Let’s Make Fun Of Germans!
According to my father, Van Clauge Miller, my immediate family’s heritage is largely identifiable through the crossbreeding of the absurdly Bavarian Millers and the slightly Dutch Van Slyjke clans. While I have no idea how the silly Dutch Van Slyjkes picked up their surname, the Millers (or Muellers if you prefer) have proudly operated a winery for several generations. I know this because I’ve seen pictures of their operation. Dad took the photos during one of his many trips in the Fatherland. Although I can’t attest to the quality of their wine, it must be decent since they’re still in business after all these generations.
My cultural self-awareness has only been elevated because every so often my Dad gets a belly full of Old Style beer, puts on his black suede lederhosen (you know, those shorts with suspenders that yodeling mountain climbers are always wearing on TV), and jams-out to one of his favorite CDs: German Beer Drinking and Merry Making Songs. This happens right before he recalls going to Germany with his best friend at age eighteen and buying a VW Bug from the factory so they could pester Europeans back in 1961. Somewhere during these riveting tales of his lusty youth he’ll recount their navigation of the Greece countryside solely using the stars.
Beyond that, if he gets enough beer in him, it’s guaranteed that he’ll explain the science behind the water softener in the laundry room. (If you’ve ever been curious about such a device, come over to my house on any Saturday night and find out for yourself. If you’re lucky, he’ll serve a fine meal of sauerbraten and spatzel dumplings before his monologue begins in earnest.)
This is how I learned about my family history: One beer at a time. My cultural education may have been slightly skewed because my father soaked his lectures in booze before he delivered them, but it was the best information I could get. My high school texts tended to emphasize Germany’s well-documented political misbehavior over the last hundred years. Which may explain why there’s no "German Pride Day" in America. Folks would justifiably get freaked if a thousand Germans donned silly clothes and marched down the street (probably in orderly lines) singing "Deutschland Uber Alles" and the "Happy Pickle Polka".
As for the major news outlets, I’ve had no better luck. The last slightly revealing German statistic I heard on CNN reported that 58% of German women and 63% of German men admitted that they find sex to more stressful that fun. Even if I interject that there might not be a word in German for "fun", thus losing the point in translation, I think we’d all agree that the coupling of German lovers resulting in the unfortunate and inevitable filming of scheisse movies might be more than a little nerve-racking.
I’m not trying to argue that Germans are all smiles and sunshine outside of the bedroom, but nobody has a bad rap like my krautesque brethren. If nothing else, we’re industrious. Aside from the less-than-savory inventions including, but not limited to: accordions, cocaine, poop porn, communism, and V2 rockets, we saved face by perfecting beer. Every time you crack open a phatty micro brew in the Phish parking lot, you can thank the Reinheitsgebot, or beer purity law of 1517, which says that all beer brewed within the borders of Germany must be made from the essential ingredients and nothing else. No preservatives, unnatural colors, or anything else Bud Lite mixes into their brew. In fact, you can think of German beer as "all natural", or even "organic", if it makes you feel any better. Perhaps this saving grace may be the only reason why the United Nations gives the Germans the time of day anymore.
Please note I stipulated that Germans perfected, not invented beer. This isn’t a slight on the national character any more than the refinement of the automobile from the Ford Model T to the Mercedes 500 SEL. I’ll give credit where it’s due.
However, my peeps haven’t been equally successful at perfecting every facet of life. Aside from the fore-mentioned scheisse porn, Krauts have fallen short in their contributions to rock-n-roll. Okay, if given enough German beer, anyone can dig one Scorpions tune, but that’s about it. The less said about Nina’s "99 Red Balloons" and Rammstien, the better. Music may be the international language, but there’s something fundamentally flawed about the concept of a "German jamband" I’m sure it would be groovy, like iron. While we’re at it, let’s not deflate what’s left of their zeitgeist by forgetting that they love the golden tones of David Hasselhoff, who’s groovy, like sheep shit.
For what it’s worth, Germans are quickly developing a love of American football. A few years ago, the National Football League developed NFL Europe, a developmental league for raw, but talented football players. Initially, the league had six teams spread all over Western Europe. Spain, Scotland, England, Amsterdam, and Germany all had teams. However, the NFL can’t escape the laws of economics anymore than the Big Wu can. Teams that couldn’t garner interest from their markets have had their teams moved around Europe as the NFL tested different locals. Initially, I was a little surprised to find that four out of six of the teams ended up in Germany. I would be a fool to think that Germans don’t love their soccer as much as every other country in the world, excluding America. But what’s the fascination with the vertical passing game? I pondered this cultural anomaly until I realized that football as we know it suits the German character precisely: NFL football is centered around drinking beer and marching in lines up and down a field in an orderly fashion.
Of course the Germans love this. Frankly, I can’t see how they how they can resist.
Maybe I’m picking on the old family homestead too much. But then again, we all know there won’t be any Million Ger-Man March on the Washington Mall, so who cares? Certainly not Jon Schwartz, (who did take umbrage with me because I didn’t dish out his monthly shout-out in my last article.) Beyond that, I think I’d get a kick out of some German yelling at me- "Zat is not vunny for any German people! Ve Von’t stand for it!" I mean, what are they going to do, annex Poland again?
To be truthful, Germans shed tears of joy and drank beers of celebration when the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. I was there. When the news came on the radio, everybody on the autobahn pulled over, got out of their cars and jumped for joy on the side of the road. If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed that the Rhein Fire NFL Europe Football team had won the World Bowl. But for every family reunited after the commies folded, a comedian licked their lips in anticipation. Dennis Miller commented that reunified Germany was akin to the possibility of a Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin reunion: He never liked their old stuff and isn’t looking forward to any new material.
As for me, I’m not really so much poking fun at the great citizens of the Fatherland for being, well, themselves, but pointing out the obvious, which just happens to be oddly comical. Besides, the last time I checked, it wasn’t a crime to insult your self. So what of the people who may be offended? Lighten up guys, it’s only rock-n-roll.
This month’s Old Style Zealot is none other than myself. I won this prestigious award by moving into a new apartment and stocking my own fridge with plenty of the beer that made the most obscure German word famous- It’s fully kreausened!
Drive safe, be nice to your mother and drink your milk…