How the Pros Do It

Posted on February 5th, 2012 by

Marshall the environmental liar, lawyer

Classes this week were focused on diversity. Our professor’s last name was Matuko, so I’m expecting an Asian guy (although others thought African). Nope, in walks a white guy who looks EXACTLY like Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. Being an absolutely huge fan of the show, I was speechless. It really felt like Jason Segel was pretending to be a Polish man (still baffled on the last name). He had quite good English, but the best parts were when he’d mix up words. For example, he was telling us about his travels in Egypt, and since he was traveling alone, many Egyptians would ask, “Are you guy?” Something just didn’t seem to add up. Then it hit us, he meant to say, “Are you gay?” Not exactly the same. But it is interesting how different cultures make assumptions where others wouldn’t. The next priceless mix-up happened whenever he’d try to say lawyer. Without fail, he’d accidently first say liar before getting to the right word (good ol’ fashioned Freudian slip on that one). After this, he would then undoubtedly giggle which made him look all the more Marshall-esque. I was glad to find out that How I Met Your Mother is fairly popular here in Europe as well, so a few others in my class recognized him as Mr. Eriksen. So after lunch, we decided we needed to get a pic of him. Of course, we couldn’t ask. That would be both too easy and too awkward. “Hey prof I just met, you look like a TV show character. Will you take your picture with me?” Not happening. So while using a conversation with one of my classmates as cover, I inched closer to our prof and stealthily snapped a pic (papa…papa…paparazzi). Unfortunately the pic doesn’t do him as much justice as I’d like, but in real life, it was incredible.


One cool thing happened this week. A friend of mine here in Germany revealed that she’s three months pregnant. This is sweet/interesting to me for three reasons. 1. Kids are awesome. 2. It’s cool to be making real connections with people to such an extent that they feel comfortable sharing something this personal with you. 3. It’s crazy to be interacting with people who are old enough that when they say they’re pregnant you don’t have to feign excitement while in your mind thinking, “That probably wasn’t intentional.” Anyway, moral of the story: children are cool, it’s nice to have friends, and I have no intention of having a child any time in the foreseeable future.

One morning I woke up and found a random guy sleeping in our storage area. Totally normal. I figured it must be one of Jassi’s (German roommate) friends, so I went about my day. When I got home that afternoon, he was at our kitchen table and I realized I had met him once before. He had come to our party we had a few weeks ago, and when I opened the front door, I gave him a big, toothy smile and said, “Hey, I’m Hassie.” He responded with a grunt and then walked past me. And now, Captain Awkward is back and apparently for some time (we’ve had others stay here before but typically they know how to have a conversation). I do feel a little bad, because his lease was up and couldn’t find a new place to live. But he’s just so odd. Really, a classic physics PhD student. I’ve tried to have a conversation with him, but I haven’t been able to maintain it past maybe two minutes. That’s not good for someone who’s staying in your storage area. Oh well, I guess there could be worse things. He could use the bathroom in the morning at the same time I normally do and make me late for class. Wait…

He was probably awkward too

This week’s basketball shoot around seemed to be a touch on the shady side. I’m not sure why, but our coach/facilitator/overweight man who probably never played basketball wasn’t there. To add to the oddness, our gym was colder than a meat locker. I don’t know what kind of d-bag power company would turn the heat off in an elementary school, but it was freezing. Even after playing an entire game, I was still cold. Another komisch (German word for strange or odd) thing that happened was a group of about ten old German men came in long socks, knee pads, and short shorts looking to play some volleyball. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the patience to wait a half an hour til we were done, so I didn’t get to witness the glory that that would’ve been. Lastly, we didn’t have access to the pinnies (practice jersey deals) to differentiate the teams, so we had to use these colored sashes. I now know what it feels like to be a prom queen and let me tell you, it’s everything I hoped for and more. But seriously though, a small sash is not the easiest thing to see when you’re driving down the lane looking for someone to pass it to. I’m going to blame my first couple of terrible games on this fact (even the wide open breakaway layup I missed). But with that being said, the last game was phenomenal. I don’t mean to be arrogant (well, at least not too arrogant), but I was en fuego (mixing it up with the Spanish). I went 8 for 9 from the floor with four 3-pointers. Oh it felt good to pop some tres right in the face of those ungodly huge Deutschers.

Typically, Germans will not speak to strangers (apparently they also had the “stranger, danger” campaign). Trust me, I’ve tried to do this on the u-bahn numerous times. Not successful. But the one exception to this rule seems to be elevators (to be fair though, the only elevator I’ve ever used is in my apartment building so only semi-public). People ALWAYS say hello when you get on and goodbye when you get off. The only issue is that 99% of the time this is all you’ll get. To me, it almost makes everything more awkward, because if no one ever said anything then it’d just be understood that there’s no need to talk. But when someone starts a conversation, I always feel like it should continue past hello. I don’t know. Maybe this is just my odd hang-up, but I still never know what to say or not say on the elevator.

They're named after a recycling company; that's not even a joke

I went to my first professional basketball game today. It was Alba Berlin vs. Trier (I don’t even think Germans know where Trier is). The arena is an easy ten minute walk from my apartment, but in the snow and ice we’ve been having, it feels much farther. Anyway, when they’re about to give the starting lineup, they begin playing the classic Chicago Bulls intro music (the one with the bull charging through the streets of Chi-town) and then proceed to go through their entire team. Maybe it’s the American in me, but I don’t need to be introduced to your bench warmers. Well, the game starts and shortly in there’s a shot clock violation. And the noise that goes off isn’t the typical buzzer sound; it’s instead something akin to a car alarm. To be fair though, it really does make you want the teams to put the ball up before that godforsaken thing goes off. Another highlight of the night was the nostalgic feeling I got when the song “Black and Yellow” came on. Oh it brought me back to those Gustie hockey games and the craziness that they were. Okay, back to the game. It’s getting fairly late in the third quarter and the game is still quite close. Trier is something like Germany’s version of the Timberwolves aka terrible, so the fans don’t exactly appreciate this. They then start chanting, “Aufwachen” (wake up). I thought this must be somewhat insulting to the Alba players, but then I realized that half of them probably don’t even understand what the crowd is saying. My b-ball friend I went with said that one common thought about German basketball is that it is simply “my Amis versus your Amis” (Amis being a slang term for Americans). One other great German phrase I was exposed to was one you can yell at the other team. It’s essentially, “Your parents are siblings and your family tree is a circle.” How great of a slam is that?!?! I loved it. Anyway, in the end Alba pulled themselves together and won the game by ten or so. To finish off this American experience, we grabbed some burgers from a place called Kreuzburger (it’s a play on words based on the name of one of Berlin’s boroughs called Kreuzberg). It was a great day although I think I may have lost a couple toes on my way home. Now it’s time to kick back and see if I can keep my eyes open long enough to make it through the Super Bowl. It’s not looking so good. Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday everyone.

Hugs and hand pounds,



One Comment

  1. Ben M says:

    Gotta love HIMYM!