Tag Archives: Relationships

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.”

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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!”

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 German Wife Attempts to Reheat A Soft Boiled Egg in the Microwave

reheating a hard boiled egg in the microwave

Right from the start, I think we all know where this post is headed.

My German wife and I like to eat a few soft boiled eggs for brunch on the weekends, but sometimes we make too many, and one egg goes uneaten. Being the stingy nerds we are, we always save the remaining egg and put it in the refrigerator for later. We do this knowing we will never actually eat it, because eating cold, soft boiled eggs is like slurping the mucus out of a giant eyeball. My wife has a special method for reheating these eggs, however, so I want you to imagine last weekend, when this small German woman explained to me with an adorably subtle accent and just a hint of condescension exactly how it works:

“This is how you heat up a soft boiled egg in the microwave; you just put it in for 5 seconds on low, but you have to be very careful.”

I nodded without a trace of interest and left the kitchen in order to set the table in the living room. As I was arranging the knives and forks, I heard the microwave run for exactly 5 seconds. Then, curiously, I heard it run for an additional 5 seconds. This is the sound it made:

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, ding!
*microwave door is opened and then closed again*
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, BOOM, ding!

When I returned to the kitchen, I saw my wife holding the microwave door open, mouth agape, with a mixture of silent shock and confusion on her face. She was staring at the remains of an egg so utterly devastated it actually spilled out of the microwave and into the sink below. It was like the Devil himself stepped out from the maw of hell, extended one clawed finger and said, “Fuck THAT egg…” and detonated it with a hex of black magic, then descended once more into his fiery lair, smiling to himself because human suffering just got a little bit worse.

“I thought the egg could handle another 5 seconds,” said my wife, pawing at the orange and white mess with a sponge. “I think I was overconfident.”

an egg after it exploded in the microwave

I was laughing so hard I had to take this picture like 5 times to get one which wasn’t blurry.

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.”

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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!

Denglish 95: My German Wife Gets Stuck in Traffic, Struggles Adorably to Pronounce the English Letter ‘J’

Germans hate travel delays. Hate them. This is because they belong to a culture in which efficiency is prized above all other aspects of society. In Germany, efficiency is king; a cold, unfeeling despot sitting atop a mountain of dead alarm clocks high above the heads of lesser priorities, such as passion, hope or basic human enjoyment of life.

For a German, it’s all about getting from point A to point B, and anything holding up this process is to be regarded with weaponized contempt. Late flights, tardy buses and delayed subway trains drive them absolutely bugshit. And traffic jams? Oh God, traffic jams will rocket their emotional state all the way from Eerily Stoic to Nuclear Wrath.

On an important side note: In German, the letter ‘J’ is pronounced like the English letter ‘Y’ (e.g. ‘John’ becomes ‘Yohn,’ and ‘Jazz’ becomes ‘Yazz.’)

This is why, back in Portland, Oregon, as my wife was attempting to drive west on I-84 during rush hour, she sent me the following photograph and angry text message:

Traffic on Interstate 84 in NE Portland, OregonTHE WIFE: “I am today in a very bad traffic yam!”

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

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Denglish 94: My German Wife Explains the Optimal Weather Conditions for Seasonal Allergy Attacks

Funny sneezing fit from seasonal pollen allergies

“It’s the middle of December. Why am I sneezing? This should not be haaAAHHHCHOOO!” — Photo by Adam Wise (http://www.flickr.com/photos/adammichaelwise/)

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you know I’ve got some vicious pollen allergies. Allergy attacks and sneezing fits are to be expected in the spring months, especially when you are living in a foreign country like Germany, with its totally alien and unnaturally aggressive pollen spores. (I like to picture them as little dirndl-wearing, axe-wielding spike balls.)

What are not expected, are allergy attacks in the middle of winter. The rain and cold should keep the pollen count down, right? I mean, I don’t even have a cold right now, and yet I’m sneezing like I just snorted a fruit fly up my nose. (That totally happened to me once.) Maybe it’s the cold in the air. Maybe it’s the ankle-deep layer of dust beneath our bed, which gathered because I haven’t swept in months and I am a profoundly lazy man. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s raining right now, I am sneezing and my German wife had this to day about it:

THE WIFE: “That is odd. Allergies usually happen when it is dry as a fart.”*

*My wife later informed me, “Yes, that word comes from Northern Germany. It is ‘furztrocke,’ meaning ‘fart-dry.’ “

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

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