O’zapft Is! : A Munich Commentary

  1. They are Bavarians first, Germans second.
  2. In Munich, you honor the biker. He might come out of nowhere, but if something happens to him, it will undoubtedly be your fault.
  3. Every good German has hauptpflichtversicherung (main duty insurance) to protect them from, literally, everything.
  4. In summer, you swim.
  5. They are extremely comfortable with nudity, so don’t be alarmed if you are in Munich’s English Garden and see entire groups of men and women standing and chatting wearing nothing more than shoes.
  6. Despite their openness to being splitterfasernackt (buck naked), they love a good rule and will certainly let you know if you’ve broken one. If the crosswalk signal says stop, you stop… and if you don’t, a policeman will come out of the bushes and ticket you.
  7. You might want to reconsider answering that phone call while on public transportation. They have no problem with you talking to a friend, or friends, standing next to you on the train but there is an unwritten Bavarian law that says you aren’t suppose to talk to friends on the phone while on the train, probably because they feel a loss of control by not knowing what the entire conversation is about. Should you choose to break this rule, be prepared for eye-rolling, loud sighing and verbal reproach.
  8. Public transportation may appear to be free, but it isn’t and Münchners always possess the appropriate ticket. They’re an honest bunch. I got caught twice without a ticket and tried to pull the ‘American card’, but that failed miserably. Munich is an international city and they are fully prepared for handling ‘international excuses’.
  9. Recycling is a sport. Just go to a local supermarket bottle return on any given evening and you’ll know what I mean.
  10. Pig, not Elvis, is king. He is esteemed as both lucky and delicious and comes in more forms than you could ever imagine.
  11. Mustard. There is an entire aisle in the supermarket devoted to mustard.
  12. Münchners come unhinged during ‘Spargelzeit’ (asparagus season). The pig is first, but the asparagus is a close second.
  13. Don’t expect to go to a bank at a time that suits you. They take lunch breaks at exactly the same time you do and then close at 4:00, so unless you want to take a vacation day to go to the bank, you’re going to be shit out of luck.
  14. They are diligent and efficient workers, despite working some of the shortest hours in the western world. They have an amazing work-life balance, with an average of 25 days of vacation a year, not including public holidays or the half-day they take on Fridays. In fairness, there are over 180 beer gardens in Munich, so you can hardly blame them for expecting more time off.
  15. Finding a café with Wi-Fi in Munich is like striking gold.
  16. Münchners might not appear to be an animated group, but just wait until the next 80’s song comes on the radio. The car windows come down, the smoke machine comes on, and they will belt out the words to ‘Under Pressure’ verbatim and with unrelenting passion.
  17. Applauding, in Germany generally, is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Germans lose control when it comes to clapping and if you attempt to keep their pace and passion, you will be icing afterwards.
  18. Traditional Bavarian music sounds a bit like polka on cassette.
  19. Münchners stare. Long and hard. And its not because you have something on your face. They are a curious bunch and have no qualms with ‘figuring you out’. If you try to break their stare with a smile, you will sadly lose. The only triumph I have found in these situations is beating them at their own game.
  20. They don’t like scuffed shoes and will intentionally look down at your shoes and then back up at you to let you know they have spotted your scuff.
  21. Münchners act in a way I can only describe as suspicious when the sun appears. You’ll notice that chairs at outdoor cafes are no longer facing each other to facilitate camaraderie and conversation, but instead are all turned toward the sun. Münchners can be found sitting in them for hours, covered with blankets, silent, eyes closed and faces tilted upwards. Go to San Lorenzo at Odeonsplatz on any sunny day and you’ll quickly understand what I mean.
  22. They love giving, receiving, and processing paperwork. They photocopy it, smell it, stamp it, sign it, notarize it, fax it, care for it, and photocopy it again.
  23. Germans can drink. Not in a vomit-in-the-toilet sort of way, e.g., American/Australian/English binge drinking, but in a nonchalant-I’ll-keep-drinking-until-the-last-man-goes-home sort of way. They will often wash down their dinner and wine with pure grain alcohol, but you will never see a German stumble. Their livers are just as adroit as their cars.
  24. Do not expect small talk from Münchners at the supermarket checkout… or anywhere really.
  25. They have one hundred percent the most stressful, nerve-wracking super market checkouts in the world. In the world. Supermarket cashiers are awarded by their level of efficiency, e.g., how many groceries they ring up in a given amount of time. This means that when they are done scanning your groceries, they will start scanning the groceries of the next customer in line whether you have already finished bagging yours or not, so you better know what belongs to you so you don’t leave half your groceries there in an effort to quickly escape the mania. Bagging your groceries quickly enough and paying while still trying to continue to bag becomes an art and I can only tell you that after three and a half years I still haven’t mastered it. The first time I went to a German supermarket, I came home, got a beer out of the refrigerator, sat on the couch and cried.
  26. Watch where you step. As rule abiding of a society as this is, they somehow have not yet cultivated a rule for picking up after their dogs.
  27. They love to mix their beverages, but not in a New York-cocktail-bar sort of way, but more in an-eight-year-old-stole-a-beer-from-Dad-and-mixed-coke-and-lemonade-with-it sort of way.
  28. They know how to roast a mean chestnut.  
  29. They are incredibly superstitious people and if you wish them a happy birthday before their actual birthday, the world will implode and the aliens will come down to take us all.
  30. They can’t make a line to save their lives, which is hard to believe considering what an efficient group of people we are dealing with.   But the whole system fails when it comes time to form a line.
  31. If you are next in line at the supermarket checkout, after having waited ten minutes, and a new checkout opens up, you don’t get priority, but instead a sort of mobbing occurs and it becomes every man for himself.
  32. Sunday is for quiet time and Tatort only. The city closes down and should you decide to nail something in the wall or wash your car, you will soon be notified of what an ass you are from your neighbor.
  33. Entire conversations can be had using only the words, ‘Alles Klar’, ‘Doch’, ‘Genau’, ‘Also’ and ‘Stimmt’.
  34. They like house shoes and they often bring theirs over to your house to wear while visiting.
  35. They blame 98% of all health issues and strange behavior on the föhn, which is a warm downslope wind from the Alps.
  36. Bavarians love nature and walking paths and you will see them out every day of the year walking across fields and through woods in order to get some ‘frische Luft’ (fresh air).
  37. But not without walking sticks. You will rarely seeing a Bavarian walking without professional trekking poles. It shows their dedication to the sport.
  38. Finger food at social gatherings will consist mostly of many creative variations of cheese and ham.
  39. Minutes prior to a train stopping, a Münchner will undoubtedly be standing at the door with hands firmly in position on the door handles in order to quickly and frantically open it when the train stops.
  40. Do not ‘camp out’ in the left lane on the Autobahn. I repeat, DO NOT camp out in the left lane on the Autobahn. This lane is only for the far-advanced / unhinged / bats-in-the-belfry German driver.

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4 Replies to “O’zapft Is! : A Munich Commentary”

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  3. I love this essay. Your observations have me pining for a dip in a German stream after a ham & cheese with extra mustard. Need I mention that I’ve been attempting Project House Shoe here in Hawthorne for nearly five years?

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