Kauf Deutsch! November 28, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
I’m feeling all up-to-date today. I don’t mean with the latest trends, or what’s number one in the hit parade, or anything like that. I mean that a work deadline was met last night and I am waiting for a new piece of work today and nothing majorly urgent is pending, bills are paid etc. etc. I sat watching Outlook Express, waiting for the new mail to arrive. But arrive it didn’t, so I decided to give myself an exciting errand to do to pass some time and dashed to Spar.
Our Spar’s a big one, not the size of a corner shop, and has a proper selection of wine, so you don’t get depression the second you walk in. First I was confronted with the fruit. There was a waist-height cardboard box full of loose apples standing in the middle of the first aisle. “I’ll have some of those,” I thought, and as I fiddled to get my plastic bag open, I couldn’t help noticing that the old lady standing astride the box seemed to be stocking up on apples for the winter. I’m all for a bit of a chat with a stranger, so commented on her generous load. She smiled back and said no, she wasn’t planning on making a huge, fuck-off Apfelstrudel – my somewhat free translation – but was simply planning to scoff the lot herself.
“She has got a rather good complexion for her age,” I thought.
“They’re very good apples, you see. Very cheap. They’re on offer this week. They won’t be next week. And they’re German.” She proved this by holding the sticker on one of the teutonic fruit up close for me to see. Sure enough, it said Dresden. “Not foreign apples. German,” she went on.
I heard my sphincter snap shut at this point. Not because I thought the old lady might be a stealth neo-Nazi. She clearly wasn’t. I think her joy at finding good, cheap German apples was a combination of thrift, a hint of patriotism and a smattering of the Prussian equivalent of Buy British. And I didn’t want to spoil her moment. “Fuck,” I thought. “No difficult sentences. You’ll only get an ending wrong and blow your cover. Keep it simple.” I muffled something about, “Yes, it’s best to buy local produce,” swallowing the last syllable of each word and hoping that I’d pulled off a faux, working-class Berlin accent. I made my excuses, ended our apple talk, and trundled onwards.
But an unwritten yet insuperable supermarket law meant that we wheeled at exactly the same speed, along the same route and had identical browsing and item-fingering times. There was no getting away from her. “If I skip the cat-food and baby-food aisles, I’ll get a good lead on her.” But she missed the middle-class aisles – the fresh coffee and posh things in jars – altogether, so we were neck and neck once more. But while she stocked up on Kit-e-Kat and I did on caviar (not really), I thought, sphincter relaxing, if I blow it and say, “Die germanischen Frukten sind wunderbar,” I’ll out myself as an Englander but, to reassure her (as she makes sure her purse isn’t on display), that trotzdem I think it’s an awfully good idea to buy local. But, alas, our friendship, grounded in mutual hostility to New Zealand butter, Polish chicken and Italian biscuits never blossomed, and all we did was exchange a few more knowing smirks over the sausage counter.
Once her back was turned, I snuck a pack of Hungarian salami under some ostentatiously German item in my trolley, wheeled past her, head held high, and made my way to the checkout.