The other morning my flatmate and her boyfriend were in the kitchen laughing like drains. So much so, that I went in to see what was going on. Dildo pool as it turns out. The TV show they were watching was replaying a 90s game show that set up celebrities by asking them to partake in unusual games and challenges. One of those challenges was playing pool whilst wearing a dildo, with the dildo, obviously, as a cue.
Hold that image for a second and allow me to take you back to a cold, dark night a couple of weeks ago.
I was walking home from work and came to a one way street with a crossing at which the walking man was red. I looked both ways, despite it being a one way street – I am just a careful jay-walker – and noting that, short of walking on my hands across the street, I was going to make it across the 3 metre crossing at least 3 whole minutes before a car made it to me, I crossed.
On the other side, a man stared at me as if I was casually skinning a squirrel and, as I passed, hissed, ‘bist du blind?‘
I raged the whole way home. The whole way. Am I blind? No, you gnarled old fuckwit, I am not blind, but I’m not going to stand on the side of the road for 5 minutes in the freezing cold twiddling my ice-block thumbs whilst waiting for the green man, when there is genuinely no traffic in a 2 km radius. It is my decision to do something so daring as to nip across a 3m side street and I am making it with my eyes wide open. Bist du ein dickhead?
Clearly, when I barged in the front door at home, I had a meltdown and boomed at SG, ‘I am so sick of being disapproved of when I break a rule, what is wrong with you people?’
I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before, or if the above makes it clear, but Münsteranians (and I suspect, based on SG’s behaviour, many other Germans) don’t jaywalk. Oh you will see the occasional daring citizen leg it across an empty street, but they will be judged. By God. Who has long been fattened and feted by the German church tax. For me, jaywalking is a logical action if the circumstances are fitting. I’m not saying I do some Sydney-style running at slow moving vehicles and then spring bokking across their path, but I do cross the road if there is no oncoming traffic and it is perfectly safe to do so.
Anyway. Hold the image of me raging and allow me to tell you this little tale.
A friend of mine the other day was pulled over by a policeman and fined for riding his bike on a cobbled street before 4pm. Think about that.
Sometimes, Germans are so relaxed, so laidback, so ‘leave-it-to-mature-decision-and-discretion, we’re-all-adults-here’, it’s quite marvellous. Sixteen year olds can buy beer and wine. There’s the autobahn that, for large stretches, has no speed limit. On game shows, if the contestent is a nude lads mag’s model, then it is no problem to flash through her, seemingly, entire portfolio on screen, as she jogs into shot. On prime-time variety shows, it is no problem to prance about in a dirndl and moon visiting celebrities (Jessica Biels’s face was funny). On that same game show, it’s no problem to host genuinely insane stunts that can and have put people in wheelchairs.
This is the same country in which you can get fined for giving someone the rude finger whilst driving. Oh sure, slip on a pair of kangaroo boots and try and jump across some ungodly stretch of cars, in the name of Saturday night entertainment, but don’t give a driver the rude finger!
Sometimes, when they’re not getting naked, drinking beer and enjoying a game of dildo pool, they are such sticklers for the rules it makes me want to scream and start breaking every single one I can. I want to ride a bike on cobbled streets repeatedly for the entire hour of 3-4pm whilst giving everyone the rude finger and swearing in people’s faces (fineable offence as well, apparently) and then I want to just go and stand in the middle of a road, point to the red man and shriek ‘you did this to me Germany.’
The great thing is, I would probably receive the utmost psychiatric care. My compulsory insurance premium’s high enough.