I'm...in love?I like to think they said it because they want me to stay, because they are going to miss me, but are too young to put those feelings into meaningful words, made harder still by the fact that anything too meaningful in German and you run the risk that I won’t truly appreciate it, at least not for all it is worth. I like to think that, but I suppose I am also feeling a bit sentimental. Not sentimental enough, however, to be enjoying this ‘nasty heat’ as the weather has been described recently, without any air-conditioning. Anyway, I suppose I should take a few steps back into the ‘Vergangenheit’ (that is the past, and it is a fancy word that I don’t get to use all that often) and tell you what they said, and who these ‘they’ people are in the first place.
First off, I don’t mean ‘they’ in the general usual sense, as in ‘they told me to do it,’ or ‘that’s what they say.’ I am referring to a few of my students, 1st graders in fact, who I was talking to this afternoon whilst waiting for the bus home. The conversation began with a very strange question, though one that is, for whatever reason, quite popular for children to ask. ‘Are you in love?’ they asked me, it was a small group of two of three of them. In all honesty, the first thing I was wondering about was which one of the many rumours about my elementary school love life they were inquiring about. Explanatorywise, this year I have been presumed to be in love with: either of the English teachers, a few second grade girls, any female friend I’ve mentioned, a fictitious German girl who ‘lives in the area’, and a teenager who goes to our church (though only twice a year). The last one was the weirdest, as I happened to sit next to this girl on one of the Sundays that she came, then one of the old ladies asked me if she was my fiancé. First of all, I don’t have a fiancé, and second of all, the girl was 15, only spoke German, and grew up in the area. ‘Are you in love?’ the children asked again. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked, still not sure what they were implying. ‘Uh! He doesn’t understand,’ they said. ‘I am not in love,’ I assured them. They weren’t buying it, ‘You are too in love, and you’re going to stay here because you never want to leave.’ At this point I realised they were not referring to any of the previous rumours. Though there was still at least half a mystery in their comments. ‘Would you mind telling me with whom I am in love?’ (I interject to say that I doubt my German was quite so impressive, with German using proper grammar is simply normal). Their answer was pretty simple: ‘Someone.’ It was then that I noticed they weren’t making fun of me. As the bus pulled up I started to wonder if what they were really saying was ‘You should stay here, and never go home.’ I wondered if it meant that they would miss me and that they would enjoy my presence in this place a bit longer. Luckily I was saved from all these cheesy thoughts by one of the sixth graders, who decided to take this time to ask me (in English) ‘Hey Keith, are you silly?’ Without taking into account how sixth graders think, I answered ‘No,’ which was immediately followed by ‘Doch,’ which is German for ‘Are too!’ only a little more all purpose, because sixth graders never actually ask questions, they just wait to tell you the right answers. I was then informed that silly meant ‘Dum’ in German, which is the word for ‘Dumb’ or ‘Stupid.’ Nothing snaps you back to reality faster than being made fun of by a sixth grader. Even if it is in jest.