The car battery needed a run, so despite my adamant claims I would not be leaving the house on Sunday given the minus temperatures, we drove out to Laboe. The plan was to park metres from our preferred fish restaurant, roll from car to warm restaurant, ingest a large piece of battered, deep-fried fish and some sort of potato accompaniment, roll back to the car and drive home, battery charged and bellies full.
Despite having scarves and hats, in a foolhardy move we slipped only our jackets on, for the 20 metre dash from car to restaurant. Completely obviously, the restaurant was closed. Now, I may speak only for myself here, but something happens to my capacity for thought and decision making in the cold. It freezes. My whole brain, following the rest of my body, freezes. Slowly, limb by limb, neuron by neuron, my reptilian self shuts down. My reptilian self completely shut down in my first winter in Germany, when 2010/2011 dumped piles of snow on a completely unprepared Münster. I got grossly ill in Münster with some sort of glandular situation, in which golf balls protruded from my neck for weeks, not helped by not yet having embraced the functional clothing aspect of German life and spending a great deal of time being damp.
The winter of 2011/2012, however, provided me with my first brush with seriously cold weather; Nürnberg, -25 degrees. Stepping out of the Hauptbahnhof, I started yelling madly, ‘I thought humans couldn’t survive in this weather’, and something about being a rainbow fish in the wrong ocean, while frantically searching for a cab to take me to an unspecified destination. Unable to make any sort of decision as to how to proceed in our sightseeing tour, my friend and I ended up darting into the tourist information point, and then doing the classic shop-hop, in which one spends an inordinate amount of time sweating in overheated shops like H&M and Butlers until it becomes vaguely more preferable to be outside than gasping for unrecycled air and breathing in window condensation with a hundred other people.
So here we are this winter, with minus temps having arrived, and with them, my inability to think straight and live a normal life, like a normal, well-adjusted adult. We jogged past the closed fish restaurant and inexplicably, kept jogging, as if three metres along we’d find a second, open, toasty warm fish restaurant, when all evidence pointed to the contrary. ‘We don’t have a Plan B,’ I shrieked into the ice wind scudding out of Siberia and in off the Baltic. My words turned into cruel icicles the moment they left my lips. We ended up darting down an alley that spat us out somewhere near the carpark, and diving back into the car. Die Lüdde, more snugly dressed than her stupid parents, and tucked into her Dad’s arms, thought it was a riot. She was the only one. I pumped up the arse-warming seats and we peeled out of the carpark and drove back to the city for a pizza. The battery got its run, our bellies for their fill, and we looked like absolute loons next to the rugged-up Germans enjoying a brisk seaside stroll in refreshing arctic temps. Cold weather man, I just can’t do it well.
I would be absolutely lying if I didn’t tell you there is a countdown in my head until we leave for the tropics. It is occurring in the part of my brain not yet frozen.