Tag Archives: Language

My German Wife Orders the Execution of an (Apparently) Female Pest

german-wasp-pests-insects-dead

¡Viva la Revolución!

Our apartment here in Hannover, Germany, has a little south-facing balcony in back. It gets full sun with almost no wind, thanks to the adjoining buildings on either side. During the summer months, our balcony gets so hot we are forced to enjoy Saturday morning brunch in our underpants. Seriously, we eat sliced meats, cheeses and bread rolls wearing little more than the shame God gave us.

traditional-german-breakfast-cheese-wurst-bread

I cropped this photo so you couldn’t see my junk.

I don’t know if it’s the heat, lack of wind, or the musk of our traditional German breakfasts, but we are constantly hassled by wasps. They only come one at a time — never in a swarm — but they are relentless. Destroying these wasps is a task which falls squarely upon my American shoulders; I use my baseball cap to swat them right out of the sky, and then separate their heads from their bodies with the brim of my hat, like a big, dull knife. Once a wasp has been decapitated, I set its head upon the ledge of the balcony — eventually gathering 4 or 5 of them and lining them up in a row — as a warning to the rest of the wasp community: “Your kind is not welcome here. All stinging insects will be assassinated without hesitation. (Except honey bees. You guys are cool.)”

During my time as a naturally gifted wasp slayer, (dare I say, artist?), I have learned exactly 2 things:

  1. Wasps give exactly zero fucks about the sight of their decapitated family members.
  2. My wife hates wasps more than I do

So back in September, as we were eating brunch on our balcony, one particularly ballsy fellow landed on a piece of meat on my wife’s plate. I gently brushed the wasp upward, into the air, and smacked it right back down with my baseball cap. It hit the ground, stunned but very much alive, and buzzed its little wings with such fury the dust swirled around it like a pissed-off tornado. That’s when my wife announced:

THE WIFE: “Okay. She can die now.”

ME: *Laughing* “She? Why is it a ‘she‘ and not an ‘it‘? Can you see her little wasp titties or something?”

THE WIFE: “Just kill her!“*

*Apparently, the German noun for “wasp,” (die Wespe), is neither masculine nor neutral; it is feminine. Click here to learn more about the German language in our blog post: An Initial Impression of the German Language: Gender-Based Nouns Are Just Awful.

About these ads

My German Wife Buys A New Shower Caddy for Our Bathroom

German-Shower-Caddy-Dusche-Bath-Products-Expat

Those bottles look like tiny prison inmates leaning over Cell Block D. “When we gonna shank the naked guy, Boss?”

So, moving into a new apartment is always a monumental pain in the ass, especially when you’re moving from America to Germany literally weeks after getting married. It also doesn’t help when you know nothing about furniture, kitchen appliances or any of the bathing accessories women can’t seem to live without. (Loofahs? Poufs? Bath Sponges? These all sound like playful forms of birth control which might come to life and start singing around some lovesick princess in a Disney movie: “Why say ‘maybe’ to that baby gravy? Wash your womb and add perfume; no one wants a baby!”)

Fortunately, my wife knows all about bath products and how to store them in an orderly fashion. So back in August of 2012, just before we moved, she informed me we would need to hang some kind of apparatus in our shower stall to hold all of our toiletries:

THE WIFE: “We don’t want to drill holes in the tile, so we will get a basket with vacuum sponges.”*

*I believe she meant a “shower caddy” with “suction cups.”

My German Wife Is Grateful for the Opportunity to Teach Older Students

funny-kid-making-face-eyes-zombie-tired

“Thank goodness I got that second master’s degree! Now, don’t poke your eyes out, Dieter.” — Photo by Gerry Thomasen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerrythomasen/)

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Germany, which means she has the training and education to teach high school students — not the little smelly ones who stick raisins up their noses. And Gymnasium teachers don’t just teach 5th through 12th graders; they teach the ones who show real academic promise. Get this: if you aren’t smart enough to go to a Gymnasium, you aren’t allowed to attend a university after graduation. You have to go to a trade school and learn how to repair cars for all the uppity nerds who got better grades than you. Can you imagine? I like to think of a young German man — let’s call him Horst — slaving away beneath some fancy BMW. He’s fixing it the best he can, turning the cranks and tightening the screws, when a shot of oil hits him in the eye like the money shot in a porno. That’s the moment when Fancypants Schillinger, the former high school valedictorian, strolls into the auto shop:

FANCYPANTS: “Well hello there, Horst! I haven’t seen you since you flunked out of our Gymnasium! What have you been up to?”

HORST: “Fixing your car, obviously.”

