I spend the day going to my uncle’s parents-in-laws house, where the kids will be for the first week of their school vacation. The drive over consisted of fighting between the two siblings, fighting between the mom and the kids, and me trying to break the fighting and monotony with tongue twisters, road trip games, and French braiding. I also made a play list for my cousin who loves to listen to all sorts of horrid corporate overproduced shock-value angst rock. I was trying for “roots of the music you’re listening to” and quickly turned into, “music that I have liked within the last years and maybe you’ll like next.” There was Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cream, Europe, Dispatch, Bob Marley, bluegrass, and Tool. He said he liked, but his stuff more. I’m not disappointed. It’s probably the most meaningful and personal interaction he had with me the entire weekend, so I consider it a victory. Nobody yelled at him while he quietly listened, which was also a plus.
Once we got there, we all sat down for lunch: nudeln (noodles), knudel (tasty hearty baked dumplings), veal, and gravy. Pears and cranberry preserves were to be eaten with the veal, and it was really good! I got to try to practice my limited German with folks who only knew German, and managed to get through some conversational topics of my own, including, “Shall I refer to you as Sie or Du?” The question was intended for just my uncle, who said without hesitation, “Sie, they’re older than you, it’s more respectful, but since you’re a foreigner, you could get away with Du.” They got interested in our whisperings, and declared, “Du, of course, since you’re family!” I think Sie would have been the proper thing, but I just avoided statemesnts that required a personal pronoun like that for the rest of the day.
Max and Josie and I walked to the palace nearby, and it was very pretty, and very nice, and altogether too opulent for me. We did not wait or pay for the palace tour, so I didn’t even lapse into imagining-I’m-a-princess mode, but I got to spend good time with my uncle and cousin, and that was what was most important.
When we got back, we toured our host’s garden: it is amazing. What would be considered a smallish lawn in a America was converted into a backyard farm, with pear trees, far too much lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and things I don’t remember. I was ridiculously envious. It turns out they also own some orchards outside town, so the garden yield was artificially inflated, but still- the land was beautiful and functional. I was in heaven, imagining that it was mine. Ms. Mother-in-Law gave me a pint of raspberries, some strawberries, and some tomatoes to take back home. The raspberries were gone before the end of the evening, and the tomatoes the next morning.
Andrea’s brother had brought back some clove cigarettes from Indonesia, so once we got back too Bensheim, sans children, two were broken out. The three freed adults went outside on the stoop to enjoy. I took a drag… and hacked and coughed and sputtered and happily decided that smoking, even cloves, was not for me. I even tried smoking like cigar, just in the mouth, and now know that there are much more worthwhile ways to get the taste of clove in my mouth. Like eating a clove. Pretty simple. Now I can no longer claim I have never smoked anything legal, but now I know with good evidence that I never want to. We also enjoyed a dessert of raspberries, yogurt, and alcohol. Andrea and Max drank the poison Mirabella schnapps while I tried their raspberry-lime liquor. It reminded me of the drink Sex on the Beach, and would taste marvelous in champagne. I felt pretty cool.
Then I packed while watching Gangs of New York, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who made it back onto my list of, “Celebrities Worth Stalking,” with The Departed. Gangs of New York was interesting, but not as amazing as The Departed.