You might think that a night out in Herring Village would be, well, crap, but that’s only because you’ve never been out in Herring Village with me. Over some delicious goulash and wine in the Usedomer Brauhaus, I got chatting to the delightful Waltraut* after making a hilarious quip about probably holidaying in the wrong place since I don’t like herring, or any fish for that matter. We bonded over my knowledge of Ostfriesisch – and, by that I mean, the fact that I had heard of Ostfriesisch, not that I actually knew any. She didn’t either and she’d been living there for close to two decades.
Unable to persuade her to join me in O’man River, the bar with “the best live music in town” (the only bar with live music, as far as I could tell), I perched myself on the last available stool at the bar and enjoyed the surprisingly decent Bad Temper Joe. When he took a break, I politely asked him if he was always in a bad temper and he glared at me so I guess the answer is yes. And, if you want to know why a white German man is singing the blues, you’ll have to ask him yourself.
After a pleasant hour or so, I strolled on over to the hottest venue in town, i.e., the only bar that’s open past midnight. And that was where I met the lovely Lars.
Me: On the off chance I write a blog post about this trip, what would you like your blog name to be?
Lars: I am Lars.
Me: Yeah, but you can’t be Lars.
Lars: I am Lars.
Me: I’m not sure you’re getting this – you need a fake name for the blog. You can’t be Lars.
Lars: But my name is Lars.
Me: But you’re probably the only Lars on Usedom!
Lars: Na, und?
And so, Lars is Lars.
When we woke up the next morning, he offered me a coffee.
Me: Do you have tea?
And that was when he started rummaging around behind a chair.
What is he doing? Does he have a weapon back there? The coffee machine is in the kitchen so why is he rooting around behind an armchair in the living room? I guess if he’d wanted to murder me, he could have easily done it while I was asleep… Turns out, he had this amazing samovar back there. Sure, the tea took around half an hour to actually brew, but I’d never had a cup of tea like it. I went for a pee to pass the time. Upon my return:
Me: Do you know your washing machine could impregnate someone?
Me: It has an “imprägnieren” setting.
Lars: Ha! No, imprägnieren, it’s like your boots, er, when they don’t let water in.
Me: ?? You mean waterproof?
Lars: Ja, genau!
I lingueed it and sure enough, imprägnieren can mean to impregnate or to waterproof. (Or to soak in the case of a washing machine.)
Me: Hmm, I wonder how many unwanted children there are in Germany because of this verb.
It was Lars’s turn to “??”
Me: Well, what if a woman says, “Hey Schatzi, can you imprägnieren me for Christmas?” and he does but what she really wanted was some nice, new, waterproof Jack Wolfskin gear…
Yes, this is actually how my mind works before I’ve even had my first cup of tea of the day. I am an awesome first date.
Lars: Well, I’ve got to go and help my Opa einwintern his Auto.
Me: Ha, einwintern, that can’t be a real verb!
Lars: Na, klar. To prepare something for winter. Einwintern. Steht im Duden.
Me: OK, you’re right.
Like Germans are ever wrong.
Me: Can you einsommern something?
Lars: Why would you?
Me: I don’t know. Or einfrühlingen?
Me: Can you auswintern something?
I’m sure Lars was wondering at this stage if it was possible to einsilencen me but, utter gent that he is, he gave me his number for any and all possible future questions and dropped me off in the village before heading to his Opa’s and the einwintern challenge – which probably seemed like a breeze in comparison to the barrage of language questions he was faced with before his first cup of coffee.
I headed to a café I knew from a previous trip – OK, full disclosure, I’d been in Heringsdorf, for a few days, a month and a half before this trip and liked it so much, I’d decided to go back for a week – found a nice table outside, and ordered a croque monsieur and another cup of tea.
After I’d finished, the waitress came over and gave me a reproving look.
Me: I know, I’m sorry, it was really tasty but just a bit too much for me. Sorry, I’m really sorry.
Waitress: Yes, I know, I remember.
Like I said, it had been A MONTH AND A HALF since I’d been there and she remembered. Clearly I was the only person who had never finished a meal there. Then again, I was probably the only non-German on the island and Germans can actually handle German portions. This puny Irish woman has yet to encounter one she can conquer. I decided to order a glass of wine and show her that I could at least finish one thing.
Waitress: Wine? Like cold wine?
Waitress: Wouldn’t you prefer something hot? Like Glühwein? Or hot Aperol?
Me: Jesus, hot Aperol?? NEIN!
What is wrong with Germans?
I paid up and headed over to my favourite Bude. The last time I’d been there, this guy had brought the house down…
…but this time, out of season, things were a bit more sedate. Which was actually kind of good because you don’t really want an over-excited German landing on you when you’re holding a piping-hot Glühwein.
*Waltraut is not her real name and, no, I didn’t give her a choice in the matter.