Monday, December 28, 2009

Why, actually?

You know what has been puzzling me for ten years now?
Why does every single person I meet ask me what part of Germany I grew up in? It's definitely not just polite interest, because if I am at all vague about it they won't stop asking. They really must know, even if they are invariably disappointed because they never heard of the place. And that would still be not odd if it weren't every single person wanting to know it exactly. They must it know more than they must know my job, my interests, anything else at all about me. There is an air of great importance about it every time, and they look me straight in the eye and speak slowly and seriously. Where the heck am I from, exactly? - There must be something odd about me not feeling the need to know the same about anyone else (although I've started asking, just in case it's a secret password against the zombie invasion).
I don't mind at all, I just sometimes wonder what it's all about.

(Update: All right, so the name of the town I grew up in sounds vaguely rude in English, and after ten years of not living there I feel I should be excused of saying it out loud at social gatherings. And yes, that's really the reason I am fussing about it. I admit it. The "I don't mind at all" bit is a lie. I'm just inserting this here because I just noticed this post makes me seem completely neurotic.)

The thing I'd REALLY like to know is, why do we recycle glass jars instead of reusing them? How hard would it be to make them a standard size, then collect them after use, clean and re-fill them instead of smashing them and making new jars? We could have industry standard sizes, why not?

And, which I'm wondering about things- why are toilets such a bad design? Why do we wee into litres of drinking water several times a day and then throw it away?

Why is the world so very strange?

You can maybe tell that I'm spending this evening not being at a dinner party, and feeling kind of relieved about that.

But honestly... why?

(Update, after being told by a number of friends over email and phone and directly: people ask where people are from because they are interested in the country, not just in me. Um. Okay. Yes. Sorry. Thanks. True.)


John Peacock said...

That's a very good question, and as someone who did ask it (refusing to leave the subject until I got an answer), I ought to try to answer it.

However it's quite vague, something like "I know that Germany is a lot of different places, actually, with very different characteristics, and I know from personal experience that very little more than a common language unite (say) Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein, so in asking where you come from I'm hoping that what I know about you might inform my understanding of Germany, although obviously that's presumptous and rude and fundamentally flawed, but I somehow can't stop myself."

But then I think I can get an insight into German culture from a comparative analysis of rock bands of the early 1970s. Obviously I'm a fool.

Viviane Schwarz said...

Thank you, that actually helps a lot. I should try and remember that people actually are interested in Germany.
I didn't remember you asked... but then, as I said, absolutely everyone does. It really can't be rude.

I just wish I'd grown up somewhere that doesn't make people laugh when I say it, really. It's pronounced pretty much "Lewd and Shite", so I feel like I should say something to indicate it was a fine place (which it is), then I remember I didn't like it there and it didn't like me much neither, then I feel sad. And then quite often people start talking about the war, just to keep up the conversation, that's also okay but then I feel like "great, they just met me and the connotations they will take away are lewd, shite and war."
I'll try and remember, though, that people ask because they are interested in the country. (Heh, it would be funny if they think I'm a typical specimen of the region!)

I should learn to ask more questions myself, really, instead of putting people off... ha.

Anonymous said...

so I grew up in shitsville! So deal with it! There's a reason this blog isn't called Letters from Ludenscheid, you buggers!

Viviane Schwarz said...

Ah, I just realised I managed to insult everyone I ever met! Wheee, what a good way of ending the year...