Category Archives: Love and Relationships

Living with a German

After you’ve moved in with a German, the next logical step is actually living with him, complete with all of his goibles (German foibles). Manfredas will be delighted to learn that I’ve spent the last few months discreetly observing (and photographing) his unique German ways, and have compiled a short list of what it’s like to live with a German man.

Please note: This post may contain sweeping generalisations…

1. German men really love doing laundry

In my previous apartment, I didn’t have a washing machine in the flat. Instead, I had to buy a token from the Hausmeister (for €3.50 a pop, no less) and haul my washing down to the basement. So, I was rather chuffed that we would have our very own washing machine in the bathroom, which I could use whenever I pleased.

Yeah, right. Enter German man.

Me: What are you doing? 

Manfredas: Putting on a wash.

Me: Didn’t you just do a wash? 

Manfredas: Yes, but after this one, I’ll be good for the week.

Me: Uh huh.

One day later:

Me: What are you doing? 

Manfredas: Putting on a wash.

Me: You just did two loads! 

Manfredas: Yes, but after this one, I’ll be good for the weekend. 

Me: Uh huh. 

One day later: …

2. German men really love Tupperware

The first time I went shopping after moving in, I bought some sliced ham. I got home, put it in the fridge, as you do, and didn’t think about it again until the next day when I needed it for my lunch. But where was it?

Huh.

Yes, Manfredas had found it, opened it, sliced the ham in half, and then sealed it in one of his (many) neat little Tupperware boxes. This might seem logical – most things Germans do are – but to me, it just meant that I couldn’t see the “use by…” date any more. So, my only options were to just keep eating it until I finished it – or it turned green and started growing hair.

3. German men love using dishes

When I cook – which has been a whopping four times since I moved in over four months ago – I tend to plate up in the kitchen and then bring just those two plates into the dining room.

A German man, however, will never use one plate or bowl where ten will do. So, we end up with a little bowl for the veg, a little bowl for the potatoes, a little bowl for the salad, separate plates for the bread, and a large dish for whatever the main course is, complete with separate spoons/ladles to go with each. While it adds a touch of ceremony to every meal, I’m also bloody glad we have a dishwasher.

Germans even wash the things that wash things.

4. German men love light

Like most normal (read: non-German) people, I like to sleep in a dark room. Germans, on the other hand, seem to have a disdain for curtains that borders on the fanatical.

Me: Jesus Christ! What time is it? 

Manfredas: Just after 6.

Me: Jesus Christ! Why am I awake!?

The answer to this, however, was obvious – flimsy little blinds that prevent the neighbours from peering in but flood the room with sunlight at a time when I should be far away in the land of Nod. After a friendly discussion or two, I’m happy to announce that we now have blackout curtains, and Berlin can relax safe in the knowledge that I’m not going to fly into a murderous rage due to lack of sleep.

5. German men love gadgets

As someone who hates all kinds of housework, I was ecstatic to discover that Manfredas owns (among hundreds of other things)… A ROBOT HOOVER! Yep, meet the Roomba:

In theory, you switch him on, put your feet up and he goes around the apartment hoovering it for you. Then, when you tell him to, he takes himself off “home,” plays a triumphant little tune and goes to sleep again.

In practice, you switch him on, he immediately makes a beeline for under the sofa and stays there until you drag him out. He then hits a couple of items of furniture and goes back under the sofa again.

While I’m not overly impressed, if any of our guests ever chance to look under the sofa, they sure will be.

6. German men take holidays very seriously

As it’s only one more sleep until our next holiday, naturally, our conversation the other night turned to that very topic.

Me: Hey, is there a shortened, affectionate form of the word “holiday” in German?

Manfredas: NEIN! 

Me: Well, in Dublin, you’d say you were “off on your holliers.” No German equivalent of that? Urli? Laubchen? (The German word for holiday is “Urlaub.”)

Manfredas: Good God, no! Holidays are a serious business! Urlaub ist Urlaub! 

I realised just how serious he was the next day when I received an Excel spreadsheet of our travel itinerary – complete with petrol stations.

Me: You have officially out-Germanned yourself. 

