Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 17

3 09 2021

“EIN GUTER RUF”

My boyhood Bible had a bookmark with my first name on it, and below it was the first part of Proverbs 22:1 in KJV: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…”

It took me a little while to understand that “name” in that context didn’t mean in the sense of first name, middle name or last name, but it meant reputation.

Hence, that same verse in the real Word of God, Luther 1545:

Ein guter Ruf ist köstlicher denn großer Reichtum, und Gunst besser denn Silber und Gold. (“A good reputation is more precious than great wealth, and [favor, goodwill, esteem] is better than silver and gold.”)

Since Luther used Ruf and not Name, that’s just one further piece of evidence that “name” in the KJV sense meant “reputation.”

***

Speaking of names.

Yes, he has arrived. I am now officially an uncle, albeit by marriage. My wife is now officially an aunt, by blood. My sister-in-law a mother, the soyboy-in-law a father, and my parents-in-law are now grandparents to grandsons three times over.

Like I wrote in this series earlier, for this little bundle of joy to be his father’s birthday present, i.e. to be born on his father’s birthday, he would have needed to be more late than medically desirable.

In reality, it came close.

She went into labor early in the morning on the Saturday the 28th, two days after the end of her due date range, which was the 23rd to the 26th. Her labor was nowhere near as painful as my wife’s, but it lasted much longer. He arrived into the world just after the stroke of midnight on the next day, Sunday the 29th, the day before his father’s birthday. Which means his own birthday and his father’s birthday are on consecutive days. August 29 for son, August 30 for dad.

Since they got to go home on Monday the 30th, in a way, it was his father’s birthday present. Just as ours weren’t born on Christmas Day but got to come home on Christmas Eve.

Back in December, all six of us were there, obviously my wife and I were in the delivery room, and the other four were in the waiting room. This time, since there are already two (now) toddlers (see below), someone had to mind them, and you can probably figure who was the best and most obvious choice to do that. So I wasn’t in the waiting room the whole time; Frick, Frack and I platooned between the waiting room, chores and home during the day on Saturday. Around 12:30-something on Sunday morning I got the call from the better half with the good news about both the successful delivery and the better news about the name (again, see below). Then later that morning, I rounded up the rugrats to head back to the hospital to meet their brand new cousin for the first time.

Since both mom and dad are small light svelte people, any children of theirs was bound to be the same, and on the light side of the newborn baby weight bell curve. And that he was, only the twentieth percentile. Otherwise, healthy, and delivered full term and then some. Unlike ours, though, who started out in the low median percentile range for twin boys, but already got to the median by five months, and now somewhat over at eight, their new cousin will most likely be on that side of the bell curve his whole life.

***

Now, like I said, name. This is the part you all want to know.

You already know from previous installments of this series how they were going to pick a name. And how we were all biting our nails over how badly we feared it was going to turn out.

The way they tell it, they both had their first serious pensive stare at their newborn son at the same time. And that they both blurted out something at almost the same time, but mom beat dad by the blink of an eye. Therefore, what mom said is his first name, and what dad said is his middle name.

The first name is…drumroll please…a perfectly respectable normal name. The middle name, while a little unconventional, is not so weird, and certainly not any kind of celebutardish, that if dad would have been quicker on the draw than mom, and his middle name would have been his first name and vice versa, that my new nephew would have gone through life with a disreputable first name in lieu of him either legally changing it or going by his middle name.

(Note: I’ll tell only people I trust the names, and only if you want to know.)

Now, whether he with the good Name will also have a good Ruf, that’s going to be up to him in the long run, and a matter of fate.

After all the excitement wore down around noon-ish on Sunday, and we took stock of all that happened, and realized the bullet was dodged over this name thingy, my father-in-law was like: Danke Gott, as he looked up. My mother-in-law was like: Danke Gott, as she looked up. My wife was like: Danke Gott, as she looked up.

I was like: Thank God, as I looked up.

***

As you can predict, my father-in-law isn’t just over the Moon, he’s that, back to Earth and back over the Moon again. Really, my mother-in-law is just the same, except she’s not as ostentatious with her emotions. His now three grandsons are one of the rare things in life which brings the emotionalism out in him. I’ve even seen him try to dance, but let’s just say that that’s the kind of thing that you can never un-see.

My father-in-law almost literally thinks I’m an “Engel.” To which I respond to him with this bon mot: “Es ist wahr, dass ich von einem hohen Ort stammte. Aber es war Lufthansa, nicht Gott.” (Pph: “I did come from the sky, but it was Lufthansa, not God.”) In reality, for reasons you all know, I needed them as much as they needed me. We’re all people who now know first hand that things can go really right or really left in a hurry, and that nothing ever stays that good or that bad for that long.

My parents-in-law are happy not only because of the literal event, but also what it represents. As late as three years ago at this time, they were really worried about and this close to being resigned to the fact that neither one of their daughters would ever give them grandchildren slash their older one would never get married. To today, they’re grandparents to three grandsons. And all because I came along into their older daughter’s life, and set off a big chain reaction on the pool table.

Which reminds me that Sunday is the third anniversary of me arriving in Germany to live and work, and then five days later is the third anniversary of me meeting and laying eyes on her for the first time.

***

Okay, dear sister-in-law and soyboy-in-law. It’s now for real. All that growing up we all think you need to do? Better hurry up and get the rest of it done, PDQ.

Although the better half and I know without even saying that we’re going to have to be his de facto second set of parents. I knew that already from early last month when I helped the new dad put together assemble the baby furniture, and by “help,” I mean I did most of the work.

I’m going to make one long term prediction: My parents-in-law’s third grandson will favor his grandmother, in contrast to their first two, who are already showing much more favoritism to their grandfather than their grandmother. That’s rather easy to predict, because the better half is daddy’s girl, while my sister-in-law is mommy’s girl.

***

Now, as for the two that have already been here for several months, we’re off to the races. Now officially rugrats. Both heard the starting bell and crashed out of the gates second week in August, the younger one beat the older one by two days. I was on the road when the younger one started, but not so when the older one did, so I didn’t totally miss out. The difference between the two of them is that the younger instantly went to crawling, while the older had his first crawl two days after the younger but took another two days to crawl as well as the younger one did with his very first one. The difference between all at once and easing into it.

This is probably going to be the start of a lifelong competition between the two of them on who does what first. And now that they’re crawling and thus independently mobile at least in the most basic sense of speaking, the fun has really begun for their parents. It also means they have more or less crossed over from infant to toddler.

The next big things are going to be walking and talking, and which one they get to first is actually going to be an early and leading indicator of their inherent cognitive ability and IQ. Both their parents started talking before walking, the time gap between the two was wider for mom than dad.

I resolved to arrange things to where they hear equal parts German and English in their infancy, toddlerhood and childhood. The way things are working out, considering where they are, that only one of the six grown people they interact with most often is a native English speaker, and anyway they hear him speak German close to half the time, (when he’s actually home), it’s turning out to be more like three fourths to one fourths. So their first words are most likely going to be in German. And there’s the old axiom that there is no such thing as a truly bilingual human being, that anyone who is “natively” bilingual merely sucks at two languages. I can also see where that’s going in this case; They’ll be native in German and especially the low country Rhenish sort of accent, while some level north of fluent but south of native in American English and my “Last of the Mohicans” sort of St. Louis accent (“kitchen zink”).

I already miss these infants.

***

I made it my business to be at or close to home the entire week of her due date range, but had to get back on the road on Monday no matter what happened. I was able to see them bring my nephew home from the hospital to see their grandparents’ home for the first time, but then I had to hit the road. I’ve got only one more month of this serious work and travel grind for awhile, and hopefully it will end with a blue wave.

On the drive between Nuremberg and Berlin on Thursday morning, I took a few minutes aside to make a brief bit out of the way pit stop at a certain historically significant town along the way. A town where someone once wrote a translation of this really long book, and he did a lot of his work in that town. Voller Kreis.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 16

16 06 2021

“PUTTING THE MANN IN MANNSCHAFT”

Cologne, we have a problem.

***

Yesterday began what is ordinarily a biannual ritual for Germans, during the summer of even numbered years. The ritual involves Good Germans outsourcing their patriotism to a bunch of guys kicking a ball around.

The last time this happened was the World Cup in 2018. As you may remember, I was just a mere tourist in this and a few surrounding countries when the WC was going on, and we were able to watch Germany’s first pool game while we were in Wittenberg and its third in Ingolstadt. The second game, we were in the Czech Republic. At the time, Germany was the defending WC champions from 2014, so there were high hopes for 2018. But, they flopped. Yet and still, it was a sight to behold, this “outsourcing,” first hand.

After I later learned I was going to come back for different reasons, and then after actually doing that, also as you might remember, I went to a regular season game of the German domestic league, Bremen at D’dorf, November 2018, to see a fellow native St. Louisan, one Josh Sargent. I really lucked out, because it was the game where he logged his first playing time in the Bundesliga and his first goal. You may remember that’s the game I bought my St. Louis flag, and when I saw Sargent being inserted into the game, I waved it and yelled, “YO JOSH.” All for naught, because it was nothing but noise the whole game, the only variance is whether it was really loud or ear-deafening loud. And remember, this was just a garden variety domestic league game between at the time a mid-standings team (Bremen) playing at the basement dwellers (D’Dorf). Side note: Bremen got relegated after this just finished Bundesliga season to the second league. They were having money problems anyway, and relegation certainly isn’t going to make them any better. Odds are they’re probably going to move Sargent out in a fire sale, and one of the talked about destinations is right next door to me in Leverkusen.

Anyway, we’re now on Euro 2020 season, it like the Tokyo Olympics delayed a year because of Covid. The World Cup is held the summer of midterm election years in America, while the Euro and all the other regional mini-WCs are held during the summer of Presidential election years, usually. Euro is probably the world’s second most anticipated national team soccer tournament behind only the WC itself, though the WC in 2018, with four UEFA teams in the final four, got the snarky nickname Euro 2018.

Germany’s first pool game in Euro 2020 was last night in Munich versus France, who you will remember won the 2018 WC, and, as it’s mostly the same team as then, is a favorite to win this Euro. All three of Germany’s pool games will be in Munich, and yes, that’s the stadium that changes exterior colors.

***

The good news is that Germany scored the only goal of the game. The bad news? Well, I’m sure it’s run its course in the international news cycle by now. Also, some eco nut parachuted in on a yellow parachute. I figured when I saw it happen out of the corner of my eye (see below) it had to be some kind of left wing kook.

***

The better half and I watched it from the parents-in-law along with my sister-in-law. The soyboy-in-law had other commitments and had to leave after dinner. But even if he had been here, it wouldn’t have made a difference, because none of us would have watched it that closely, as the five of us grown folk that were there had other things to do, and the sixth not there would have done other things if he was. Since the game started at 9, the better half and I plus our two bundles of joy left not long after the start of the second half, because it was already past 10.

But, like I said, while we were all there, and we had it on the TV, nobody was really watching it.

With one big exception.

Or, to be more accurate, two big exceptions.

Or, to be even more accurate, two little exceptions.

I think you can figure it out by now.

From what I saw, they were glued to this game, and unusually so for something that happens this late in the evening by their increasingly regular daily awake-asleep cycle. They paid attention to it more intensely than they have anything in their almost six months of life. The better half, who observed them more than I did during the time before we left and the game was on, noticed the same thing even more starkly.

Uh oh.

I can already see where this is going.

Oh well, at least it’s not that expensive. And it’s good exercise; Especially since I know which two people with their weight problems they are descended from by one generation. Though I have to digress for a moment, most of this will be for another time: The better half is maintaining a much healthier weight post-birth than she did before she started in being in the family way, which is very atypical for mid-30s women who do that. Only wish some of that being able to keep weight off would spill over on me, though I’ve lost a few pounds overall since the end of rehab, and I should concede that at my age, any weight loss in a situation where one needs to lose weight should be appreciated.

And they are little German boys, after all. This was kinda inevitable. I can’t throw stones; After all, their Papi was once a little St. Louis boy, and little St. Louis boys almost inevitably get the baseball dream. A dream that, as you know, I substantively knew wasn’t in the Cards (pun intended) when I was eleven, and I hung up my cleats at seventeen. Though I will say that, as you might guess, Germans are so cold at soccer development that, once they get to around age twelve, the old grown folks around them will know whether they have any chance of a future in this business or nah, if nah, then that’s when they’ll be hanging up their own cleats. Simply because there won’t be any school teams for them to continue playing even past the realization that they won’t be making a living out of this, if that’s what winds up happening. Remember, Germans and Europeans don’t do school sports in the way that Americans do.

***

So, that’s it. I now know that I have a mid-term future as a soccer dad.

You know, I was expecting these two to save our civilization, not score goals for Die Mannschaft in the 2046 World Cup.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 15

18 05 2021

“THE ENVELOPE PLEASE”

You all want to know how it went this weekend.

There is going to be a whole lot of DADT about this weekend. But the way I nudged it out of the soyboy-in-law, and my wife out of my sister-in-law, they did everything they were supposed to on a pure necessity level, but not much more, and nowhere near what we think they should have done. So it might not literally take us years to undo the damage; Maybe only months.

The time leading up to this weekend just flew by, while the actual weekend itself dragged on and on, each second seemed to take a whole minute. The only saving grace for me was that I had a short business roadtrip on Saturday, which took my mind off of all my worrying a little bit and made time go by not as excruciatingly slow. The better half was not so lucky.

Yet and still, we weren’t either going to break in or interfere. All we gave them were their portable convertible cribs, a few changes of clothes, enough bottles of their mother’s pumped out breast milk, and the two car seats. Everything else, they had to buy themselves. The way we figure, if they wanted to practice being parents to infants, and use their twin nephews to do it, they were going to do it as accurately and completely as practically possible. After all, very soon, this sort of thing won’t be practice, it will be their consummate all-encompassing reality.

When we got them back, they both had a look in their eyes toward us as if to say that, the next time we pull something like this, they’re going to run away, even if they haven’t started walking.

***

In the days through the week leading up to the weekend, my father-in-law tried a few times to talk me off the ledge, trying to convince me that maybe some good will come of this. On Thursday at Abendessen, he gave me a sealed envelope, and told me not to open it until Monday.

I’ll get to that in a moment.

***

On Sunday late in the afternoon, when normal order was restored, one of the things that they conceded is that they now realize how much work it takes, and more than they were expecting. And that they really need to do a lot of mental preparation over this coming summer, and, while they didn’t quite use these words, also a lot more growing up. (If they’re in that mood, maybe they would like to settle on a nice normal rational name now, instead of what you know is their current game plan? Nein?)

We, too, realized something about ourselves. Once they took them from us on late Friday afternoon, it was the first time that they were in the direct guardianship of someone other than their parents or grandparents in their nearly five months of life. It was also the first evening where they weren’t in the direct company of either their mother or their father. Plain words, it was our first evening without them since they were on the other side of the birth canal. I counted, and the last time that had been the case before this past Friday evening was 145 days before it. We didn’t have them, but we had them. We were able to sleep on the two weekend nights without them for the first time in 145 and 146 days, respectively, and fully knowing that they weren’t there to wake us up. But we hardly slept any better.

What we realized is that we have both changed as people very quickly, starkly, and in short order. Our internal and external habits are so much different. Those 145 days ago were just that, only 145 days ago. But they seem like much longer ago. And that’s in spite of the fact that I blink and boom, there goes another month. If presented with the same version of our selves from five months ago, I doubt we’d even recognize those people.

Whoever said that a baby changes everything didn’t know the half of it. Having a baby changes so much of everything that it changes things you don’t think can be changed.

Like I just wrote above, these two now realize how much work they have to do, but they’ll soon realize how much about their existence and selves is going to change.

***

Speaking of work to do and changing selves, I’ve got another slightly thorny matter over the horizon.

Those of you who got my birth announcement know something that my father-in-law arranged for his first two grandsons, so you can guess, rightly so, that he’s going to do it for his third.  If you happen to remember an early installment of this series, then you’ll know why someone is going to have to break a certain piece of news to the soyboy-in-law.

Week before last, I asked my sister-in-law if she has let her husband in on the secret, and she said no.  Which means he’s going to have to be told, and someone is going to have to do it.  And after carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages to tasking the job to either his wife, his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, his sister-in-law, or his sister-in-law’s husband (that being myself), we came to the decision that I’m the best one out of the bunch to do it.

Some time in June, after I’m done with Magdeburg, I’m going to have to take the soyboy-in-law for a walk.  And when I put it in those terms, I realize that it will be the first time that I’ll be going on one of these “walks” in the physical presence one-to-one sense and being the one who has to do most of the talking and explaining.  It’s going to feel, well, some kind of way, to do this and not being the one on the passive end.

When I do it, I’ll be coming full circle, in a way.  Again, those of you who are both veterans of this series and received my birth announcement can figure out how.

***

Remember that envelope?

I opened up over Mittagbrot yesterday, and it had a piece of paper, and my father-in-law’s handwriting, just one sentence:

Sie werden entdecken, wie schwierig das ist.

Which translates to:

They will discover how difficult it is.

Well I’ll be damned, the old man knew.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 14

2 05 2021

“JA ODER NEIN”

Ruh-roh. And by “ruh-roh,” I mean “life has a way of sneaking up on you.” I should know, and should have known.

