Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Understanding Your New German

Recently, KittenJosh used the comments section of this blog to ask an important question, namely, how do I get the new German in my life to perform cute tricks for my amusement? Good question, Josh, I'm glad you asked. First of all, it is important to remember that unlike Americans, not all Germans are alike. The amount of enjoyment you get from your German will depend upon her personal sense of humor, mastry of the English language, familiarity with American culture, propensity to yodel and so on and so on. Sure, you can sit around and wait for your German to do something adorable and you might get lucky, like the time Der Man told me one of the things he wanted to do in New York was "eat breakfast at Tiffany's"; but like most things in life, the more you put into your relationship with your Deutschie, the more you will get out of it.

If you still need to break the ice, why not try a few of these suggestions.

1. Trick your German into saying words with the "v" sound in them. Why not ask your German to rerecord the message on your answering machine? "We are not awailable to come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the bip." Encourage her to ask questions about your life. "So, how was you wacation to Romania?" Oops! I forgot Germans share the European prejudice of thinking of all Roma as filthy pickpockets and criminals. Enjoy explaining the concept of "politically incorrect".

2. Ask questions about her life back in Germany so you have material to mock her culture. Has she ever been beaten by Knecht Ruprecht? Did she ever dress in black face on Heilige Drei Koenige? Explain your thoughts about little white children dressing in blackface.

3. Remember how enteraining those Folger's Taste Test commercials were in the 80s? Why not switch your German's Coke with root beer and see to how many kinds of cleaning products she will compare the taste. For added fun, explain that Dr.Pepper is flavored with neither Pfeffer (black pepper) or Paprika (garden peppers), and is indeed supposed to taste like cherries.

4. Three words: electric pencil sharpener. Germans have no idea what these are. While you explain the concept, your German will be silently (or loudly) cursing American laziness and will achieve a false sense of security. I gurantee the first time she sticks a pencil into an electric pencil sharpener she will jump backwards or scream (and then curse American laziness).

5. Take the time to learn about issues that are important in Germany right now so you can converse knowledgably about things which may interest her. Why, just today I told my new German colleage, "Look at me! I'm German! The universities want me to pay 2,000 EUR a year for my education. Waah! Waah! I think I'll cry about it."

6. Impress her by speaking German. If you don't know any German, quote your favorite lyrics from 99 Luftballons and Rock Me Amadeaus. Model your accent after the bad guy in any Indiana Jones movie.

7. And if she still hasn't smacked you in the face, take her out for some S'Mores and teach her a few campfire songs, she deserves it.

Okay, I think that's enough to get started. Viel Spass, Yoshua!


Sheena said...

Useful tips, all.

I recently coerced a phone interview out of someone at the Deutscher Fussball-Bund for a piece I wrote, and nearly screeched when he talked about making sure World Cup-goers entered the stadia with "walid" tickets. That's the second time a German-speaker has said "walid" to me, and oh man is it good.

Also, I invite people with pet Germans to converse about the German national soccer team. For instance: "Who do you think is uglier: Olliver Kahn or Jens Lehmann?" It's a tough call.

Cupcake said...

I just received an email in English from G7 who gushed, "I want to say Thank you. Without you it would not certainly have pleased me so well in New York. By your dear kind you could drive away again and again my homesickness!! THANKS."

See, that's pretty damn cute.

lebrookski said...

i read this list to my german (andre) and i got to the part about electric pencil sharpeners and he nearly died laughing. also he hates root beer and dr. pepper. he was highly amused.

Cupcake said...

I'm glad you and your German enjoyed it. Maybe I can meet Andre if I come to Hamburg this summer? Right now I'm totally bummed because the cheapest summer flights went up from $873 to $954. Goddamn, that's expensive. Maybe I won't get to make the trip now.

Joshua said...

Finally this is working so I can post a thank you. I haven't seen my Geman in days, but if I ever do see her again, I'll try to remember all this stuff.

She did schlep a giant inflatable microphone through Harlem to watch my soccer game, which I found to be pretty endearing and funny.