Sunday, May 10, 2009

Faux Pas

Happy Mother's Day from Esslingen. A lot of people have been walking around with fresh flowers this weekend, presumably for their mothers, which I'm happy about.

I celebrated Mother's Day by being a mother to my roommates ( I am, after all, the oldest by 6 months). I woke up early and made them American Banana Buttermilk Pancakes. From scratch! They were good, if I do say so myself. I tried to call home about 16 times, but my cell phone connection is horrible and kept cutting out. Sorry Mom, sorry Grandma(s)!

A short update on the shoe situation: I told you already that I made a big mistake by wearing sandals on a rainy day in March. A few weeks later, I wore a shirtdress with skinny jeans and (French, mind you) boots ( I really don't like wearing these particular jeans without boots; I feel like they are a little too skinny alone). This was no more than a fortnight after the sandal incident. I am not kidding when I tell you that at least three people said to me that day, "Amanda, it's spring time. Why are you wearing boots?"

Why me?

Why must I always have to explain my footwear?! I saw five other women wearing boots that day! What does Germany have against my fashion sense?!?

This is perhaps a good moment to share with you some of the other faux pas I have made here, either out of language/cultural incomprehension or my own sheer stupidity. In tribute to my old roommate Jen, who liked to phrase her mistakes this way, here is a list of things I "may or may not" have done since my arrival in Germany:

  • I may or may not have said "I stink" when I meant to say "I think"
  • Having been told that my roommate would show me how to get to a meeting that I didn't know where to find, I may or may not have followed at such a close distance that I walked with him right into the bathroom.
  • I may or may not be so bad at figuring out how German doors lock and unlock that I've nearly (or quite fully, in one case), been walked in on in the bathroom. 3 times.
  • I may or may not have told the bus driver the wrong stop every time I went to work for the last 2 months because I always forget the name (and how to pronounce it) of the stop I need to go to.
  • I may or may not, needing to exchange the pants I had just bought (and was wearing, and thus the only ones on hand, because everything else was packed for a retreat I was about to leave on in an hour) have CHANGED IN THE CAR into the only thing I had readily available, namely, black spandex running pants, brown linen shorts, blue socks and green felt clogs, WALKED INTO H&M, made the exchange, and walked all the way home wearing said outfit. This wouldn't have been so bad, except that...
  • My friend Ana, who works in the cafe in the park I walk through, but who is never there, even though I look for her every time, may or may not have, for once in my life, been there, suddenly opened the door of the cafe, laughed, and said, "Amanda! What are you wearing?" (Ana also witnessed the sandal and boot incidents. I am lucky she is still my friend).
  • I may or may not, having purchased a SIM card for my cell phone, have forgotten the pass code to turn the phone on. Embarrassed, I gathered all my cell phone info (you know, the 4-trees-worth of paper they give you every time you buy a phone that's supposed to help you live "paperlessly") and hiked back to to the cell phone store.
"The pin code?" said the (my luck) same man that had sold me the phone two days ago. "It's on the card I gave you."

"Oh, you mean this one" I say, pulling out the card I had BROUGHT WITH ME, with the words "PIN CODE" spelled out above a 4-digit number.


Can't blame that one on language incomprehension.



...These are only a few of the faux pas I (may or may not) make daily. So is life when you are a foreigner, I think. Swallow your pride, thank God you're alive and exploring, and get on with it, I say.

On the bright side, last week, Kai (one of the men I work with), came up to me and said he'd read my blog, and, in response to my letter would like to apologize on behalf of Germany for its criticism of my footwear.

I looked down.


He was wearing Swedish clogs!

1 comment:

Arika said...

Amanda, you truly have a gift for telling stories (and for living your life in such a way as to create the raw material that makes said stories so dang hilarious!). Keep up the good work, girlfriend. You do us proud.