Moin Moin ihr Lieben!
It’s not often that I blog two days in a row, but this was something I had to get off my chest.
Germany has a problem, my dearest Reader. We’ll call it The PDA Problem.
PDA stands for ‘public display(s) of affection’ and currently distresses me highly.
I think it’s fair to say that in the eyes of a foreigner, Germans are supposed to be stereotypically restrained, cold and humourless. But once you live here for a little bit, you learn that this isn’t the case. So much so, my dear Reader, that rather than feeling somehow saddened by the lack of human contact you had envisaged, you in fact mostly feel on the verge of vomiting.
Vomiting, my dear Reader, because it would appear that Germans know no bounds when it comes to PDA.
In a lift, on an escalator, and of course in my favourite arena of misfortune, the launderette (more on this morning’s new disaster in that place a little later). Essentially, to quote my friend Louise, ‘the same sorts of places where you’d rather they weren’t doing it in front of you… ugh. #Gross.’
#Gross is about right.
I get it, young love is great. And it’s not often that you find someone who feels the same way you do, someone who can speak to you in a way you’d never thought possible. Etc etc etc. Think romance along the Nicholas Sparks route, that’s what I’m trying to get at here. But the great thing about Noah and Allie‘s love in The Notebook was that it’s in a book, or on film, when you have the choice as to whether you’d like to be immersed in the love story of which dreams are made.
Less ideal is when you’re hot and tired after work and are trying to walk up the escalator on the left in the less than picturesque U-Bahn station of your choice, and the couple in front of you are occupying both the left and right sides of the already narrow escalator with their PDA. Their love knows no travel etiquette. This happens every single day.
I mean, Hamburg is a pretty cold place, maybe they’re using the penguin technique and huddling for warmth. But I doubt it.
Don’t get me wrong, dear Reader, anyone who knows me knows that I love a bit of romance, and I subscribe to the title of ‘hopeless romantic’. I always have.
That is precisely why I’m so surprised that this is something which bugs me so much.
In fact, it’s even bringing out thoughts which I fear are verging on the psychotic. Never before have I wished for anyone to fall down an escalator, until I moved here. (Not from a great height obviously, but just enough for it to teach them a lesson. Having your eyes closed on a steep escalator is begging for trouble. That’s all I’m saying.)
I reached breaking point this morning when I was waiting for my washing in the launderette and a young soldier came in. He took off his big backpack and chucked his clothes into a machine. He then sat down about a metre away from me and sat, reading something on his phone with a huge smile on his face. Then, about five minutes later, a young woman burst in and dashed over to him. What followed can only be described as the easily-embarrassed-Brit’s idea of hell.
Their hands were everywhere, they were making noises, and I didn’t know where to look. I decided that this must’ve been some sort of long-awaited reunion. Either that, or they’re at that stage in a relationship where you haven’t shared a bathroom yet.
So I popped my headphones in, stared steadfastly into the distance, and sent out a few panicked tweets.
Then they moved over to the machines, which I had hoped would remain a neutral area. The girl sat on top of the machine next to mine, and when I sheepishly went over to collect my things, they didn’t even budge or blink. I hope I’m not the only one who finds this odd!
Speaking of odd things, another awkward thing happened to me in the launderette this morning. I was taking my things out of the dryer and putting them in my suitcase (the amount of washing I had required an actual case), and this guy was sort of loitering around where I was. He had been staring at me for the last half an hour, but again, I had my headphones in and was trying to focus solely on my washing, rather than the strange things happening around me. Eventually, he spoke, and it went as follows:
Him: ‘Junge Frau, wie geht es dir?’ ‘Young woman, how are you?’ (German was clearly also not his first language.)
Me: ‘Ok.’ ‘Ok.’ (at this point hurriedly packing my things away and avoiding eye contact.)
Him: ‘Darf ich dich ‘was fragen?’ ‘Can I ask you something?’
Me: ‘Mm.’ (in English this would translate as ALARM BELLS. ALARM BELLS. BACK OFF.)
Him: ‘Wohnst du hier in Horn?’ ‘Do you live here in Horn?’ (it’s an area, not some poor phallic joke.)
Me: ‘Nein.’ ‘No.’
Him: ‘Wie bist du hingekommen? Mit dem Auto oder Bus?’ ‘How did you get here? With a car or the bus?’
Me: ‘Bus.’ ‘Bus.’
Him: ‘Kann ich deine Kontaktdaten haben?’ ‘Can I have your contact details?’
Me: ‘Nein.’ ‘No.’
Him: ‘Warum denn nicht?’ ‘Why not?’
Me: ‘Ich bin verheiratet.‘ ‘I’m married.’
Him: (looks taken aback and glances down at my hands for a sign of a ring. There wasn’t one. I should look into buying a fake one.) ‘Das ist ja schade!’ ‘That’s a shame!’
Me: ‘Nicht für mich.’ ‘For me it’s not.’
And then I left before I invented a made-up son and a house in the suburbs.
The fun never stops in Hamburg.