My hot German flatmate has a thing for British men. Or at least she did until I ruined all British men for her – forever. This was, of course, unintentional. All I did was mention my new favourite topic – the Sitzpinkel.
For those of you not in the know, the “Sitzpinkel” literally translates as “sitpee”, or to pee sitting down, another great German compound noun.
So, what’s so special about that? Women have always sat down to pee – unless they’re Latvian. Ah, but we’re not talking about women; we’re talking about men. Yes, it’s true – proud, strong German men sit down to pee. And, for some reason, I find this massively entertaining.
Coming from a country where the men stand, pee, splash and drip with reckless abandon, I can, of course, see the advantage of the Sitzpinkel. (And Irish men don’t even have the horrors of Germanpooshelfsplashback to contend with.)
As I’m probably one of the most inappropriate people you’ll ever meet, I’ve been doing a little survey of my male friends and acquaintances. Here are the results:
Possibly the Swedes
Then I ran out of friends.
I know of one British guy who married a Swede. They had a son and eventually got divorced. So now, when Sven spends time with mummy, he pees like a good Swedish boy; when he spends time with daddy, he pees like a proud Brit. Must be confusing.
My flatmates, Hildeberta and Hildegard, were absolutely horrified to learn that the two English friends I’d had in the flat had probably peed standing up. I think that I’m now banned from having non-German men over.
As they do the bulk of the cleaning anyway, I guess I can live with that. German women expect, nay, demand, that their men Sitzpinkel, while to me, all of this tucking in business is just a little… unmanly? In fact, when I think of the Sitzpinkel, this is the image that usually springs to mind:
And I do not want to think of German men in this way.
But I guess the Sitzpinkel is something I can’t change – German men tuck and I have to accept that. However, for all of you standpee-ers out there, if you ever want to be in with a chance with a German woman, you’d better be prepared to get tucked.
On Wednesday evening, just as I was starting to relax and enjoy the peace, Bjorn came back. Yes, his 8 – 9 day trip, had turned into a one day trip. This one day did finally give me a chance to tackle the fridge of dysentery, disease and death, though.
HOW can anyone live like this?
I opened the door to a slightly battered-looking Bjorn, complete with broken nose and black eyes. Seemingly, he’d been jumped by some Turks in Sweden. This may or may not be fictitious.
Me: Where’s your key?
Bjorn: I gave it to my wife to mind and she forgot to give it back.
Yes, Bjorn is married – to an insane Russian, who also may or may not be fictitious. Bjorn has spent the last few weeks living in fear of said wife, who is an evil genius when it comes to technology. She has been hacking his mobile and screwing with his life, so he keeps on switching off the wifi to deny her access. So it makes perfect sense that they would go to Sweden together…
Me: Why would you do that?
Bjorn: Ramble, ramble, nonsense, bullshit…
On Thursday morning, I packed my laptop, as Thursday is the day of loneliness when it comes to lessons. I figured if the students didn’t show up again, I could at least get some other work done. This week, two out of four groups showed up, which I guess is progress. One of the groups didn’t have a single German in it, just two Spaniards, an El Salvadoran, and a Pole. Welcome to Berlin.
When I got home in the evening, I was rather surprised to find the front door open. He didn’t, he couldn’t have… He did.
When Bjorn showed up around half an hour later, I was spitting mad, but decided to start off in a calm, Germanic way.
Me: Are you aware that you left the front door open?
Bjorn: Well, I didn’t know what time you’d be back, and I had to go out.
(Warning: The conversation goes a bit ‘Tarantino’ at this point.)
Me: Are you a complete and utter fucking moron?
Bjorn: No, it’s fine. I’ve done it before…
Me: You what?? Are you actually fucking mentally ill? Anything could have happened. All of my stuff is here. Where is your fucking key?
Bjorn: My wife isn’t answering her phone.
Me: Well, fucking call her again, and keep calling her. What is your cunning plan for tomorrow? Go out all day again and leave the fucking door open? Maybe you could put the fucking frying pan on the ring while you’re at it, to heat up the place for when you get back. You total fucking gobshite.
I would like to say at this point that I am a rather articulate person in real life. However, when faced with this unprecedented level of stupidity, all decorum went out the window. It’s perfectly clear that Bjorn has zero respect for his own stuff, but it would be nice to know that I can actually go out and expect my things to be here when I get back.
