As I wrote in my last post Stuck in the Mud we have had a very busy week. I am relieved to have reached the weekend in a reasonable state of mental and physical health. Ariane and I went to a party yesterday evening and, fortunately for me, I wasn’t the designated driver. “Who’s driving?” I asked with my hand on a cold bottle of “Wulle” beer from the self-service fridge and a pleading puppy expression on my face. So Ariane drove. We had a very pleasant evening, I drank a little more than I should and went to bed thinking of a nice lie in on Saturday morning.
But I am still on working-week timing, so I woke up at 6:00 as usual and am now sitting in a quiet house looking at ominous grey clouds scooting past the window. I like being up on my own at this time of day. In half an hour the bakery opens so I can wander down. The walk is only about 400 metres but I will see all the same people. First there’s the chap on what I assume is his wife’s bike – it is a pink step-through with a proper basket on the front. Then there is the woman sitting outside her front porch having her first cigarette of the day, in all weathers. At some stage a slightly manic, nervous woman will walk past me on the other side of the street looking at the ground. But when I smile and say “Guten Morgen” she will look up with a smile herself and return the greeting. And finally there is the unkempt bloke who lives just over the road from the bakery, in a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops whatever the weather. He is often in the queue just in front of me and it is obviously some time since he had his last pedicure.
I don’t know these people, but I see them so often that I have decided to give them all their own “back story”, as they say on reality TV. The gent with the lady’s bike is a shy transvestite just finding his way in life. He daredn’t go out in women’s clothes yet so he is starting with other accessories – such as a bicycle. The smoker on the porch is clearly a sexual predator / serial killer. After a night of passion and she treats herself to a cigarette while last night’s conquest is cooling down in a couple of bin bags in her freezer. The nervous woman is a recovering drug addict, just looking for an excuse to get back on the needle and if I forget to say a cheery Guten Morgen that might just do it. I don’t have a proper back story for the unkempt man yet, I just call him Gorilla Feet.
At some stage, later in the day, I will have to clean the barbecue. It’s not been used since last weekend and I didn’t clean it afterwards. There’s a fair coating of week-old fat lurking in there. Now that barbecues have a lid, it is much easier to put off cleaning them. You close the lid and the burned fat is “out of sight, out of mind”. That’s exactly what I did last weekend. Ariane was stood next to me and could see me contemplating my next move as I held the barbecue lid in a half open position. After what felt like a couple of minutes I said “Oh, bugger it” and shut the lid. Ariane laughed and said “Klappe zu, Affe tot” – which means “door closed, monkey dead”. It is one of my favourite German expressions and, in this instance, had been used perfectly.
Apparently the expression comes from the turn of the 19th century when outside circuses or theatres there was often a trained monkey in a box. One side of the box would be opened and the monkey would perform. If the monkey passed away, the box would stay closed until a replacement could be found. So if the box was closed, you know the monkey was dead. Klappe zu, Affe tot. It’s a very useful expression, especially if you are married to me. If I am, say, tidying up I quickly get to a stage where it just seems to be taking too long. That’s when I open a drawer, just chuck everything in and then – hey presto – job done. Klappe zu, Affe tot. My children have inherited that tidying technique from me too.
Must stop now. It’s time to put on my flip flops and do battle with Gorilla Feet.