Ah, men. Don’t you just love them? Even when they’re being complete gobshites (which is a worryingly high amount of the time), we still can’t resist them.
Having said that, even though I’ve only been in Deutschland for a little while, I’ve noticed much less of the gobshite about German men than say, for example, oooh, Latvian men. “But Linda! How can you judge!? You’ve only been there seven weeks!”, I hear you cry. Well, considering you get to know a German man about as much in four days as you do a Latvian man in four years, I feel that I’m already in a position to do just that. So, here goes – a brief comparison:
First of all, you’re far more likely to meet a single Jürgen in his thirties than a single Jānis. Most Jānises get married shortly after hitting puberty – it doesn’t really matter to whom.
Jürgen: Hello/Good morning/HOORAY!
Jānis: (Awkward silence and some staring. OK, a lot of staring.)
Jürgen will hold the door open for you, and thank you if you hold the door open for him.
Jānis will let the door slam in your face, and breeze past like you don’t exist if you hold the door open for him – as will a stream of other Jānises. (Make sure you have a clear calendar if you choose to hold a door open in Latvia.)
You won’t even have to ask Jürgen for help – he’ll offer it and he’ll follow through before you’ve even realised he’s serious.
Jānis, oh Jānis… You’ll ask him for help. He’ll say “sure”. You’ll tell him when you need him.
Jānis: Oh, you meant this weekend. Sorry, no, I can’t.
Me: OK, how about next weekend?
Jānis: Oh, next weekend is no good either. I’ll call you…
After four years of this, you give up asking anyone for anything, so the Jürgens of the world come as a very pleasant surprise.
Once in a blue moon, after promising copious amounts of booze, a Latvian man will “help” you. And so it came to pass that a friend of mine was helping me paint my living room. (In reality, he was sitting drinking beer while I was up a ladder.) I went into the other room for a few minutes and noticed that things were eerily quiet in the living room. Dear God, what was he up to?
(Running back into the other room)
Me: Is that… is that a swastika???
Jānis: No, it’s a peace sign.
Me: It bloody well looks like a swastika to me.
Jānis: No, it’s a peace sign.
Me: Um OK, but answer me this – what the f*** is it doing on my living room wall?
Jānis: I was helping.
Me: By painting a massive swastika on my wall?
Jānis: It’s not a swastika. It’s a peace sign. It’s decoration.
Me: (picking up the remaining paint and flinging it over the “helpful” Latvian)
Jānis: My jeans! My new jeans!
Me: It’s decoration.
That was the last time I asked a Jānis to help me with anything.
I just called to say:
A Jürgen will call you up because he wants to see you.
A Jānis will call you up because he’s run out of drinking money, he doesn’t have enough money for a taxi home, or he wants to bitch about his mad girlfriend. He will then probably attempt to dry hump you after gaining
Dutch Latvian courage from the booze you’ve been buying him all night.
A Jürgen will invite you round to his place and let you drink him out of house and home.
A Jānis will invite himself round to your place, drink you out of house and home, pass out… then give out to you in the morning because there’s no beer left.
Being home alone
Jānis: I’m going out to buy some pizza.
Me: OK, I’ll just wait here then.
Me: What? Why not? Don’t you trust me?
Jānis: I don’t trust anyone.
Me: I’m going home.
Jürgen: OK, I have to go to work now.
Me: Right, I’ll be ready in a few minutes…
Jürgen: Take your time. Make some tea. Relax. Just make sure you close the door
in a German way properly on your way out.
Me: Um. OK…
Happily ever afters
The good news is that the life expectancy for a Jānis is pretty low. On the other hand, if you do manage to pick a dud Jürgen, you’re probably going to be stuck with him for the next 50-60 years.
And people wonder why I left Latvia…