FANCYPANTS: “Hah hah, good ol’ Horst. Remember how popular you were in school? How you went to all the parties and chased all the girls? I used to be so envious…”

HORST: *Jabbing his hand into the toolbox* “Yup..”

FANCYPANTS: “But then you flunked one too many classes and wound up in a Hauptschule with all the other knuckle draggers. I bet that was a real trip to the zoo, wasn’t it? Hah hah!

… and that’s how Horst wound up serving life in prison for beating a nerd to death with a monkeywrench.

Anyway, my point is the German educational system — while highly effective — can be a tad elitist. You can imagine why a smart, well-educated Gymnasium teacher might not relish the idea of teaching little kids, especially little American kids. But that’s exactly what my wife did back in 2012, when she spent a year in the United States at a primary school. She did this on a J1 work visa in order to give us the chance to live together as a couple. It was a sacrifice on her part, and I respect the hell out of her for making it. I had to laugh, however, when she was about to leave the States and begin her job as a full-blown Gymnasium teacher in Germany, explaining to me (with no small amount of relief ) how old her future students would be:

THE WIFE: “They are older. I will have 5th through 12th graders. They are not thigh-biters.”*

*3 seconds later: “… I mean ankle-biters.”

My German Wife Struggles with the Size of Our American Kitchen

large-beautiful-american-kitchen-hand-made

This would be our kitchen exactly, if you added a little caution tape and some biohazard signs. — Photo by Chalon Handmade (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chalonuk/)

I bought a house back in 2007, before I met the woman who would become my wife. It was a real bachelor pad, complete with carpet stains, spiders in the bathroom corners and an indoor swimming pool made entirely of beer cans. But once my wife and I began our relationship, I started referring to my house as our house. My car became our car. And my pile of dirty clothes under the bed became our little quarantine-worthy smallpox outbreak. What I’m saying here is, I stopped seeing things as mine vs. hers; an attitude my wife largely shares, unless she’s clumsily breaking things and then denying all responsibility.

So fast forward to the end of the summer of 2012, when my wife was about to fly back to Germany to find us an apartment and start her new job while I wrapped things up in the States. Shortly before she left, we planned a small goodbye BBQ with our friends and loved ones. We scrambled to clean the house mere hours before this social gathering took place, focusing most of our attention on the kitchen and making it look as clean as possible. (Displaying one’s kitchen honestly, the way it actually looks from day-to-day, is like prancing about in tighty whities and openly flaunting your skidmarks; nobody wants to see the truth.) So as my wife was taking some glasses out of the dishwasher and setting them in the cabinet above, she somehow managed to knock over her own beer with her elbow, shouting…

THE WIFE: “Ahhh! Dammit! Your kitchen isn’t big enough!”

American Expat in Germany Experiences Colossal Misunderstanding at the Dentist’s Office

funny-dentist-braces-picture

“Wait, what’s happening? I just came here to pick up my dry cleaning!” — Photo by Zdenko Zivkovic (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zivkovic/)

Let me begin by saying I’m still pissed about this incident. Over the past few weeks, I’ve waited for my anger to solidify into something useful and constructive — you know, like humor — but I still want to coldcock somebody so hard they wake up in the middle of next week. So please, forgive me if the tone of this post is slightly more aggressive than usual.

- – - – - – - -

Our story begins in early January of 2014, when I walked into our dentist’s office to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I’d been to this office several times before, and always relied upon the dentist himself to speak English with me. This time around, however, I was taking a B1 German integration class, which is kind of like saying your German language skills are “intermediate, but you still suck.” Nevertheless, I felt I should have been able to make a simple appointment entirely in German. Here is what was said, if you were to translate everything directly into English:

ME: *Striding confidently up to the reception desk* “Good day to you. I would gladly like to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: *A chubby woman with terrible hair and a deviated septum* “Okay. Would you like to have a professional examination with the dentist, or have a professional teeth cleaning?”

ME: *Looking stunned and confused, having only recognized the words ‘dentist’ and ‘teeth’* “Uhhh, it does me sorrow, but I have not correctly understood. I am currently, at this very moment, learning German. Can you that please, slowly repeat?”

*She repeats exactly what she said, at the exact same speed*

ME: “…Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “So which one would you like? Do you want to see the dentist for a professional examination?”

ME: “Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Okay, are you available next week at 11:00 am?”

ME: “Yes.” *Pausing uncomfortably, wondering if it had truly been a full year since my last official checkup with the dentist himself, rather than just a 6-month cleaning* “Excuse me please. Is it normally done for me to see the dentist? I want only to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Yes. It is normal.”