This was an atypical weekend for me that involved not being out on the road. During the Covid era, nearly all such weekend nights have been spent at my father-in-law’s house, losing to him at chess a whole lot. But he has been feeling a bit down and tired, and wanted to turn in early on Friday night and last night. So my wife and I, the two bundles of joy, and my sister- and soyboy-in-law, spent Friday evening at our place and last night at theirs.

Last night, those two, knowing that they now know the number and sex of their own anticipated bundle of joy, broached an idea which knocked me flat on my back…er, I shouldn’t have put it that way, considering relatively recent events. Can’t say the better half is too thrilled, either.

They want to practice for a weekend.

And guess on whom.

We can’t say yes, but we can’t say no.

So our lack of ability to answer meant yes by default.

The only reprieve is that since next weekend is Muttertag, it won’t be until the weekend after that. So I’ve got some time for prayers to be answered. Come through, omnipotent omniscient divine entity in which I’ve invested so much blind faith over the years!

It might take their mother, father and grandparents years to undo the psychological damage.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 13

30 04 2021

“SO TYPICAL THEM”

My sister-in-law’s sonogram was this week.

Both of my wife’s grandmothers are also both of my sister-in-law’s grandmothers, and, as you already know from reading this series, they are both parties to fraternal twins in some way, and in ways that they passed the heritable trait for fraternal twinning to both of these granddaughters, among others. My sister-in-law is herself north of 30, and that by itself increases the odds. Which means that the odds of fraternal twins were just as high for her as they were for her sister. However, even with all that, it’s still a relative longshot. The odds against this kind of lightning striking twice were lottery-type long. My sister-in-law’s weight gain curve is and has been nowhere near as out of sorts as her sister’s, and her own morning sickness, which by now has come and gone, was a relative walk in the park again also compared to what her sister went through. Those things combined were circumstantial evidence for one instead of two.

And the sonogram confirmed.

One.

One boy.

Since it’s a boy, you can guess who hit the roof, again. A third grandson is on the way for grandpa. And, for those of you who got my birth announcement for my own, you already know one thing grandpa is going to arrange over these next few months.

And I’m really looking forward to our sons having a boy first cousin a mere eight months younger than themselves.

The narrowed down due date range has as its later bookend three days before his father’s own birthday, so he would have to be more late than medically desirable for them to be his father’s 32nd birthday present.

***

You may also remember me writing here that, in a sense, and inserting what we now know, that this single boy will be a de facto third son for my wife and I. Those two have done a lot of growing up, but I wish they would do a lot more of it, if for no other reason, for the sake of our soon to arrive nephew. Those two are about to be parents; they need to cut it out with ALL the dipshittiness and immaturity over these next four months.

Something that the soyboy-in-law told me the evening after the sonogram results confirms the urgency of all that.

I asked him if they’ve been thinking about names, and now, just one male name since we know it’s one boy. He told me that their plan all along has been to wait until (now we know, he) is born, look at (him), and the first name that either the new mommy or daddy blurts out, that is going to be (his) name.

Those of you who got my birth announcement know about how intricately and delicately I played out the politics of naming my own two, names that I had already known I wanted to name a firstborn son of mine for a very long time and a second son for fifteen years. So you just knew that as meticulous as I was, is as flippant as they are. It’s so typical them.

And, oh boy, pun intended, this is going to be a real crap shoot. If this turns out as badly as the expectant grandpa, grandma, aunt and myself fear, then I think we’ll all have to come to a consensus on an alias. Then eventually put the idea in the boy’s head to do a legal name change once he gets old enough.

However this will play out, four months hence, it’s gonna, come hell or high Rhine.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 12

1 03 2021

“DEVIL DOES CARE”

I knew the comedown in 2021 would be swift, hard and severe. But I never thought it would be this.

You all know by now what it was and how soon it happened.

I was in a state of shell shock for about a month and a half. During the better part of that time, I’ve been running on autopilot, living a perfunctory, pro forma existence.

The one human being in life, that was for me, a constant, and pervasive, to one degree or another, in the entirety of the forty-three and three-quarter years that we were both alive at the same time, is now gone.

***

All the happy events in my personal life in the 391 days from December 14, 2019 to January 7, 2021 made me blind myself to all sorts of reality. Not only with regards to everything that was going on in the world, but also, as it turned out, with regards to my mother’s condition.

I know that dementia do what it do, and it only do one thing in one direction. But her condition stabilized in the last two months or so of Frau.’s pregnancy. I was thinking that maybe just maybe that it would stabilize such that she would live long enough and have enough cognitive competence to be able to see her own grandsons and understand what she is seeing when I inevitably take Frau. to visit my native city — If I had any hesitation and any ability to turn back Frau.’s lobbying in that stead, that’s all wiped away now — I’ll have to go back at least one more time for closure. Though even before this, that would not have been able to happen until at least the summer of 2023. And now, there is obviously no great urgency insofar as a time frame and no reason to hurry up for my mother’s sake.

On the evening after the afternoon I got The Call, I suddenly realized that it was just a matter of her willing herself to hang on long enough to be on this Earth when her first grandchildren arrived, and to see them virtually. Immediately after, reality reasserted itself. It’s why both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the semicentennial date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence — Not because it was “a visible and palpable remarks of Divine Favor,” but because they made it close enough to the anniversary, and willed themselves across the finish line, then collapsed. Likewise, my mother probably would have passed on months ago but for. I guess that’s the fortunate thing, because it could have well been the case that Frau. and I decided to wait a bit longer to try to have children, which means she wouldn’t have been pregnant at all in 2020, which in turn means my mother would have had no reason to will herself to a few more months of life, and she would have passed on, e.g., while we were on our honeymoon, which would have ruined our honeymoon definitely for me and well enough for Frau.

Through 2020, Frau. and I were Den Teufel wird es vielleicht interessieren. Except the devil actually does care.

***

I’ll never forget how I got The Call.

It was not long after 5 PM my time, Friday, January 8, (what a way to start a weekend, huh?), which means it was just after 10 AM back in St. Louis. You’ll recognize that as just one day after I found out that Frau. and I are going to be an aunt and uncle. The caller ID on my phone properly showed that it was my quasi-uncle, so I knew it had to be something that important. When I answered, he asked me if (my wife’s name) was home. She was, but I was wondering why he was asking about her, and then as soon as I got that thought out of my mind, he asked me to put her on the phone, which I did, but continued to be incredulous. He must have told her that he wanted her to hold the phone to my ear when he was going to tell me what he needed, because she immediately put the phone to my ear, and then he delivered the news. That was a good idea on his part, because I would have dropped the phone in my state of shock. Immediately after, Frau. took the phone back and talked to him in German for a few minutes, so it would seem, even though that was the start of my being in a state of shell shock to one degree or another for about a month and a half.

I’m glad he thought of that little piece of logistics.

***

I had made and paid for the final provisions quite some time back, with one major exception.

Aside from the emotional pain of it all, this was a really weird funeral to “attend,” I being the one and only next of kin, and being a whole ocean and continent away. In theory, I could have made the flights and been there physically. But it was something that was so impractical that it was impossible for all real world intents and purposes. Even disregarding how the world is still hysterical over a virus that’s only five times more lethal than the average seasonal flu. Remember, through all this, I’m also having to make a living and be the father of twin infants.

You may remember that my father passed in August 2018, and that was during that weird six week interregnum, after we returned from the journey and then me going back to take this job, my final month and a half as a St. Louisan. I was not close to my own father, and anyway he hadn’t been compos mentis for years. So, while I was just as much his next of kin as much as my mother’s, (his own wife, with whom they had no children, was also bedridden and out of it, I don’t even know if she’s still living, TBH), and I had to deal with the whole set of proceedings, all from my wheelchair, his passing was a way different deal for me emotionally. As you might remember me writing here in this space back then, his passing was not a shock to my system, and had for my sake fortuitous timing. I remember writing here that the mercy of death finally arrived.

This was anything but.

The day I knew I’d have to be delivering her eulogy, virtually, I knew would be one of the hardest days of my life. And that it was. I actually had to do it twice, the second time three days after I did it the first time. Reasons, long story. But the second time was not as hard as the first, even though what took place right after the second time made the day overall harder than the first.

The hardest part of all was not being able to be there.

There was only one thing that made all of it a little less of a living hell, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

***

As I wrote above, there was one major exception to my pre-planned final provisions. It was a loose end that I hadn’t finalized, because I’d been hoping that I wouldn’t have had to make a big decision on the matter for awhile. Circumstances forced my hand.

My mother never had any hard and fast wishes about how her earthly remains would be treated for the rest of eternity. She said that she was never keen on the idea of being six feet underground. But she also knew that the other options were either just as “bad” or untenably expensive. Ultimately, she left it all up to me. But, like I said, I didn’t even figure that part out even as late as the moment I got The Call.

Not long after she had to go into assisted living, in March 2016, realizing why she was there, and that dementia would most likely be the final diagnosis of life, someone closely affiliated to her doctors confronted me with a sensitive proposal, somehow this person got wind that what would become of her eventual earthly remains was entirely my call.

I gave it fair consideration at first, but my own life and circumstances, in one case, coming close to becoming worm food myself, and then everything that happened after that, meant that this matter quickly faded out of mind. That one phone call almost two months ago now brought it right back to the front of my mind out of necessity.

In between The Call and the final services, among everything else I had to do, I had to make this the final call. And I wound up taking up this suggestion.

Donated to medical science.

It’s because, while space is the final frontier for human exploration and settlement, the brain is the final frontier for our understanding of ourselves. Brain malfunction is what almost killed me, and is what ended my mother’s life. It’s because there are other mothers and other fathers in this world who are suffering or will soon suffer from or are genetically destined to suffer from dementia and brain degenerative conditions. If even one of them gets to have a longer more fulfilled life because of what various doctors and medical researchers will learn from having access to my late mother’s earthly remains, then I think it will be cosmically worth it. You the children and grandchildren of such people — Never thank me. Thank me by hugging and kissing your mom and dad and grandma and grandpa as often as you can.

Denn du bist Erde, und sollst zu Erde werden.

***

Mad props to Frau. and my parents-in-law, and even my sister-in-law and the soyboy-in-law in their own way, for really smoothing out the rough spots over all this time, in quite a few ways. One thing I quickly was thankful for, well, here’s a hint — “Gott sei dank, dass sie ihre anderen Großeltern haben” were the exact words I blurted out at one point during my anguish in realizing that they’ll never know their paternal grandparents, and Frau. certainly agreed. Being as their “anderen Großeltern” are only 63 and 59, barring any too-soon tragedy, they’ll be around for awhile. By comparison, my father was 82, my mother 81, when they left this world.

All five of them were there with me, and dressed appropriately for the occasion, funereally, for the final services on my virtual end, and right behind me as I delivered the eulogy. I should add that I did the second three-day-later eulogy by myself, by design — I didn’t want to have them go through all that again, even though what I found out later, indicative of what I’m about to write, meant that they would have gladly done it again.

When I finally got over my grief toward the end of February, I got to talking with my father-in-law about it. I told him that he and they didn’t have to do that, they didn’t have to be there. His response was that they did. His own words: “Deine Freude ist die gleiche wie unsere Freude, und dein Schmerz ist der gleiche wie unser Schmerz.”

He then told me something he told his oldest daughter a year ago from this coming Sunday, the morning that she was getting dressed up to get married to me. (Already a year? Tempus fugit.) As you may remember, my quasi-uncle came here to be my best man, and he bought along his own wife, his younger sister (my aunt, i.e. ex-wife of my blood uncle, the one that himself passed in June 2019), their only daughter, i.e. a first cousin of mine, she being the only actual blood relative of mine in the group, the retired pastor of my boyhood Lutheran church back in St. Louis, and our very own Puggg. I worked in the second to last into the ceremonies at close to the last minute, and Puggg as my assistant best man. Anyway, the thing which my father-in-law told me that he told his about-to-marry-me older daughter that morning, was that he noticed the relatives of mine that were here, talked to all of them, and in fact, he and my quasi-uncle became new BFFs, and yukked it up quite a bit at the wedding, though they didn’t talk much to each other until this funeral. But his words to his daughter that morning were, according to his recollection, and roughly translated into English: “His real family back in America is getting old and starting to die out. His relatives here now, this may be the last time he ever sees any of them. We are his new family now. However patient you think you have to be with him on a daily basis and through your lives together, be a little more patient than that.”

When he told me that, I knew that there was no way they weren’t going to go to this funeral. After I told him about the “encore performance” I had to do, he said that he wished I wouldn’t have kept that a secret.

I already knew that my sons had the grandpa of all time. Now I can add to it that I have the father-in-law of all time. That I genuinely do have a new family who is with me and I am with them until the end and beyond. That this city and country have truly become home in every which way of the word. Those are probably the best silver linings to these month and a half of clouds.

***

One other thing that occurred to me through all this, is that, when I am in the nursery with my sons and nobody else, in that room are the only three living descendants of both my late mother and my late father, a whole ocean away on a whole different continent, no less. Obviously their paternal grandfather passed before I even laid eyes on their mother for the first time, and their paternal grandmother passed when they were all of seventeen days old. They’ll never know them. But like I wrote above, thank God for their other set.

***

Like I said, I was living a generally perfunctory pro forma existence for awhile; the shell shock lasted way after all the scheduled proceedings were long over. Valentines Day weekend is when I started to break out of this depression. After the process of reassembling myself psychologically, I returned a call from back in St. Louis that was made to me at a point in time between The Call and the final day of the proceedings; It was one of the nurses from the assisted living facility where she spent her final almost five years of life.

That call snapped me right back to normal. In an instant, just like that.

She and I talked about her last weeks and days and hours. She said that my mother went downhill really quickly in the final nine days, (like I said, reality reasserting itself), and upon thinking about it, I realized that it was mysterious that when I tried to call my mother on Skype during those nine days, that one of the nurses who would have set up the screen in front of my mother said that she wasn’t feeling well. That should have raised a red flag in my mind — But I was on a high considering all else, and I foolishly ignored anything that smelled like bad news.

But back to the point of me snapping right back to normal, this nurse also said that, as far as she knows, my mother’s final words in life and final coherently formed words in life, spoken hours before that moment, and spoken as if she knew that her time to go was very imminent, were:

“Tell (my name) to take care of those babies.”

B-O-O-M.

Right back up on the horse.

This was hard on me, probably the hardest thing yet. But it’s also in the past. I wasn’t about to let another day go by and not be all there mentally for my now two-month old sons, who have been and are predictably growing and progressing (i.e. becoming difficult and fussy) normally and on cue. I was not and am not about to miss out on all that. I’ve got a whole rest of my life to live, a whole career that needs me to be all there especially in a year like this, a whole two little boys to mold into future world rulers, and a whole wife who needs my attention for other reasons. I’ve seen a lot in my life, but I haven’t yet seen the clock move backward.

Yes, mom, I’m gonna.

***

On September 4, 2018, the day after Labor Day, I left St. Louis from Lambert Airport, in my wheelchair, with a bunch of luggage. There, two of the people who saw me off were my mother and my younger and at the time only remaining blood uncle. Even then, I prepared myself for the possibility that it would be the last time I would ever see them or any of the others, because you never know what could happen. At the time, I never had any inclination that I would be here in Germany for more than several years. But, by the same token, you never know what could go wrong, and in that which I was commencing, there are many possibilities, and at the time there was the still lingering specter of my TBI recovery suddenly reversing. But it turned out that one thing went very right, and it was the ultimate reason why it did indeed turn out to be the case that September 4, 2018 was the last day I ever saw my mother and my younger uncle in the flesh, and why I’ll most likely live out the rest of my own life here.

On September 4, 2018, I had no clue that, within a week’s time, I would lay eyes on her for the first time.

It should be a self-evident truism that the best things in life have the steepest costs. But it takes events and circumstances like these to make one realize how intensely and consummately true it is, and that it even applies to the realm of the abstract.

I now have everything in life I ever wanted, and all it cost me was everything I knew.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 11

7 01 2021

“BABY FEVER IS CONTAGIOUS”

Considering the last year, maybe I shouldn’t have titled it quite that way…

Anyway.

Sixteen days after Frau. and I became parents, we learned today that we’re also going to be an aunt and uncle.

My sister-in-law and the soyboy-in-law are expecting. They broke the news to my parents-in-law this evening at supper, even though they gave us a heads up late morning, but wanted it to be a surprise for the grandparents-to-be-again that evening, the tests confirmed today. Preliminarily due in the second half of August, and that range would include the soon-to-be daddy’s 32nd birthday. Soon the docs will be able to narrow the range down.

***

I wrote this back on May 31 in this series:

This has relevance to those two other people that have been a serial feature in this the RHOC series: My sister-in-law, and her husband, the soyboy-in-law.

First off, the good news is that the one-two-three punch of our actually getting married, the Covid-19 lockdown, and our expecting, have finally forced my sister-in-law to give up on her treachery. But more than that, and while no actual words have been spoken to prove it, I can see in their body language that these three recent major events are making my sister-in-law and her husband to do good hard soul searching, to figure out what they really want out of life, and if whatever they decide for themselves going forward involves each other or nah.

So I’m going to make this prediction now: Two years from today, May 31, 2022, they will be either one of two things but not both: Parents, or divorced.

