STUTTGART – October 5, 2015 –
“You comes mit der car one day. Und den you comes by foot da next. You haves no routine, Dahfeet. Dahfeet is how Germans pronounce David. It is not my favorite but it beats the way they prounouce George, Gayorg.
What I’d like to say is, “Don’t you worry about my routine. I wouldn’t be bothering you in the middle of the night had you advertised your “apartment” on Air BnB correctly. False advertising, Helga.
Not to be the ugly American and believe me, all of the above conversations took place in my head, but this “apartment” is more like a side room crammed full of stuff to make it look like a separate studio. There is a bathroom. Now I know where the closet part in water closet comes from. There is the world’s tiniest refrigerator stuffed under a book shelf. It wouldn’t hold a liter of beer and a bratwurst. Oh crap. I’ve gone native. I’m thinking metrically and in German food staples. Let me translate. It would ‘t hold a six pack and a leftover slice of Dominoes.
The water closet has a sink that must be have been on sale at Ikea in the children’s section. That stuff always looks really cool in the store. When you get it home you say, “Well it was only $29.” And into the garage it goes forever.
In this “apartment” there is no garage so into the closet it goes. Hey, while we’re at it, let’s stick the toilet next to the shower so you can do your business and wash your feet at the same time. Brushing your teeth is a practice in contortionism.
All of this is of course not really a big deal. The big deal is sneaking through the house in the middle of the night after having been at the Oktoberfest (many liters of beer later). First there is the front door lock. As with most German-built things, it has too many extra levers, knobs, and switches. The key goes in here. Flip the handle up past two clicks. Then, turn the knob six times till you here another series of tumblers release. Now, with your other hand, while still holding the handle up, turn the key counter clockwise without stopping until you hear the homeowner yell and come to your rescue.
“Ach, it is you, Dahfeet. Been to the fest I see. Vaht do you needs help mit?”
“Umm, I’m trying to open the door. I misplaced your instructions,” I say while trying to focus and stand upright.
“Ze door ist open.”
“Ok, gut night,” I say as I try to slink quietly upstairs to my hole. The stairs (200 years old) creek with every step waking the entire block of row houses. It is the unGodly hour of 11p.m. and for this infraction I will probably get a bad Air Bnb review. Scheisse.
Side note about the language similarities and differences. There words known as False Friends. These are two words in both German and English that sound exactly the same but have different meanings. Example: Handy. In German this is a cell phone. In English it is someone who can fix things. There are hundreds of these fun and confusing false friends.
Also, there are cognates. These are words that are similarily spelled and translate to the same meaning. Example: Wasser – Water.