Monday, 6 April 2009

Another day, another chapter

I think we’re building quite a “how-to” guide for Cologne if we compile all of these posts! More importantly, perhaps we’re also sharing our hard-learned “how-not-to” knowledge. I read Chupacabra's party invitation lament with jaw agape. Sometimes it makes you not even want to try and reach out. I guess you earned your "Red Badge of Courage" from her red-lined return.

Another thing that changed for me – an appreciation of actually being American. It may sound weird, but I never felt more American until I left the country and viewed it from the outside. Much to my great surprise and joy, I have been very warmly received by everyone in Europe I’ve met in my tenure as an ex-pat thus far. No one has ever hated me outright (that I know of) simply because I was born in the USA. Rather, everyone has been inquisitive, has wanted to engage me in discussions, has asked me to explain things from language, culture, politics, the Electoral College (you can’t earn a degree there), cowboys, Halloween and auto-centric city layouts.

It’s been refreshing, and hard work. I often have to go home and look up the answer for something to sheepishly return later and pretend like I just wanted to check my facts. Bravo Europeans, you’ve been extremely gracious and kind in your desire to learn more from this humble ambassador of the USA.

What hasn’t changed – for crying out loud I’d enjoy some shopping on Sunday. Is it really that much to ask for some convenience to shop when I want to shop? Sundays are made for two things, and one of them is shopping. Does anyone else here map out their weekend attack plan so they can cram in their shopping on Saturday? Does anyone else here get a panicky sense of dread around 6:00pm (18:00) on Saturday when you wonder if you have everything you need to carry you through to Monday?

It used to be a constant source of joy to wonder the aisles of a Wal-Mart at 3:00am when I couldn’t sleep and see what dregs of humanity were out looking for the best price on panty hose. Germany, think of all the extra tax revenue you could make if you’d just repeal these blue laws. When I first got here, shops had to close at 4:00pm (16:00) on Saturday. It was a big deal when they finally could stay open until 8:00pm (20:00). I need to go look up the data on how much extra tax revenue the German government has made with just those extra 4 hours.

A recent article in TIME even suggests that the recession may be the answer to our desire to chug-a-lug on Sunday. Several states in the USA are talking about turning back “no alcohol purchases on Sunday” laws designed to protect us from ourselves so we don’t get so liquored up we forget to go to church. Yes, the USA has some funky things going on . But hey, living here makes me appreciate the best of both lands, and be able to slink into the debauchery of wherever I happen to find myself.

Cheers! Prost!