And then on September 1:

One last note: You’ll remember that I wrote in this series back in May, that all that has transpired over this year has not only forced my sister-in-law to give up on her quixotic treachery, but also it has forced her and the soyboy to do some deep introspection. I predicted that, two years hence, they would be either parents or divorced. Nothing has happened since then to make me think one is more likely than the other, but one major thing that happened while we were away on Flitterwochen is that he has made a career change, though to say that he made a “change” is misleading, because what he had before wasn’t really a career, just menial employment. Anyway, I can’t say here what it is, for security purposes, and I wasn’t even aware that one could make a living doing such a thing. But, he is, and already he’s making serviceable money, and because Cologne is one of the world’s centers for this relatively new industry, one that held a big annual trade show here in town over this past extended weekend, he certainly lives in the right city for his newfound profession. Though he will be doing going his fair share of travel. I will say that, as of now, both of them combined now make enough to sustain themselves and a potential baby, so that might be a hint that they’re growing closer together. But, by the same token, each one of them is now making enough to live well enough separately, so it could be just as much of a hint that they’re headed to Scheidungsgericht.

Though for the first time, I’m actually cheering for them to make it. Because I think it would be so neat if (fill in the blank for my planned name of my first son) and (fill in the blank for my planned name of my second son) eventually come to have one or more first cousins. Since I’m an only child, and Frau. has no other siblings, they, (or in theory, my sister-in-law with another man) are the only possible source of potential first cousins for fill-in-the-blank and fill-in-the-blank.

Last month, I think it was early in the month, I wrote on all my socials that both my father-in-law and my sister-in-law were acting strange. Frau. and I found out on Christmas Day why my father-in-law was; Those of you who have received and read my birth announcement already know what it turned out to be. And now I know why my sister-in-law was, because now I’m guessing that, by then, she missed her time of the month, combined with the fact that they were trying, inspired by Frau. and I, (baby fever is contagious, after all), and she already knew.

***

This is good news on several levels.

First, it means that my father-in-law, already on Cloud Nine because he’s now a new grandpa, is going to be a grandpa again. When my sister-in-law made the big announcement at dinner, knowing what was coming, I immediately went over to him and held him to the floor, to keep him from literally going into orbit.  While I was able to prevent that, he was so happy that he did something that I am told that he has never done out of a sense of happiness:  Cry.  And those of you who have read my birth announcement can already figure one big thing he’s going to do in the next several months in earnest.

Second, it means that my sister-in-law’s treachery is officially over. Now it’s perfectly apparent that they figured out in 2020 that all they ever will really have are each other. So why not make the best of it?  They got married some time in the relatively recent past for some reason, after all.  It also proves in the long run that my strategy of being persistently cold toward her, but never directly combative, and never pushing the matter out into the open, as the way to counter her treachery, was the right one.  Anything else, and I could have caused serious interpersonal damage, and none of this would be happening today.

Third, it means that my twin sons will have at least one first cousin pretty close in age to themselves. Something tells me though that, for Frau. and I, he or she will be somewhat kinda sorta de facto our third child.

Fourth, and most importantly, and pointing back to my my father-in-law cried tears of joy, if all goes well and Mother Nature does her proper job, the end result is going to be a family unit that was functional but unsettled and uncertain as late as the beginning of May 2019, to my parents-in-law seeing their older daughter finally find “the one” (after nothing but frustration in that department) and get married and have children, and their younger daughter and other son-in-law finally quit being semi-functional louts and get serious about each other and life in general, ending with having their own son(s) and/or daughter(s) — By September 1, my parents-in-law will be the grandparents of (at least) three.  His tears (and more so, let’s be honest, he kinda sorta fell out, which means a lot, especially for someone like him, whose emotional swings are very low amplitude, unlike his older daughter), were also about the consummation of the thing.  I would guess that every parent worth a damn experiences these emotions when they realize that all of their own children have or will soon have children of their own, grandchildren from all their children.

None of this seemed possible for them as late as May 1, 2019.  Just as none of this and more seemed possible for me as late as a year to the day before that.

All this because I came along and like a wild eight-ball set off a domestic chain reaction that now sees everyone all the better for it.

I think that my father-in-law and mother-in-law will, some time very soon tonight, before they go to sleep, before they turn off the bedside lamps, look at each other, one will say a certain phrase, and the other will agree, that at least roughly translates to:  “The kids are alright.”  Then probably sleep as well as they have in a long time.

I’m the best thing that ever happened to these people.

***

One interesting footnote here is how my mother-in-law, who picks up on everything, totally missed her younger daughter being pregnant, and didn’t see it coming. Middle aged or older women who are at least average in intelligence and perception really have an uncanny ability slash sixth sense about things. And my mother-in-law has these abilities in surplus. I now know that, after the first night I met the family in mid-August 2019, the pilot episode of this the RHOC series, later that night, she told he who would eventually become my father-in-law that I gave her a feeling that I was going to be “the one” for their older daughter in a way that none of Frau.’s other previous serious boyfriends ever did. You also know from this series that, on the night I proposed, only my mother-in-law saw that there was something more than met the eye to the evening. And, later on, as I would find out, she figured Frau. was expecting even before she missed her first time of the month. Later on, she was the first to speculate “Zwilling” (“twins”) out loud.

Yet, her intuition didn’t go off at all this time, and on top of that, I had a better long term read the subject matter than she did.  Odd one there.

***

Things are going so well for me and us.  Too well, as a matter of fact.

The comedown, whenever it comes and whatever it is, is going to be good hard and swift.  Though, considering my relatively recent life history, maybe I shouldn’t have put it quite that way…





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 10

1 01 2021

“FATHERHOOD IS (GOING TO BE) HARD”

(1) How am I not going to spoil them? Even more daunting is how I’m going to undo their grandpa’s spoiling of them. Those of you who have gotten my e-mail announcement know that he already has, in a big way.

(2) It is inevitable that both I and their mother will favor one over the other, it’s just human nature. How am I going to engage in them to where they don’t realize it? Some of the worst and longest lasting family feuds are rooted in parents’ sibling favoritism.

(3) How am I going to be able to split the uprights and avoid the undesirable extremes of helicopter parenting on one end and total insouciance on the other? The former is how the world ended up with special snowflakes in constant need of safe spaces, and the latter is how we got street gangs.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that…

Note: In light of what I have come to learn recently, I’ve added a new axiom, number 79.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 9

18 12 2020

“LAST WORDS, BEFORE…”

Even though we’ve been on Baby Watch / Babybeobach for almost a week now, our official due date range starts on Sunday. So I’m going to take this last opportunity to get in my last words in this space before becoming a father.

By no means are these going to be royal babies, and certainly not ones on the direct line of succession for any throne. Yet and still, both Frau. and I are very happy with all the interest that a lot of people, people attached to her only, people in two countries attached to me only, and people attached to both of us, have in this imminent anticipated event.  It’s almost as if it is a royal baby watch. Thank you, everyone. Vielen Dank an alle.

We are as ready to be parents as any two people can be, and in fact, we think we have it in us to be the best parents of all time. My father-in-law is already in serious contention to be the grandpa of all time. Speaking of, I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something up with him in a good way. And I think there’s also something up with my sister-in-law, but I can’t tell whether it’s a good or bad thing.

When they arrive, they will be, all things considered, the two most improbable human beings on Earth. And I know many of you have had a front row seat with me through the years for some of those “all things.”  It wasn’t that long ago that I thought all this was impossibly out of reach.

Our sons will be advantaged in many ways and privileged in a few, but I think their most valuable advantage is that I’m going to be able to teach them all the things I had to learn the hard way, via the school of hard knocks, all the things that they don’t teach in any textbook. I’ll be able to immunize them (now there’s a current year-y concept) against life’s perfidy before reality has a chance to mug them. Whether they’ll pay attention is left to the hands of the fate of a relatively distant future.

I’m on the verge of having everything in life that I could have wanted and practically attained.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 7 Postscript

19 11 2020

“WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION”

Enough time has passed since July for enough people to forget enough things so that I now feel comfortable telling you more precisely where we went for our honeymoon and how we went there.

I already mentioned here both before and after two of the places as hints: One was Transylvania, and the other Thessalonica. Along side of that, I also kicked a snarky line that involved Belgrade, and not because it wasn’t one of our stops.

Combine all that, and some of you can already probably figure out that the mighty Danube River had something to do with it.

And that it did: We went on a close to wire-to-wire cruise of the Danube, that started at Ingolstadt, and ended at Vidin, Bulgaria. Then over land the rest of the way, Vidin -> Sofia -> Thessalonica -> Bucharest -> Transylvania -> Chisnau -> Odessa -> Mouth of the Danube -> Bucharest. Flew home from Bucharest to Cologne, and the flight path took us over three of the major cities on the Danube where we made stops, (Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna), and furthermore, went straight over Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, one of my stops during the 2018 Voyage. That city has a German name, and when I say it, everything else will fall into place: Budweis. Yes, I’ve seen the original Budweiser brewery, and while I can’t say that they welcomed a native St. Louisan who has had five close relatives work at Anheuser-Busch with open arms, considering the long time controversy, they did take things in their stride. I should say that the original Budweiser as a beer is so much better than A-B’s that it’s an insult to the original even to think of comparing them, even if its brewery is hardly what you would call modern.

But I digress.

The flight back was also the first time that I used or even seen the Cologne-Bonn Airport (Köln-Bonn Flughaven), even though, at the time we landed, I’d lived in Cologne for a month short of two years.

A quick and dirty map:

Once we set sail east out of Ingolstadt, everything geographically was new to me. Even though I have already been to Austria, its stamp was already on my passport from Summer 2018. Apart from that, I got ten new stamps on my passport — Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia, Greece, Moldova, Ukraine. To add to the fourteen I had previously (Canada, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City). To make now 24 overall. We even passed through a semi-autonomous region of Moldova called Transnistra, a slight slither between Moldova and Ukraine, I think the only remaining “country” that uses the hammer and sickle in its flag. It issues its own outbound passports but does not have passport stamps of its own. Seven national capital cities. Two significant seas: Aegean and Black. In fact, the Aegean was the first time my actual feet touched Mediterranean waters.

So, think of all the big name cities we visited: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, (this honeymoon was brought to you by the letter B), Sofia, Thessalonica, Chisnau, Odessa. The culturally significant and stunning Transylvania region. All the places in between, and the bonus of seeing a few of of them again (plus one city from two years ago) from the air flying back. In spite of all that, there’s one thing that beat them all, and the thing I’ll remember from this honeymoon even if get to be a million years old with Alzheimers.

Frau. had already on much of this same trip, as a girl, and sights this stunning, she was more than happy to see them again, even though I know the reciprocation for a honeymoon involving many places she has already seen and been is going to be that I eventually take her to see St. Louis — Still now, I catch her looking up something-something St. Louis when I take a peek at her devices. She wants to see where her husband comes from, and I guess I should be happy for that by itself, even though I don’t think I can verbally warn her enough to prepare her for the whole experience, that what she is going to see in quite a few parts of St. Louis will shock her in ways she’s never been shocked. She’s been to America, but only New York and Chicago.

But, back to the honeymoon, as we were discussing what was to come, she looked at me at one point like my fly was open. I was like: WTF? One thing led to another, and she told me that she was surprised that I was missing something on the long trip we were about to embark upon, and she was surprised that I didn’t know about it, in spite of my reasonable command of geography. I asked her what it was, but she clammed up, wanting to save the surprise for when I actually saw it.

So, what was this thing that beat everything else that I’ve already stated, something that Frau. wanted to keep a surprise, and something I’ll remember even when I’ve forgotten everything else about this honeymoon?

Oh yeah, it was that good.

The Iron Gates Gorge of the Danube.

I just can’t, with any words even I could use, or the photos and videos I took. Nothing but actually seeing it could do it justice. I’ll just say here that it’s basically the part of the Danube that is around the Serbia-Romania-Bulgaria triple point, most of the river somewhat east of Belgrade on east and south to Vidin, where we disembarked from the river cruise.

And I don’t think you could find a better river cruise in the world than the real meat of the Danube.

***

On a more up to date personal note, this weekend is Frau.’s baby shower. Not the traditional sort of one; Remember, I said that we won’t be having one of those for the same reason we didn’t have a wedding registry, because we already had or could easily get the kind of things that you get with a wedding registry or a baby shower. But you’ll also remember that I said that Frau., her mother, my sister-in-law, Frau.’s grandmothers, and other various female in-laws, are going to have a baby shower type celebration that will involve many shipped in boxes of chocolates from Germany’s famous chocolate makers in Bremen. That happens this weekend. It also means that both mein Schweigervater and I will have some me time alone time, separately. I’m going to do a short roadtrip out of town and stop at whatever looks good and is open, considering the lockdown. I know that this will be the last lengthy substantial stretch of alone time that I’ll have for a very long time, and I’m going to use it to do two things: A lot of sleep, and a lot of clearing and resetting my head, to get ready for what’s to come.

Once this weekend is over, it’s down the stretch we come. In fact, Frau.’s maternity leave begins tomorrow, so she’s going straight from her last day of work for awhile to her baby shower then to maternity leave. It means that I’m going to make sure I enjoy this weekend’s me time. But before then, I’m going to surprise her at her work tomorrow afternoon with a rose and a few pieces of the kind of chocolate she’ll be eating all weekend. Keep that our little secret.

If all goes well, I’ll have attained everything I could have wanted out of life and reasonably could have attained, by the time you read a RHOC entry in this space. All the more remarkable considering how as late as about two and a half years ago, I had concluded that none of this was possible. Knowing what’s coming over this the final month and change, I don’t expect any posts here, and not much if anything on my socials.

This is truly it. It’s now or never.

And I wish you all a fröhliche Weihnachten, because I know I’ll be having one, my best Christmas ever.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 8

1 09 2020

“PROMISES TO KEEP”

For several reasons you already know, and now including one more that happened during the month that just finished, Frau.’s weight gain curve and appetite increasing much more than what would be expected if there was just one, we’ve been thinking twins.

Sonogram confirms.

Definitely twins.

And twin boys.

***

Even before we were married, Frau. and I made a deal with what were at the time likely future prospects in mind — She names our daughters, I name our sons.

For as long as I could fathomably conceive that idea that I could eventually be a father, I already knew what I wanted to name my first son, and that alone should be a hint.

Fifteen years ago, in the aftermath of a tragic event, I made a promise to myself that if I ever had a second son, I would name him the name I suddenly had in mind. Some of you will probably figure this one out either right away or in short order.

If ever there was a time for the metaphor “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” to be extended literally, this is it. But, since it looks like the stork will be bringing me both my first and second sons in the same bundle, I’m going to be able to keep both of these promises to myself.

There’s also another reason why I’m happy they’re both boys.  I’m as much happy that neither one of them are girls.  Meaning that I won’t have to worry about having to raise (a) white/German(-ic) daughter(s) here in urban western Germany.  Either you get it right away, or it won’t take you long.

***

As a biological aside, I already told you that fraternal twinning runs in both my family and Frau.’s, in fact, from both of my parents and both of her parents. My mother’s eldest sister had fraternal twin daughters, and one of them in turn had fraternal mixed sex twins. My late father’s only siblings are fraternal twin sisters, both still living. Both of Frau.’s grandmothers are party to fraternal twins in some way — One of them had a fraternal twin brother (late), the other had mixed sex fraternal twin siblings, the sister still living, the brother late.

Before the honeymoon, I also wrote here that, in the instance of any one set of fraternal twins, the relevance of the biological heritability that caused them to be fraternal twins is mother-side only, and I asked you to think through the biology. If you didn’t get it, it’s that fraternal twins are two sperms fertilizing two eggs, which means two eggs must have already been there waiting for them, which in turn means two eggs were released during the mother’s relevant estrous cycle. Which means she had to have the genetic trait for two-egg-release estrous cycles. In contrast, identical twins are a single fertilized egg splitting, which happens after fertilization, which means the DNA for that trait could come from either father or mother.

Because we’re going to have twin sons, same sex, the only way we’ll know for sure whether fraternal or identical is when they arrive, and we can look at both and compare. The only way we would know fraternal for sure right now is if they were boy-girl. Same sex could be fraternal or identical, mixed sex must be fraternal. However, considering (Frau.’s) family history, I’m betting on fraternal.

One other thing this does, knowing that they’re going to be twins, is that it pushes our due date range sooner by a week. Twins have a shorter gestation period than singles.

Frau., never what anyone would call a svelte girl or woman, is going to get really really really really really big, and is probably going to eat everything both in sight and not in sight.

***

We’re not going to have a baby shower as such, for the same reason you all know we didn’t have a wedding registry. Because we don’t need it. Everything we need and nearly anything we could want relative to what we’re expecting to happen, we can afford. I will say that there’s a reason I wrote “as such,” because Frau., my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, Frau.’s two grandmothers, and other female in-laws of mine, are planning on a get-together sorta shower some time this fall, involving many, many, MANY boxes of shipped-in chocolates, (remember, one of the people going to that shindig is going to have a big appetite), from Germany’s world famous chocolate makers in Bremen.

