I’ve been kicking myself for not writing up any more of my experiences in Germany sooner after getting home, because the details do indeed fade fast. Also kicking myself for not writing anything at all lately, but let’s just gloss right over that, mkay? So. Yesterday as I was dicking around on Facebook I got a reminder of one thing I definitely meant to mention at some point, but first I’ll drag you through a few other things I noticed this same evening. After work we were out driving around looking for somewhere to have dinner, somewhat aimlessly, and of course happened upon a pizzeria slash Biergarten. I’m telling you, it’s lovely, how these places are just everywhere, like Micky Ds are here. Also, it’s kind of hilarious what they’ll put on a pizza over there. Tuna? Erm, no thank you. Peas? Weird, but I’ve seen stranger. Mussels? That would probably actually be good, but I’m a little strange in that I will eat shellfish in almost any form, anywhere. Which is taking quite a chance on food borne illness, really, but that rarely stops me. Anyhow, we eventually found somewhere to park and made our way into the outdoor dining area. This place was so perfectly charming in a stereotypical European as seen by an American kind of way that I actually did jot down a few notes, so let’s see if I can make heads or tails of them.
Dog. Oh, yes. The dog in the Biergarten. Germans are definitely dog-lovers, at least as commonly as we are here. How cool is that to be able to take your not-a-seeing-eye-dog dog to dinner with you? Obviously, not something you’d want to do every single time or with all dogs or at a fancyish place, much like with children, but still. Cool that they don’t have to just say NO DOGS, because people are generally able to make a correct judgement call as to whether their dog could handle such a thing. Imagine that. Let’s see, what else?
NS Biergarten…? Oh yeah. This was kind of funny. So we’re sitting there, maybe halfway through our first glasses of Rotwein, settling in while we wait for our appetizers, and I pull out my smokes. You can’t hardly smoke in public anywhere in the US anymore, so I do my automatic scan of my surroundings, hoping there isn’t a baby at the table behind us or anything (because I’m not THAT much of an asshole, I try to be as considerate a smoker as possible, if there is such a thing), and I notice that NOBODY is smoking in this Biergarten. Hmm. I thought it unlikely but perhaps possible that we’d stumbled into the only non-smoking Biergarten in the country, figured it was better to ask than get kicked out or reprimanded. No ashtrays on the tables or anything, so I refrain until I can ask the server if smoking is even allowed. The server naturally looked at me like I was crazy, looked around the open air eatery, and said, Of course, we are outside. And brought us an ashtray. Alrighty then.
Phone as light. What the hell? Between trying to read my own handwriting and trying to remember what I intended these notes to bring to mind, this may be an exercise in futility. Oh yes, this was a nice example of how friendly and helpful nearly everyone we encountered was. When you purchase a pack of cigarettes in Germany (and maybe across the EU, I don’t know), at least some brands come with a one Euro coin nestled into the packaging. I think this was explained to me at some point as some sort of compromise on the tax situation for tobacco products, but the details are of course fuzzy and it’s not at all important to this tidbit so I’m not googling it. Just seems an odd arrangement – here, we’ll PAY YOU to keep up this habit that’s killing you slowly. Anyway, this one Euro coin got dropped onto the ground or pushed off the table or something, and what the hell, it’s not a penny, so we’re ducking our heads under the table trying to find it in the quickly falling darkness, and a woman sitting at a nearby table offers her phone to illuminate the situation. We never found the coin, but…yeah, this isn’t much of an anecdote. It’s nice when people are nice, I guess, and it didn’t seem like something an average American would generally offer to obviously foreign travelers in a restaurant here. Moving on.
Playground. Very kid friendly. On one side of the biergarten there was a little play area for kids with a sandbox and some toys and a tire swing and a little clubhouse for climbing adventures. I didn’t see any kids actually playing in it, but one little boy did walk over in a huff, kicked a toy into the sandbox, and ran away. Must have been a bad day at the office. Or he has an ongoing conflict with this guy:
Also near the play area, a peach tree. Struck me that it had probably been growing there for quite a long time, sort of an example of how European cities function and form so much more intuitively than at home. They don’t have limitless space as we seem to think we do here, so restaurants and shops spring up and grow more naturally in the places where people live and work every day; they’re not contrived constructions in the middle of enormous parking lots or endless strip malls that obliterate any possible reminder that the land used to be…natural; people can walk or bike to where they’re going, not drive inconvenient distances to convenience stores. It’s nice.
Also growing up the poles of the clubhouse – hops. That they probably use. To brew Bier. I get such a kick out of something so simple.
Onto Bier, and the thing I meant to mention originally. We happened to be drinking wine, but most of the other people seemed to be enjoying some of the local brews, including one woman on the other side of the dining area – who also happened to be breastfeeding her infant. And in a stunning development, she wasn’t surrounded by an angry mob insisting she cover up and saying she shouldn’t be allowed to have a beer. I feel like I should qualify this observation with all kinds of obvious statements that drinking to drunkeness while breastfeeding is bad (though pump and dump is an option, surely). Um, duh. She was having a beer with her evening meal (don’t know if it was Guinness, though probably not in Germany, which has long been an old-wives-tale-type of home remedy to increase supply), not doing kegstands or using a beer bong, but just the sight of such a thing would enrage a lot of people in the US. Never mind that things like this are available or the other seemingly obvious point – unless she’d had a few drinks already, the alcohol in that beer being currently consumed is not yet anywhere close to being in the breastmilk being consumed right then and there. Not a big fucking deal, right? Still, here she’d immediately be branded BAD MOTHER. IRRESPONSIBLE DRUNK. Or worse, which is what I saw on Facebook yesterday.
One of my friends (really good friend, actually, so it’s bothering me that I didn’t say anything about this comment that I’m trying to get to, bear with me) serves in a local Mexican restaurant that’s somewhat locally famous for it’s particularly potent version of a margarita, called a Bad Juan. I do know from experience that these things will knock you on your ass. One is fun, two is plenty, three is asking for it. It being a helluva hangover. Apparently there was a woman in the restaurant breastfeeding while consuming one of these drinks. Now, I can sort of see the distinction between a single beer and a really powerful drink made with hard liquor and a lot of it, but it still pissed me off for some reason to read her being called SKANK for such a thing. Now, maybe she is a skank; frankly I don’t want to think very long or hard about what the requirements for earning such a name would be, and if you want to be a skank that’s probably just fine with me. I’m not trying to defend what may well have been a very poor choice, not knowing that woman or anything about her parenting other than the fact that she had one Bad Juan while breastfeeding, but I have been trying to figure out what I think of this whole women’s happiness is declining thing. It’s never just one thing, but if feminism is at all a factor by increasing awareness of every day instances of misogyny, I think anti feminist shit like that said and done by women about or to other women is certainly to blame as well. It certainly made me less happy.