Everyone Turn Around. Now Wave.
You're waving at one of my readers, Kerry. Know what's special about Kerry? She speaks English. I know that you speak English too and don't think that speaking English is any great shakes but one thing that Kerry has over you is that she happens to live in Magdeburg. Yeah, there are other English speakers here in Magdeburg but for the most part the only kinds of English speakers I ever run into are college students here at the university on an exchange program, their parents when they come visit their precious American child studying at the university and the occasional Asian or African student who doesn't seem to be able to speak German worth a damn and who are bollocksed up at a shop and they know enough English to have me play translator.
Example: The other week while I was at the confectionery section of the department store buying some chocolates for B there was a young Asian man who was trying to convey to the saleslady that there was a special French chocolate that he was look for. He kept saying it was French and the saleslady couldn't think of a French chocolate they sold. Swiss, yes. Belgian, yes. French, no. She asked him if he could tell her the name of the chocolate and he replied in English "I don't really speak German". A-ha! Time for Super Nosy Translator Lady to horn in. I asked him in English "What's the name of the chocolate?" and when he replied "It's called Merci," I told him there was a whole bunch of it right behind his head and then explained to the saleslady that it was the Merci chocolates he was looking for and that he must have thought they were French chocolates because merci is a French word. The young man and the saleslady were both thankful that I could translate and that he could find what he wanted to buy. I didn't have the heart to tell him he was buying some not-all-that-special German brand chocolate that could be found cheaper at any grocery store in the city.
When speaking English to anyone except my husband is such a treat for me that helping out a young man to buy overpriced chocolate makes my whole day, you can imagine how happy I was to get an email from Kerry. She let me know that she's read my blog and she and her family moved to Magdeburg a couple months ago and she'd like to meet me sometime. Yay!
This will be a good time for me to tell you what it's like for me to meet someone for the first time. Call this an explanation and, if you ever have the opportunity to meet me, a warning as well. When I first meet you I will likely be rather quiet. I will desperately engage in small talk. The weather will be discussed. Traveling to our meeting spot will be discussed. And then at some point - usually when all small talk topics have been exhausted - me and the person I'm meeting will hit upon a topic in which we'll both have some interest in and then I'll be off. I'll be like a house a-fire. I won't talk non-stop...I'm actually pretty good at letting others chime in. I like to think I'm a pretty good listener and I don't believe I dominate conversations. But I'll warn you now - if you don't like to talk, don't bother meeting me.
Just the idea of being able to speak freely in English to someone has made me almost giddy. I can speak English to B whenever I want but there's something about speaking English to a native speaker in person that's even more special.