And my father-in-law and I will cherish the “me” time, probably the last such time I’ll have for a very long time.  Speaking of, he is probably even happier than I am that they’re going to be two boys.  Instead of calling or texting him the moment we found out, he wanted to wait until he got home yesterday in the early evening, and Frau. and I waited for him at his house.  When I told him, he just about went into orbit.  I can only imagine what he’ll be like when they actually arrive.

I will also say that, while Oktoberfest in Munich (and most of the smaller Oktoberfests in other cities) were canceled for this year several months ago, the Frankfurt Book Fair is still going to happen, and I’ll finally have the chance to go to it for the first time, but probably no more than two days of its five-day run (the 14th through the 18th).  October 3 is also the 30th anniversary of Reunification, and while the ceremonies for it are being spread out over a month and over various places to keep any one crowd from being too big, I’ll be going to the actual October 3 ceremony in Berlin.  Frau. might come along to one or both;  It depends on what she feels like in a month and a month and a half from now, respectively, in terms of how big she’s going to be in that her seventh month along.

***

Speaking of our upcoming spending spree, now that we know they’re going to be two of the same sex, this means that we can now start apartment hunting for only one extra bedroom instead of two. And because we know that there will be two for sure instead of just one, any slight chance that Frau. might have kept in her mind that her Golf would still be practical in our anticipated new domestic reality are now gone, so for sure we’re also going car shopping. On top of all the sundries, the Kindersitzen, the Babymöbel, a pressurized space suit for my father-in-law, etc etc. August was been relatively busy for both of us, but we were also in a holding pattern waiting on Sonogrammstag. It took that to come and go before things could start falling into place.

Which means that my slight increase in activity here on the blog and my socials that I know you all have enjoyed in the past few weeks, is going to go bye-bye.

That will explain my silence around here and on my socials, save any big Armageddon-quality breaking news.

***

One last note:  You’ll remember that I wrote in this series back in May, that all that has transpired over this year has not only forced my sister-in-law to give up on her quixotic treachery, but also it has forced her and the soyboy to do some deep introspection.  I predicted that, two years hence, they would be either parents or divorced.  Nothing has happened since then to make me think one is more likely than the other, but one major thing that happened while we were away on Flitterwochen is that he has made a career change, though to say that he made a “change” is misleading, because what he had before wasn’t really a career, just menial employment.  Anyway, I can’t say here what it is, for security purposes, and I wasn’t even aware that one could make a living doing such a thing.  But, he is, and already he’s making serviceable money, and because Cologne is one of the world’s centers for this relatively new industry, one that held a big annual trade show here in town over this past extended weekend, he certainly lives in the right city for his newfound profession.  Though he will be doing going his fair share of travel.  I will say that, as of now, both of them combined now make enough to sustain themselves and a potential baby, so that might be a hint that they’re growing closer together.  But, by the same token, each one of them is now making enough to live well enough separately, so it could be just as much of a hint that they’re headed to Scheidungsgericht.

Though for the first time, I’m actually cheering for them to make it.  Because I think it would be so neat if (fill in the blank for my planned name of my first son) and (fill in the blank for my planned name of my second son) eventually come to have one or more first cousins.  Since I’m an only child, and Frau. has no other siblings, they, (or in theory, my sister-in-law with another man) are the only possible source of potential first cousins for fill-in-the-blank and fill-in-the-blank.





Post-Honeymoon AMA (Within Reason) (Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 7.5)

4 08 2020

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

The only way we could have had a better honeymoon is if we were filthy rich, which we’re not.

To keep my tracks behind me well covered, I’m going to let some time pass before I write that much here about everywhere we went and how we went to those places.  However, from the Dracula joke I kicked here in my last post before leaving, you can probably figure that Transylvania was one of our stops.  Also, on my social feeds, back on July 19, that being the three-year anniversary of that day, I stated in that post that we were in Thessalonica, Greece on that day.  So now you know two of the places.  You’ll just have to wait awhile until I tell you the rest.  Just as a teaser, I’ll say that it involved a surprise along the way that even I had no idea existed, but turned out to be the highlight of a trip full of highlights.

***

But now, fun time is over, real life kicks into high gear.

Today is going to be a day full of laundry, ironing, housework, backlogged domestic matters, responding to non-critical messages that backed up during the month.

As for the future beyond today, I already told you before departing that we’re thinking twins, because of the way her morning sickness was worse than usual and lasted longer than usual.  Now we have another piece of circumstantial evidence that started up in the later days of our honeymoon:  Her appetite and weight are starting to pick up sooner than it should.  Frau. goes in for the sonogram later this month, but I think I know what it’s going to tell us in terms of number.  The only open question is sex(es).

These next five months are either going to go by at a snail’s pace or at a cheetah’s pace, or maybe some of both.

Two big things we have to get done in that time:

(1)  Our apartment, hers before I proposed, but ours after I did, and legally ours after we were legally married, only has one bedroom.  As you might guess, we’re soon going to be in need of an extra bedroom, eventually two if they’re mixed sex fraternal twins.  Which means we’re going to have to go apartment hunting and move from our current one to it, provided we can find something, and that’s not exactly a given in major German cities.  It will also mean that I’ll be dealing with a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung for the first time since moving to Germany.

(2)  Whether one or two, our anticipated bundle(s) of joy mean(s) that Frau. is going to want a larger more practical car than her little toot toot VW Golf.  Which means car shopping.

Those are the big things, in addition to all the smaller but just as important things.  And all that is on top of the fact that Frau. goes back to work on Monday, (her job got back to near full strength even before the honeymoon), and mine goes back to close to full strength starting Thursday.

All I’m saying is that you probably shouldn’t expect much in the way of posting from me either here or on the social feeds, for quite awhile.  Of course, when our bundle(s) of joy actually arrive(s), that will take up even more of our time, so expect “quite awhile” to be a very long time.

***

Onward and upward:  You can use the comment section to ask me anything within reason, about the current news, or whatever.  During the honeymoon, I interacted with online pretty much at the bare necessary minimum, and only kept up on the really important news in a superficial sense of “read the headline speed read the body” only.  But that was enough for me to formulate what are probably some unique takes about what has transpired, and the stuff that was hot before we left.  Also, being away from the grind and the negativity gave me an opportunity to clear and reset my mind, and, with current events in mind, come to terms with some cold hard reality about several things.  They say that, sometimes, not thinking is the best kind of thinking.  What I have come to realize, I don’t think I can write openly, even here or on AR.

Have at it, peanut gallery.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 7

30 06 2020

“FLITTERWOCHEN UND VATERTAG”

The virus restrictions and lockdowns had threatened it, but enough of them have been lifted.

Frau. Blogmeister’s morning sickness would have been an issue, but it finally ended more than a week ago.  Speaking of, her morning sickness was rather longer and significantly worse than usual — It could mean nothing, or be indicative of something very germane to why she had morning sickness.  That we will find out when she has her sonogram in August.  Just to drop the hint, fraternal twinning runs in both of our families.  If our hunch and the hunch of Frau.’s physicians and also my mother-in-law comes true, because of the biology of the matter, the heritability is only mother-side relevant.  (Think it through — You’ve got a whole month to figure it out.)

So there’s nothing stopping us now, nothing precluding it.  Tomorrow, we depart for our honeymoon.

We’re planning on using the entire month of July, which actually is the traditional honeymoon month, as it was once called the “honey month.”  It’s just that our actual wedding wasn’t the traditional June one, and, as you all know, thank the stars that we planned it when we did.

I’ll be gone from here and my socials for the entire month, unless something big happens.  As much luck as we had for this honeymoon even to be happening as previously planned, in spite of everything, also counting the fact that July is probably going to be the Halcyon month in Frau.’s pregnancy, our luck will probably run out in that regard.  So I do anticipate something big happening. And that’s above and beyond the fact that my native city is currently in the process of losing its shit, and may not exist in any recognizable form one month from today; It’s the end of the world as we know it, and we feel fine.  But, if nothing really really really big happens, then my Gab, Minds and Twitter timelines will be empty, and all that you’ll see here are our favorite doggy’s occasional contributions.

Once we get back, then Frau.’s weight and appetite are going to start to pick up bigly.  If our aforementioned hunch is correct, then both will pick up even biglier than normal.

Until then, we’re going to enjoy life, enjoy this honeymoon, and the many places where we’re going.  Obviously, for our security, I won’t say where those places are, until well after the fact, at least not in specific terms.  However, and I will drop yet another hint:  If any one of you want me to bring back Dracula as a souvenir for you, just ask.

***

Rewinding more than a week, this Father’s Day was the first one that really mattered to me in awhile.  As you all know, my own father hadn’t been with it for the last several years of his life, so there seemed to be no point to bothering with FD.  FD in 2018 I was in this country as a tourist, and last FD was when I was in Wiesbaden rehabbing my legs, after the now Frau. Blogmeister and I had made our relationship official, but it would not be until mid-August that she would introduce me to my now in-laws including my now father-in-law.  So last year’s FD didn’t matter either.  In between those two FDs, as you know, he actually died.

But this year, I now have an actual father-in-law, Mein Schweigervater, and I know that I’ll be a father myself come next FD.  My father-in-law is actually more enthusiastically anxious to be, as the Germans informally call them, an “opa,” than either Frau. or I are to become a mother and father.

***

That’s it, for now.  Happy returns in a month.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 6

31 05 2020

“IN COLOR”

I’ll let the colorized version of one of the most memorable scenes in the entire history of television make the biggest announcement of my life.

Once upon a time, supposedly, Orson Welles scolded Ted Fonda to keep his “goddamned crayons” off of Citizen Kane.  But the reality is that colorization has gotten that good.  My very favorite Three Stooges episode was colorized in 2004, and it takes a really sharp and knowledgeable eye to tell that the color isn’t original.

But, back to the good news.

We found out some time during the month.  To protect our security, I’m not going to state here when in the month, so as not to make it easy for anyone to figure out our due date range, which we also already know.  As usual, I’ll tell you only if you ask and I trust you, and I’ll also include the summary of the back story, well, except for the most obvious detail, which all of you can infer.  Said back story contains four elements of special congruence, but that’s all I can say here.

Other than the fact that this is just the prime directive for living organisms on this planet, and we seem like we’re going to fulfill it successfully, the amazing part to this is just how unlikely it and everything that led up to it was for me, and how none of it was supposed to happen, especially as late as two years and change ago.

He or she will be the first grandchild for all four of his or her grandparents, late of my own father, and with the very high odds that my own mother will never see him or her in the flesh.

***

This has relevance to those two other people that have been a serial feature in this the RHOC series:  My sister-in-law, and her husband, the soyboy-in-law.

First off, the good news is that the one-two-three punch of our actually getting married, the Covid-19 lockdown, and our expecting, have finally forced my sister-in-law to give up on her treachery.  But more than that, and while no actual words have been spoken to prove it, I can see in their body language that these three recent major events are making my sister-in-law and her husband to do good hard soul searching, to figure out what they really want out of life, and if whatever they decide for themselves going forward involves each other or nah.

So I’m going to make this prediction now:  Two years from today, May 31, 2022, they will be either one of two things but not both:  Parents, or divorced.





Timing Is Everything (Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 5.5)

12 03 2020

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

It’s a damned good thing we got married when we did, this past Saturday.

If we would have waited as much as one week, then none of the six people from back in St. Louis who came, including my quasi-uncle slash best man, would have wanted to come, out of fears that they wouldn’t have been able to go home, or that they would have had to have gone under mandatory quarantine once they got back.

I’ll go into more detail later, but, while I was anticipating my quasi-uncle slash best man as the only one of my people there, he wound up surprising me by bringing along five other people:  His wife, his older sister slash my aunt by way of being the ex-wife of my youngest and as of June late blood uncle, their daughter who is a first cousin of mine, the only actual blood relative of the bunch, the retired pastor of my boyhood Lutheran church whose daughter is a high school classmate of mine, and our very own Puggg.  After being so surprised, I soon got to work, working in the second-to-last into the ceremony, and making the last my second best man, and of course, he fully anticipated being asked to do that.

Considering that I had tempered and realistic expectations based on how short order was this ceremony, and that it wasn’t an insignificant trip from Cologne, things turned out even better than my most optimistic expectations.  Again, I’ll elaborate later.

But, back to the matter at hand, all six of them are going to get tested for COVID-19.  The first four are all at least 69 years old, my cousin and Puggg were both born in the first half of the 1970s.

Note:  While COVID-19 hysteria hasn’t affected my job, as of this morning, Frau. Blogmeister’s workplace has been shut down for the rest of this week and at least all of next, in one of the two ways she does it.  In the other way she does it, she can and is still doing that.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 5

31 01 2020

“IT’S COMPLICATED”

For me, time seemed to drag on very slowly until December 14.  Then, it came, and all that you know that came with it.  Since then, a month and a half has just disappeared into thin air before I could even blink my eye.  But ABL and I digress.

In this the first entire month of a new year and a new decade, and the first whole calendar month after our engagement, we started in on making wedding and honeymoon plans.

Then we discovered that there were a lot of things that just didn’t add up.

It led us to our first significant sacrifice as a couple.

***

Back on December 3, on the train between Braunschweig and Cologne, after the Freudian slip at the train station in Braunschweig, I threw myself all in to popping the question, and I figured how I was going to do it, which worked out perfectly to the plan. That part you know. But one other thing I did then was start thinking ahead to the actual wedding day, being confident in her one-word answer. There was sufficient time before June, so I was thinking of the traditional wedding month. I’m a Lutheran currently living in Germany, so you can probably figure out the city and the edifice I was thinking.  In case you can’t figure out, here’s a hint:  I think he really used glue.

Once the new year started, we got down to the brass tacks of the bureaucratic paperwork, planning the actual ceremony, and thinking about what we want to do for a honeymoon.

Then reality hit.

“Reality,” meaning several variables that converge and mash up with each other to make things unsustainably complicated.

The lesser problems are the logistics, trying to make June in Wittenberg and then our planned honeymoon fit around my work and her work. Both of us have some really big important deals and stretches coming up this year and next, especially me for next year. Then there is the matter that some of my next year’s business might still get pushed up to this year.

There’s something else riding along side all this, that will further complicate the way we carry these things out. I deliberately make it hard for anyone who doesn’t already know who I am to figure that out — I’m pretty good at wiping my own footprints from behind me. That said, I’m going to say even less about these domestic and family matters going forward in this space or on my social feeds. Things like marriage and wedding documents, and birth certificates, while they’re not as easily searchable here in Germany as they are in the United States, they still are to an extent. For those of you who I know and trust, I’ll keep you updated in private. For the rest of you, don’t expect the next installment of RHOC for a very long time.

These problems are a hassle enough on their own, but they’re not even the big major problem, though they do have a dynamic relationship with the big major problem.

What’s the big major problem?

I think you’ll also be able to figure that out easily, based on what I’ve already told you in previous installments of RHOC.

It goes like this:

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

With every tick, the next tock becomes all the more loud, and vice versa.

Remember, she turns 33 in May.

I know things have changed in a lot of ways, but they haven’t changed so much, such that the soon-to-be Mrs. Blogmeister wants to be pretty far along, or even anywhere along, while wearing the white wedding dress on her wedding day; That would look and seem and feel out of place, even in this day and age. But, on the other hand, the longer we wait, the more we run the risk of permanent operational failure, in that which is the prime directive for living organisms on this planet. Not counting that, like I wrote above, 2021 is going to be a year where my two-ended candle is burning at three ends, and I don’t want to be on the road when the moment comes.

So, when you mash up our career and work logistics, with her biological clock ticking more and more loudly, with morally keeping up some semblance of appearances, with me not wanting to be on the road when her water breaks, it’s easy to see why a big lavish wedding on the other side of the country five months from now just doesn’t make sense.

While we’re not faced with the absolute 100% certainty of the either-or choice of an extravagant June wedding ceremony in one of history’s most important churches, or procreating, but not both, it is practically that way for us, for all intents and purposes.

‘Tis are the exigencies of two people who aren’t exactly young, and have established careers and responsibilities, and one of them whose biological clock is ticking louder and louder, getting married. Last month, I wrote that the two of us alone are paying for the costs of this wedding and honeymoon, because we’re not some 19-year olds who are barely in the shadow of throwing our Oxford caps up in the air and who are sticking our hands out to everyone else because we suddenly decided we want to play house. On second thought, if that’s what we were, we wouldn’t be burdened by incumbent responsibilities or hearing the biological clock ticking, such that we could have our dream wedding scheduled many months ahead of time, pending the generosity of benefactors. But now that we can on our own afford to have any but the most extravagant possible wedding, the very things which allow that are the very things that are partially responsible for our not being able to do that. You can rob Peter to pay Paul, or vice-versa, but both shall never get.

***

I think you can figure out what all this means: We’re going to have a more subdued ceremony, and relative to how weddings go, in very short order. It will also be much closer to home, not only because geographically closer is logistically easier if it’s short order, but also because a short order wedding needs to be reasonably close to where the bride’s and/or groom’s people are in order for them to come. (As you can guess, almost all the people there will be bride’s people. The only groom’s people, or to correct my grammar, groom’s person, that I’m credibly anticipating, will be my quasi-uncle slash best man, who will have no problem being able to do that duty, even with our pushed up date. Even if we were able to do it in June, he would still probably be the only one of my people who could make that long trip across a whole ocean.) To put it another way, if we were having it in June, then a far away location like Wittenberg wouldn’t hurt the prospects of her people attending, because they would have enough time to make plans and clear days on their calendar. But now that we’re doing it much sooner, and yes, we have the date and location and venue set, there’s no way there would be that much of a turnout if the sooner was also far away. By necessity, we have to trade off distance for time.

More than that, I will not say in public. Yes, it’s going to be nice, and worthy, and memorable, and it will be in a distinctive location and edifice; It would be an enviable high percentile wedding for most couples. And we’ll still be able to go on our planned honeymoon, the details of which are also set, albeit in July, (provided no complications). Yet and still, we are both making sacrifices for the sake of more important matters at hand.

So, that’s all there is to it. We both thought all along that being married is more important to us than getting married, and fate wound up testing us.

All I hope is that our children will be eternally grateful.

***

In old business, and tying together an older loose end, the soon-to-be Mrs. Blogmeister did admit to me through the month that, after the way that Due Diligence November worked out so well, that she did get the hunch that I would rather soon propose to her. What surprised her, as it turned out, was how soon I did it — She was thinking more along the lines of Valentines Day, my birthday or her birthday. Too, my soon-to-be father-in-law kinda figured a proposal was coming, after we had that early November meeting in his office, though, again, he wasn’t expecting so soon.

***

In coming attractions, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — I’ll be in Hamburg for the majority of next month, on business. It will be my first time back to Screwball City since the vacation, when we spent two days there. I have not had an occasion to go there since moving here, until now. And I hope I can make it out alive.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 4

19 12 2019

“WILLST DU MICH”

December 14, 2019, perhaps the red letter day of my life.

That long explanation I owe you?

I haven’t come down from Cloud Nine Million yet, and at this rate, I hope I never do. But I think I can pay it off.

Food and drink before you start reading below the asterisks, because it’s gonna be long.  For as long as I think this could be, you’d better make it a five course dinner and two bottles of wine.

***

I’ll write here about the things in the same chronological order that I did them on Saturday: Car, ring, proposal.

***

First, the car.

Maybe one day, I’ll be able to go public about what I’m really doing here in Germany. Though that probably won’t be able to be long after I’m no longer doing it and have moved on to other things.  It will also pretty much require a few other people who are critical in my gig to have long moved on to other things.  But for now, I will say that that which I am doing here politically boxed me in in terms of a brand choice.

It had to be either a Cologne-built Ford, or a German brand.

And when you get to the part about the final two “contestants,” you’ll find out that I had to make the ultimate political decision, based on very personal politics, and based on what I knew I would be doing later the same evening after I bought the car.

This decision was mostly a process of elimination, or in dating apps parlance, swiping left, until I was down to one.

First off, the only kind of body style I considered was four-door sedan (“Limousine” in German parlance), except for one of my final serious options, the Audi A5, which is sort of a sedan-hatchback hybrid with four doors, a “Sportback” they call it. I knew I’d be better off with a sedan or -ish, because there are going to be times that I’ll be rolling three or four deep on the job and behind the wheel. That meant no two-door, no coupes. Not to mention the fact that, as of this past Saturday evening, the odds of me having kids have suddenly shot way up to near 100% certainty. Car seats, sippy cups, doctor visits. All the more convenient with four doors instead of two.

No SUVs — For fuel economy reasons, big or medium sized SUVs just aren’t a thing here.  While small, small-medium SUVs and CUVs do have better fuel economy, and that segment is pretty hot here, I’ve never dug SUVs or CUVs of any size.

Gas engine, because the recent diesel scandals in this country have made me leery.

Also, my timing of being in the car market was impeccable, because I was in it in a general time of the fear of a recession, and more precisely, Audi announced 9500 job cuts at the end of last month, so the recession and manufacturing worries are acute around the car industry.

Now, for the swiping left.

I swiped left on all of Ford. Ford, the most popular American and non-German brand in Germany, is on hard times. That may sound strange, because Ford outsold BMW for 1H19 in this country, to slot in fourth place behind only Audi, Benz and VW. But that’s easy to reconcile: Fire sale meant good deals on Fords, especially the Focus, and many a Kraut snapped up many a Foci because of the great deals.  A second car, or to replace their existing similar-sized car.

But for me, none of Ford’s four-door cars are compelling, and I can afford better anyway.

Now, for the German brands.

I didn’t know Opel still existed. Car people know that Opel and GM had a lot of cross pollination for many years; For instance, the second generation of Saturn small sedans were nothing more than rebadged Opels. But Opel is still around, its HQ is in Rüsselsheim, close to Frankfurt. So close that Rüsselsheim itself does not have a German license plate code; Cars registered in Rüsselsheim get license plates that start with “F” for Frankfurt, which also means that Opel promotional photography shows its cars with German license plates that start with F. (Incidentally, this is why BMW photos show German license plates that start with “M” for Munich, Benz and Porsche “S” for Stuttgart, Audi “IN” for Ingolstadt, and VW “WOL” for Wolfsburg).  These days, Opel is a Peugeot (PSA Group) subsidiary, and if you’ve been paying close attention to automotive industry news, then you’ll know that just yesterday, the specific terms of a merger announced back on Halloween between the PSA Group and FCA (“Fiat-Chrysler”) were announced.  Which…should…make…for…a…really…strange…automotive…conglomerate…

However, all new Opels look like a cross between a clown car and a pregnant roller skate. Swipe left on all of Opel.

VW? Too bland and generic. And I can afford better. I suppose a good enough reason for me to swipe left on all of VW was that it’s so popular in Germany; I tend to go the opposite way of the crowd.  And I did that even before their Braunschweig shenanigans of a few weeks ago.

Porsche. Hmmm.

For grins and giggles, I test drove the top of the line Panamera. This model, mind you, officially starts at 97K € for the base trim and engine, and the one I test drove ran over 180 earlier this year, but could have been had for twenty off when I test drove it because of model year end closeouts.  (Remember, you don’t price haggle on cars in Germany, either dealer or customer.) Still, 97, 160 or 180 — All out of my league.   But I just wanted the experience, even if it was for a few minutes. It was my first time actually driving a six figure car. Yeah it was hell a lot of fun, (542/568, duh), and it’s got a lot going for it, (180, duh), but a car that costs so much should be more comfortable and have much better tech and quasi-autonomy options.  Though I’m told the tech stack has been bigly improved across the Porsche line for the 2020 MY;  The Panamera I test drove was a ’19.

Even if I could afford it, I don’t think I would, because the two problems with the Panamera are:  (1) It, like the Audi A5, is one of those weird mashup of a hatch and a sedan, and I don’t dig the look, and (2) It’s rather large, and I could see maneuverability being a headache in tight compact German and European urban environments, and, unlike the car I actually picked, the ’19 Panamera doesn’t have the tech to help you out in those situations.

But I actually got to drive a six figure Porsche, so six figure-y that it was on the verge of 200K. Only a degenerative brain disease, or my condition suddenly reversing and going back in the wrong direction, will ever deprive me of that very fun memory.

Then, we got down to serious territory. Audi, BMW, Mercedes.

Within my range of affordability and desirability, the final candidates were the A4, A5 and A6 from Audi, the 3 and the 5 from BMW, and the C and the E from Benz. I did serious test drives of all seven of them, from dealers, with she who is now the future Mrs. Blogmeister (God how I love saying that) in tow (remember, I still couldn’t drive on my own until this past Saturday), with one exception: He who is now my future father-in-law (God how I love saying that) owns a Benz E of the current generation, and I test drove his with him in tow.

Pick one out of a hat, and you’d have a really enjoyable car, features and tech galore and extremely similar to each other.

But I could only have one, so it came down to dime thin marginal factors and swiping left. I did give all seven of these automobiles fair hearing and then some. Due diligence? That seems to be a thing these days with me.

Swiped left on all three Audis, mainly for generic appearance. The A4 looks like several Nissans or Hyundais. The A5, the aforementioned “Sportback,” aside from having that hatch-sedan design I’m not fond of, looks a lot like the 2015 Chevy Impala I already own, which is garaged back in St. Louis. Or should I say, it better be garaged, safe and sound. The A6 looks like the 2005-07 Ford Five Hundred.  For the record, if I absolutely had to with the Audis, it would be the A6.

So now we’re down to BMW and Mercedes, and the Final Four.

The BMW 3 compares to the Benz C, and the BMW 5 compares to the Benz E.

On the BMW side, the 5 is supposedly a better and definitely a more expensive car than the 3. But my test driving of both showed me virtually no substantial advantages of the 5 over the 3 in any way, it’s hardly bigger in terms of interior room, and a few disadvantages to be perfectly honest, while it showed me the 5’s much higher price. Swipe left on the 5.

On the Benz side, the E is definitely a bigger and better car than the C and very much worth the extra expense. E > 5, while 3 > C. Swipe left on the C.

So we’re down to the BMW 3 versus the Benz E.

I think you know by now why I went with the BMW 3, because I already mentioned it:

My future father-in-law owns a Benz E.

I know he and I are a lot alike.  He may well wind up being the best father-in-law a guy could have, I’m not being glib.  But soon, I’ll be marrying his daughter, and while I know she knows her father and her future husband are a lot alike, I’m not trying actually to turn into him down to the atomic level. I know her well enough now to know that it would make her feel really weirded out and some sort of Oedipal way if I owned the same car that her father does.

Like I said, it came down to the ultimate political decision, on top of the political limitations I started out with.

Even if I didn’t have those very personal politics to contend with, I still think I would have gone with the 3 over the E.  One reason, and I’ll expound about it below, the “While In Rome” reason, (that city will come up again later in this post), is that the 3 is me living more below my means than the E would have been.  Another reason is that the 3 looks younger and more athletic than the E, all the while the 3 looks just about as professional as the E.  To make this analogy very personal, the E has that “look” of upper middle aged very senior corporate executive, whilst the 3 has the “look” of a middle aged professional who is still deluding himself that he has some youth left in him.

Specifically, what I now own is a 2019 330i, with the X-Drive (AWD) system, blue, (What other color for a BMW? Even if you don’t like blue as a color in general or a car color, you have to admit that blue suits BMWs very well — I also think my having a blue car will go over well at the salt mines), black leather interior, all the tech, all of its quasi-autonomy options, (yes, it’s an iPad on wheels, they all are these days), loaded to the gills otherwise.  Just about anything a car can do these days to help itself from getting into an accident or even a fender-bender, my new 3 can do.  I got the mid-range engine (255/295 in American measurements), and about that, the 255/295 is the base engine for the 3-Series sedan in the United States, but it’s the mid-level engine in Germany, because there’s a smaller engine option here, 181/221. However, since I’ll be driving in eco mode almost all the time, (remember, doctor visits, car seats, sippy cups, rolling four deep to networking events, roadtrips to Brussels, six-something a gallon), I’ll get virtually the same gas mileage (yeah I know, in metric, they use liters per 100 km) as I would overall with the smallest engine, but I’ve got enough horses under the hood to have a little bit of fun every now and again.  It came with the transmission that’s normally an auto but has a kiddie pool manual mode, though if I ever use the manual mode even once as long as I own this car, I’ll be surprised.  (I know that the 2019 MY 3-series sedan took a lot of heat from gearheads because it no longer has a true manual option, but neither does the 2020 Corvette, so you know true sticks are headed the way of the dodo bird.)  All for a mere 44K € of wallet-lightening (incl. VAT) — Because it’s the end of the model year, and the German economy is teetering on the brink of an official recession, this was the ideal time to buy a car, and I’m happy the stars aligned in just the right way at just the right time.

One overriding thing about this whole process: I am told that German cars destined for the German market have tighter more precise steering and handling than German cars destined for the American market, whether the ones sold in America are assembled in Germany or the United States. And from my limited memory of very limited experience of driving German cars in St. Louis, I think it’s true. Even though I’m not able to do a precise apples-to-apples comparison.

I’ve also noticed differences between the German and American automobile market supply chain.  When I was young, the balance of power between makers and dealers in the United States was squarely on the side of the makers.  But some time in the 1990s, the balance of power shifted to the dealers, and after several years in the business of lobbying Missouri state government and being tangentially interested in a lot of local business, I saw firsthand how big of a stick car dealers swing.  To put it in St. Louis parlance, the concept of Dave Sinclair selling new GM cars was a practical joke in 1990, but by the end of the decade, he owned an Oldsmobile dealership.

Here in Germany,  the power balance is still with the makers.

Another factor is that, because of space limitations, the physical campi of car dealerships can’t be that big.  Which means no dealers with “hundreds in stock, hundreds coming.”  To put it in CSIT terms, front-line German dealerships are thin clients for the central server of the makers, but thin clients that just so happen not to be owned by the makers.  And the inventory system is much more akin to a JIT system, and as it so happened, it was a car maker, Toyota, which developed JIT.  (I know JIT also has a CSIT analogue).  To the extent that there’s any inventory backage, it’s on the assembly line campi warehouses and parking lots.  My precise new car was assembled at BMW’s Dingolfing, Bavaria plant, not far northeast of Munich.  So the way it worked is that it wasn’t sitting on some massive lot of the dealer, a 2019 MY waiting to be fire-sold on outta there.  Instead, it was waiting back in Dingolfing for one of the thin client dealers somewhere in Germany or the EU Zone to sell it to someone, again, in a buyer’s market, because Dingolfing wanted to get it off their lot,  (they’ve already started assembling the 2020 MY), and when someone did, namely your Blogmeister, it was loaded up on a CCT back in Dingolfing that was headed in the general direction of Cologne.  Incidentally, I called the particular dealer back on the 4th, and made the agreement in principle with them, indicating my pre-approved financing, and the precise car got to the dealer on the 11th, and of course this past Saturday, the 14th, was the day I physically took delivery and signed the last of the paperwork.

I took a taxi to the Autohaus that morning to close the deal, instead of letting she who is now the future Mrs. drive me there, because I wanted it to be a surprise for her to see which one I chose when I picked her up early in the evening for what she thought would be just a mere low key celebration of my successful recovery.

When I drove my new car away from the dealer, it was the first time in 879 days that I drove an automobile by myself on public roads.  That was not lost on me, as I sat there for a few minutes on their (really small) parking lot behind the wheel, realizing that this was it, this was really the first moment of the rest of my life, and the final indicator of a satisfactorily successful recovery.  I’ve really made it back to the top of the mountain.  Falling down (literally) 879 days ago in suburban St. Louis, taking 879 days to climb back as high as fate would allow and getting to the summit of my new normal in the vicinity of Cologne.

One of you in the peanut gallery suggested a few months ago that I lease instead of buy.  I gave the L v B thing a lot of thought.  The reason I went with buy is because what I knew I would be doing later that evening.  If it was just going to be me, and nobody was in the picture, then the odds are that I’d be going back home to the United States after this gig is up, and leasing, even the not so good terms on the car I bought, would have made sense.  But after Saturday night and hearing that one word, the odds that I’ll ever go back to America for good have gone way down.  With that in mind, I suddenly had to think about L vs B this car in terms of quite a few years down the road.  Three things about the car I now own are factors which will push its depreciation curve up and give it less resale value:  (1) German, (2) Turbo engine, and (3) Really teched out.  German cars, because they’re mechanically complicated, (What else would you expect from a people whose language is such that you sometimes ADD letters to a word to make its meaning more simple?), meaning more long term reliability issues;  Turbo engines, because they have more parts, it means more long term reliability issues;  Extensive tech stacks, because of the Moore’s Law style (hardware and software end) rapid obsolescence cycles.  (I tend to guess that these cutsey auto-manual gearboxes will be the same way, and if I’m right, that would mean a fourth reason.)  Which means lease terms aren’t that much of a Euros and cents advantage over buying.  Then you combine the mileage restrictions, and I figure I’ll be doing much more driving than that out of necessity, which means I’d be hit with a per-kilometer overage penalty at the end of a lease.  Buying just made less nonsense than leasing.

It’s also why warranties on German cars aren’t as extensive as they are for others, either Germany or the United States.  I get 4/80, which is virtually the same as the 4/50 you get for BMWs in the United States, as 80k km and 50k miles are just about the same.  And no, I don’t anticipate having this car for long beyond four years.

I should say, this is a hell of a reward for all my patience and all that I’ve been through. That, and whoever thought that I’d ever own a BMW and have a Swiss bank account?

(This space is left open for you to insert your own Trabant jokes.  I’ll break the ice:  What’s the easiest way to double a Trabant’s horsepower?  Have your six-year old daughter get out and push it.)

***

But my biggest reward was yet to come that day.

***

First thing I did after driving away from the Autohaus in my brand new BMW, my brand new BMW, my brand new BMW, (God, how I love saying that), was to drive myself by myself to a jeweler and buy an engagement ring.  You know, that part about the first moments of the rest of my life.  As long as I was getting started with the rest of my life, I figured I might as well get someone to spend it with.

Nothing fancy or complicated about buying a ring. I’ll say here that, as you’re about to find out, I totally mentally checked into this big decision at the beginning of this month. But I deliberately waited on buying the ring until the day of the fact, because, if you buy a ring and let it sit around, you’re going to stare at it, start thinking about your decision, start questioning it, double-thinking it, stew in your fears and doubts, get nervous, get cold feet, call the whole thing off. Then you could lose the ring, or it could get stolen, or misplaced.

I wasn’t having any of that. I was buying it early afternoon, on her finger by mid-evening.

Not a diamond ring, in fact, not a diamond to be found in it.  No way in hell I’m bribing some parenthetical cartel with one-sixth of my current annual income just for the moral authority to do what people have been doing for millennia, which is, get married.  Even before I was JQ-aware, I had a business law prof way back when who, now that I know better, was herself JQ-aware, and who, on one of the final days of the semester, gave us a symposium on practical game in terms of a serious business and personal financial life we were capable of having as older adults, and one of the things she dog whistled was that the parentheticals of the diamond cartel colluded with the parentheticals of the movie cartel to do a one-two punch;  The latter cartel would cinematographically convince women that a man needs to spend two months’ of his salary to buy a rock from the former cartel in order for him to be worthy to marry her.

But it was by no means an inexpensive ring, though.  Solitaire white gold with an emerald birthstone indicative of her May birth month, I wasn’t expecting it to be.  White gold I thought went better with the green emerald, because yellow or rose gold with a green stone looked too much like puke.  How much did it set me back?  Well north of ouch, but a little bit south of boing.  I told you in more precise numerical terms what I paid for the car, but I’m not going to say for the ring, just because I think it would be sorta bad luck.

Worth every Europenny to see it on her finger.  Even decoupled from its purpose, we all think it looks really nice on her finger, and it sets off her Hazel eyes.

***

Now for the part you’re most interested in, and this will be really really really involved.  Might want to add on another course to the dinner and another bottle of wine.

***

When did I make this big decision?

A Freudian slip I made on my way out of Braunschweig, the morning of December 3, made me realize that I had already subconsciously done it.

I was talking to another American, as it so happened, and I said something that I wasn’t aware I said in the way I said it, but must have piqued his curiosity.

The convo from that point went like this:

HIM: “But I don’t see a band on your finger.”

ME: “Band?”

HIM: “You just said you were headed back to your wife, but you should have a wedding band on your finger if you’re married.”

ME: “Sorry, I meant girlfriend.”

HIM: “Well it sounds to me you’ve already made the decision to ask her to marry you.”

ME:  (Thinking to myself):  “Mein Gott.”

On the train back to Cologne, I replayed what had been the previous several days in my head, and I came to the conclusion that I subconsciously made the decision after what I wrote about in the previous episode of RHOC, the end of Due Diligence November meaning that we came clean about everything, that was the evening before (what was for me) Thanksgiving, and then on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Last Thanksgiving and then later Christmas were my first ones after moving to Germany. On both days, I Skyped the family gathering, which was at my younger uncle’s house, as many of our family holiday gatherings were for as long as I can remember. But as you know, my younger uncle passed away in early June, and, thanks to all that I’ve had to do and have done, I have not yet been able to grieve properly.

His passing was like taking the mortar out of a brick house, as it turned out. It was never obvious before, but he was accidentally and unwittingly the glue that held what I had come to known as the universe of my close relatives and quasi-relatives together.  With him gone now, the rest of us are drifting apart.  Some of us, figuratively, in my case, quite literally.  Like they say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  Meanwhile, my own mother’s condition is getting worse. So there was no family gathering on Thanksgiving, not in the way I had known, and there will not be one on Christmas. Yes, I Skyped my mother, and her assisted living facility had a Thanksgiving supper, and so it will also be the same on Christmas, even though my Christmas this year will be unconventional — I’ll get to that.  But it was hardly the same.

Late in the evening my time on Thanksgiving, I realized that over there, from whence I come, halfway across the world, my own family is dying off and disintegrating, while right where I am, there’s now absolutely nothing precluding me going all the way with K., and making her immediate family that I’ve been getting closer and closer to over these last few months actually my own.  Back home, falling apart.  Over here, on the rise. An old door is closing right as a new door is opening.

So I now think that I subconsciously crossed over the line late in the evening on Thanksgiving.

And it took that Freudian slip several days later to make my conscious realize it.

On the train trip back to Cologne, I consciously threw myself all in.

All I could think of as I was rolling into Kölner Hauptbahnhof was that I finally found The One, after all these years and all these heartaches, headaches and setbacks, and nearly being resigned to the fact that I never would, and on top of that almost having to live the rest of my life with the circumstance of permanent mechanical failure in that department.  And that it took me going halfway across the world to find her.

It’s also a day I never thought would come, not only for my overall general bad luck with women and relationships, but specifically because the time between mid-January and the start of May in 2018 was definitely the most depressing part of my recovery and probably the most depressing extended time period of my life.  It was after I both returned to functional coherence and got most of my short term memory back, but before I found out that (a) certain unknown benefactor(s) were sending my quasi-uncle and I on a massive epic month and a half long vacation to Germany and the Czech Republic.  The reason those days were so scary was because I feared I was permanently consigned to being mostly wheelchair-bound and being a useless eater for the rest of my life.  I was doing plenty of posting here during those months, as most of you know; however, all that was masking my anxiety and depression.

If it would have turned out to be that way, I would have adjusted, but I would have been perennially unhappy.  But as it turns out, once I learned of that gift at the beginning of May, life has been all uphill from there.

I should also add that this decision also carved in stone my final decision about the car;  When December 3 began, I had already narrowed it down to the final two, BMW 3 vs the Benz E.  Once I totally threw myself into popping the question, I also figured that I better not buy the same car her father owns.

***

Before I move on to anything else, I know some of you are going to ask, so I’ll answer it now just to get it out of the way:

Don’t ask about a registry, because there is not going to be one. Because there doesn’t need to be one. The future Mrs. Blogmeister and I are both people of very decent means, as you found out a few weeks ago.

Honestly, between the two of us, we already have just about all of the realistically necessary day-to-day knick-knacks for the domestic life, and what little we don’t have, we will be able to come by easily. Hell, we’re already starting out as a two-car household before it’s actually a household. (Two car households aren’t as common in Germany as they are in the United States, ceteris paribus.) And now that I mention it, technically, it will be a three-car household after we’re actually married, the third car being my Impala back in St. Louis. Yes, the future Mrs. Blogmeister is about to be the via-marriage co-owner of a kind of car not sold in Germany from a brand not sold in Germany from a major automobile corporation that doesn’t do business in Germany, and of an actual car she’ll probably never even see in the flesh much less drive. Though I’ll assure her that she won’t be missing much.

On top of that, we’re even-steven splitting all of the wedding expenses, just the two of us. That’s right, beyotches, we’re going into this thing with pretty much equal skin in the game, which will give both of us an incentive to make this marriage work come what may. We’re not some 19-year olds who aren’t even a year removed from tossing our Oxford caps up in the air running around with our hands out after suddenly deciding we want to play house.  We figure anything worth emotionally doing is worth financially backing.  That which we attain too cheaply we esteem too lightly.  So this is our burden, not yours, and not my future father-in-law’s.

This is why, rewinding things around two years, I am glad that (at least as far as I know), nobody started a crowdfunding page on GFM or some such for my medical expenses. Because it wasn’t needed. (Note: If there ever was a medical GFM in my stage name, it was a fraud. Just like if you see a wedding registry in my stage name floating around out there, flag it, because it will be a fraud.) You don’t go asking people to give you money like you actually need it when you don’t need it.

GFMs and wedding registries are for those that actually need them.

For similar reasons, I’ve never had and will never have a tip jar on this medium.

***

Now back to the timeline, and the final time-sensitive sections.

Even on the train between Braunschweig and Cologne, when I consciously went all in, it wasn’t hard for me to figure out how and when I was going to pop the question.  It was staring me right in the face.

Freiheitstag, eleven days after that, the 14th. After all, I’d come that far until December 3 with no setbacks, so I would probably make it another eleven days.  Luckily, the 14th was going to be a Saturday.  If it wasn’t, I would have waited until the following Saturday.

Felt like perfect timing.

And I already figured on the pretext: I would treat all five of them to a nice dinner that night, and then game plan for whatever after the dinner, the pretext being to celebrate the end of rehab and my successful recovery, on the very first day I could drive a car on my own.  I actually wanted she who is now my future sister-in-law to be there, in spite of everything, because I wanted her to see what I was about to do, and I wanted her to see her sister saying Ja.  All with the hope that this will make her give up.  I have my doubts, though, and what I really fear is that what she saw made her realize that I’m now part of the family, and thus will be in her life more often and more frequently, which in turn will give her more opportunities.  The close friend has just become a closer enemy.

(Side note: Now that I wrote that paragraph, I now suddenly realize that I never picked up the dinner check, even though it was my intent all along. I’m guessing I was so deliriously happy that she screamed Ja, that I forgot all about my promise, and my future father-in-law wound up paying.)

Luckily, all five of them were game to come to my “celebrating successful rehabilitation” dinner, none of them were out of town or previously, well, pardon the pun, engaged.  Of course, it would have been pointless to go to this dinner if K. could not have come.

You already know I purposely delayed buying the engagement ring until the early afternoon before, and why.

***

Just hours before, I worked out exactly how I was going to do the deed, and it worked out so perfectly and according to plan, that all I need to do is to describe the actual proceedings.

Around halfway through our time at dinner, I asked K. one of those incidental questions about German; Remember, she’s been my German tutor since I moved here;  That’s how we met.  I asked her, nonchalantly, how a man would ask a woman to marry him.

Of course, I already knew the answer:

Willst Du Mich Heiraten?

I’d been rehearsing it for a week and a half, to make sure I remembered it like it was native to me.

She answered my question as I knew she would.  I pretended to have learned something new.

Then I waited for what I think was about 90 seconds to two minutes. I copped peeks at all five of them, to see if any of them had any clue that something was up. From what I could see in all their eyes, none of them had any clue. Until the day after, when I quizzed all of them, and asked them to be honest, and the only one who thought there was more than met the eyes and ears at that moment was my future mother-in-law.  Of the five people that comprise my new family by way of impending marriage, it is my future mother-in-law who I’ve given the least thought or care to, because she doesn’t personally-politically affect me like the other four, so I’ll give her the due props here for being the only one of the five who thought something was up.  Mothers-in-law are typically politically difficult, but it looks like she will never be.  I also thought, and she confirmed, that it it was really special for her to see it all transpire in front of her eyes, because I tend to think that mothers who are wives in marriages that have lasted a long time feel some kind of really special way to see their own daughters being proposed to, just as they themselves were, so many years ago.

I’ll eventually ask to find out, but I get the feeling that the subject of marriage between my future sister-in-law and the soyboy-in-law was not carried out in the time honored traditional way, and I also get the hunch that neither one of my future parents-in-law were direct witnesses to the matter.  I’m guessing it was some new age touchy-feely mumbo jumbo, like coming to a mutual consensus.  But I don’t at all see him as the type to get down on one knee.  This is one reason I wanted to make sure I did this in front of the future parents-in-law, so at least they’ll be able to see at least one of their daughters being proposed to, presuming my hunch is correct.

Back to the timeline:  During those 90 seconds to two minutes, not only did none of them appear at the time to look suspicious, but none of them said anything.

Right when I thought the moment was right, before conversation could start again and move on to something else, I said her name, said it again, told her (in English) that today was the first day of the rest of my life, and that I wanted her to be a part of the rest of my life, and then took the ring case out of my pocket, opened the top, went down on one knee, said her name one more time, then:

Willst Du Mich Heiraten?

Because I was so focused on her and my brain was waiting for the one word I wanted to hear, I was a little oblivious to all but that word. But even then, I heard her screaming what seemed at the time to be very loudly, loud enough to assassinate eardrums, at least three times, and twice, she screamed the word I wanted to hear. Even though my brain blocked out her volume, in order to wait to hear the word.

Her screaming must have startled everyone else in the restaurant, because I could see out of the corner of my eyes everyone staring our way, and they all started clapping after what I suppose were the few moments it took them to realize what was going on.

On one level, I was taken aback at her joyful screaming.  On another level, it didn’t surprise me at all, because I already knew and experienced her penchant for occasional borderline neurotic high strung hyperemotionalism — It reminds me of someone I know.  And it definitely didn’t surprise the other four, as we discussed the next day, they’re even more familiar with that particular personality characteristic of the future Mrs. Blogmeister than I.

The first person I went to after the future Mrs. was my future father-in-law. Nice firm handshake, big bear hug, no words spoken.  He smiled, in spite of not being the smiling type.  I knew the message he was communicating to me: Welcome to the family.

My future mother-in-law, nice soft hug, and I let her get away with pinching me on the cheek. A soft handshake for the soyboy; I didn’t want to break his hand. And to my future sister-in-law, another nice soft hug, but also with me giving her the thousand yard riot act sort of stare, as if to tell her to cut it out, cause it’s over now. Even though I know better, that she’s now going to be our perpetual PITA.

My only regret is that none of my own blood relatives or quasi-relatives could see it. Though the quasi-uncle is going to be my best man; Good Lord willing and the crick don’t rise, he’ll fly here to do that duty.

***

Why are we doing it?

Easy. Everything we threw at our relationship to make it fail not only didn’t derail it, but it brought us closer together.  We behaved in ways toward each other during the relationship that would have ended either one of our previous serious relationships several times over.  Not to mention several circumstances beyond our immediate control that would have done the same.  It also wasn’t like I was in good shape when we first laid eyes on each other;  Like I’ve written here before, it was sorta “at first sight,” but at that moment, I was still mostly confined to the wheelchair, and was still mechanically unable, use your imagination, with even money odds that I would stay that way.  She could have easily written me off right then and there and gone right back on the market, but something made her wait around for and bet on me.

Plain words, this bird wasn’t supposed to have gotten off the ground, and when it took flight, it was supposed to have crashed several times over.  Yet, here we are.

By now, I think our relationship soon to be marriage would be the only thing other than cockroaches that would survive a direct nuclear strike.

We both have so much wreckage and so many false starts in our relationship pasts that we’re both well familiar with what failure looks like, and we can see that there’s not a hint of it with us.  So goes the old saying, that you’ve gotta learn how to lose before you can learn how to win.  Or, everything goes wrong until you reach a point when everything goes right and clicks perfectly into place.

Our marriage is probably going to be just like the relationship was, a lot of catch as catch can, a lot of unconventionality. But I know we can handle it.

Another factor is that we both agree that our previous serious relationships had something of a contrived and artificial quality, that one or both parties in them were pushing the matter, trying to make something out of nothing, or make something more out of something less, mainly with the tactic of artificial personality self-alterations, fronting and stunting, pump priming.  There was and is none of that with us;  It just happened, and organically, and naturally, with zero pretense or contrivance.  Neither one of us are trying to change the other, and neither one of us are trying to change ourselves for the sake of the other.

I’ve mentioned before in a previous installation of RHOC that I’ve picked up on some differences between dating culture in Germany and the United States.  One of those things is that German dating relationships allow for a much wider range of modes of engagement, seriousness and commitment and tenure than American ones, on the part of both parties.  To put it another way, the American dating market is you must do A, then you must do B, then you must do C, so on and so forth.  The relationship worked in spite of its intermittent nature because a German was one party of the relationship, and therefore she was perfectly happy with the kind of relationship that an American man or woman couldn’t tolerate for long.  Now all I hope is the relationship success translates to marriage success.

Not only that, I know there are a few of you reading this who know me, or knew me, who can cosign what you’re about to read. For the rest of you, I’m just a difficult personality, and really hard to love.  On the wrong day, I’m a real bastard on wheels.  Which is why my track record with the opposite sex before now has involved all that wreckage. The future Mrs. Blogmeister is also a difficult personality, (when you get past the really good front she puts on, in contrast, I barely bother with a front), and is really hard to love.  And, yes, she has her occasional bitch-on-wheels day.  Which is why her track record with the opposite sex before now has involved all that wreckage, not to mention the extra complication on her end that she feared having to settle for a wuss like the soyboy-in-law.

This is why I’ve never checked for sector chicks, because I care too much about the sector.  I knew that I would eventually piss the sector chick off, me being me and all that, and she would get so mad that she would quit the sector.  Even this many years after the fact, I still have to keep things under the vest, but some of you may remember that, quite a few years ago, a high profile young man in the sector who is the son of a really high profile very upper middle aged man who is a long time big wheel in the sector wound up dropping out, for apparently mysterious reasons.  All I’ll say is that it actually wasn’t a mystery, that the real reason he quit was because he thought he got the rotten end of a love triangle, all three individuals were sector, the other two got married to each other.  (Apropos that the high profile father of said young man was also himself once party to an intra-sector love triangle, the other man in it is also a long time big wheel.)  And the saga has a St. Louis angle, because one of the three individuals in that triangle is a native St. Louisan, and a personal angle, because said native St. Louisan’s late father was one of my prime mentors and (to use the current year jargon) influencers, for quite a few years.  Point being, I care too much about the sector ever to want to cause any such drama.  I would much rather my romantic life contribute to people being brought into the sector than chasing people out of it.

If you knew me, and if you knew her, then you’d obviously see that we were made for each other, but nobody else.  We’re difficult, but we’re the same difficult.  We love each other’s strengths which are very similar, and we love each other’s flaws because we can’t hate each other’s flaws, because, since they’re the same flaws, and if we hated those flaws, we would be throwing stones at each other from the insides of glass houses.

But you know what they say:  The best roses come with the sharpest thorns.

