A Pragmatic 7 Day Reflection, and a Slight Rant

“I leave in 7 days, and I have only now grown accustomed to that queen size piece of cardboard she calls a bed.”

For those of you just tuning in: I’ve been in Deutschland for the past 23 days, of which 7 remain out of a 30 day sojourn. My gf has lived in this beautiful and highly organized nation for the past 20 years, and she is currently completing her PhD in British Literature here in Mainz, Deutschland. My position as an adjunct professor allows me a break from time to time, where I can, let’s say, skip a semester (which are only 5 weeks where I teach), and fly here to be with her. Plus, I earn enough vacation from my other job at the international coffee production line to take off for a month or so. This isn’t too bad of a life, but that is now what this post is about.

First off, her orchid has returned. The blame for the resurgence of her rather delicate and fussy orchid is placed squarely upon me. It seems that all the flowers bloom just a bit more when I am here. I think that’s fair. Personally, I believe it has to do with the fact that I open up the curtains first thing in the morning; her, being a more romantic, less pragmatic individual, believes it has something to do with the presence of Love. I like that idea too. We have done so much in my time here, but I cannot remember much. I have a feeling of normalcy, though; and that is what I wanted from this visit. I wanted that normalcy that couples feel when they are near each other enough to lose that intensity of focus; just so that they can return to it later. We established that one week before I left from my last 18-day visit in February 2012. It was intense. We went to London and Rome over a 5-day period, but settled quietly with one another upon our return to Mainz. The time before that was a hefty 9 days, where we visited Undenheim, the town of my ancestors and went to Mainz’ Oktoberfest. After February, we met in Boston for 6 days. I think 30 days is the right amount for a lovely visit.

We attended a soccer game this past Saturday afternoon, where Mainz conquered Düsseldorf in a blazing 1:0 victory! We are hosting an “American style” party Thursday evening for 11 individuals in this rather quaint 1-bedroom apartment that is generous for two, but crammed for 11. She is cooking cheeseburgers and french fries, and I am making Jack and Coke‘s for her fellow German friends. We have selected the playlist of cliché American tunes from the American Graffiti soundtrack, and are going to be cleaning and food shopping most of the day tomorrow; but that’s not what this is about.

I don’t rant very often on this blog. I find it a bit cliché, and I tend to accept and welcome life’s absurdities as they come. Only, last night I got a taste of the German system. Oh, it was just enough to leave a bitterness on my tongue, but not enough to tarnish my vision of this nation. We attended Mozart‘s “Cose Fan Tutte” opera last night at Mainz’ State Theater. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was sung in Italian and the “subtitles” were in German, so I didn’t understand a damn thing, but it was fun.

My gf’s ticket was free because she is a student, mine was 15€. We looked marvelous. All dressed up: new sport coat, blue tie, scarf, dress shoes; leggings, black dress, black clutch; to the hilt, as they say. We went to sit down and the seat attendant wouldn’t let us sit down because my gf’s student ID had expired by 9 days. 9 flippin’ days! We bought the ticket only 2 days ago, and no one bothered us then. But this little man held us up and caused a “Männchen-Stau” of rather pretty looking Germans to back up behind us. My lovely & patient gf told him she would run home then and get her new ID, and then he told us to wait a little bit while he would “see what he could do”. I, of course, ranted that we should seek someone higher up, but instead we waited like dummkompfs for about 3 minutes while he made up his mind to let us in to our seats, and other attendees passed us by.

Now, here’s the thing: really? Do you really have trouble with students sneaking in to Mozart! Friggin’ Mozart! Do you think students sit around and hatch ideas about how to best avoid the hefty 15€ for a night at the opera!? No. And let’s put this in perspective, roughly 65-70% of the attendees were conceived the night of the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty. They lack the youthful ingenuity & tenacity of a Lady Gaga crowd. What a silly, particular, and thorough little man this seat attendant was; and although we may have learned a lesson about the German penchant for dates, tickets, and numbers, I do hope that this little ticket attendant learned to be a bit more forgiving and sympathetic toward his patrons.

The night ended well with the elderly couple to our left saying a gentle farewell after the show, a free bus ride with the purchase of our tickets, and a quiet discussion of the night’s events over a glass of wine. I think the Germans are wonderful people, and once you establish a rapport, they can be some of the most opening and genuinely welcoming people. They say “hello” and “good bye” when they share a table with you, and they find small instances of affection and love absolutely endearing. BUT, you have to make sure your paperwork is in order, or else the most charming smile and delightful laughter will fall silent against a concrete penchant for order.

Thanks for reading!

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