

Phobia #5: Getting Lint in My Pee-Hole


“Things way flow out, but NEVER in.” — Image Credit: Marc Diego (https://www.flickr.com/photos/132739655@N07/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Few things are more sacred than my urinary meatus. It is the very keyhole behind which my soul is locked, and therefore, never to be sullied. Still, I have an intense fear of getting lint — or any other foreign object — lodged inside it. I cringe at the very thought. In fact, I am cringing super hard right now.

I suspect this fear stems from a moment in my childhood when I was at the playground near my house. Like most playgrounds, this one sat atop a thick layer of bark dust. I recall finding an unusually long piece of bark dust, then proceeding to run around swinging it over my head like a pirate. Soon enough, I needed to climb the play structure in order to better command my swabbies, but I only had one free hand. Thinking I was the smartest pirate ever, I jammed the bark dust into the waistband of my shorts and started climbing. By the time I got to the top, what was once a sword had exploded into a thousand merry splinters, one of which worked its way into my tiny piss hole. “Yarr, Matey! Batten down the hatches and–HOLY FUCK IT STIIIIIIINGS!”

What does this have to do with Germany? Well, I refuse to sleep naked. You see, occasionally, the summer months in Germany are actually hot, and air conditioning is a very rare indulgence in this country. Even though it is obviously the greatest thing ever, Germans tend to see air conditioning as wasteful and, in some cases, even unhealthy. Since my wife and I don’t want to be the only assholes on the block with an A/C unit sticking out the window, we must escape the heat through a pair of oscillating fans and our own nakedness. But therein lies the problem: As I’ve already explained, I am irrationally afraid something will find its way into my glue chute. That I’ll roll over while I’m asleep and crush my boner headfirst into a pile of sock lint, resulting in a massive infection and a trip to the emergency room, where my inflamed bongus starts shooting out whole socks like a malfunctioning clothes dryer.

Phobia #4: Sitting with My Back to the Door


“Someone is sneaking up behind me right now. I KNOW it.” — Image Credit: Ralph Daily (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ralphandjenny/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I’m just a nerd who sits at home all day making pretty on the computer. I am not a secret agent. I am not a criminal, nor am I an assassin, so realistically, no one is out to get me. I have absolutely no reason to fear having my back to the door in public places, and yet, it still bugs the holy Christ out of me. Restaurants, classrooms, offices — really anywhere I must remain for longer than a few seconds — are all spaces in which I am compelled to position myself so I can see exactly who is coming through the door at all times. Sure, I can white-knuckle my way through dinner at a sushi restaurant with a steady flow of foot traffic behind me, but I’ll look over my shoulder so many times my wife will eventually throw down her chopsticks and switch seats with me just so we can both relax.

This anxiety is all about control. I have no control over people when I can’t see them, and that makes me feel vulnerable. When I can see them, I feel as if I at least have a chance to protect myself and my wife from danger — even if I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. Like, if some halfwit marches into a cafe and lights the place up with an assault rifle, at the very least I’m going to throw a salt shaker at him. Maybe even a dinner plate or something. Bang, bang, bang… “Fuck youuuuuuuu!” SMASH! …NEWS FLASH… American Expat in Germany Saves Dozens of Lives by Incapacitating Gunman with Fennel Caprese Salad.

What does this have to do with Germany? Well, public transportation in German cities is pretty sweet. My wife and I don’t need a car; we ride our bikes, take the bus or hop on the U-Bahn. You know what sucks about the U-Bahn though? There’s always a door behind you. Unless you want to stand up the entire time at the front of the train with your back pressed against the driver’s booth, staring the other passengers in the eye like some creepy homunculus, people are going to be entering and exiting right behind you. It sucks, and that’s why I always ride the U-Bahn with a tiny canister of pepper spray in my pocket — my thumb hovering nervously over the button — just waiting to ruin someone’s day.

