Sunday, July 18, 2004

Keen anthropological observations, Vol 1

Here are some things I've learned about Germans after living in Berlin for a month and a half......
 
1. Even though 12 year olds can buy beer in Germany, you cannot buy things like aspirin, Tums, cold medicine, etc.. from anyone except a licensed Pharmacist.  They have these things called 'Drogeries' all  over the place in Germany, but, even though 'Drogerie' means 'store which sells drugs' there are no drugs in the Drogerie, only things like toilet paper and shampoo. 
 
The 'Apotheke' is were you buy drugs and they aren't right out there on shelves either.  No, you have to ask the Frau behind the counter for what you want. If your German is bad and none of the brand names are the same and you need to convey a complicated and colloquial term like 'Heartburn' you pretty much have no choice but to combine miming with the few words you do know.  I pointed to various parts of my gastric tract and yelled the word for PAIN, until one of the other customers figured out what I was on about and translated for me.  I have yet to be faced with something really embarrassing, like a yeast infection, but I'm certian its only a matter of time before I get to explain to some surly German pharmacist that 'The high on the leg place...how you say on the lady, Vagina? Yes, yes, Vagina...feeling like a campfire is there...also maybe with much scratching.'
 
2. 1980's style is really big again here, or maybe it never left....also, Germans are super rude.  I went to get my haircut and before my hairstylist would even listen to me tell her what I wanted she went on and on about how the color of my hair was 'um..in English, harable? no..wait, horrible.  Yes, horrible, it looks to me, just awful.' Before she even touched it she insisted on putting toner on it to get rid of the yellow, but then when we'd washed out the toner she announced that it was a little better but still 'really bad.' So I was like, fine, go ahead and color it too.  Then when i told her how i wanted my hair cut, she told that was a terrible idea.  So I was like, fine, do whatever you want.  Anyway, I ended up with this totally tripped out 1980's spiky thing with crazy asymmetric bangs.  Then the little Euro-fag who did the color stepped up, told me I was wrong about what I wanted there too, and proceeded to do this insane multi-toned bleach effect badger-stripe thing that is also totally rocking 80s and now I look just like that guy from A-Ha...which I'm actually kind of psyched about.
 
3. Germans are bossy.  Yesterday I got into a fight at the laundromat with one of the women who worked there, because out of nowhere she just appeared at my side and started barking orders at me because, according to her, I had separated my colors incorrectly.  Also, she felt I shouldn't be washing my jeans in hot water.  She said all of these things to me as if she had caught me trying to stuff a bag of plastique or a newborn infant into one of her washing machines, like she was the national guardian of fabric welfare or something.  I held my ground and explained, in German, that I liked my color separation the way it was and I always washed my jeans in hot water..and you'd think that a normal person would have dropped it at this point (or never started it to begin with) but she kept insisting that I really, really shouldn't be washing my jeans in hot water and I was like, well...I am. Finally she backed down on the water temperature thing, but then she stood over my shoulder during the whole soap addition part of the process as if she was waiting to have to wrestle my laundry detergent out of my hands should I suddenly start drinking it.

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