Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Culture Shock and The Critical Mom

Or Culture Schlock.  In some ways the whole blog is about the title subject, but more and more, American schlock is finding its way to German arteries, waistlines, and blood sugar:  the fifteen-year-old just had another wireless-LAN party with his pals (translation:  all-nighter devoted to the kind of computer games that Mom does not like, accompanied by potato chips, tortilla chips, pork-rind thingies, chocolate, and of course coca-cola--every VERBOTEN thing under the sun that originated in the U.S. of A.)
Nevertheless, I find a few  moments of Culture Shock had indeed escaped this anecdotal blog, and I list them here for your delectation:

(1) Once, long ago in a Bavaria far away, when I was still pregnant with my firstborn and my husband and I were taking an afternoon "nap"--the kind we're only awake enough for on a Sunday afternoon these days--a knock came at the door.  Our elderly neighbor had invited us for coffee and cake more than a week before, and truth be known, we had forgotten all about it.   I vaulted out of bed, hastily donning a robe, and opened the front door, only to find standing there, freshly coiffed and almost wringing her hands, the lovely old lady, behind whom I could see her open door leading into a living room with a white-tableclothed, freshly-laid table with porcelain gold-and-white coffee cups.

"Come you?" she asked.

Yes, I said yes I, er, did, I mean, yes.  And she never knew that I meant that in both senses of the word.

(2) I love to window-shop.  And I especially like to look into the windows of jewelry stores and gaze at the pearls and the semi-precious stones.  So imagine my surprise when I found something in the window that I particularly liked, such that my gaze wandered above to look for the name of the store, but the word "Schmuck" hit me first.
Now, for German readers, in American English, a schmuck is a jerk, a dick, literally (Yiddish, in use since 1892) a penis. But here, "schmuck" just means jewelry.
And that all made sense, in a way--the family jewels are one's most prized possession.

(3) Stoppersocken remain a required item here, especially for children.  I kept forgetting to buy them for my kids and the other mommies kept shaking their heads and insisting that my child would CATCH a COLD!!  These socks with little rubber treads attached to them are what children put on their feet after they take off their shoes upon entering the home of a playmate or their kindergarten homeroom; some schools ask children to put on "house shoes"--study rubber-soled shoes that I mistook for sneakers and bought for one of my children once.  They were too young to wave them at me and inform me that these shoes could only be worn indoors, but I soon learned.  I also learned that I was expected to provide house shoes to guests, who do sometimes bring their own because they know that I always forget, and put them on when entering other persons' homes.  But I always think:  who wants to wear old sweaty slippers that have been on somebody else's feet?
Everybody in Deutschland, it seems, except me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness. I love those socks with the rubber bottoms. I bought a pair at a Kimpton Hotel last year and have dragged them here to Italy with me. We've had plenty of nippy days in Rome and Naples!