Phobia #3: Drain Cleaner


“Pictured: The burning tears of Gomorrah.” — Image Credit: Mike Mozart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Chemical drain cleaners are scary as hell. Have you ever used one, like Drano, Liquid-Plumr or Rid-X? God damn, that shit will eat through anything, and it’s not exactly discerning; It’ll burn through the wad of soap scum clogging your shower drain just as easily as it will your wrinkled scrotum. With this in mind, I handle drain cleaner like unstable dynamite; delicately tiptoeing my way through the house, keeping the bottle at arm’s length and my face turned slightly away while wearing an expression of dainty horror. Basically, like the world’s biggest pussy.

I am deathly afraid of getting drain cleaner on my skin, and I am 100% convinced it will somehow, magically, wind up in my eyes and blind me for life. Like, the fear itself is so strong it could blow a fuse in my brain, short out my instinct for self-preservation and replace it with the impulse to pour heinous amounts of acid directly into my eyes and mouth. This, in turn, causes more fear, which makes the impulse seem even more real, resulting in a thought loop from which I cannot escape, and proving — once and for all — I have lost my goddamn mind.

How does this relate to Germany? Well, renting houses and apartments — rather than owning them — is much more common in this country. Lots of Germans rent their homes their entire lives, but the universal problem with renters from any country is they rarely care about the place they’re renting. They don’t own it, so fuck it, right? On top of that, cheapskate apartment managers never fix things when they break. You’ve got to handle problems yourself, and that’s where drain cleaner comes into play. See, if your wife has long, sexy German hair like mine does, your shower drain will clog with hairballs at regular intervals throughout the year. This will force you to either buy a plumber’s snake (yeah right, that’s gross) or resort to the use of chemicals. And since my wife has deemed all things pertaining to clogged pipes as “icky” and “a man’s job,” I must regularly face my fear of drain cleaner — or as I have come to call it, “Cowering in Fear of the Devil’s Hot Acid Ejaculate.”

Phobia #2: Dogs


“Oh, how cute! A pretty princess and a handsome gentleman… with razor-sharp knives in their mouths.” — Image Credit: Pets Adviser (petsadviser.com) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I used to love dogs, man. When I was younger, I had no fear of them whatsoever. But that all changed back in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-2000s, when I made the ingenious decision to try and break up a pit bull fight in my underwear.

You see, I was renting a room in a house owned by a woman with a pit bull. There was another renter living there too, and he also owned a pit bull, but neither of these two idiots had the slightest clue how to raise dogs like these. So, I woke up one Saturday morning to the unmistakable sound of dogs fighting over food in the kitchen, but it wasn’t just the usual snarling and barking; what I heard was two pit bulls trying to kill each other.

Not my problem, I thought to myself, rolling over and pulling the pillow down over my ears. But the bloody murder just got louder and louder, until it was clear one of the dogs was about to die. I jumped out of bed — out of anger and annoyance, not heroism — grabbed the canister of bear mace I kept (and still keep) next to my bed, and walked into the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of thin, blue boxer shorts.

There was dog food, blood and hair all over the kitchen floor, and the woman who owned the house — whom we shall refer to as Muffinbrain McTouchedinthehead — was trying to bodily heft one of the pit pulls up and out the back door. She wasn’t strong enough to pull this off though, especially since the other pit bull had locked its jaws on the dog’s hind leg. I got Muffinbrain’s attention and offered to use the can of mace in my hand, but she insisted I try and pull the second dog away and separate them instead. I don’t know why, but I went ahead and grabbed the dog’s collar and yanked it back. It worked, but stupid goddamn Muffinbrain let her dog get away, and it charged across the kitchen and sank it’s teeth into the second dog’s neck. Of course my fingers were in the way, and to this very day I have the scars to prove it.

Anyway, it was at that moment when I absolutely lost my shit: I was basically naked — my exposed flesh vulnerable from all angles — bleeding and pissed off, so I pulled the safety guard off the canister and bear-maced the holy shit out of pit bull #1. Not yet satisfied, I firehosed pit bull #2 for good measure, then gave them both a few departing shots as I walked back to my room. I got dressed and left the house, but not before seeing Muffinbrain still in the kitchen, coughing and gagging on the atomized pepper spray in the air, and the two pit bulls standing there with vacant looks in their eyes — like nothing happened. In retrospect, I think the mace had temporarily blinded them, but they handled it calmly and professionally, like the purebred assassins they are.