Hermann would just die…
Yesterday afternoon, craving some normal conversation, I met up with my new best friend, Dietmar. We met at the restaurant where we first got talking. Over a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, we caught up, and I filled him in on my current living situation. When I showed him the photos of the fridge, he almost passed out. He offered to help me find somewhere new; I gratefully accepted.
Dietmar: I’d like to take you to a speakeasy in a ruin. Would you like that?
Me: Sounds great!
We hopped on his scooter and zipped off into the night, me probably cutting off his circulation in the process. The speakeasy was just opening when we got there and was indeed in a ruin. Only in Berlin!
Given the choice between spending the night with a mad Swede or a sexy older German man, the decision was pretty easy. It also meant that Bjorn would be locked out for the night, so the flat had a much better chance of survival.
I ignored all calls and texts, had a nice leisurely breakfast with Dietmar today, and eventually made my way home for around 1 o’clock.
Bjorn: You didn’t tell me you wouldn’t be coming home.
Me: I did. You just didn’t listen. You never fucking listen.
Bjorn: I had to check in to a hotel. I checked out at 7am and have been waiting for you ever since.
Me: Why would you do that? You really are a total fucking idiot, you know that?
Bjorn: Ramble, ramble, nonsense, bullshit…
Me: Look. I’m sick of fucking listening to this. Sort out your fucking wife, get your fucking key and sort your fucking life out. You asshole. You’re 36 years old and you live like a fucking moron.
Bjorn: Wow, I had no idea you were so crazy.
Me: ME? I’M CRAZY? YOU ARE A COMPLETE AND UTTER NUTTER. I can’t take this any more. I’m moving out. Give me back my fucking deposit and I’ll be gone by the end of the week.
Bjorn: Oh, I bought cookies. You can have one if you like.
Me: Fucking psycho.
Around half an hour after this conversation, the phone rang. It was Dietmar to say that he’d found me a room. I think I love that man. God bless German efficiency.
So, where to begin? It seems like my perfectly ordered German life is unravelling slightly. I mainly put this down to my flatmate’s rapidly disintegrating mental state.
Yes, it appears that what I’d taken for (sort of) charming eccentricity is, in fact, stark raving looniness. The repeated (empty) promises to clear out the fridge, the bathroom and a cupboard in the living room were mere annoyances. The shaking and the sweating, while off-putting, could be viewed as semi-entertaining. The delusional babbling could be tuned out. Everything would be OK as he was going back to Sweden for almost two weeks, and I could sort things out here, while his parents hopefully had him committed in Sweden.
Wednesday rolled around and I clung to my last shreds of patience as Bjorn crashed around the apartment, banging off things, breaking things, flooding the bathroom, eventually ending up with a packed bag. He also offered me the use of his laptop which I knew he’d already packed. By the time he was ready to leave, he was really late so he had to call a taxi. I breathed a sigh of relief as he finally bashed his way out of the apartment, almost taking the door off its hinges in the process.
At 1.30am, I was sound asleep when he crashed his way back in again. There was a lot of muttering and pacing, something about humiliation, something about losing his laptop “under the lights” and then a lot of shouting into his phone. By 2.30, I’d had enough and did a bit of shouting and stomping myself.
At 5.30, I dragged myself out of bed. I was covering four lessons for another teacher, and had to get to the other side of the city for 9.15. Unfortunately, Bjorn woke up too. Now, while I’m not generally known for my patience, I can keep myself in check in most situations. It turns out that a Swede in pajamas, rambling about how he’s Mother Teresa is not one of them.
Anyway, after a lot of shouting (and eating bacon), I made it out of the apartment. I got the metro to the next train and hopped on. I was actually early – yes, I’m that organised, even in the face of madness. Unfortunately, the transport system did not reward me. Works on the line meant finding a replacement bus to another train station, getting back on the train, but ultimately missing the last bus I had to take. A dash in a taxi meant that I arrived at 9.15 on the dot.
I sat down and waited. And waited. The students never showed up. The second group were 15 (very unGerman) minutes late. I had 45 minutes to scoff a bit of lunch and then two more groups – neither of which turned up. Then it was back to the bus-train-bus-train-train game. Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was not in a particularly good mood.
Bjorn was still talking like I’d been there the whole time. But it was OK – he’d be heading to the airport again in an hour or so. They’d managed to book him on another flight. I tuned him out as best I could and waited. Finally, he left. Oh, the sweet blessed relief! I took myself out to a local Greek restaurant and revelled in the lovely normal Germans, indulging in lovely normal conversations all around me.
