So, I got this Swedish friend who once told me about this saying they have in Sweden. It goes like: “You always hear the truth from drunks and children.” I think it’s a really good saying and all. But I think they should add Germans in. “You always hear the truth from drunks, children and Germans.” That would be more accurate.
“I can’t believe the court in Munich or wherever it is won’t give the Turkish journalists the accreditation thingimajigs,” I say to a German boy I know. “Isn’t that awful?”
“Yeah,” he agrees. “It’s really shit.”
“It’s just so shocking and depressing and also quite racist. And then everyone on Twitter and Facebook is being all, like: ‘You snooze, you lose!’ about it. Like, people died. There’s nothing for Germany to be smug about. Basically a load of Hurriyet journalists could burn a hamster alive outside the courtroom – like, three hours late – they could come to the court proceedings three hours late, and burn a hamster alive – and Germany still wouldn’t get to have the moral high ground. People died. I just don’t get it, to be honest.”
“Yeah,” he says. “Germans are all basically deeply conservative and fairly insane, Jacinta.”
“You know what I think?” I say. “I think it’s like when prostitutes get murdered in Britain. You know? By some serial murderer.”
“Yeah,” he says. “We call them Lustmörder in Germany.”
“I think people are secretly happy about it,” I say. “Deep down. Subconsciously. You know? Deep down people think the serial murderer has been cleaning the streets up. I think that’s how Germans feel about the NSU murders. Otherwise they’d let the Turkish journalists report the trial, or, if they didn’t, they’d at least have the decency to feel ashamed about it.”
The German boy I’m talking to looks at me very carefully and kind of chews on his bottom lip. He doesn’t say anything for ages. He just chews, like a cow, and doesn’t speak. Then he says: “Jacinta, you know something? I think that, on the one hand, for sure, the justice system – and German society in general – allowed those murders to take place. And I think racism played a huge part there, obviously. Institutional and individual racism. So I agree with you, basically. And I think it’s a travesty that Turkish journalists are being shut out from the trial. And I also think that some racism might have affected the court’s decision, and that even if it hadn’t, the court should have been sensitive enough to make a different decision, because of the, you know, the sensitivities of this case. But on the other hand, on another level – and don’t take this the wrong way, okay? I think you might be paranoid. Even though you’re right. You’re still paranoid. Have you ever been to a psychotherapist? I think you should go get yourself tested. I mean, I think you’re totally, totally right. Probably. However, I also think you’re really paranoid. I think you suffer from paranoia. I think it might be a medical problem.”
I look at the chewy German boy gratefully.
“I also think I’m really paranoid!” I say cheerfully. “I mean, it’s one of the things I worry about. Am I paranoid? Like, you know something? When we met – can you remember when we first met? I totally thought you thought I was mentally ill! I really did. For, like, the first, three times we met each other. You just looked at me so carefully. But, actually, I was just being paranoid! Right?”
The German boy winces a little bit.
“Oh, no,” he says. “You weren’t being paranoid there. I thought you were really mental. It’s your eyes. You open your eyes too much when you talk. Also, you don’t nod enough. The first three times we met, I thought you were mentally ill, and the next few times we met, I just thought you were on Prozac or tranquilizers or something, and after about six months of knowing you, I decided that was just your personality and you liked opening your eyes a lot when you had something important to say. And didn’t like nodding.”
“I open my eyes too much when I talk?”
“When you get to the important part of what you’re trying to say, you do, yeah. You open them really wide.”
“And I don’t nod enough?”
“You would probably come across as a lot more normal if you were to, you know, nod a bit more often.”
I start nodding profusely, like one of those dog things they have in cars.
“It’s so hard to not be paranoid, when there’s so much stuff to be paranoid about,” I say, squinting at him, so my eyes don’t seem too open. I remember when I was a teenager, I thought by the time I was 30, I wouldn’t have acne and I wouldn’t get insecure anymore. Well guess what? I’m gonna be 33 next week, and I still get acne, still get paranoid, only now I get wrinkles, too. Still. At least I have German friends to point out all my failings to me. Thank God for that! Maybe I should start giving them feedback forms.