Don’t Go There
The poor German woman who lived between us must still be trying to recover from the stress.
Jim and his brother are absolutely identical. My German BFF told me that the Oma’s in the village were sure they were really one man with two women.
They would see Jim’s brother walking through the village with Natalie (“That’s the English one, she’s got the little boy”) and Jim walking with me (“She’s the American, look at him, flaunting it!)
Scandalous. Grist for the village gossip mill. But that’s another story.
Life in Germany as an expatriate was always interesting. We navigated village life, the German Kindergarten and the language with some successes and some misses.
But in many ways, it was just like life in the States. After two successful pregnancies and one miscarriage, I was pregnant again. I’d chosen this particular German doctor because he was close to home. Things went fairly well although my German was limited and my doctor didn’t know much about real Americans. For example, on my first visit, he asked me about my diet.
Him: “Do you actually cook, or do you just eat McDonalds for every meal?”
Me: “I cook.”
On one particular day early in my pregnancy, I was worried. I had noticed some spotting in the morning and made an appointment. His nurse looked concerned when I arrived. The doctor asked me lots of questions in German, and then told me to go home and rest. And then he said...
“Kein Verkehr." I was confused. I had driven myself over to the appointment. I knew the German word for traffic was Verkehr. Kein meant “no.” No traffic. There was some traffic getting to the office.
How was I going to drive myself home, I wondered? Jim was at work 40 minutes away. Maybe I should call Natalie to pick me up?
I didn’t have a cell phone, so I asked the doctor if I could use the office phone. When he asked me why, I explained that I didn’t know how to get home without traffic.
“Kein Verkehr,” I said.
The doctor and his nurse tried to suppress their laughter. He slowly told me that Verkehr meant traffic, but not THAT kind of traffic. He was talking about “sexual traffic” - sexual activity - not cars on the street.
No sexual traffic - that was the rule.
“Ah," I said. Awkward pause.
Communication is really important.
You may be someone who tries to communicate with your partner and is misunderstood. You may be discouraged when your partner doesn’t get it. It makes perfect sense, because we don’t always speak the same language. Even when we speak the same language.
Tom was born full term from that pregnancy. He’s in med school now. But misunderstandings about vocabulary show up in large and small ways every day.
I help couples talk to each other about all sorts of things - including the unmentionables we’re so shy about.
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