Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Episode 1: The One Where I Kind Of Thought About Putting My Foot In My Mouth, Sort Of, I Guess

Of all the times these past couple of weeks that I have said: “That is going in my blog,” and, yes, I actually have said that a few times now, this is the most memorable time. It was quite a small event really. It was just after Wednesday night Club, which is the church group for kids around 12ish. I work with the Club group every week, though I am not always extremely helpful due to my lack of German skills. My biggest addition to the group is that I usually hang out with the kids after the program ends, before they want to leave. It usually involves playing Fußball. This particular Wednesday was no different, me against two or three of the kids. Most of the time I spend trying to convince the kids to play “Ohne drinnen,” which for any future Trainee potentials, is an important phrase for Fußball, meaning “without spinning.”
The first strange occurrence was the discovery of the church’s drum set, which is in a storage room. This was, however, a predictable discovery seeing as we had just moved the Fussball table into the storage room. Now none of the kids involved was a natural percussionist (too bad George Michael wasn’t there), so I can’t really say that they played the drums, but they did have a bit of fun hitting them and producing loud noises. I tried to inform them of the joys of tempo and rhythm, but I was sort changed on German words about music. Plus they seemed to have more fun being loud. Finally Gary showed up and together we got at least a couple of them back to Fussball for at least a few seconds, but it was hard with the constant, yet still inconsistent cymbal crashes.
By some miracle of science we were able to convince them that playing with a rubber ball was more fun than making noise. This, however, created another problem; they started chucking the ball around inside the building. Being that this wasn’t in the church proper, but just in a building connected with it, it wasn’t so bad, but there were still windows to consider. I mentioned that the kids should play outside, and finally convinced them on the stipulation that I would join them.
It was then that I made a few crucial mistakes. Well, one mistake and one confusion, really. The mistake was to pause and attempt to load a few things into the church’s dishwasher. This made one of the girls involved become a bit impatient, as girls can sometimes become, which lead to a barrage of questions, in German, about why I wasn’t coming outside. Before I could answer that one, she began another line of questioning: “Bin ich so schlimm?” she asked. I didn’t really get what she meant; schlimm translates to ‘bad.’ I searched for a bit of clarity, “Was ist schlimm?” I asked, what is bad. That didn’t help; I was still confused thinking maybe she thought she was bad at Fussball, or that the ball was bad. I wasn’t sure, so I just kept asking and finally realized she was asking if she was bad. As I do in situations where I’ve made an obvious mistake, I laughed. “Oh, you mean are you bad,” I said, laughing, which I guess she took as an answer. She took offense, retaliating by calling me “Du grosse Affe” (A big monkey). I should point out that this is a place where kids regularly flick each other off, call people schiesse, and generally throw around what we would call cuss words like they were pennies. That is to say that this whole time I haven’t once heard a kid refer to anyone as an Affe, which is of course a typical childish insult here in Germany. It was then that I realized that, perhaps, her question may have translated into the following: “Am I that ugly?” Oops…

2 Comments:

At 6:16 PM GMT+1, Blogger Maria said...

you called a little girl ugly???

 
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