My soon-to-be published story “Forgotten Dreams” is set in Berlin. In the feedback I got on Sixfold, one woman asked, “Why are all the Germans in the story so mean?” I told my husband and we both had a good laugh. If you ever spend any time in Berlin, you’ll quickly learn this is a city where strangers live to yell at strangers. Although there might be several reasons why this happens, the main reasons why a native Berliner might hit you with a hefty bout of Berliner Schnauze is because a) you aren’t following the rules, or b) you were getting in their way for anything longer than a half a millisecond. What this means, of course, is that your average hardcore Berliner comes down hardest on tourists.
Granted, tourists are everywhere and this does sometimes get a little annoying, even I’ll admit that. But I still would never start yelling at them like a (native) Berliner grump might do. I once even saw a bicyclist who had on a bike helmet and one of those yellow caution vests and two clamps at his ankles to hold back the cuff of his pants (dudes dressed like this are always the biggest assholes on bikes, btw.) barreling down the bike lane near Potsdamer Platz. When several tourists wandered onto the bike lane as they always do, he yelled, “Aus dem Weg, du verdammter Touri du!” Out of the way, you fucking tourist. In this case, I yelled at him. “Oh come on, give them a break already.” We were at Potsdamer Platz, for god’s sakes, a place swarming with tourists pretty much 24/7. Besides, bike lanes are rarely clearly marked, even there.
Right now, in mid-Summer, the city has emptied out. The worst of the (native) Berliners are now off harassing the locals on Mallorca or the Costa Brava or Crete or where ever else they go to broil in the sun. What’s left now are the tourists and, truth be told, I’ve found them way more pleasant to be around. Not surprising, since most of them likely hail from the 92% of the world where civility among strangers is luckily still the norm. Here’s me enjoying the calmness at Tempelhofer Feld.
But, ach, all you crabby native Berliners, I shouldn’t be so hard on you. After all, we wouldn’t have Tempelhofer Feld in the form we do if it weren’t for a Volksentscheid (referendum) you voted on. Yes, the people voted, but instead of voting for something idiotic like say, leaving the EU, the referendum decided Tempelhofer Feld would stay as-is for the people to enjoy and the birds to breed in the tall summer grasses. Evil Developers=zero, Das Volk=one. Berlin is a place where this is still possible. I hope and pray that it stays that way.
Tempelhofer Feld is also one of the only places in Berlin where you’ll find a baseball diamond. Germans (i.e., not just Berliners) have asked me so many times why Americans like baseball.
“It’s sooo boring,” they say.
And I say, “No, you don’t understand. It’s America’s past time, the thinking man’s game.” I tell them, in the US, you have football families and you have baseball families and my family was definitely a baseball family.
And they say, “Oh yeah? Then how does the game work?”
And I say, “Well, you has this diamond thing-y with three bases and a home plate which always makes me think of going “(almost) all the way” in junior high speak (omg, Trudy and Mike, like, totally got to third base, I can’t believe it!) and you has batters and catchers and field people with big glove thing-ys and a home run is good especially if the bases are loaded and they’re something called a pickle although I’m not quite sure what that means. The game gots, like, 9 innings and dot races are the best.”
“We gots the American league and the National league and Canada figures in there somewhere, but don’t ask me how. Oh yeah, and even though the AT & T park has “far superior hot dogs and sauer kraut” according to my sister, everyone knows that the Giants sucks and the A’s rule and don’t ever try and tell me otherwise.” I then yell out, Hey, batter, batter, batter, and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game and sprinkle Cracker Jacks on their head and they officially decide, Omg, Rebeccah’s lost her freaking mind.
But that’s not what they say. What they say is:
“Basketball’s cool. I bet that’s what most Americans really love, right? That makes sense.”
Sigh…I guess you have to come from an American (Canadian/Cuban/Japanese) baseball family to understand the importance of something you don’t actually understand at all.
Let’s Go, A’s! 😉