Monday, April 10, 2006

International Relations

The Germans around the American bases generally had a love-hate relationship with the army. Actually, that's more of an appreciate the business, but disapprove of the general noise, mess, and excessive drunkeness (because Americans never can understand that German beer is much, much more alchoholic than American) relationship. However, we did manage to give them one or two moments of multi-lingual amusement.

Kirk had only been in the country for a couple of weeks, so his natural and highly irritating ability to pick up a language without any apparent effort hadn't yet kicked in. He was driving with a friend onto base when he realized he had forgotten his ID. His friend, a fluent German speaker by this time, reassured him - 'don't worry, just let the guard know you're a friend. They're really laid back about this sort of thing. Just tell him "bin ich eine warmbruder"' Kirk pulled up to the gate, looked the 60 year old grim German guard in the face and repeated the magic phrase. The friend promptly dropped an arm around Kirk's shoulder, batted his eyelashes and simpered 'ja, ich also...'

We had a lovely friend, a native of Montana who was the most gentle, sweet boy I've met, and managed to emit an air of utter innocence. He and Kirk were on a joint excercise with the German army and naturally they began negotiating trades. I'm not sure why the military issue of another country is so fascinating and desirable, but for some reason German boots were definitely a hot item, and in turn the Germans were just as eager to get their hands on some American jungle boots. These come in two varieties - green, and black. Our friend was quite pleased with his German and tried to negotiate the entire trade without using English. He did fine, until he asked the soldier which kind of boot he wanted: 'grune, oder schwanz?' Without batting an eye the soldier replied 'grune, bitte.'

For those who must - a German-English dictionary can be found here. Please note that I am unable to find the phrase 'warmbruder' in it, so it might be specific to the Fulda area, or I could be completely clueless. The general idea, however, was quite clear.

ETA: Quick Google, and I see warmbruder does exist. Google knows all.

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