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I've lived in Germany for a total of 15 years now. I was born here to a busy woman working in an office and a father who can only be called your "all too typical, ruddy-faced German". I think my mom worked in the city to forget the fact that my dad was a classic German, to say the least.
When I was 2, my parents divorced, and my mom took me with her when she went to America. After one year, she found a man who had a New York accent and didn't even know when spargel season was. When they were married, I was sent back to Germany to live with my dad.
I had turned 16 two months ago, and was able to understand why my mom left my dad, although why she married the American man was still a mystery to me. The man didn't know when the best time for asparagus was, unlike my dad, who knew over 25 dishes to make during Spargelfest. My dad was the man who invited all the neighbors to have spargel, cooked in all different ways, with him. I can't say that I hate living in Germany, but I plan to move out of my dad's house and start living on my own soon.
I like walking around outside, where I can pretend that I don't necessarily live in the neighborhood, or am the son of the spargel-obsessed man. Of course, I am still greeted my the neighbors, who don't know that I'm pretending. Pretending I don't know him. Pretending I'm any other German on the street.
Today I walk further than usual. I'm no longer in my neighborhood, so I'm pretty much unknown here. However, if I spoke my dad's name here, the heads of many spargel vendors will appear, because my dad looks everywhere for good spargel. God, there I go again. Spargel this, spargel that. There's a spargel stand at the corner in front of me, and annoyed, I'm about to leave when I notice that the only people here are a girl and an older man further off too the side speaking to a potential buyer. The girl's hair is a little disheveled, her pants are dusty with dirt, and something about her strikes me as a little different. She's got this really weird facial expression on her face, I wonder what's up with her.i decide to take my chances and I walk up to the spargel stand. The girl gets up quickly gets up and says something I can't quite catch but sounds a little familiar, even though I wasn't completely sure it was German. Pointing to the vegetables, she said "Spargel." I begin to understand that she probably isn't German, and doesn't know the language. I nod to her, and I think I was about to buy some spargel from her when a Great Dane appears from behind the stand and jumps on me.
"Gottverdammt! Sheisse! Was zur Hölle? Holen Sie sich dieses Miststück Hund weg! Ernsthaft! Sheisse!" I recall my mother's new husband had a big dog, too. A German Shepard, ironically. The girl manages to pull her dog off me, and I notice the spargel man who was off to the side has returned. I can't tell what he's saying, but I get the feeling that he's translating. The girl says something else, but I don't know what. "Hey, müssen Sie eine Leine zu bekommen." The man continues to talk, and the girl glares at me, which doesn't really make a lot of sense, because I was the one jumped on. I whip off my glasses angrily and say "Dieser Hund ist ein Miststück." As I say this, the girl also says something. The man, who I think is the father, continues what I think is translating. Deciding that it was time to head back home, I left, but not before pausing in front of the stand a second longer as the girl looks at me pathetically and points to the stand, saying "Spargel."
Even though I've returned home, I can't stop thinking about the spargel stand, the girl, and her dog. It's late, and the sun is mostly set, but I head to but a German-English dictionary. I hope that I'm right, and not just wasting money when I think that the girl was speaking English. While out, I also buy a length of smooth leather.
The next day, I work with the leather some until I'm pleased with it. I open the dictionary and begin to find the words I want. When the sun is starting to disappear, I grab the brown bundle next to me, stand up, and stretch as I begin to walk down the street away from my house.
Soon, I am standing at the stall again, and when the girl doesn't notice, I say "Hallo." Glancing around, I see no Great Dane, but a large book with many words on her lap that I didn't think she had yesterday. I point to the stand, and, feeling just a little foolish, I say "Spargel." She repeats the word, standing up to point at the board which lists the prices. I have to wonder if she even knows how much I should be paying her, but when I buy some I give her the correct amount of money anyway. I turn to leave, thinking it's not really my concern, and I shouldn't give it to her, but I turn around and walk back the step I had taken. I'm wondering how to convey what I want to when I decide too point to my temple and then offer her the brown parcel I had been carrying. She seems a little confused when she takes it, and I wait for her to open it. Uncertain that it's a gift for her, she glances at me warily as she unwraps the package. She drops the paper and holds the leash up to the fading light. She smiles at me, and says something. I get the feeling that she's saying thank you, but maybe that's just me wanting to think that's what she said. I reply, saying "Bitte Schön," then I leave with my spargel.
Even though we never say anything, and there's really nothing that makes me go, I continue to visit her stand and buy spargel from her. My dad doesn't mind, he's happy that I"m bringing him more spargel to eat. I wonder if the girl thinks that I love spargel or something. I've been buying spargel from her for three weeks now, and I'm about to leave when she stops me. She's holding her hand out, and I wonder what she wants. I turn to face her, looking into her eyes. I look at her dog warily, but then return my eyes to her face. She looks at my face nervously, swallows, and closes her eyes. I realize that maybe I'm staring at her in a mean way, so when she opens her eyes, I'm not glaring as much as trying ti smile without looking like an idiot. She says, in shaky German, "Danke für den kaufen unseres Spargels," She looks at me hopefully.
I smile a little more, and say, in what I'm sure is shaky English, "Thank you for you to sell the spargel to me," To this, she begins to smile, even though she seems lost for words now. I understand what she is feeling, because I also do not know what to say.
"Mappenklemmaplatte." Her next words catch me off guard. Before I got my German-English dictionary, I only remembered one word from my time in America, when I helped my mom out in her office.
Looking down at the girl's face in surprise, I ask her "Binderclip?"