German-bashing. We all do it. It provides us with solace and hope and stuff like that. Religion was once the opium of the masses, but now German-bashing is the miaow miaow of the ex-pats.
“The Germans are crap at dancing, obsessed with recycling, bad at singing, stupid at fucking, and plus, they wait for literally hours on end for the green man to appear at the traffic lights. God, life in Germany is very very very very very very very VERY fucking depressing.” These words are all that English speaking Berliners are capable of saying to each other, and we say them again, and again, every day, every night, until we know them off by heart, until they’re etched onto our very souls. And we never get bored. We will never get bored. We’ll die first.
And, despite my five-year-old son, it’s not like I care or anything. Some of what we say is fair, and some of it is about as fair as the McCarthy era, but I don’t give a shit. I couldn’t actually give less of a shit. Whatever. The Germans are, in my opinion, big enough, ugly enough, and crap at dancing enough to look after thembloodyselves. Still, on Thursday night I was forcibly forced to defend them.
“I was at a play recently,” I told an American girl I’d just met. “They stoned a baby to death. It took them about half an hour and they kept on changing the colour of the lights in between throwing another stone at the fucking Kinderwagen. It was pretty exhausting, to be honest.” “Why the fuck,” she asked politely, “were you watching that shit?” “My boyfriend’s much cleverer than I am,” I admitted reluctantly. “It’s his idea of a great Friday night out, going to watch some actors pretend to stone a baby to death while the colour of the lights change.” “I would never do that. I would never, ever, ever go to the German theatre ever. I know all about German theatre. I know what it’s like. It’s bullshit. It’s all dead babies and then some chick takes her bra off. Well, I’m not putting up with that shit, man.”
I mean, I don’t like dead babies in plays either. I never have, and I never will. I’m a pussy. But still. Most German plays generally don’t have dead babies in them, and you can always check beforehand in the programme. And, really, the best thing about this country is the fucking theatre. The acting is great and they all have really sexy outfits on and the girls are really sexy and there are always (by which I mean FUCKING ALWAYS) at least three actors who you would seriously (by which I mean FUCKING SERIOUSLY) consider rooting and you get to practise your German and, okay, it is pretty difficult and complicated, especially Schiller and that, but if you concentrate sometimes you understand as much as 40 percent, and then, just at the point when you’ve been concentrating so hard you start getting this weird flashy kind of headache like your eye is going to explode and/or you’re Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (and you’re saying to yourself “Oh, fuck German theatre, I wish I’d gone to the CineStar instead….”) JUST AT THIS VERY POINT they get the girl to take her bra off – and sometimes her jeans – and the main boy starts smashing up the stage and/or dismantling chairs. BRILLIANT.
“German theatre is brilliant,” I said. “When they’re not stoning babies to death, I mean. They’re always getting their tits out, and they have lovely tits, and sometimes they smash up the stage, too.” The American girl looked at me sceptically. “Well, whatever floats your boat,” she said, shaking her head with disapproval.
It’s not like I have much choice, though, about that boat and the floating of it – or otherwise. If I ever do persuade my Clever Boyfriend to take me to the cinema, we just end up watching some six-hour black-and-white Hungarian melodrama where everyone is really oppressed by poverty and then someone takes twenty-seven minutes to cook their kid an egg. You thought life in Germany was depressing. You ain’t seen nothing yet, people.