I actually decided it was time for me to make some new German friends – I have no idea why I decided to do this, but I just felt like maybe it was time for some new blood in my friendship circle.
So I went out to a German Single Mums’ Café, aka Alleinerziehende-Wochenend-Frühstück.
The mum I liked best was a kind of intellectual German mum called Kristen, the mum I liked second best was a kind of hippy German mum called Natascha. The rest of the mums were kind of boring and I don’t mean in that nice, friendly, nice, boring, British mum kind of way, I mean, and this is probably the most internalized misogynistic thing I will ever say in my entire life, UNBEARABLY BORING IN THAT REALLY FUCKING UNBEARABLY BORING GERMAN MUM WAY and I didn’t want to speak to them at all. It kind of reminded me why I don’t actually need any new friends and that I’m happiest of all in front of my laptop, arguing with strangers on Facebook or skyping with my dear old mum. Still, I guess a ratio of two out of fifteen ain’t bad.
“I thought I had Corona in the week,” I said. “On Wednesday. I had all the symptoms, except for a higher temperature. I had diarrhea. Then I puked. Then I had a dry cough. Then I was shaking and shivering. I felt lethargic. My muscles ached. I had all the symptoms. I feel better now, though, so I must’ve been wrong.”
“I’m not worried about Corona at all,” said Kristen, the German intellectual.
“I wasn’t worried!” I said. This is, by the way, a blatant lie – a Lüge glatter than Keira Knightley’s botoxed forehead. I was desperately trying to ring the hotline, which wasn’t even fucking ringing, and weeping to myself, panicked, worried, desperate, despairing, because I was certain I had Corona, and would need to be quarantined, and I would miss my 40th birthday, and me and my boys were all alone in Germany and nobody cared and what if the virus had mutated and now was deadly for 39-year-olds, that would be just my luck wouldn’t it. In between crying and panicking I went and puked a few times, and everyone I knew on Facebook told me to chillax because it was only killing old people and people with cancer, and I wasn’t even barely 40 yet and so probably wouldn’t die and the only two problems that exist in life are death and panic.
“I just wanted to know if I should be tested or not. But I couldn’t get through to anyone on the hotline. But I talked to the Krankenkasse people, and they said they wouldn’t test me anyway, I’ve had no contact with anyone who’s had it and my temperature wasn’t high enough.”
“It’s not a serious problem,” the intellectual mum said.
“It’s not a serious problem?” I asked.
“No, you only die of it if you’re old or have cancer,” she said. “That’s what all these people who are panicking don’t understand.”
“Erm, yeah,” I said. Nothing makes me feel less like a German intellectual than the German intellectuals’ extreme indifference to the Corona bug. It makes me feel like a British DUMBO. But to be honest, and I don’t wanna be harsh here, I’d rather be dumb and care about people with cancer dying than intellectual and indifferent. I guess that makes me really fucking stupid. I guess it does. I guess thinking people shouldn’t die is stupid now. I bit my lip politely. “I mean, if you had it, it would be nice to know, so you could stay home and not infect other people, like old people, and people with cancer, huh? Wouldn’t it? I mean, I probably didn’t have it. But I just kind of think they could’ve tested me? You know? For other people’s sake.”
Kristen the German intellectual grinned at me knowingly. “Jacinta!” She said. “Old people and cancer patients are going to die of the normal flu anyway! They might as well get Corona, it doesn’t really make any difference. Did you stock up on toilet paper? I bet you were one of the ones who stocked up on loo roll! So silly!”
“No,” I said. “No loo roll. More important things to stock up on, aren’t there. Beans. Rice. Asparagus. Garlic and chili oil. That kind of thing.”
“I haven’t stocked up on anything,” the intellectual said.
“I already have all the herbs you need growing on my window sill,” the hippy mum said.
“Yeah,” I said. “And no nappies either. If we do get Corona, I’m going to do bare-bottom nappy training for two weeks. Might as well put the quarantine to good use.”
“You’re not going to get it, and even if you do, you’re not going to die!” The intellectual said. I nodded.
I can’t decide whether German intellectuals really do think that old people and cancer victims dying is literally nothing to worry about – barely even anything to THINK about – or if they are just pretending that to themselves because they have used up so much panic about eating the brown bits on toast and the deathly Zug that will literally kill you and everyone else you know. Maybe they have no energy left to care about Corona.
Part of me thinks that Germans are just being super-duper capitalist. That because the Corona deaths will mainly only affect the economically inactive, they think there’s no point worrying about it. Part of me thinks they are actually happy this is happening, because you know how much Germans are always bitching about their parents and their grandparents and also because they think it will be good for the economy in the long run – because of the money Germany will save on Pflegekosten. But I dunno. Maybe I am being unfair here.
“Everyone who is panicking about Corona just doesn’t realise how many people die of the flu each year,” Kristen said happily. I fully imagined her, for a second, turning up to cancer patients’ funerals with signs like the Phelps’ church people have, but instead of saying “God hates fags” hers would say “YOU WOULD’VE DIED OF FLU ANYWAY YOU FUCKING LOSER”.
“It’s like Mother Earth is cleaning herself,” said Natsacha the hippy mum dreamily.
“What,” I said.
“It’s like, you know. Detoxing.”
“What,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s why I am not bothered about the Coronavirus. Because I understand how tired Mother Earth is. She’s sending us this virus to clean up a bit. Clean up. You know? We should listen to what she’s saying, I think. And instead of working on a vaccine – ”
“We could round up the old and sick and put them in camps, maybe?” I said.
I looked at the two mums I had met at the single mums breakfast and decided I didn’t need any new friends. I have enough totally crazy, slightly fascist friends already, thank you very much. My son came up to me, gave me a Duplo piece, and shouted “ICE-CREAM!” I pretended to lick it and he shouted “NEIN BESSER ESSEN!” Then he licked it and pushed it into my mouth. “DORBY!” He shouted, which is his word for strawberry. “ESSEN MAMA DORBY ICE-CREAM!” His face was covered in snot and I looked at him, and felt very suddenly, and very certainly, that humanity really was doomed.