As my regular readers know, I love to point out the absurdities of other cultures whether foreign or domestic. I am an equal opportunity “pointer-outer”.  A friend of mine recently sent me a list of 50 things that Germans found odd about Americans. These are the highlights from a survey taken by the German magazine “Die Zeit” in 2002.  Many of my American friends may possibly look at this quizzically, because, after all, this is what you are used to. But if you are familiar with other cultures, this is really fantastic.

1. They are fatter than the Germans even though everything at the grocery story claims to be fat free or low-cal.
2. Whoever isn’t fat is a fitness fanatic.
3. Their money bills are all the same color and size – odd for a country that worships money.
4. They are so superstitious that there isn’t a 13th floor in hotels.
5. They always say “excuse me” when they happen to walk quickly in front of someone at the book store causing a momentary blockage of view for the other person.
6. Many Americans express their statements in the form of a question? That’s annoying?
7. For completely normal melancholy, they only know one word: depression.
8. Americans talk a lot about love, even when it’s just about a chocolate bar.
9. Terrible understanding of geography: Bombs in Beirut means many US tourists won’t go the opera in Bayreuth (this is probably lost on most of you, because, well, you’re American:)).
10. They consider actors completely competent in all areas of life (i.e. Talkshows, politics)
11. Peanut butter and jelly. (OH YEAH!!!)
12. They talk too loud in restaurants and public transportation.
13. Their heavy duty washing machines look like tanks.
14. They don’t see the point in learning a foreign language.
15. They even drink their milk with ice cubes.(And in the south, their wine!)
16. Millions of lawsuits against everyone and everything.
17. American boobs aren’t real.
18. Nothing costs what it claims. There’s always a tax added or
19. Ridiculous super sales that make no sense (Buy 2 shirts, get 1 pair of socks absolutely free!!!)
20. Frappuccino Decaf with strawberry flavors = living the Italian life.
21. Because they are so fat, when you go to the beloved Monster Truck Rallies out in the country, you don’t know which one’s the truck and which one’s the monster. (Ouch!)
22. Ridiculously short attention span.
23. They constantly take pills. Vitamins, minerals, powders for and against everything.
24. They talk about relationships like an accountant: “I invested so much in her…!”
25. Many have bull necks. Must be from all the hormones in the food.
26. Every politician has a side part.
27. In general, a love for helmut-like hairstyles, especially the news reporters (I would also submit those on TBN)
28. For some reason they believe: Heidelberg is Germany. Period.
29. They drink beer out of brown bags.
30. With their Double Whopper and extra large fries they drink? a large Diet Coke.
31. They all call each other by their first names.
32. Even better: using nicknames!
33. When they come home, the TV is turned on just like the lights.

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A Draft

November 28, 2010

Disclaimer: I hope that those of my German friends who are now reading my blog have read other parts of this blog and understand that everything I write about is tongue-in-cheek; that I only write about things and people that I actually really love deeply (well, unless I state otherwise in my post). So all my lovely cultural stories I share about your fair land are shared solely because they are things I find absolutely charming about your country.

Back to posting:
So next to personal packages of kleenexes, crossing the street only at the intersection (which now I learned something new about, which will be shared in another post) and putting on slippers – the next most important thing to Germans is the air in the room in which you are currently existing. I never knew that so many things could “be” with the air in a room. In my American life, air in a room is either hot, comfy or cold. Other than that, I’d never really thought about it. But then I came to Germany and discovered something – they don’t have machines that blow the air around the room – you know, like air conditioners and furnaces. There’s really no need for AC except for a couple weeks a year, and they rely on radiators for heat. So I have discovered the states of air “being” and will share the different states over the next few posts.

Today we will focus on – “Es zieht”

This has got to be one of my most favorite German combination of words, because it is said so often, and each time it is said, I snicker. Literally translated, it means “it’s pulling” but in reality means that there is a draft. I’m not sure if there is anything worse in the German state of air “being” than a draft. I mean, the instant someone feels a draft, you’d think the headless horseman was on his way and the only way to protect yourself is to shut the windows. I’m not kidding. Seriously.

I could share so many wonderful stories, because I have heard this phrase so often in my German life, but I will share my most memorable. It was 10 years ago, and I was singing with the Kammerchor in Dresden. I came into a rehearsal about an hour or so into it (don’t worry, I was excused!!!). It was the middle of Winter, so it was rather chilly outside so the church was shut up tight, snug as a bug against the grueling wind and snow. With great expectation and desire for warmth, I opened the door and was met with…the wonderful smell of stale human. I mean, I’m talking, serious stale human. You can imagine my disappointment. I thought I was gonna die. Both the lack of oxygen and the smell entering my nostils brought on an acute case of hyperventilation/suffocation. Fortunately, a break soon occurred and someone had the great idea to open a window. I was thanking the Lord profusely. I mean, these people were all about to suffocate, and they didn’t know it! So a couple windows were opened and the human aroma began to leave. I kid you not, within about 30 seconds of the windows being open, someone yelled, “Es zieht! Es zieht!” and I was like, “Yes!!! And that is a good thing!!!” But alas, the headless horseman was on his way – and all my hopes of stale human leaving and oxygen returning were dashed.