ME: *Thinking to myself, ‘How many ways can one screw up a simple teeth cleaning? Everything’s fine. You’re golden.’* “Very good. Until then. Have a nice day.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Likewise. Goodbye.”

confused-man-funny-nerd-dad

“Sharp objects in my mouth? Poor communication skills? What could go wrong?” — Photo by jonny goldstein (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnygoldstein/)

Now, at this juncture, I would like to clarify the fact that this woman made absolutely no attempt to understand the broken German I was using. I feel I made my intentions clear, but the receptionist was far more concerned with me using the correct technical words than she was with coming to any real understanding. She spoke quickly, did not elaborate or attempt to clarify the terminology used, and did so with a thinly veiled air of condescension. To this day, I hate her guts and hope she sits on a dental drill.

Anyway, I showed up for my appointment the following week — all bright-eyed and full of hope — and was led to the examination room. The dentist came in, glanced inside my mouth and said in passable English, “You grind your teeth. We need to make a night guard for you.”

Before I knew what was happening, the dentist disappeared and some assistant with a cold sore was jamming my pie hole full of pink goo. Apparently it was the material for casting a mold of my teeth, as it quickly solidified and was then removed. I was left to spit out the remaining pieces stuck between my gums into the wash basin beside me.

ASSISTANT: *In German* “Okay. All finished.”

ME: “Wait, what? But I would gladly have my teeth scrubbed… okay. I believe we have a misunderstanding.”

*The assistant went and got the dentist, who returned to the room to find me, a visibly irritated American male, perched on the examination chair like a coiled spring.*

ME: *In English* “Hi Doc. Listen, I don’t know what is going on. I came here today to have my teeth cleaned, and suddenly I’m being fit for a night guard I don’t even want — which insurance may or may not cover, because I have no idea how much it costs — and my teeth are very definitely not being cleaned.”

*The assistant ran in and out of the room a couple times to give the dentist the information on costs and insurance associated with the night guard. Apparently they are €275 euros and ‘probably’ covered.*

DENTIST: “The night guard is necessary. Without it, you will destroy your teeth.”

ME: “We’ve talked about this. I use cheap night guards from the States. They cost $15 and I just use a new one every couple of months. I’ve used night guards from the dentist before — they’re overpriced and they break just as fast as the cheap ones.”

DENTIST: “Well, if you like, we can send a letter to your insurance to see if it would be covered before you pay for it…”

ME: “Doc, I don’t want your night guard at all. Like, not even a little bit. And I don’t want to pay for that pink goo either.”

DENTIST: *Obviously surprised and uncomfortable* “Okay. We will only charge you for the examination and we will get someone in here to clean your teeth right now.”

ME: “Thank you.”

rage-angry-lego-man-funny

“This is me: a HIGHLY agitated manchild.” — Photo by Bill Ward (http://www.flickr.com/photos/billward/)

Now, I don’t typically get angry with healthcare professionals. It takes just the right sequence of events to piss me off — like condescension and linguistic misunderstandings followed by a poor night’s sleep — before I show any real anger. But when I do, I’ve been told it’s pretty scary.

So with great haste, the dentist sent someone in to clean my teeth, and guess who it was? The receptionist who made this jacked up appointment in the first place. She proceeded to explain to me — in rapid German, and with her hands perched on her knees like one would when speaking to a child — that the misunderstanding was my fault because I hadn’t used the correct word for ‘professional tooth cleaning.’ (It’s Zahnreinigung, by the way. I guess they failed to cover that in my German class for completely retarded immigrants.)

So this tubby bitch proceeds to clean my teeth about as well as a monkey with a screwdriver. She barely touched them, skipped over a few entirely and never once used any water. My mouth was so dry my lips started to split, and I was left to swallow all the blood, tooth paste and fluoride left over. She even left a piece of dental floss (as I would discover later at home) stuck between my lower front teeth. The whole time she worked, she talked to me in lightspeed German, punctuating each sentence with a smirk, asking, “Do you understand?” I could ignore her personality flaws, but holy shit, I have never experienced a teeth cleaning with so little enthusiasm and basic proficiency in all my life. I would have had cleaner teeth if I took a nosedive into an empty concrete pool. My teeth would have been cleaner if I tied a blindfold around my head, pounded a 5th of tequila and stabbed at my gums with an ice pick. “Look honey! I’m a dentist! Herp-a-derp-derp-derp!”