And you thought I was joking…

7. Every German man in the world owns a pair (or several pairs) of these:

Badeschuhe!

Socks optional. But not if you’re German, of course.

So there you have it – or at least the first installment. In the interest of fairness, I did ask Manfredas if there was anything he finds odd or annoying about me but no, seemingly I’m perfect. Then again, he hasn’t read this yet.

Ah, the joys of living with a blogger…

 

 

 

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Moving in with a German

Earlier this year, Manfredas asked me to move in with him. This was actually a brave move on his part as I’d previously told him that I’d set fire to my kitchen while making a ham and cheese toastie. Twice.

Still, from my point of view, it was a great idea for a number of reasons:

  1. Germans have better insurance than I do – i.e. they have insurance.
  2. I’d accidentally flashed my boobs at my elderly neighbour while I was getting dressed and he was having a smoke on his balcony. He’d been very unfriendly to begin with, but it turned out that all it took was an impromptu peep show to lead to daily invitations to his apartment for a drink. I politely (then not so politely) declined.
  3. I’d managed to clog my shower drain with hair beyond what my questionable abilities as a plumber could cope with. Loath to go and tell the Hausmeister and watch him pull a yeti out of there, I tried (and failed) to use my own methods.
Not to be confused.

I decided to leave my slightly blackened oven, randy neighbour and hirsute shower drain behind and accept Manfredas’ offer. (Sometimes I can be just as romantic as the Germans.)

Manfredas lent me some boxes from when he’d last moved and I assured him I would be packed up and ready to go that weekend. Unfortunately, it seemed that my box-putting-together skills were about as developed as my cooking and plumbing skills. Never fear – after about half an hour of arsing around on youtube, I found what I was looking for, put my first box together (with a lot of pause/play/swearing) and it was plain sailing from there.

Utilising a woman’s touch I didn’t know I possessed, I adorned Manfredas’ (sorry, OUR) flat with cardboard boxes, clothes and shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, and four wineglasses and a packet of Bisto – the only things worth taking from my old kitchen.

Me: (upon closer inspection of my new kitchen) I’m afraid I have to move out.

Manfredas: You just moved in! What’s wrong? 

Me: I can’t reach the wineglasses. This could be a deal-breaker.

German kitchens are not made for Irish people.

Luckily Manfredas – being the resourceful sort that he is – quickly remedied the situation and disaster was averted.

The Linda shelf!

While I could cope with living out of a suitcase for a week or so, I kind of needed to hit the ground running on the work front so the first priority was a desk, chair and shelving unit for my brand new home office. Yes, home office. I am now fancy.

An hour or so in Sconto and I was the proud owner of all of the above. In flat-pack form.

Urgh.

While Manfredas was happy enough to let me bash a dowel (I just had to ask him what the word is for “the little wooden things that you hammer into other things to make furniture stick together”) every now and then, it was decided that my unique skill-set would probably be better put to use in keeping the music going and the wine flowing.

Manfredas: Hmm, I don’t think the tools given are good enough for this bit. I need a drill. (Produces a rather nice Black & Decker drill set.)

Me: Bah haha! You own drills! 

Manfredas: Well, of course I own drills. How else do you think things get on walls? 

Me: Oh yes. Right. That makes sense.

Sometimes I forget that I’m a grown-up dating a grown-up.

Anyway, in a few short hours – for me, at any rate – the office was complete.

Don’t worry – the screwdriver is just for show.

Once I had everything in place, it was time for the next phase – showing me how to use the TV, the heating, the dishwasher, the washing machine and various other gadgets that Germans love. Amazingly, Manfredas has undertaken to do most of the cooking so a cooker tutorial didn’t really come into play.

This probably explains why the flat is still standing and we’re rubbing along nicely together. I guess he should probably put the ham and cheese on the top shelf of the fridge though…

 

German men 101

As someone who’s perfectly happy with her German man, you can imagine my surprise when I came across this event on Facebook:

German Men 101

German men are unique species. Usually, men are not easy to handle, but German men beat them all. It requires deep understanding of their nature, and the cultural differences, in order to survive a long-term relationship. 