How does this relate to Germany? Well, Germans like to bring their dogs with them everywhere. Restaurants, cafes, department stores… even the U-Bahn. You can’t get away from the filthy little beasts, especially here in Hannover. And every time one gets close to me — even if it’s just a little Pomeranian puffball — I am convinced it will bite me and I must resist the urge to punt that little fucker like a football.

Phobia #1: Young Men


“We cannot be hurt. We cannot die. And together, we will bring an end to all that is good and decent in this world.” — Image Credit: fakeyoursmile (https://www.flickr.com/photos/fakeyoursmile/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I ask you, is there anything more dangerous than a group of bored young men between the ages of 16 and 25? Having been one myself, I can confirm, yes, they are, in fact, the most dangerous species on the planet. (And they stink too, secreting a perpetual musk of assholes and armpits.)

Young men are selfish, loud, rude and oblivious to the people around them. Of course there are exceptions; I’ve met many kind and considerate young men. But the vast majority have brains which are not yet fully developed — like half baked lumps of monkey shit — so they literally cannot imagine how their actions today might result in negative reactions tomorrow. This is why they get obnoxiously drunk, drive too fast, get into fistfights and think of little else beyond finding girls willing to smooch their he-chicken.

What does this have to do with Germany? Well, I must admit, I do feel a bit safer around young German man than I do American ones. This is probably because Germans are far less likely to own guns, but also because they just don’t seem quite so… aggressive. But then you have young, German, frothing-at-the-mouth soccer fans, and being trapped in an U-Bahn car with these drunken idiots after the big game makes me feel about as safe as a fat-tailed gerbil in a sack full of cats. “So, uh, has everyone already eaten today? How about them flea collars, eh? Itch like a real bastard, I bet! Heh heh… oh my God please don’t kill me.”


I have to say, given the morbidly obsessive and wildly irrational specificity of my phobias — especially as they have been exacerbated by 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
However, this is not a perfect score: If you think you can top any single one of my fears in terms of overall weirdness or potential to incapacitate you as a human being, the comment section is wiiiiiide open…


P.S. Would you like to read the sequel to this post? Check it out: 5 More Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany


Learn to Love Your Thighs: American Expat Ruins a Perfectly Good Day at the Beach

Hot redhead in a swimsuit on the beach

“Honey, does this swimsuit make me look like a fat, disgusting whale?” — Image Credit: Frank Kovalchek (https://www.flickr.com/photos/72213316@N00/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright.

Very few of us are lucky enough to have beach bodies. You know, the kind of frame which genuinely looks good in a bathing suit and makes everyone else hate your fucking guts? I go to the gym five days a week and I still have Will Farrell’s midsection. It just isn’t fair. Especially when you’re married to someone like my wife; a gorgeous German woman who can eat all the seedy bread and cured pig fat she wants and never gain a pound. It’s genetic, and not everyone is similarly blessed. However, everyone is cursed with some degree of self-consciousness. No matter how sexy you are, I guarantee there is a part of your body you don’t like. Maybe some part you even hate. Maybe if the Devil himself offered to magically rid you of this part of your body, and all you had to do in return was murder some random person in cold blood, you would find the closest drifter asleep on the sidewalk and stab him right in the windpipe.

What I’m saying here is, even though my wife has a fantastic beach body, she still complains about it. One incident in particular springs to mind: Remember that trip my wife and I took to the Spanish island of Mallorca? When we visited the city of Palma, had some drinks in the El Arenal district, and took the historical train to beautiful Port de Sóller? Well, on the very last day of that trip, we finally donned our bathing suits and got some real sunbathing done. We were on the beach southeast of Palma, lounging around in the sand and just generally burning the sweet merry hell out of our skin. (Oh God… our freakishly, blindingly white skin…) We were napping on our towels, and at one point I rolled over onto my side — accidentally mashing my wife’s thigh in the process — which caused her to shout:

“Ow! Ow! You are pressing my big meat!”

If you would like to read the full post about that trip, check out: German-American Couple Visits the Spanish Island of Mallorca

Twitching Eyelid: American Expat in Germany Suffers Two Months of Ocular Mortification

eye scared close up Twitching-Eyelid-Spasm-Eye-Funny-Pictures

“For the love of all that is good and holy, please HOLD STILL.”

