Falling short

In contemplating the 473,937,493 “easy” steps it would take for me to become a real German, I never imagined that I might need actual steps to complete the journey. Or, at the very least, a stepladder. Yep, it turns out that I may just be too damn short to be a proper German.

Ever helpful, Germany has been throwing some not-so-subtle hints my way for a while now.

1. I can’t reach around two thirds of my flat.

I’m sure that smug German egg cup is laughing at me…
So close…

German apartments were clearly not designed for leggily-challenged Irish women. Everything in the kitchen and the bathroom has to reside on the bottom shelves as they’re the only ones I can reach without having to stand on a chair. What lurks on the lofty top shelves will remain a mystery, but the good news is that I only have to clean what I can see. I just have to remember never to invite anyone over who’s taller than me – which could rather limit my social circle here in the land of the German giants.

2. German mirrors mock me. 

Does this make my head look big?

See that dark speck at the bottom of the mirror? No? Look a bit closer… Got it? That’s me. Or at least the only bit of me I can see in the mirrors in many cafés, bars and restaurants. I have to make sure that I look semi-decent before leaving home because that’s probably the last glimpse of myself I’ll catch all night.

Standing on tiptoes might reveal the top half of my fringe; jumping up and down creates a weird gurning expression that isn’t really conducive to checking if my make-up is OK. It also attracts some rather odd looks from the other women in the bathroom who aren’t Lilliputian and will never understand my short-world problems.

3. Limited limbs

German clothes, it appears, were designed for German people. Go figure. That’s a photo of the sleeve of an XXS jumper. My hand is actually in there – it’s just somewhere around the elbow mark. German trousers make me footless, German jumpers leave me handless and kneeless. The upside is that even if I fail to make it to the gym for a week, I still look tiny thanks to the swathes of German fabric floating around me.

This is all quite compelling evidence but the real kicker came a few days ago. I found myself in the strange and wholly unusual position of actually wanting to cook something. As the only things that are an absolute must in my kitchen are tea, milk and sugar, this would require a trip to the supermarket. I sauntered around picking up what I needed and eventually happened upon the frozen foods section. As everyone who is kitchen-skills-impaired will know, it’s always good to have a back-up pizza in the freezer so I decided to add one to my basket.

Unfortunately for me, freezers in German supermarkets are German-sized and stocked by German-sized Germans. And naturally, the one I wanted was right in the back, packed in tight. I slid across the glass top and leaned in. Nope. Not quite there. I leaned some more. My hand brushed off the edge of the box. Almost…

I hoisted myself onto the edge of the freezer and stretched. Both feet dangling above the floor, I gripped cardboard but couldn’t dislodge the damn thing. Grunting with effort at this stage and vaguely aware of someone standing behind me, I elegantly dismounted and turned around with a “nothing to see here” expression on my face. A slightly bemused-looking (TALL) German man was standing there.

Can I help you? 

I answered his chest:

Who? Me? Oh, I’m fine but if you insist… (nonchalant shrug)

He reached into the freezer, smoothly freed my desired pizza and handed it to me.

Erm, thanks. That was a bit embarrassing. 

No, no! Not at all! It really was packed in there! 

Bloody Germans are so nice. And frickin’ tall.

There, there… don’t fret – you were totally worth it. Mmmm, delicious pizza…

In conclusion, it seems the one step that might stump me, is the fact that I’m stumpy.

Hmm, kind of rhymes…

OK, here goes:

There was a young girl who was stumpy,

Her road to being German was bumpy,

But with a “der,” “die” and “das,”

Her short Irish ass,

Was determined she wouldn’t be grumpy. 

You. Are. Welcome.

37 thoughts on “Falling short”

  1. Haw! Haw!
    As a 5 foot 3 and a half lady myself, I know exactly where you’re coming from and I’m resigned!

    I’m resigned to buying trouser suits and automatically taking it to the tailor to have it hemmed in!

    I’m resigned to literally bamboozling a young tall German to take things off the top shelf on my behalf.

    Now the irony is, I already have a tall German of my own – our teenage son – but will he go shopping with me? Nope! And if he lowers himself to do so, it’ll be 60 mins exactly, and off home he trots!

