Out of the fish bowl, into the sea

Leaving the big Berlin city behind, I spent the last week in a small village in Southern Germany, thinking about all the fun things I could be doing (sailing, hiking) if it weren’t for the weather (raining, sucking). All was not lost, however, since the time away from Berlin meant I had to really rely on my German skills to get my daily Brötchen, as opposed to just pointing and flailing like I normally do in my neighborhood Turkish bakery. Turkish immigrants and hipsters predominantly inhabit Kreuzberg, my little corner of Berlin, meaning my German skills needn’t be very good, as long as my wardrobe is sufficiently flea market chic.

While down in Überlingen I somehow ended up at a Klassentreffen, or class reunion, in the middle of a water logged field. Since everyone else was German, I decided to blend in a little, so I pulled my boots out of the mud enough to offer a few firm handshakes and “wie gehts?” to those around me. All was going swell until a rather short German fellow decided to make up for his stature by squeezing my hand unbelievably hard, causing me to cry out in pain. This may have been what gave me away as an outsider, though it might also have been because of the thirty people present I was the only one not to have attended high school with them. Possibly also my inability to speak German. Or maybe the fact that I threw a piece of cheese on the BBQ next to thirty bratwurst sausages (anyone else for a vegetarian delicacy, ja?) The evening turned out to be a resounding success for practicing German, and a total failure for blending in. Na, ja.

In an attempt to learn more German I spent some time babysitting die kleine Marta, a blond Polish/German hybrid, who, at 3, is learning to speak just like I am. Impressed by the amount she’d learned since I’d seen her only a few months before, I decided to imitate her learning style, which seemed to include repeating everything others said, giggling tremendously, and eating boogers. Our swing set study sessions were going great until she started using vocabulary beyond my years, telling me I had a “sehr große Popo.”

Having to use a dictionary to learn that a 3-year-old just told me I had a big bum, I returned not long after, discouraged, to Berlin. I’m back in Kreuzberg, pointing madly at croissants in Turkish bakeries, hoping their buttery goodness won’t all go to my derrière, and sporting sufficiently bohemian looking Ray-bans. In a big city neighborhood where everyone is as foreign and confused as I am, I fit right in, in spite of my alleged sehr große Popo.

My accusser


One Response

  1. Hi,

    I am very courous what Marta will teach you next.

    1. Lesson: nochmal
    2. Lesson: Popo
    3. Lesson: ???

    At home she now calls you allway “die große Emily”


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