For over two months, my upper right eyelid twitched all day, every day, and made me look like a man on the verge of an explosive emotional breakdown. Now, I’m not talking about the harmless little ticks and occasional spasms of the eyelid we all experience from time to time — the ones no one else can really see — I’m talking about violent contractions of the muscles above my eye, obvious enough to cause my wife to laugh at me and my German language classmates to recoil from my very presence in fear and confusion.

According to every masochistic Google health search I performed, the main causes of twitching eyelids are:

  1. Stress
  2. Eye Strain
  3. Tiredness
  4. Caffeine
  5. Alcohol
  6. Allergies
  7. Dry Eyes
  8. Debris Beneath the Eyelid
  9. Nutritional Imbalances

So that pretty much covers everything! I mean, as a freelance graphic designer, I am always stressed about where my next paycheck is coming from, and I spend all day straining my eyes in front of my computer monitor. I get up early and hit the gym every day, so I’m often very tired. I drink a fat mug of instant coffee every morning — at least two scoops — so my heart runs double-time. I drink heroic amounts of German beer on the weekends because German beer is awesome. I have powerful pollen allergies, which cause dry, itchy eyes and no-doubt pack all kinds of filthy shit beneath my eyelids. And as for nutritional imbalances? Well, I do eat a lot of disgusting German meat products.


“Taste the horror.”

When my wife and I visited the United States for Spring Break, we went to a huge party filled with doctors and medical professionals of all kinds. (It was an older crowd, but we still partied our asses off.) Anyway, I ran into my optometrist — a man I’d known my entire life — and showed him my freakish eye problem. Here’s how our conversation went, word for word:

ME: *Beer in hand* “See?! Did you see that?!”

DOCTOR: “Yes. That’s called ‘myokymia.’ It’s harmless.”

ME: “But it’s been going on for months now. Oh God, it’s a brain tumor, isn’t it.

DOCTOR: *Laughing* “No, no — it’s very common. Persistent twitching like that can last hours, days, months… sometimes even years.”

ME: “Years?! Holy Christ. But you’re absolutely sure it’s not a brain tumor, right?”

DOCTOR: “Right. It’s not a tumor.”

ME: *Eyeing him suspiciously and taking another swig of beer* “You’re sure?”

DOCTOR: “Yes. I’m sure”

headache funny kid with sword through head

“Oh good. I feel much better now.” — Image courtesy of Wapster (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wapster/) – Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

A week later, we returned to our home in Hannover, Germany, and my twitching eyelid continued to embarrass me like a dog licking his butt hole at a cocktail party. At a loss for any real solutions or cures, I began keeping track of my problem and its progress. Here are the complete, unabridged entries from my journal:

  • March 6th: Upper right eyelid began twitching very hard, off and on, throughout the day. Especially from mid-morning through early evening.
  • March 20th: Still twitching.
  • April 15th: Still twitching.
  • April 27th: Still twitching, but the twitches are weaker. I have been using allergy eye drops every day the last few weeks. Could be the answer!
  • May 5th: Nope. Eyelid is still twitching hard as fuck.
  • May 6th: Twitching has been going on for exactly 2 months now.
  • May 14th: Still twitching. Out of desperation, I have stopped drinking instant coffee and switched to black tea.
  • May 21st: Oh holy Christ on rice, my eyelid hasn’t twitched at all for a week!
  • May 31st: Apparently cutting out the absurdly strong instant coffee was the answer. I am a complete and total moron.

“Wait, is this too much?” — Image Credit: Mike Mozart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

Wow. So just cutting back on caffeine was the answer? Clearly I am the smartest man alive. So, overall, I have to rate my experience with eyelid twitching — and my own complete disregard for its most obvious solution — with 1 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:


If you liked this post, there’s a solid chance you’ll dig this one too: My German Wife Attempts to Reheat A Soft Boiled Egg in the Microwave



The Top 10 Worst Things about Joining a Gym in Germany


“There’s no place like home…” — Photo Credit: istolethetv (https://www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/) — Image blurring added — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

My wife and I finally joined a fitness center here in Hannover, Germany. I haven’t been a member of a gym for over 3 years, and needless to say, things have gone a little soft. (Damn you, German pilsner. You sweet, delicious bitch.)