I danced home, cracked open a bottle of wine, and was just toasting my blissful solitude when Bjorn walked back in. Now, one of the main reasons this apartment appealed to me was that my flatmate would be travelling a lot. I just didn’t realise that when he said “travelling”, he meant travelling to the airport and NEVER getting on a f****** plane.
So, when you realise your flatmate is a nutter, you’ve got two courses of action as I see it – try to help him, or avoid him as much as humanly possible. As I’m no psychiatrist, I went for the latter. Or, as the old saying goes, if life gives you lemons, go and drink wine and eat cake.
On Friday, I took myself off to pretty Potsdam and had a wonderful day.
I watched Germans playing a game I don’t know the name of, but I like to call, “Germans throwing sticks at sticks while drinking beer”.
I went to the flea market at Tiergarten… and didn’t buy anything.
I experienced my first Flammkuchen…
and went for a wander around the park with my childhood friend. I didn’t even know he was living in Berlin until he read in the Latvian blog that I was moving here and got in touch.
And so, life goes on. Bjorn has calmed down a bit. It seems that telling someone who’s acting like a total nutjob that he’s acting like a total nutjob has an oddly calming effect. Maybe I should have been a psychiatrist after all?
After days of rigorous house-training, it appears that I can now make eggs and Brötchen in a way that is pleasing to Hermann. As I wandered around the kitchen looking for a saucepan and firing up the grill, I could hear Hermann muttering behind me.
My shoulders were firmly clasped and I was shuffled around the kitchen in front of him, ooh-ing and ahh-ing in understanding as he pointed out more acceptable German ways of making breakfast. At one point, he asked me if I had a kitchen at home so he really must think I’m the most useless article ever to grace his apartment. Still, lesson learned.
While I’m happy enough to be domesticated a little, I had to draw the line when Hermann tried to ‘help’ me dry my hair. It would appear that there is a more German way of doing that too. I mean, cooking an egg like a 70-year-old man is one thing, having the hairstyle of one is quite another. Plus, Hermann nearly has a seizure every time I use the dish-drying dish towel to dry my hands, and not the specially designated hand-drying dish towel… And so the flat-hunting began.
First up was a flat on Warschauerstrasse (Warsaw Street), and as luck would have it, the tram outside my door goes directly there. The transport system in Berlin is nothing short of amazing – until it isn’t. So, we were dumped at the side of the road at some random stop because of works on the line. When I asked the driver where Warschauer was, he pointed behind the tram which didn’t make much sense but you have to trust the Germans on these things.
After rambling aimlessly for around 15 minutes, asking people for directions (who all pointed in different directions – and people say Germans don’t have a sense of humour…) I figured out that there was a bus that would take me the rest of the way.
This too, dumped me out at the side of the road around four stops later, and still nowhere near Warschauer. So it was back on the tram to go the rest of the way. I could have been almost halfway to actual Warsaw in this time. When I finally showed up, I was nearly an hour late for my first German appointment, but luckily she was Egyptian so it didn’t really matter.
Although they seemed nice enough, the room was only going to be available for 3 to 4 weeks and I didn’t feel like doing all of this again so soon. And they were vegans… “Well, we don’t eat meat but we don’t really have a problem if you want to…” Getting the Death Stare over my weekend bacon wasn’t very appealing so I turned it down. And went to have a Currywurst and a beer to celebrate the fact that I am not a vegan.
Later that evening, I went to see another apartment. I would have been sharing with an Italian girl who liked to cook. No-brainer. And the room was huge. We got on great and she said she’d call in a day or two to let me know. She didn’t. Bitch.
Anyway, luckily, I’d lined up another viewing – this time sharing with a Swedish guy. The second I saw the building and surroundings, I just knew I had to have it.
Fortunately, Bjorn didn’t want to waste too much time in finding someone so he agreed with me that I should have it. He preferred to share with a woman (because we’re tidy…) and I generally prefer blokes – match made in heaven. (Apart from the tidiness aspect.) Seemingly he travels a lot so I will have the place to myself quite a bit – I’ll run around and tidy up when he’s on his way back from the airport. Or just call Hermann who will do it better.
I’ll be moving in on Saturday, which means that my life in Germany can officially start. You can do NOTHING here without an address so let the bureaucratic adventures begin. Linda vs German Red Tape – it could be a death match.
Just thinking about it makes me want a glass of wine. I hope Hermann’s around to show me how to pour a glass properly in the German way…
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain