Category Archives: Love and Relationships

Linda Nightingale to the Rescue

I am currently (or finally if you ask him) dating a German man. While it’s true that Germans aren’t known the world over for their romantic side, I feel that this is something that should be rectified.

A German man, or at least this German man, shows you in a thousand different ways how much you mean to him – and he does it in a way that doesn’t make me want to vomit.

These little Germantic gestures include things like:

  • getting up at crackofdawn o’clock to drive me halfway across the city to a morning lesson when I’m running late
  • having a thermos of black tea with milk waiting in the car to soothe the savage beast
  • doing the midnight run to the petrol station when we run out of wine
  • having a word with a security guard at a concert to see if I could stand over by the exit so that I might see something other than the backs of tall Germans’ heads – it actually worked
  • buying me little gifts, not because it’s a special occasion but simply because he thinks I’ll get a kick out of them
The Terrible German Language by Mark Twain
The Terrible German Language by Mark Twain
  • He also bought me the rather entertaining Travel Pussy, which shows how well he knows me…
  • He listens to my bizarre questions about his mother tongue and claims to find them “endearing”

Anyway, I could go on but that’s probably enough for now. The point is, he does so much for me that when he injured his leg playing football, I felt that this was my chance to do something for him so I offered to move in and play nurse for a week or so.

Regular readers will know that I’m hardly the most tender soul on the planet but well, what was the worst that could happen? My mother told me to wish Manfredas luck in between disbelieving snorts of laughter, and I told his next-door neighbour to call 112 if she heard screaming coming from the apartment. We were all set.

The second I moved in, I felt at home. This was partly to do with the fact that he’d previously bought me slippers that said “Home” on them. I quickly unpacked my bits and bobs and put them away in the drawers and spaces that he’d cleared for me. If he was horrified by the lack of neatness, he didn’t say anything.

We had decided from the get-go that we would speak more German. Ostensibly, this was to improve my fluency but I think he was secretly hoping for the entertainment value. Naturally, I didn’t disappoint.

Me: I just need to brush my hair. 

Manfredas: Ha ha ha ha! 

Me: What? What did I say? 

Manfredas: Bah hahahaha! 

Me: Oh wait. I know. Breast, right? I said that I need to breast my hair… 

(Bürsten – to brush, Brüste – breasts)

Me: What’s “to score” in German? 

Manfredas: Schießen.

Me: But that’s “to shoot”.

Manfredas: It’s the same in German. 

Me: But isn’t there another word for “to score”? 

Manfredas: Erzielen.

Me: And “Ziel” means “goal”, right? 

Manfredas: Yes.

Me: So… in German, you goal it in the goal? 

Manfredas: Sigh. 

Me: GOAL IT! GOAL IT IN THE GOAL! Ha ha haha! Anyway, es ist nicht vorbei bis die dicke Frau singt… (it ain’t over til the fat lady sings)

Manfredas: NEIN! That doesn’t work in German. 

Me: Oh well. It was worth a goal I guess…

Amazingly, he didn’t kick me out and, as the days progressed, we slipped into a nice routine. I’d go out to work, popping back home whenever I could, and picking up any supplies we needed along the way.

Every morning, I’d get out of the shower to find that he’d laid out everything I’d need to make breakfast, including a fresh pot of tea.

German planning
German planning

Every evening, I’d come home to find my washing done and a delicious meal underway. Pasta bake, pork tenderloin, roast chicken, burgers barbequed on the balcony… I started to wonder who was taking care of whom. Still, I wasn’t complaining.

How to hang your washing, German-style
How to hang your washing, German-style

We’d spend most evenings out on the balcony, chatting, drinking wine and making up stories about the neighbours. I’m convinced one guy, who Manfredas dubs “The Constant Gardener”, is actually out there to be closer to the all the bodies he’s got buried under the lawn (but that’s just me).

Berlin sky at night
Berlin sky at night

Regrettably,  Manfredas’s leg got a little better every day so, after 9 days, I moved back to my own place. Yup, it’s back to toasted sandwiches and beans on toast for me. I’m not sure I was any better as a nurse than I am in the kitchen, but if it’s true that laughter is the best medicine, then maybe I helped a little after all.

OK, it’s time to breast my hair before bed…

Jānis vs Jürgen

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:

Meetings:

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.

A long and icy road ahead…

Greetings: 

Jürgen: Hello/Good morning/HOORAY!

Jānis: (Awkward silence and some staring. OK, a lot of staring.)

Manners: 

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.)

Oh Astra-drinking German man - you are so very hot...
Oh Astra-drinking German man – you are so very hot…

Offering help:

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.

Giving help:

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.

Invites

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. 

Jānis: No. 

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.

Think on…

 

And people wonder why I left Latvia…