Both of us were super psyched the day we joined — we couldn’t wait to work out, get our sweat on, and then go back and do it all over again the next day. This is the honeymoon stage of gym membership, and it is temporary. Sooner or later, going to the gym becomes just another necessary evil in your daily routine. Reality clears your vision and you begin to remember, oh yeah, exercise sucks, I hate it, and I want it to be over as soon as humanly possible.

Beyond the actual exercise is the fitness center itself. I cannot help but notice the differences between the gyms to which I’ve belonged back in the States, and my new gym here in Germany. It’s a small, local gym — not a national chain — so I don’t know if all gyms in Germany are like mine, but I’m going to go ahead and make totally uninformed, sweeping generalizations about them anyway:

The Top 10 Worst Things about Joining a Gym in Germany

 1.) The membership fee will shrivel your pink parts.


“Good heavens, I can no longer tell if I’m circumcised.” — Photo Credit: Freddie Murphy (https://www.flickr.com/photos/fpmurphy/) — Image cropped from original size — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

You’ve seen them before: those massive billboards with a couple of sexy halfwits advertising a gym you can join for “JUST $19.99 PER MONTH! WOW!” Of course, here in Germany, that’s €19.99 euros per month, which, at the time of this blog post, converts to $25.33 US dollars. Still not a deal, right? But then you actually go inside the gym, talk to somebody and find out it’s only €19.99 per month if you sign a 1 or 2-year contract and pay for it all up front. (Month-to-month payments at my gym range from €35 to €50 euros, so after a couple years, you can tell your kid his or her college fund might be gone, but hey, “Do you see any other dads at the park with guns like these? Pow pow!”)

Oh, and even with the 2-year contract, I still had to buy some kind of “start-up” package, which amounted to my membership card, a water bottle with the gym’s logo on it, and a coupon for 1 free personal training session with Arnulf the Human Drumstick.

2.) Not all gyms are open 24 Hours per day


“This view is GREAT for stalkers.” — Photo Credit: Mike_fleming (https://www.flickr.com/photos/flem007_uk/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

The biggest fitness center chain in Germany is called McFit. My wife tells me the “Mc-” part of the name is a play on the worldwide brand recognition of McDonald’s, but that just makes me think of fat people running on treadmills with Chicken McNuggets dangling in front of them as bait. “Almost got ’em, tubby!” Anyway, McFit is one of the gyms which is actually open 24 hours per day. My gym, on the other hand, seems to be operated more on a schedule of whenever the hell they feel like it. On Monday they open at 6:00 am, but Tuesday? Oh, then you’ll have to wait until 8:00 am. As for Saturday and Sunday, well, you can go ahead and kiss their shapely asses until around 10:30 am.

Now, It’s not that I actually need my gym to be open around the clock — it’s that I need consistency in my life. I’m like Rainman when it comes to my workout routine; if I’m not done by exactly 8:15 am every day, I start hitting myself in the head, screaming, “Qantas never crashed! Qantas never crashed!”

3.) You can only wear “indoor” athletic Shoes


“Another wonderful Christmas gift from the in-laws.” — Photo Credit: SuperFantastic (https://www.flickr.com/photos/superfantastic/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

The very first day my wife and I walked into our gym, the girl behind the counter informed us we could not use the exercise machines because we were wearing “outdoor” shoes. Apparently, one cannot simply enter the gym wearing a certain pair of sport shoes and then wear those same shoes to exercise. You need a pair exclusively for indoor use, the girl explained, or else the machines get dirty and worn out. Jesus Christ, it’s not like we were wearing soccer cleats and stomping through puddles of scalding hot tar and broken glass. (Although now I kinda wish we had.)

