Anfang: Beginning

I burst out of my bedroom, raced across the hall, and bounced onto my brothers’ bed; my screech echoed satisfyingly in the almost-emptied upstairs. “You know what Germans call ‘hotdogs?’ ” Dumbfounded silence, music to an in-the-know eldest’s ears.

“Wieners! Hahaha!”

Giggles and much joyful jumping, followed by my Dad’s arrival. I don’t remember a head-palm, but I’m pretty sure it accompanied his brief explanation. Our first course of training to be diplomatic  “overseas brats:” Don’t make fun of the native speech, especially avoid bathroom humor. Wieners = made in Wien (Vienna, Austria. Frankfurters = Frankfurt, West Germany. Oh. Well, that’s less fun. 

After packing out of our Glen Burnie cape cod, we spent a few weeks in da muddah-land, Long Island, with our extensive network of relatives during that summer of ’75. I recall my parents and assorted relatives hauling many suitcases through JFK (back then four little kids and parents could each bring 3 large items, especially with 3- year orders and brown passports), silverware and hot washcloths in-flight (Pan Am!), but not much more.

First stop on our excellent adventure: Heathrow, to visit my Dad’s sister Peg and her British husband, Dave. He was unused to groups of young children. “Keep your chew in your chops, Charlie Brown!” was one memorable phrase, and he may have used it as we swirled crazily down the tall parking garage at breakneck speed, on the wrong side of the road. Even I knew that, by gum! I remember I was in the front seat, flanked by my mom, and probably my youngest bro, Fred, who was two, perhaps on her lap.  (Remember: 1975.)

My fave British memory is my chat with my aunt’s next door neighbor during a July 4th picnic they held in our honor. I asked him if he celebrated 4th of July, too. “Hell no. What for?” I’m sure the elderly curmudgeon was highly amused as he watched my eight year old brain struggle mightily with a Brit refusing to celebrate such an obviously glorious occasion. My learning curve, steeply rising.

Solch -such! ein’Anfang!


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