So this repellant little goblin, hands me some dental floss and a couple miniature tubes of toothpaste and sends me on my way. I walked down the hall, jerked my coat off the hanger and made for the door. If this had been a sequence in a cartoon, you would have seen flames shooting out of my ears. Just as I was about to push the door open, I heard an entirely different receptionist woman calling to me — one who was not privy to all which had transpired.

NEW RECEPTIONIST: *Speaking in German* “Sir? Would you like us to go ahead and get that night guard ordered for you?”

ME: “No. Never. Goodbye.”

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t given that poor woman such an intense death stare, followed by the harshest goodbye of her life, but I couldn’t help it; I was in a fugue state and unaccountable for my actions.

I now realize this entire experience at the dentist was mostly my fault, as I am an American with inadequate German skills living in Germany. My speaking proficiency should be better and I am working diligently to improve it. However, there is no excuse for being a dickhole to someone who is trying to learn your language. I believe that dizzy hooker who made the appointment for me did so knowing I was unsure what I was agreeing to; she just wanted to teach me a little lesson on proper German vocabulary. This is why I have purchased a set of fake hillbilly teeth, so the next time I walk past the dentist office, I can point at her and scream, “YOU DID THIS TO ME! NOW NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME AGAIN!”

My German Wife’s First Encounter with ‘Kitchen Kaboodle’ in Portland, Oregon

kitchen-barista-supplies-expensive-nice-extravagant-germany

“That spoon costs $25? BAW HAW HAW HAW HAW! Oh, you’re serious…” — Photo by Thomas (http://www.flickr.com/photos/_-o-_/)

Shortly after we were married, The Wife and I opened our wedding presents and were immediately shocked into generosity-comas. We were very grateful for the gifts we received from our friends and family members, especially because we were about to move to Germany and start a new life there. We needed all the help we could get. But before we left the States, we had to make use of the gifts we would not be able to use in Germany, like the $50 gift certificate we received to Kitchen Kaboodle.

Kitchen Kaboodle is a locally-owned kitchen, furniture and bath store with five locations in Portland, Oregon. It’s actually very well known for its wide selection of quality products, all of which are so far beyond our budget they’re practically in orbit. The word ‘kaboodle’ comes from the expression, “the whole kit and caboodle,” which can be interpreted to mean, “everything and more.” It’s a funny sounding name, so you can imagine my German wife asking me, as we parked our car and crossed NW 23rd…

THE WIFE: “So what do they sell there at Kitchen Kah-Doo-Del?”

My Wife Talks About Apartment Hunting in Hannover, Germany

apartment hunting - finding an apartment

“Oh, we’re trying to find an apartment in Europe now? Let me just suck on the end of this shotgun for a sec…” — Photo by Colin and Sarah Northway (http://www.flickr.com/photos/apes_abroad/)

Over a year an a half ago, The Wife and I experienced a hyper stressful time in which I was pulling the plug on my life in America and moving to Germany, and how she was simultaneously starting her new career in Hannover while trying to find us a place to live and get everything moved-in prior to my arrival. She was a real trooper about it, but — like I’ve said before — Germans are downers.

My wife searched through countless listings and talked to a wide variety of contact people in the hopes of finding an apartment in Hannover. She was so desperate she even considered hiring an ‘Immobilienmakler;’ a ridiculously expensive apartment broker agency which charges the equivalent of two month’s rent plus fees. We didn’t need to do so, thank Christ, but we did need to know exactly what our budget was, and in which part of the city we wanted to live; no small task for a clueless American and a jet lagged German. So we were talking on the phone late one night, discussing our options, when a fundamental difference between our two cultures revealed itself in a moment of perfect clarity:

ME: “What? Everything will be fiiiiiiine. No worries, yo. I mean, why don’t you think we’ll find something under €800 euros? Is it because we don’t know the neighborhoods? Or like, because of the competition or something?”

THE WIFE: “Because I’m a pessimist.”

Vote your favorite IX13 blog

Wanna help us out? Click the Ix14 logo above, find our blog name alphabetically, click the radio button and scroll to the bottom to press the vote button! Thank you!

My German Wife Corrects My Limited and Highly Inappropriate Use of the German Language

scary mouth hand covering face

“Maybe I should just stop now and never speak again.” — Photo by Sarah G (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dm-set/)

Learning German is hard. We all know that. But back when I was in my first German class in 2012, I remember learning a few basics about grammar and verb conjugation, and thinking to myself, “Hey, maybe I’m making some progress! Maybe I’ll actually learn this ugly bastard!”

Oh silly little American nerd — I had no idea what I was in for. German keeps getting more and more complex the deeper you go, and unless you’ve been doing a perfect job of memorizing those godforsaken gender-based articles along the way, you will make mistakes every single time you open your yap and try to speak it.