The real problem with this indoor shoe policy is that it basically forces you to change your clothes twice: from pajamas into dress clothes at home, then from dress clothes into sport clothes at the gym. What else can you do? Are you really going to stroll into the gym wearing shorts, a t-shirt and black leather dress shoes? Probably not. So your options are to buy an extra pair of sport shoes exclusively for indoor use, or show up at the gym fully dressed in the clothes you’ll be wearing for the rest of the day. This is the routine I’ve been going through every day, and it still makes me want to fastball my footwear at the vapid girl behind the counter. “Guten Morgen, Herr–” *BOOM* “–GAAAHK!” Size 11 Adidas to the windpipe.

4.) The employees are all Functionally Retarded


“I’ve got a tough question about physics. Hey, I’ll just ask this guy…” — Photo Credit: Noodles and Beef (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ekigyuu/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

Speaking of the people behind the counter, most of the individuals who work at gyms tend to slant more toward brawn than brains. For example, my wife and I had to speak with 5 different people — on 5 different occasions — in order to get ourselves properly registered at our gym. The first person gave us the wrong price, the second person gave us the wrong contract (this was the owner of the gym, mind you), the third person registered us in the system but lost our files, the fourth person gave us our key cards and free personal trainer certificates, and the fifth person took my wife’s personal trainer certificates away because of some mistake made by the first person. Jesus Tits, I want to slap these people so hard they’d forget an entire year of elementary school.

Part of the problem is that a lot of them are super young — like high school or college age — but the rest are just plain stupid. Like, I wonder what would happen if I licked this light socket, stupid. Obviously this isn’t a trend specific to Germany; fitness centers around the world are owned and operated by people with steaming dog shit between their ears. Of course there are exceptions — some genuinely intelligent people who just happen to work at a place with the lofty goal of making sweat drip from your naughty bits — but not many. I’d say 9 out of 10 staff members at my gym could debut in their own after school special: Today’s episode, ‘TOUCHDOWN!’ tackles the growing problem of steroid abuse among high school athletes, starring Hunfrid the Lovable Halfwit.

And get this — there’s this one super yoked, super tan personal trainer at my gym who smokes cigarettes every day right in front of the building. Next to the front door, so you have to pass him to go inside. Man, that’s like a vegetarian at a barbecue; nobody wants to see that shit.

5.) There are No Water Fountains


“For but one sip of water, I would sell my eldest child…” — Photo Credit: ilkerender (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilker/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

I don’t know about the other gyms in Germany, but mine has absolutely no drinking fountains. In American gyms, you can’t go more than 10 steps before taking the corner of a fountain in the dick. Here? You have to bring your own water bottle or buy one from the brain trust behind the counter. And if you forget your water bottle and don’t have the cash on hand to buy a new one? Guess what, Thunder Thighs? — you’re drinking straight out of the bathroom sink. (And yes, I’ve done this before. Many times.)

I don’t know if my gym is trying to make money by selling hideous water bottles, or if management thinks water fountains are wasteful, but as an American, I demand to see a readily available source of ice-cold, triple-filtered water just goddamn everywhere.

6.) They’ve got “Grunters” here too


“Wait, what kind of gym IS this?” — Photo Credit: istolethetv (https://www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/ — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

You know who I’m talking about: They’re always dudes, and they’re always making loud, totally unnecessary grunting noises while lifting weights. I thought this was just an American thing — I really did — but I was sorely disappointed to find muscle-bound attention whores thriving here in Germany as well. And sometimes they aren’t even muscle-bound! Sometimes they’re just average or even subpar human specimens making all the noise! Do they seriously think anyone gives a shit? Even the dolled-up chick on the StairMaster just wants to work out and go home so she can watch The Bachelor. The last thing straight women are looking for at the gym are rock-banging howler monkeys.

In my opinion, gym grunters fall into 2 distinct categories:

  1. Hans and Franz: These are the guys who genuinely believe all the extraneous noise and loud breathing are integral parts of a good workout. They thrive on quick bursts of manic energy — grunting is just part of it — and they don’t give two flying dicks if you don’t like it.
  2. Hansel and Gretel: Just like in the horrifying children’s story, these guys didn’t get enough love from their parents. (Seriously, read the original story; Hansel and Gretel’s parents left them out in the woods to starve to death.) What I’m saying here is, these poor fellows really just need a hug. It’s not sex they’re after. It’s not really even about attention. It’s about confirmation. “Yes, you’re a good boy, Hansel. You lifted those weights very well and you really are a worthwhile human being. Now please, shut the fuck up and do your next set of deadlifts in silence.”