    Mind you, there are many advantages ‘cos whenever we travel, his will be the tall head sticking out of the crowd, so no need to worry, if WE get lost!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If my neighbours could see in my windows, they must have thought I was nuts that day – going around taking photos of my hand and the top of my head haha! The fun life of a blogger! 😉 I would have thought everything in Italy would be a bit more short-friendly?


  2. My goodness, I was just about to email you to see if you were okay, hoping you were just too busy to write on your blog and not dead. Then your post pops up in my inbox! Oh, happy day!! And a funny post too. Even here in the U.S., I often have trouble reaching things, especially in grocery stores, because I’m just under 5’3″. I’ve come close to dislocating my shoulder at the grocery store while trying to reach an item (chocolate, of course) on the top shelf way in the back. Your rhyme is perfect. Perhaps you can get a Grabit Tool (https://www.amazon.com/grab-tool/s?k=grab+it+tool). We have one in our house. Even my husband uses it and he’s 6′ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, I’m alive and kicking! But sweet that you were concerned – feel free to check in any time! Just been really busy with work. Plus, I guess there’s a point in most expats’ lives – if they’re in the right place anyway – where things that were once hilarious and odd are now just normal everyday life! It’s been 4.5 years – can you believe it!? Oooh, that grabber looks like a great idea – I normally just look around for one of those little stool things and stand on that haha! I’m a little shorter than you as well – just under 5’2″ – it can be a hard life 😉 Or maybe life is just trying to tell us to lay off the frozen pizza and chocolate or we’ll turn into barrels – who knows 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I will check in next time I start getting worried. My posting is quite irregular because of my day job and writing, just not writing for my blog, so I understand how that is. Wow! 4.5 years has gone by fast, probably faster than your 5 years in Latvia 😉 I highly recommend a grabber. It can be awkward and a little dangerous if you’re trying to grab something fragile or heavy. I use it mostly to get our stockpile of chocolate down from the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. Yup, I’ll use any tool to get my chocolate. If God didn’t want us to eat chocolate, he wouldn’t have given us grabbers! That said, I do have to watch my waist. That barrel shape run in my family ;(

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I think I need to start doing a bit more than my old lady fitness classes. They’ve changed the times anyway – only old ladies get up for a 9.30 fitness class so I’ve now decided I’m too young 😉 11 was fine! Was only 4 years in Latvia – this is officially the longest I’ve lived anywhere outside Ireland! Feel like I had a lifetime of bitching ahead of me in LV, here it just feels like I’m pretty happy and life is good! Blog posts not as regular but well, there’s more to life, right?! Still, think I’ve got another few in my system… Did your hubby put the chocolate up there??

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah, you say “only” four years in Latvia. Probably felt like five 😉. This old lady would not be happy with a 9:30 class. 11 sounds more civilized and you can have lunch right after and replace all the calories you burned off in class—it’s a win-win 😁 Yes, my hubby puts the chocolate up on the top because there’s room there. The bottom shelf is for the chocolate we are currently eating. We buy bags of Ghiradelli squares. They go fast.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it is a bit funny 😉 I have one student and I swear, the top of my head is at her rib-level. We should become supermarket buddies – I’d be pretty nifty at digging around the lower shelves and she can take over freezer duties 🙂


        1. Also wouldn’t have been inappropriate. Had a stinking cold all week and a lot of work. Needed both hands to type so ended up stuffing my nose with tissue paper and just getting on with it – I am one classy lady 😉


  3. Buying clothes in Spain was always very disconcerting… I’m an “L” there. But an “S” in Germany 😉 I remember this one time, where I was out with four Spanish friends and I was the tallest. At 5ft3. That was a first!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe I should move to Spain. Do you think I could make everyone speak German? Put a lot of bloody effort into this language already – would seem like a waste… 😉 Maybe I would have been the second tallest person in the room at 5 foot 1. That would also be a first! 🙂


            1. Plenty of wine here – think I’ll stay put. Or consider Austria. Don’t think they’re quite as tall as the Germans… and they yodel. Big selling point! 😉 And Lederhosen Donnerstag!


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