On My Exile (part 4)

 (Originally posted 19 July 2019) 

It has been one thousand nine hundred and seventy six days since my exile. My assimilation is progressing, although I am sometimes still astounded and baffled by some aspects of German culture.

I have found the German people to live in a very rule centric society, and any missteps or transgressions are met with a distinctive finger wag and stern look of disapproval. This seems to be true in all parts of German culture that I have seen, with the exception of one area: standing in line for the butcher. Queueing for toilets at a fest? No problem. Movie theater snack counter? Delightful. The lines at the bank? Everyone in perfect order. However, you try and get a few people to stand in line at the Globus (grocery store chain) butcher counter, and all rules go out the window. It almost always seems to start with an old German “Oma” who probably just wants some Würstchen for her grandkids. She’ll just walk to an open part of the counter and start spouting an order at the first butcher who looks at her. People in line start grumbling and complaining, and someone inevitably will try to do the finger wag, but Oma is completely oblivious. Then someone new, thinking that Oma is the last person in the newly formed second line, will stand behind her. This is where the chaos begins. Being an American and having PTSD from too many early morning Black Friday battles, I automatically assume someone is about to get punched in the throat. Fortunately this is not the case. Germans being more practical that violent realize that throat punching won’t help them get their Schwenksteaks any faster. Eventually, someone from the original line might defect and join the new line, then another, and another, thusly justifying the new line. Then someone from the original line gets pissed and tries to form their own line, and pretty soon, it just becomes a gaggle of people hovering around the counter trying to get a butcher’s attention. In times like this it is just better to give up on the butcher and go get a döner.

Buuuuuut since you are in Globus, you might want to stop by the dairy case and grab a Müllermilch. What is a Müllermilch? Trust me, you’ll be glad you asked. Müllermilch is chocolate milk, but for adults. How is it chocolate milk for adults? I don’t know, but I like it so cut me some slack. What makes it so great is the flavors. They have all the standards: Chocolate, strawberry, banana, vanilla, etc. But they also have flavors like: American Chocolate caramel cookie, chocolate mint, pistachio white chocolate, popcorn (it’s damn good, trust me!), raspberry white chocolate, Iced coffee, salted caramel, pina colada, winter apple, and on and on. . . I love them, but at 400 calories per bottle, I can’t drink them that often.

Speaking of drinking, you know where you can drink legally in Germany? Just about, uhhhh, everywhere.  Obviously there are exceptions, but it is damn near everywhere. Passenger seat of a moving car? Sure. Movie Theater? Absolutely. Walk down the street with a beer? Go right ahead. Alcohol culture here doesn’t seem to revolve around intoxication, it’s just part of who Germans are. We often will share a Radler (Beer mixed about 50/50 with carbonated lemonade) or two while we watch our kids at the playground after kindergarten. In fact, I was taken back one year when we were invited to the kindergarten to watch the kids performed some little dance thing they had prepared.  It was fairly early, probably around 9 am.  When we arrived, the teachers had set all the adult tables with champagne, orange juice, and fluted glasses.  Those thoughtful devils had prepared Mimosas for us.  Then again, I would expect nothing less from a culture that puts out some of the best traditional beers in the world. 

All in all, my exile from the U.S. has been bearable so far (I know, poor me). But as the end draws nearer, I am starting to realize all the things I am going to miss. Here are just a few things:

1. The rule-centric culture – I like that I can finger-wag someone that isn’t following the rules without the fear that they will shoot me in the fucking face.

2. Cherry season – Being stuck in the bathroom after eating 2 pounds of cherries isn’t pleasant, but it is worth it.

3. Asparagus season – Oh man, the asparagus here is so delicious. Eating giant stalks of white asparagus cooked with Kräuterbutter is pretty close to food heaven.

4. 3 hour restaurant visits – Not having the waiter constantly try to shoo you out after your meal is glorious.

5. Drinking (as a passenger) in cars – Not that I do it often, just having the option is nice.

6. Spring in the Pfalz – Second only to the High Uintah Mountains in Utah.

7. The Bad Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt – The party to end all parties. Everyone talks about Oktoberfest when they should be talking about the biggest wine fest in the world that has been continuously going since 1417. 

As always, this is only my experience in Germany, your mileage may vary.


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