Quite frankly, we’re the only people on Earth who would or could put up with each other. But, one only needs one; In fact, modern civilization only lets you have one, so much so that it’s hard baked into criminal law, so one works out just fine.  It’s also why neither one of us will ever have to worry about the other cheating, for much the same reason why you don’t have to fence in a narcoleptic dog.  Think it through.

The odds that either one of us, much less both of us, would ever find someone else more or even just as compatible as ourselves, were so close to zero that I actually believe they are actually zero.

Some of you may be wondering if either one of us or both of us are pushing the issue out of age desperation, the Jagged Edge Doctrine.  Or you might be wondering if 884 days ago made me more desperate.  Or something I wrote here earlier, my own family back in St. Louis and surrounding areas is dying off and disintegrating made me desperate to latch on to a new one.  You might be thinking that some sort of Florence Nightingale Syndrome made her fall in love with me at first sight, as her first sight of me was in me in my wheelchair.  Emphatically, no, because both of us are way too cynical about the opposite sex for either one of us much less both of us simultaneously to rush into anything or settle for just any ole body.  I know that if I were not so cynical, I probably would have already been married and divorced multiple times, with not much marital happiness with any spouse, and I’m sure K. feels the same way about herself.  All I need to know about the consequences of not being cynical about the opposite sex?  My future sister-in-law.  Nuff said.

Long and short: She’s The One, and for her, I’m The One.

***

Aside from the fact that we actually love each other, getting married is going to have some fortunate fringe benefits for both of us:

(1) It gives me yet another anchor for legal status for residing in Germany (and by deduction, the entire EU), aside from the two I already have. It won’t be instantaneous, and it will take some affirmative bureaucratic work, but it will get done.

(2) It gives the future Mrs. a Green Card for the United States, again, not instantaneously, and it will take some affirmative bureaucratic work, that will get done.

(3) Then there are abstract benefits.

There are three distinguishing characteristics about German culture that have become somewhat less true here in the last decade of the economic boom, but are still noticeably true:

(3a) Married people are held in higher esteem in their professional lives for that reason alone. I’ve already told you that the future Mrs. has a pretty high ceiling in what she is doing for a living, and now, just the fact that she’s about to be married, and once she actually is married, will mean that it will be all the more likely that she makes it all the more close to that ceiling, and maybe sooner than she would have if she was not or never married.  It’s also why, once we’re official, she’s going to change her professional name to my surname.  In German, “Frau,” along with meaning “woman” in the generic, also when ended with a period, means either “Ms.” or Mrs.”  Right now, professionally, she’s Frau. (Her incumbent maiden surname), and when we become official, she will start calling herself Frau. (My surname).  It will be the fact that she will demand of her colleagues (and others) this change that will mean that they’ll know she’s now married, because, like I said, there’s no difference in Ms. and Mrs. in German.

These other two aren’t quite so relevant to us, yet, but they’re worth mentioning:

(3b) Germans have a moral aversion to financial indebtedness. Here’s a hint: “Schuld” translates to both debt and guilt.

The English language has a well known but more loose continuum between debt and guilt as concepts. Two different versions of those two lines of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” and “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In High German, there is only one version, because you only need one version, which means both English versions: “Und vergib uns unsere Schuld, Wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern.”

Understanding that was the key to figuring out why far so many more Germans don’t “own” their houses, compared to Americans or others. It’s because they don’t want the guilt of having the kind of debt that a big mortgage means. Two conflicting figures on the percentage of Germans that rent their primary residence: 59% (Destasis) and 74% (FAZ), but either is way higher than America or Cuck Island.

(3c) As such, Germans hold you in higher personal and professional esteem if you live both well and at least a bit below your means. In other words, wasting and splurging is a nein-nein.  And don’t even mention borrowing against your future to fund a better present.  In America, you keep up with the Joneses because both you and the Joneses are in debt up to your ears;  In Germany, you keep up with the Schmidts by finding ways to squeeze nickels out of pennies and living better than the Schmidts while spending the same amount of money that the Schmidts are spending, an amount that’s less than your incomes.

The future Mrs. owns a VW Golf, when she could obviously afford quite a bit better. (That, and, since we’re anticipating additions, she is already talking about trading up to a more spacious car of some sort.) My future father-in-law, I already told you, owns a Benz E sedan, and he can afford quite a bit better. As an aside, the future Mrs. takes after her mother in terms of physical stature, while she takes after her father in terms of temperament, while my future sister-in-law is just the opposite. My future father-in-law is thin and ambitious, while my future mother-in-law is rather overweight, and back in the days when she worked, clocked in and out when she had to, did her forty, but wasn’t a ladder climber. (Now, my future father-in-law makes so much money that she doesn’t have to work, she can afford to be a housewife, and be a two-car household, among a lot of other things.) So you can see how that translates to their two daughters. Needless to say, my future sister-in-law is more like an American and less like a traditional German in her spending habits.

That’s one of the reasons I picked the BMW 3 over the Benz E, besides the ones I told you about above.  While in Rome…

(4) While my career track here won’t per se be enhanced by my merely being married in the way it will help the future Mrs., it will probably grease a few skids. However, there’s a chance that it could boomerang on me, and wind up hurting me at the salt mines. Let me put it metaphorically: You have a bunch of toys, but you never played with this one. One day, some other kid comes over, finds that toy, plays with it, and loves it. So your parents give him that toy.  Now you suddenly discovered you really liked that toy all along, and you’re going to pout and throw tantrums until the cows come home.  See where this is going? I have to be prepared for that consternation.

(5)  Because, as of Saturday, I’m no longer an official gimp, I would have needed to find a place of my own right around now.  But that’s no longer a problem, because I’m moving in with the future Mrs., I will consummate actually transferring what little stuff I have the week between Christmas and the New Year.  Such as it is, I’ve lived with her about half the time since the start of November, since leaving Wiesbaden and returning to Cologne for good.

It also means I won’t have to be dealing with a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung.  Which means I won’t get to impress anyone by saying Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung as a non-native speaker.

(6)  I’m going to get a mulligan on the father thing.  As you know, my real father, who was only semi-interested and semi-involved when I was growing up, died in August 2018, during the six week interim between getting back from the vacation and returning here.

When I was born, the only one of my grandparents that was even living was my maternal grandfather, and he died in August 1979, I was not even two and a half.  But I got a mulligan on him;  My mother dated an engineer for awhile, and his father was like my maternal grandfather in so many ways;  As a few examples, both worked at A-B for many years, and both died in the month of August.  (You may have noticed that August seems to be really bad month for people close to me kicking the bucket.  My maternal grandmother, died August 1971.)  I know from rationality that these things are coincidences, and coincidences do exist, because the universe of things that happen are virtually infinite, so there is a lot of law-of-averages opportunity for coincidences to pop off.  Yet and still, I allow myself even to this day to be so blissfully deluded that I think some otherworldy force granted me a grandpa mulligan in my teenage years.  So complete was the mulligan experience that, when he passed in August 1994, I felt like I was actually grieving for my actual grandfather.

Now I’m getting a father mulligan.  Unlike the grandpa mulligan, though, my future father-in-law and my late father were/are really different people;  Very white collar and very blue collar, respectively, as one example.

Both of K.’s grandmothers are still living, both aren’t that much older than my own mother.  If we have kids soon enough, and if those two can hang on, then our kids just might get to know their maternal-side great-grandmothers.  Meanwhile, I’m not optimistic that they and their paternal grandmother will ever physically see each other.

(7)  Because I’m the only child of both my mother and my father, I never had any siblings or half-siblings.  Now, I’m going to get the sibling experience vicariously, though not in the ideal execution.

(8)  Speaking of the devil: This relationship was either going to succeed or fail, and this marriage will either succeed or fail. But my future sister-in-law will not affect that in any way. To put it another way, if we wouldn’t have made it, or if we wind up not making it, it won’t be because of her, and we’re not getting married to spite her, and if we do make it, it won’t be to spite her. We have and will continue to compartmentalize her and her treachery over there, and our relationship and now soon to be marriage over here.

(9)  My future parents-in-law are about to get a son-in-law they actually like.

(10)  And now that I step back and take a dispassionate look at the two of us from the figurative top of the mountain, I have to admit that we’re going to be sort of a power couple.  Throw my future father-in-law into the mix, and we’ll make a really potent troika.

***

We have not yet literally spoken about the matter, but without even needing to say anything, we both know that we’re going to have to be PDQ about the subject of children, just because neither one of us are that young, and certainly not getting younger. As you know, I’m 42 and she’s 32. She’s closer to crunch time than I am, for obvious biological reasons, but even I have to keep an eye on the clock, because the farther a man gets from 40, the worse his sperm gets, and the more likely that the children he fathers will have genetic disorder issues.

I already know that our children will be born instant dual citizens with dual passports in hand. I’ll very much approve of them having multiple options and open doors. They’ll also grow up in a native bilingual household. Though I anticipate that, in spite of all that duality, it will probably be the case that they’ll be culturally German rather than American. Just based on the fact that they’ll almost 100% likely be born and raised here.  And for the fact that the odds are high that the only father-side blood relative they’ll ever know is me;  Other than that, all their experience with blood relatives will be mother-side.

I also have the speech and story pre-rehearsed for the kids for when they get old enough, the one that will end:

“And if that car would have missed me, you would have never been born.”

***

On a slight tangent, for this Christmas, I am going to cross something off the bucket list: Midnight Mass at The Vatican. Even though I’m Lutheran. And in spite of the incumbent Pope.

I was originally going to go by myself, but the rest of the new family has made the almost last minute decision to come along, to make this sort of our first real serious joint family activity and trip. For the record, they are C&E Calvinists, and that’s putting it charitably to them.  So this kind of activity is not in their wheelhouse.  Of the six of us, I’m the tallest, heaviest, most intensely political and the most religious.  But I also think that this is a sign of respect to the newest member of their brood.  That, and central Italy in late December is generally more pleasant than northwestern Germany in late December.  (Advance forecast has partly sunny and upper 50s for Rome on Christmas, compared to the standard November/December fare of 40s wall-to-wall clouds chance of rain here.)  And by “made the decision to come along,” it was probably future father-in-law doing so unilaterally then twisting four other arms.  That and of course future sister-in-law was going to come along, only because she knows I’m going.  Believe me, she’s going to make it her business to be wherever I am if she knows where it is and it’s practical for her to be there.  And where applicable, she’ll drag the soyboy around with her by his ears.

So we’re rolling six deep to Rome on a train Monday.  Right through Switzerland in the winter, and that will be really sweet icing on the cake — Forecast calls for snow over most of Switzerland on Monday.  But, you know what they say:  While in Rome…

The first of many six person (and hopefully, eventually more) family trips.

Since this will be my final post in this space before we hop on that train, I just want to take the opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas.  From someone who’s having the best Christmas of his life, even if it is lachrymose in a few ways.

***

Now, we’ve got so much to do, so many plans and decisions to make.  At one moment, you realize you’re getting married — Yay!  Then after a few days, you realize you’re getting married — Whoa boy.  After the New Year, we’re really going to get our noses into the grindstone.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 3

27 11 2019

“OH, HENRY”

Like I told you in the previous episode of RHOC, Due Diligence November could have wrecked the relationship.

Instead, it brought us closer together, because it made us realize that we’re even more alike than we thought.

***

I only had and only needed one source to do my due diligence, one that I knew would both be totally honest with me and probably not snitch on me that I was asking about her behind her back. That source being her father.

One day during the first whole business week of this month, I made an arrangement to have something of a power lunch with him.  We at first planned to do it at his favorite lunch time deli, but the morning before, he called me to tell me that there was a change of plans, and we had to do it in his office.  Getting to his office requires taking an elevator almost all the way up to the top of a certain pretty tall building in town, and that should tell you a lot by itself.  You can also figure that his office has a sweet view of The Cathedral City and beyond from well on high, and that it does.  High enough that I looked south and knew what and where to look, and I could see Schloss Drachenburg in Königswinter (close to Bonn) way off on the horizon, and of course the taller structures in Bonn itself.  Looking north, likewise Düsseldorf.  And the Rhine River and its water making its way from south to north through and between those three major cities and several lesser known ones.  I could see a really important slice of Germany just standing there and turning my neck, though that’s not hard when you have to pack a lot of people into not that much space.  Anyway, I figured having it in his office was going to be a better option than being in the open public at some restaurant, because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

Here’s the thing about the g/f, who I will identify by the first letter of her first name only, K. She’s a solid 7 in the face, and rather but not dangerously overweight. Very nice proportions for those, and that. She’s got her own job, and ambitions, and career track, and a pretty high ceiling therein. We’d already talked about our previous difficulties with the opposite sex, and I know we’re both difficult personalities and hard people to love. Not to mention her fear of winding up with a soyboy like her brother-in-law. But even counting all that, she’s a catch, and it’s not like if every guy in this region or in western Germany who is of comparable age to her is a wuss.

You would think that there would have been at least one worthy guy around these parts who would have snapped her up by now.

“Okay, so what’s the matter with her?  What’s the catch?”

The last medium termer I had back in St. Louis, spring 2017, turned out to be using me for side dick. To make a long story short, when I first got suspicious that I was being so used, (what caused me to be suspicious is that she was too enthralled with me, in ways that none of my previous g/fs ever were), the next time we, well, did, I recorded it without her knowledge. I put out an APB on St. Louis C/L, which indirectly put me in contact with her husband, so my hunch turned out to be right on, and and then I arranged a meeting with him to show him the evidence, and give the thumb drive to him. I was prepared for the worst, but he wasn’t mad at me at all, more like happy that I was honest enough to search him out to tell him after being astute enough to get suspicious to begin with. After that, I have no idea whether they divorced or patched things up, but I do know for sure that I dodged her, made up one excuse after another to why I couldn’t see her, until she gave up, and now that I remember, it wasn’t until a bit more than a month before That Day that I got the last contact I ever got from her.

You’ll thus understand my once bitten twice shy mentality.

So here’s where my mind was running with K.:

(1) She’s already married, and cheating on her husband with me

(2) She has been married and divorced and has one or more kids that she’s hiding from me, waiting to rope me in then pop the surprise

(3) She, with her ambitious self, bats for the home team, (ambitious women tend to be lesbians), and is using me as cover

With as much time as I’ve spent at her place, I’ve seen no evidence of any one of these things.  But I’m also old enough to know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  And I also know, if K. was scamming me in this kind of way for one of these reasons or some other one, she obviously knows that I’m at her place a lot, of course at her open invitation, I even have a key, so she’d be clever enough to cover her tracks and hide the evidence.

On the other hand, you all know her sister wishes she could have me, (hence the very existence of RHOC), so she would surely have told me by now if anything was wrong with K., in order to try to peel me off.  If she didn’t do that by this time, then it was highly unlikely that any of that or anything damning could be true.

But I still wanted it from the horse’s mouth.

Once we started the power lunch, I explained to him about how serious things are getting between myself and his daughter, and then nearly all of what you just read. Then I asked him point blank about these three things, and a few others.

He looked me Dead Eye Dan in the eyes.

Absolutely not, to any of these things, or anything else even remotely similar.  He also honestly answered my other questions — That kind of stuff I can’t state publicly, so as not to give either one of us away.

And that’s all I needed.

Best of all, he didn’t seem angry at all at my asking, even though it was that personal. In fact, he seemed rather relieved that I was even doing this kind of due diligence.  Maybe his relief had more to do with the fact that it meant that his not-getting-any-younger older daughter and some guy worth a damn are that serious.

That said, since I was getting so personal with him about his daughter, I anticipated, and was ready for, him to do his own due diligence, and interrogate me and turn my guts inside out. Which he did, and I honestly answered all.

This by itself could have set off a chain reaction that ended up wrecking our relationship, but thankfully, it didn’t.

But I still had some work to do.

***

I told you I went to her father because I figured on a man not blabbing and snitching. Yet and still, I had to anticipate on the chessboard and be prepared for the possibility that he would tell on me. His daughter, and all that.  Men are generally good at keeping secrets, but not so good when those secrets involve their daughters.

So I made it easy for K. to do her due diligence on me.

I “accidentally” left an address phone number handwritten book in her apartment that just so happened to have the quasi-uncle’s phone number back in Waterloo, Illinois, readily and easily prominent.  (Really, who under the age of 50 has a handwritten or physical-printed personal address-phone book these days?)

A week and a half after my power lunch with her father, ring a ding goes my phone.  Guess who.

He usually e-mails me if it’s not really important, or texts me if it’s somewhat important, because he knows my international calls and texts cost me. So for him to call me must have meant it was really important or really bad news, and of course I answered the call.

Damned if she didn’t take the bait.

Turns out K. had the same suspicions about me that I had about her, almost down to the letter, all three of them. That I was cheating on an incumbent wife back in America with her, that I’ve already been married and divorced but am hiding kids from her, that I’m gay but using her for a beard. She, too, thought that by now, some chick would have let me snap her up, and of course, she was suspicious that that had already happened.

He told her the absolute God’s honest truth, that none of that was true.

While I was pleased about why she made the call, and what she asked him, which indicated that she’s just as seriously invested in this relationship as I am, such that she actively did her due diligence on me just as I did on her, the more critically important thing was that she even made the call at all.   Which meant is that from that moment, I had leverage against her if her father ever dropped the dime on me and told her about our power lunch.  If it made her mad initially, she couldn’t stay mad at me for going behind her back to find out about her, if she did the same to me.  The very word that went through my mind as I ended the call with him was:  Checkmate.