7.) Locker Room Talkers ruin the ambiance


“Enjoy this moment of peace, for it WILL be destroyed.” — Photo Credit: flattop341 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/flattop341/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

In men’s locker rooms in Germany, the first thing you’ll notice is that pretty much everyone keeps to themselves. It’s nice, clean and quiet. No one says a word until somebody leaves: the person says “Tschüss!” and then everyone else chimes in unison like a bunch of naked choir boys, “Tschüss!” and then silence descends once again. It’s pretty weird. But saying goodbye to a stranger when you have literally not exchanged a single other word before is not the problem. The problem is locker room talkers.

These are the guys you never actually see working out. They tend to wander around the exercise machines annoying people, and then hit the locker room where they continue to talk to anyone who will listen. And they do it naked! Just standing around all day long (probably leaning against your locker), displaying their uncut dongs with an entirely unjustified amount of pride. I guess it makes sense though; Germans are all a bunch of shameless nudists at heart.

It’s as if they come specifically to talk in the locker room. (My wife says the gym is probably the only place they get to form social bonds because they have horrible, ugly wives at home.) And God forbid you get two locker room talkers together, then it’s a hellish concert of loud voices, gratuitous laughter and old man nutsacks swinging to the rhythm like a pair of metronomes.

8.) The showers are set to timers


“The ONE enjoyable thing about going to the gym… and you take it from me.” — Photo Credit: Amy Clarke (https://www.flickr.com/photos/amyelizabethplease/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

I don’t know if all gym showers in Germany turn off automatically after 15 seconds, but mine sure as hell do. Literally, you press the button and the water runs for 15 seconds before turning off, then you have to hit the button again. My wife likes to tell me this system is in place because Germans are more fiscally conservative and more environmentally conscious than Americans. To this, I reply, yes, I am American, and yes, we tend to be a wasteful people, but everyone should have the right to a continuous flow of hot water while they soap their gnarlies.

In a shared bathroom, the water coming out of your shower head is like a cone of safety; it provides hot water, pressure and soothing white noise. Now imagine you are washing your anus when your personal cone of safety disappears. Everything goes silent except for the squishy scrubbing sounds you’re making, there’s no water hitting your body — so there’s technically no reason for you to be there — and all at once you go from a guy dutifully cleansing himself to some weirdo in the corner with his fingers in his ass.

Judging from the other hideously naked dudes in the shower, the idea is to get your body wet all over, and then, after the water stops running, soap yourself up real good and hit the button again to hose it all off. This might be a reasonable method, except for the fact that during the minute or two when it’s off, the water temperature drops down to penis-shriveling zero.

You know how I deal with this? I punch that god damn button as hard as I can — as often as I can — and make sure to stay in the shower longer than anyone else. Longer than the grunters. Longer than the loud talkers. Longer than the super old bastards who are so decrepit it’s like they’re moving in slow motion. Oh yes, I’m still in the shower long after they’re all gone, taking my revenge upon the entire timed shower system, my overpriced gym, the country of Germany and Mother Nature herself… 15 seconds at a time.

9.) Locker Room CLustering is universal


“Excuse me, but you’re invading my comfort zone.” — Photo Credit: Trevor Butcher (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27888428@N00/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

Everyone has a favorite locker, or group of lockers, at the gym. Typically, it’s in the most private area — spacious, with the most room to maneuver — and as far away from other people as possible. You know who else likes that particular area best? Everyone else.

This is how you wind up with a giant room full of freely available lockers, and 3 naked dudes packed into one corner like wildebeests at a watering hole. I call this phenomenon locker room clustering, and it happens in every gym around the world. In fact, as you read this, some poor sap has just undressed and is turning around to grab his toiletries — only to find himself nostrils-deep in some dude’s loins.