But my wife, God bless her, has been 110% supportive the entire time. Never a discouraging word. Always telling me how great I’m doing, how I’m learning so much, and how I will become fluent someday. She’s fantastic like that. She still has to correct me when I make big mistakes, however, which is why our conversation back in May of 2012 went like this: We had just come home from a trip to the beach and were unpacking our bags, when suddenly I had to go poop really bad. Like, Red Alert bad. So I dropped the bags, pointed my finger to the sky and proudly announced:

ME: “Ich gehe zu scheißen!” (“I’m going to shit!”)

…to which my wife replied…

THE WIFE: “Good job. That is right, but it is very rude.”

My German Wife Accidentally Adopts Two Monsters While Cleaning Our Office

plastic Kinder Surprise egg toyYou see that little green guy in the picture? He came from a Kinder Surprise egg. Kinder Surprises are chocolate eggs with plastic toys inside — most of which require assembly and utilize tiny moving parts designed specifically to block your windpipe.

Kinder Surprise egg uberraschungThey’re totally banned in the United States because of this choking hazard, and also because they’re classified as food items …yet they contain non-food objects completely hidden inside. It’s a semantic issue, really, and semantics are not cool with Americans. I mean, how can you have two labels applied to the same useless piece of shit? It’s just too much for us to handle. But as for choking hazards, my Kinder Surprise egg contained the toy pictured above — carefully contained within a vacuum-sealed plastic bag, which also contained a fold-out booklet of assembly instructions, all of which were contained within a plastic shell the size of a marshmallow. So if some kid managed to jam this entire thing is his mouth and choke to death on it, he was probably about to lick a light socket anyway.

Kinder Egg toy in German plastic plantThis is my Kinder Surprise toy peeking out of a plastic plant. All day long, he’s just looking at me. Watching. Judging. It’s cute I guess, but not my idea. My German wife was cleaning our office the other day, you see, and rather than let my little toy continue to gather dust beside my computer, the way I like it, she consolidated items and invited a whole new member into our family:

“This is Carlson,” said my wife, proudly displaying her ingenuity. “He will watch over you and keep you safe while you work.”

german keychain owlThis hideous little thing is the stuffed owl from my wife’s keychain. She named it Mechtild — a girl’s name, apparently. Mechtild is broken, of course, so for the past year she’s been sitting on my wife’s desk being useless. If you pinch her between your fingers, you can hear the beans inside crunch together. It’s creepy. I hate her.

stuffed own keychain in germanyHere we have Mechtild peeking out from another plastic plant; this one facing my wife’s side of the office. When I asked why we suddenly had two creatures hiding in our fake plants, my wife replied:

“Well, I was cleaning today and I thought it was super cute when I put Carlson in your plant. Then I got jealous and I wanted one too, so I put Mechtild in my plant, so now we both have one! …but I still like yours better. Mine is kind of ugly.”

plastic plants in germanyHere are Carlson and Mechtild in action. And with that, I welcome you to the new and improved headquarters of Oh God, My Wife Is German!

My German Wife Makes A Can of “Hot Pot” Soup and Leaves Me A Hilarious Note About It

Hot Pot Glass Noodle Soup German Canned

Within this can resides enough explosive power to detonate your colon like a pink sock full of gunpowder.

I guess Hot Pot soup originally comes from China, but they sell the hell out of it here in Germany. And let me tell you, it absolutely lives up to its name; it is hot, spicy, and, well… it fits perfectly inside the average cooking pot. But you know how my German wife and I like to pimp our pizzas on Sunday nights? Well, we also like to pimp our soups.

We add chili peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, hamsters, gerbils — just whatever the hell we have laying around the house — and throw them all together with a can of soup to make a flavor explosion violent enough to not only damage our mouths, but destroy them entirely. And the gastrointestinal effects? Oh, they confound they senses. Have you ever passed gas so fiery-hot it seared the very lining of your anus? Have you ever generated flatulence so potent it made you see stars? We have, and we do so every time we pimp a can of Hot Pot.

So the other day, my wife noticed the mushrooms in our refrigerator were about to go bad. She sliced them up — along with some random greens, an entire onion, and several handfuls of crushed red chili peppers — and tossed them into a boiling crucible of Hot Pot soup. I was off at my German language class, so she ate a bowl and left the rest for me, along with this fantastic little note:

hilarious note from wife to husband

To clarify, the note reads: “Hi sweets, I hope you had a good class. I made soup for us — hot pot and I think it’ll burn our little butt hole! Yours more than mine! :) I love you!”