A story with subtitles


Whenever you're around the same people, you tell and hear the same stories over and over again.  There's no stimulus to get you off familiar paths, so you repeat yourself, and so do they, especially if they're your parents.  Visits home back home are usually like this.  My dad will rehash a lot of the same old stories.  Of course, he only sees me once or twice a year, so it's an opportunity for him to revisit some of those memories the way many people look through family albums.  You can sometimes mistakenly get the impression that those are all the stories someone has in them, but you'd be wrong.

I found that out some years ago back when I ended up in New Orleans for a conference.  My parents lived just outside New Orleans (same as they still do), so I arranged to meet up with them for dinner that night along with my co-worker Jill who was along for the conference as well.

Somehow over dinner we ended up on the subject of honeymoons.  Both my parents and Jill and her husband had taken trips across Europe for theirs.  My mom and dad both have plenty of stories about their trip, and they still exchange xmas cards with people they met on it (and haven't seen since) all those years ago.

My dad somehow ended up on the subject of how, when they were in Italy, they ended up in their hotel right next door to a German couple.  My dad is a first-generation American born to German-speaking parents.  Admittedly, he is far from fluent in the language on account of the fact he was born in 1930, a time in this country when being --never mind speaking-- German wasn't how you might make friends.  At any rate, he knew enough of the language that he could understand roughly what was going on next door.

Basically, the husband was verbally berating the wife for not packing this or that, and so as far as he was concerned everything was wrong and this, of course, was all her fault.  The scene went on and on to the point where my folks couldn't ignore it.  My mom said she was going to call the manager.

"No," my dad said (and remember I was hearing all this for the first time along with Jill).  He went up to the wall and pounded it a couple times with the palms of his hands.  "Achtung," he yelled, narrating for Jill and I as he went, "That's like saying 'Listen up!'"  He continued to rattle off what he said in both German and English including statements about how this guy was a goddamned dog, and so on.

Jill and I were both wide-eyed while my mom was just laughing recollecting the events.  Jill shot me a look like, "Your dad speaks German?!"  The whole time I was thinking to myself, "Whoa!  My dad speaks German?!"


Copyright 2007 Alexplorer.
Back to the index