Good Christ I hate when that happens. This is why I go out of my way to choose the worst locker at my gym. It’s the one right up front — the one everybody passes when they first enter the room — and which can be briefly glimpsed by everyone on the cardio machines when the door swings open at just the right time. “That’s right, shoppers; today in the meat aisle we’re featuring Grade-A, 100% American tube steak, but sadly, some greedy young German woman already bought it all…”

10.) Going to the gym sucks no matter where you live


“Even with the place all to myself, my heart pumps with hatred.” — Photo Credit: Dr. Abdullah Naser (https://www.flickr.com/photos/abraj/) — Subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

Half of the complaints I’ve raised in this post are specific to Germany, but the rest are just part of the overall gym experience. Going to the gym blows, but we have to do it anyway. (With the exception of my old German integration class, it’s probably the only thing for which I pay money that I genuinely hate.) But for most people, going to the gym is a luxury. Like, if only they had the time, money or basic mobility to go work out, life would be truly grand. Not for me; I’m one of those rare assholes who is honest with themselves about how much going to the gym sucks, but does it anyway.

This is probably why my wife and I cannot go to the gym together. Oh sure, we can travel there together, but that’s where the fun ends. She’s a teacher, you see. She’s always busy, so she’s grateful for any opportunity to go. She’s relaxed, takes her time, speaks politely to the staff, and smiles at everyone because she’s genuinely happy to be there. I, on the other hand, am a freelance graphic designer and I work from home, so I can go anytime I wish. I speed through my workouts with a hateful grimace on my face because I can’t wait to get them over with. I just want to go home and get back to work. Hell, I’d say the gym is the one place on earth where I am openly hostile to people (which would explain why everyone gives me a wide berth, like my body language is telling everyone they can go fuck right the hell off).

So with all of these points in mind, I’m going to go ahead and rate my German gym experience thus far with a solid 3 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:


… but if you absolutely love your German gym, by all means, tell us about it in the comments section. (Our chubby fingers eagerly await the opportunity to mock you for it.)

Would you like to read another angry blog post about life as an expat? You might like this one: American Expat in Germany Nearly Killed by an Acorn, Vents His Shame upon the Biggest Spider in the Universe




My German Wife Offers the Perfect Alternative to Traditional Childbirth


Kuato says, “Open your mind.” — Photo Credit: eyeliam (Jason Lander – https://www.flickr.com/photos/eyeliam/) — Subject to Copyright, Attribution 2.0 Generic

Back in March of 2013, my German wife and I were watching the entire collection of Firefly — you know, the greatest sci-fi TV series of all time? — and yet still, I had to make her watch it, because although she is a huge nerd, she just isn’t a futuristic, spaceship kind of nerd.)

There’s this one episode of Firefly called Heart of Gold, in which a brothel comes under attack by an evil tyrant hellbent on claiming his biological infant son from one of the young prostitutes he’d impregnated. The heroes of the show come to the brothel’s aid and a massive gunfight ensues. It’s a spectacle of bullets, laser beams and garter belts — pretty much the sexiest shootout ever — but during the mayhem, the pregnant girl goes into labor.

She starts screaming, hollering and pouring fluids from her nether regions. (It was a rather effective deterrent for anyone inclined to bring a new soul into the world.) My wife was watching this woman thrashing around and hollering in pain when she turned to me and said:

“It’s so weird that humans reproduce this way. I would rather lay an egg.”

*Would you like to read another post about my German wife’s attitude toward having babies? Check out this other gem: My German Wife Shops for American Baby Gifts



Video: When Spring Arrives, Germans Appear As If By Magic

After an extended winter, spring has apparently arrived in Hannover, Germany (even though it has been snowing balls since I wrote this post). I recorded this short video on April 7th, 2013, when tons of Germans came out to the Maschsee to drink some beer before wandering over to the AWD Arena to watch the Hannover 96 play against VfB Stuttgart. (And I have no idea who won because — try as I might — I just don’t care.)

Usually, when I jog around the Maschsee in the morning, its like a ghost town. No one around but me, a German or two and a couple of filthy geese. But when the sun comes out? Oh, it’s party time. Check it out.

(NOTE: If you’re wondering about that grunting noise at the end, it’s me lifting the camera up with my tiny little T-Rex arms.)

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