We all experience the same: drinking habits, jealousy, your friends (particularly straight male friends), his friends and family, privacy issues, keeping his football trophy from 4th grade, and many more weird habits that you do not know how to digest…

Don’t worry! We are here to advise and support!! After years of dating German men (including getting married to some of them), we offer our knowledge and experience to help others. You are not alone!! 

We will have an overview and explanations for the most common and weird habits we observed through the years, ask questions, get answers and share war stories. Come to reveal the mystery!

I had several thoughts after reading this:

  1. It can’t be real.
  2. It sounds like a bunch of mad Eastern European women mistaking mad Eastern European men for lovely German men.
  3. I have to go.

It seems I was not alone on my first thought. The day before the event, the organiser posted:

People asked us if the event is real. So, yes, it is  We are looking forward to see you tomorrow!

Final thought – please God, let there be wine…

Men were not allowed “due to the sensitive topics” so I left Manfredas (chuckling gleefully at the things I do for this blog) and stepped out into the night. Around 20 minutes later, I arrived at the venue looking like a drowned rat and dripping onto the registration table. I paid my fiver (yeah, I know…), got a stamp to indicate my betrayal of the German men I love and hit the bar. I said a mental “thank you” to the Big Guy and got a glass of wine, scouting the room for the seat closest to the snack table.

I may have seen it all now.

Comfortably seated, I leaned over and spoke to the rather beautiful girl beside me.

Me: So, have you had terrible experiences with German men? 

Maria: Oh God, yes! So many! 

Me: Really? Like what? 

Maria: Oh, this one time, I was on a date in a restaurant and the guy told me that I was being too loud and everyone in the restaurant was looking at us and it was very embarrassing for him.

Me: Bah haha! I guess that was your first and last date! 

The room had filled up a bit and now there were around 20 women – and one guy. The Israeli woman hosting the event said that she had “allowed him” to be there as he was a journalist. Needless to say, he looked more and more depressed as the evening wore on.

Poor dude.

Suddenly, the screen was filled with my new (Brazilian, as it turned out) friend, who had made a video bemoaning German men’s inability to flirt. This was met with groans of approval, nodding heads and rolling eyes. German men cannot approach women or flirt, it seems.

The host, Tal, explained that this is because German men are both “afraid and respectful”. And, as only 17% of German men use dating apps, “you have to hunt them outside – you have to be creepy”.

I began to feel very, very sorry for German men.

If, however, you do manage to ensnare a German man (insert evil cackle here), moving in together will present a whole new set of issues. A German man’s idea of moving in together is that you move in with him and he clears you a shelf. The more serious it gets, the more space you receive. This, however, is not as easy as it sounds since German men hoard everything they’ve ever owned since they were babies.

Me: Hey Manfredas, do you have any trophies from the fourth grade? 

Manfredas: Erm, no. I do have a hockey trophy from 2007, though. 

Me: Hmm. 

True story.

If joint shelves are an issue, you can imagine how German men feel about joint bank accounts. NEIN!

Friends are another thorny subject. Your German man will have one to three people in his life that he considers friends. For example:

Jane: Hey honey, are you inviting any friends from work to the wedding? 

Jannes: I do not have “friends from work”. They are COLLEAGUES! COLLEAGUES ARE COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS!! 

Jane: (sniffle)

According to the (possibly quite mad) women at this event, German men will also have major problems with your straight male friends. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not because they are jealous; it’s because they have low self-esteem and are afraid that someone will steal you away from them…

Some other choice words used to describe German men during the evening were: negative, pessimistic, passive, logical, private, over-insured… they also like a drink or seven but that’s not so different from Irish men (or women) so I’m alright with that.

Apart from the last point, it was like listening to someone describing people from another planet. If men really are from Mars, then most of these women were from TrES-2b (yep, it’s a real thing – Google it).

I’ve been chatted up by an Irish guy with the line, “your eyes are the same colour as my tractor”; I dated (for a short time) an English man who thought that we could visit each other using “the bridge between England and Ireland”; I had a Polish man hit on me in my kitchen while his wife was in the other room… So yeah, I think I’ll stick with the Germans, weirdness and all.

 

 

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…