Ironically, I suck at chess.

***

Whew, that was a relief.

But, not so fast.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling that she was hiding something from me.

How could I be so sure?

Because I knew I was hiding something from her.

***

It all came to a head last night.

I finally worked up the courage and resolved myself to ask her point blank last night.

But as it turned out, just before the moment I resolved to do that, she did it to me first.

Which means she herself was still wondering about me just like I was wondering about her. It’s just that she slightly beat me to the punch in terms of working up the courage to pull the trigger.

“Good, we’re finally going to get this off our chests,” was my thought, and probably also hers, at that precise moment.  I also knew that there was about a five’ll-getchya-ten chance that the relationship was within an hour of ending.  But it couldn’t go on like this.

The reason she was still wondering about me turned out to be the same reason I was still wondering about her. Because she was hiding something from me just as much as I was hiding something from her.

First, we both came clean about all of what we did behind each others’ backs during the month, including the wherefores and whys.

That was a risky enough subtext by itself, and in fact, the whole progression of the power lunch and the planted address book, not to mention me openly admitting it to her, was predicated on the fact that I played the kind of positioning and bargaining games in dating that Americans do, but Germans don’t.  The German attitude about these kinds of games range from insouciance to disgust.  I asked her point blank about her reaction to what I had just confessed.  If it actually did bother her at all, she took it in her stride, and instead came off with an open reaction of that she understands the cross-cultural differences.  Maybe on one level she liked the new experience of some guy playing games with her;  I’m the first American and in fact first non-German she’s ever dated, and like I wrote above, Germans themselves don’t do this, so this is obviously her first time of experiencing American-style dating gamesmanship.  On top of that, she saw my Machiavellian personality shine through transparently for the first time.

After that, we agreed to let loose of our final secrets by means of writing them on paper, then trading papers, and then openly comparing the papers.

You’ll never guess:

Same damned thing.

Then we spilled our guts about said “same damned thing,” and our reasoning for hiding it from each other?  Too easy by now:  Just about the same reasons and rationale.

It’s all perfectly innocuous and understandable, as you’re about to find out.

***

Since I let her go first, I’ll do her part first.

Her father doesn’t have it like that like that, and he doesn’t have it like that. But he’s got it, a lot of it, (Remember that high-up office?), and has had it for some time, quite enough in terms of numbers and time to have set both of his daughters up with really soft fluffy pillows under their high wires of life, which they weren’t allowed to access until they started working their first real adult self-sustaining day-to-day employment. Both of those “really soft fluffy pillows” are sleeping safe and sound in Zürich.

Cut to the chase: She has been chronically scared about some man falling in love with her money instead of her. Especially since “her money” is meant as an emergency stash in case she’s ever “between jobs” or some such. It’s not meant to live off of for the rest of her life.  That’s what I mean metaphorically by “really soft fluffy pillow” — It wasn’t meant to be a permanent hammock.

Complicating matters with her is that her sister also has the same kind of “really soft fluffy pillow,” and the soyboy-in-law has no idea that his wife is sitting on top of that kind of nest egg. (And my writing it here won’t mean he ever finds out; If you’ve seen this blog’s traffic stats, you’ll know why).  In fact, I’m the first non-related person to be let in on this secret.  The soyboy-in-law is already in the go slow zone when it comes to being gainfully employed; In fact, the better word to describe his employment habits is “menial” rather than “gainful.”  If he ever found out, he would never do a lick of work for the rest of his life, opting for an existence of poaching his wife’s nest egg down to non-existence while giving his thumbs some powerful daily workouts.

You may be thinking here that I can now use this as leverage against her sister’s treachery.  I have decided against ever doing that, to the point of openly coming to an agreement with K. that this tactic is forever off the table for either one of us, because pulling that card could very well start a chain reaction that wrecks the whole family.  We’ll find other ways to mitigate her sister.

K., worried that she would end up with a husband like her soyboy-in-law, had the double worry about such a man finding out about her nest egg.  Now you see why she was so nervous?

As an aside, I don’t consider her doing that to be the same kind of gamesmanship that I engaged in and just discussed.

Now for my part.

You may remember that, after Oktoberfest and the Bavarian state elections during October of last year, I made three stops before heading back to Cologne from Munich. First was Hechingen, to see Hohenzollern Castle, my favorite German castle thus far, the second was the clock route in the southern Black Forest, to pick out a cuckoo clock for my mother and have it shipped to her, and the third was Basel.

You think I was in Basel just to add another stamp to my passport and to do sightseeing?

Yeah, there was all that.

But I also had the remainder of my insurance settlement money moved to a newly minted Swiss bank account and converted to CHF.

It, too, is my big soft fluffy pillow under my high wire of life, and then some, and then some. The difference is that the purpose of it is that if my recovery suddenly goes left and I can’t work, I’ll have something to live on.

Why did I hide it from K. for so long?

Because I wanted her to fall in love with me, not my money.

Neither one of us have to worry about that kind of thing any longer.  Turns out we both came with our own bags of money.

I already knew we were comparably yoked in terms of ambition and income. Now I know we’re also comparably yoked in terms of assets.

After we both spilled all, we laughed until we cried.

Then we realized how we are even more alike than we thought.  We’re so much alike that we both take it as a point of personal pride that I am way more Machiavellian than she.  (I’ll give you a minute to think it through.)

Like I wrote above, what could have easily ruined us instead brought us even closer together.

***

I also now know that I can confide in her father, because I know for sure that he never told K. about our power lunch.

However, I now also know that, during our power lunch, he never told me about her money.  Best to let the sleeping dog lie, so I won’t ever ask, but I think he didn’t tell me about her money then for one of two reasons:  Either it never occurred to him, or he hid it from me for the same reasons she did.

***

November for us was like an O. Henry short story.

***

During the month, we had our first amicable domestic disagreement and differences.  I’m not going to call it a fight, because it wasn’t.  And it wasn’t so much a “domestic” agreement as it was a professional disagreement manifested in a domestic setting.  But it was our first real wake-up call that, as alike as we are, we’re not total carbon copies, (“No E-Girls, Ever!” — Nick F.), and that we’ll have our share of give and take.  I can’t say publicly what it was about, because I’d be exposing both of us if I did.  However, it was the kind of thing where it was pretty easy for both of us to empathize with and understand the other’s position.  If you’re going to disagree, that’s the best kind of disagreement to have.

***

I’ve also been doing my due diligence when it comes to cars this month.  I’ll tell you more about that after I’ve made my final decision and closed the deal.  I’ll just sneak peek it now and say that I started out with seven serious candidates within the relevant range of the intersection of practicality, affordability, desirability and politics.  Plus an eighth test drive of a car way above my price range, for grins and giggles and a little bit of fun.  As of this writing, I have narrowed it down to the final two.  All of my test drives except for one have come with K. riding shotgun, because I still won’t be able to drive on my own for another 16 days, though it’s not like I’ve been counting down or anything.  The one exception?  Well, I’ll save it for then.

Sixteen days until Freiheitstag.  I’m so close I can just taste it.

***

In a personal note, I’ll have Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with other Americans at a special undisclosed place here in The Region just as I did last year, and then I’ll have a short trip over the weekend, to Braunschweig, indicated on most English language maps as Brunswick.  During the vacation, we went through Braunschweig, and among other things, I learned that that stuff in the United States called Braunschweiger really isn’t.  “Braunschweiger” sold in America is actually liverwurst or liver sausage (look at the label), while true Braunschweigerwurst is a off-color pork sausage that you can serve well either hot or in cold cuts.

However, my purpose for going to Braunschweig has nothing to do with Braunschweigerwurst, even though I will have some while I’m there.  Hinting to the previous section, VW did something one week ago relating to my impending business in Braunschweig that would have made me decide not to buy a VW, if I already had not come to that decision for other reasons.





Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 2

3 11 2019

“DUE DILIGENCE”

Our relationship has now survived and thrived through all the challenges of time and distance separation either one of us could throw at it.

I got back to Cologne in enough time back on Thursday for the g/f to bring me along to her work’s Halloween party;  That’s how serious things have gotten, and also how the time apart didn’t hurt the relationship.  She wanted to show me off to her colleagues.  It was too late to get some sort of dress-up or costume, so I just went as her boyfriend, which was a scary enough gitup.

Since I wasn’t born yesterday, I knew her ulterior motive:  Since I was back in town, she was doing the body language thing to her female colleagues that I’m taken, and if any of them even dared, there would be workplace cohesion and comity issues, courtesy of herself.  Basically, she doesn’t want repeats of her sister.

Before now, I had two serious girlfriends where I thought maybe possibly…but both wound up failing, the earlier one just got tired of me, the latter one that relationship I ruined with my own mouth.  The first one I had before I started this medium, the second was my g/f when I lived in Carbondale through 2009, so those of you who have been here that long will probably remember that whole saga, to the extent I wrote about it in this space at the time.

And before present company, the rest of my g/fs were just short and medium termers with no serious long term prospects.

Present company absolutely blows way past the previous two I mentioned in terms of seriousness. I’m almost ready to call her The One.

But, since things are now that serious, and by “that” serious, I mean that that that serious, I have some due diligence, to, well, do. Just as I did No Nut November in October, this month is going to be Due Diligence November. And really, more than the separation, more than the catch as catch can nature of our relationship, and more than her sister’s treachery, this will be the most risky part and time of our relationship. Doing my due diligence to find out for sure whether we can go all the way may be what busts our relationship apart.

Needless to say, I better buckle up.  And not just because I’m also doing due diligence on new cars;  Already did two test drives this long holiday weekend, Friday was a holiday (“Allerheiligen,” or “All Saints”) in some German states, including NRW.

Speaking of her sister, unfortunately no, she hasn’t given up, as I had hoped that two and a half months of time would have made her do.  As long as I’m around, she’s going to keep on keeping on. The g/f and I are just going to have to mitigate her.

***

In unrelated matters, I saw the prodigal roommate for the first time in months. He is all but 100% sure to be permanently confined to his wheelchair, and while he’s put on a brave and happy face for how much and how well I’ve recovered, I know it has to hurt him and make him sad to some extent. Like I’ve said, my current official residence with the prodigal roommate is designed for gimps, and, provided I make it to the 14th of next month with no setbacks, I’ll no longer be an official gimp, and therefore, no longer need handicapped housing. Which means I’ll be finding a place of my own.





Real Housewives of Cologne

15 08 2019

“PILOT EPISODE”

So you want to know how it went last night meeting her family.

I think I might have walked right into the middle of a real life reality show. More than that, my walking in is what sparked the drama.

First things first: Her father and I hit it off pretty decently. That was the sine qua non of the whole evening for my initial concern. While nobody there was naive about what anyone there is doing with anyone else, not least of all her father vis-a-vis his older daughter and myself, I still wanted the evening to end with her father and I not disliking each other, at the bare minimum. Turns out he and I have some things in common, which is probably one of the reasons why she likes me so much. If our relationship is a long termer, I can see how he and I could be assets to each other on occasion, other than just purely getting along well. More than that I cannot add so publicly.

Things went okay as well with her mother.

But then, her sister and her brother-in-law.

Whoa boy.

Just to set the scale, you already know I’m 42 and the g/f is 32. Her father is 61, mother 57. Sister, her only sibling, is 30. Her husband is about to turn 30.

SOYBOY~!

That wound up helping me put a few pieces of the puzzle together. The g/f and I had already discussed our previous difficulties and bad luck with the opposite sex before now. At first, I thought her problems with men were just the same generic sort of bad luck that I have had with women. And some of that might still be true. But once I got a whiff of the soyboy-in-law, I started to think that her “bad luck” with men is nothing more than her getting tired of the soyboy army of western Germany, and for the fact that she would rather be alone than end up with a wuss like her brother-in-law. So I come along into her life almost a year ago now, sorta like the average guy from the year 2005 who winds up time travelling to the year 2505 in Idiocracy. I’m no big time alpha myself, but in the land of the blind…

Then there was the sister. Half the evening it seems like, she stared at me like I was some kind of T-Bone steak and she was a desperately hungry wolf. Everyone else at the table knew it, and could see it, and figured out what was going on, except for the oblivious soyboy, who seemed like he was gawking at his phone half the evening. I certainly hope, for my own personal sake, and ironically so, that, in that marriage, she does all of the automobile driving.

If our relationship is a long term one, then we’re going to have to contend with the chronic threat of her sister trying to get in between the two of us. Complicating matters will be her father, her mother and the soyboy, how those personalities intertwine with the drama and politics of it all.

But for this, I would be indifferent about the sister, she’s there, takes up space, but I neither like nor dislike her.  But because of this, I’m praying that her job soon transfers her to Outer Mongolia.

After it was over, and the g/f and I broke ranks to went back to her place, we talked about this (and did other things), and were of the same mind on everything. Except she said that she should have been able to foresee the whole sister problem, and seen to it that she and her soyboy weren’t there. I would have agreed, except I told her that if we do go long term, it would have been inevitable that they would have been introduced into the social mix. Meaning the problems would have started later rather than sooner, but they still would have started.

If only her parents would have stopped after one.

And stay tuned for the next episode of Real Housewives of Cologne. But none too soon, because I’m about to catch a train later today, and I’ll be away from this budding drama to the tune of three weeks and a few hundred miles, er, kilometers.





How I’m Feeling Right Now

24 12 2020

Frau. and I have given this humanity thing another chance.

We were hoping for the stork to ride with Santa, considering how close our due date ranges were to Christmas, the first range was a bit after when it was presumed to be a single, but then moved up a week to a bit before when twins were confirmed.

It didn’t turn out that way. But it worked out for the best, because we all got to come home earlier today, and they’ll wake up for the very first time of a morning in their own cribs in their own home tomorrow morning, Christmas morning.  And then they’ll see their grandparents’ house for the first time later in the morning for Christmas.  Over the river and through the woods…except…well…except both houses are west of the Rhine, so we won’t be crossing any rivers, and there aren’t much in the way of wooded areas in the most direct path between the two houses.

I just can’t stop looking at them.  I had all I could do to stop doing that long enough to write this post, and I want to get it done ASAP/PDQ so I can go right back.  I don’t think their mother actually has taken their eyes off them.  The new grandparents followed us from the hospital to here, and they themselves just left within the hour, that’s how hard it was for them to break away.  In spite of the fact that they’re going to be seeing them again tomorrow all day beginning in just a handful of hours.

I’m telling ya, these two little boys already have a lot of fans.

How I’m feeling right now? Well, someone born 335 years ago 225 miles nearly due east of where I currently sit, put it best, with the greatest song ever made, a composer that another famous composer born 250 years ago this month 18 miles southeast of where I sit once praised as the GOAT.  When I drove Frau. and our two new bundles of joy home earlier today, (yes, rear-facing Kindersitzen), I played it in the car.  It was therefore the first full length song my sons ever heard in their lives.  Needless to say, they’re already off to a good start in life insofar as musical tastes.

Another great composer, also born 335 years ago, around 80 miles away from the aforementioned, is on my mind. This, a 1972 stylized arrangement of one of his great works.

A few bonuses. The most perfect rendition of an English language Christmas carol ever.  And don’t try changing my mind.

The Ray Conniff Singers are probably the most underrated Christmas carol singers of all time. Their version of “The First Noel” (part of a longer medley, the RCS liked to do Christmas carol medleys) is really stirring and has a really low key power feeling.  The RCS marched to the beat of their own drum, both figuratively and literally;  With their Christmas carols and regular songs, they had quirky ways of riding beats and handling pitches and doing lyrical arrangements, which you’re about to hear.  The intro, sans the bells, makes me think I’m about to hear “Green Fields” by The Brothers Four (1960). The whole medley is worth the listen.  But I promise you you’ll be running back “The First Noel” many times.

Once again, many of you who are reading these words will get the special “Hello World” e-mail I’m planning on writing and sending some time next week. If you don’t think you’re on the list, contact me, and I’ll add you if I know you well enough and trust you.

(Real Housewives of Cologne, intermediate interlude.  For record keeping purposes)





One Year Ago Today

14 12 2020

I asked a certain someone to marry me, and she accepted.

In this year, we’ve gone all the way from singles in a relationship to married about-to-be parents, with a memorable wedding ceremony and an unforgettable honeymoon in between, and then some. Of course, there have also been all the world’s problems, 2020 being as 2020-y as it can be. But we were like for the most part, devil may care. OTOH, one other thing I did one year ago today, if you remember, is buy my car. And the current year being what it was, it has far fewer kilometers on it one year later than I would have expected.

We’re now down to a single digit number of days, assuming she’s not way late. Even now, we’re on high alert. In the meantime, Frau. is eating everything in sight, including things I would have never guessed were edible, and she’s just, plain, huge. All the people of professional credibility and previous experience in these things tell me no no no, it’s just indicative that they’re twins, but I can’t help but think they’re going to be some really big boys.

Probably around a week or so after they arrive, I’m going to have a special arrival e-mail and send it to a long list of people. It will contain details I can’t reveal in public, so this list of people will be those I know and/or trust. Some of you reading these words are already on the list; If you want on, contact me, and I’ll add you if I know and/or trust you.

(Real Housewives of Cologne update)