Monday, October 2, 2017

The overbearing German...

A couple of days ago, I had a flashback to my teen years.  It was August of 1988.  I was sixteen years old and very much into riding horses.  I had a filthy mouth... probably much filthier than it is today.  I also had a really short temper.

There was a German woman whose daughter rode horses at our barn.  Her kid was very energetic and, at least to us teenagers, pretty annoying.  She was eleven years old.  Her mother was very pretty with those hypnotic emerald green eyes that seem especially prevalent in Germans.  She had brown hair streaked with blonde and always wore stylish clothes, circa 1988, anyway.  She had married a servicemember and he was posted at nearby Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia.  I did do some sleuthing not long ago and discovered the woman has since divorced her Army husband and remarried.  She's still living in the States.  Her daughter took after her father and did not share her mother's looks.

I remember the German woman and I did not get along particularly well.  She was overprotective of her daughter and very overbearing.  I tend to butt heads with people who are overbearing, and that was especially true when I was an adolescent.  Still, for whatever reason and despite the fact that we didn't really like each other, this woman told me that she would be driving me to 4-H meetings.  I didn't ask her for a ride.  She simply stated that she would be driving me, probably because she lived somewhat close by.  I think prior to my getting a license and the German woman's decision to give me rides, I would get rides from my riding coach or my mom would take me.  Even though I had a strong personality clash with this woman, she drove me to 4-H meetings until I got my license.  After that, I drove myself.

August 1988 was around the time of the Gloucester County Fair horse show.  It was put on by 4-H and I was a card carrying member.  I also had a driver's license and my dad's ugly Chevy S10 pickup truck.  I remember being tasked to haul twelve bales of hay back to the barn.  I took two friends with me in the truck.

When we got to the barn, I was trying to back up the truck with all of that hay in the back.  I was trying to concentrate and the German woman was trying to direct me.  I hadn't asked her for help and was doing fine on my own.  She generally got on my nerves, and I was very tense because I was trying to deliver the hay bales without backing into something.  To this day, I swear to God I don't remember saying or doing this, but apparently I very loudly called her a bitch.

She continued to direct me backwards toward the barn.  Then she came over to me and started yelling at me that her name was not "Bitch."  I was actually really shocked at the time because, I swear, I had a mental block of some sort.  In retrospect, knowing what kind of person I was in my teens, I'm pretty sure I probably did call her a bitch.  But I honestly don't remember doing it.  I was too focused on backing the hay bales to the barn.

I remember stammering out a shocked apology, but the German woman was extremely pissed off at me and I remember her seething, "You're just sorry you got caught!"

When she said that, I got really upset and took off for home.  A few of my friends were worried about me and, indeed, I did have a little mishap.  There was a shallow ditch across from my parents' driveway and I was so flustered over being yelled at by the overbearing German woman that I accidentally backed into it and got stuck.

I sat there in the cab, beside myself with shame, embarrassment, and anger.  Just minutes later, three guys in a pickup truck swung around the corner in their truck and saw me stuck in the ditch.  I recognized one of them as a dude named Ricky.  He was dating one of my friends.  I remember at that time, my friend was always wearing turtlenecks and mocks because he was constantly giving her hickeys.  Anyway, Ricky got out of his truck, laughing, and said "Looks like you could use a little help."

I answered in the affirmative that I'd like help escaping the ditch.  So Ricky and his two buddies went to the back of the Chevy S10, lifted it up, and I hit the accelerator.  Voila!  I was a damsel in distress rescued by three of my peers.  Actually, though those guys really did help me out, they took quite a risk.  I was a young driver and I could have easily gotten the gears wrong on that old stick shift.

I have probably mentioned this before, but when Bill was sixteen, he was run over by one of his high school buddies in a somewhat similar scenario.  They were in Houston, Texas and his friend was driving a Subaru Brat (basically an ugly car with a bed like a pickup).  Bill had tried to jump into the bed with his pals when his friend backed up.  Bill lost his footing and ended up under the car, which rolled over him.

Fortunately, the parking lot they were in was gravel, so there was some give as the car rolled over Bill.  He broke some ribs and, today, has arthritis in his chest where the tire was.  I think he also had a collapsed lung and had to spend a week in the hospital.  Bill has told me he had a near death experience thanks to that incident.  I often wonder if that's why he seems so special to me.

In the aftermath of my accidentally cussing at the German mom at our barn, another rider's grandmother quipped "If the shoe fits, wear it."  Apparently, I wasn't the only one turned off by the overbearing German lady and her authoritarian attitude.  I still smile when I think of that feisty granny taking my side.

Anyway...  I was just reminded that pushy behavior is probably a cultural thing.  It might even be a German thing... just like my unbridled cussing is probably a hormonal teenager thing.  I'm glad those dramatic days are over, even though I will probably be back in hormonal hell in the coming years.


  1. My mom fell on cross country skis in a neighbor's driveway in Minot, North Dakota when she was eight. The neighbor couldn't see her and backed right over her thighs, which probably had a circumference of about three inches each back then. Fortunately my mom sunk into the snow and wasn't injured. (Had the tire rolled onto her knees she would have been hurt.) My grandma for some reason wasn't home. The driver was hysterical and called paramedics even though my mom wasn't hurt, and my mom had to go in the ambulance to the hospital to be checked out, but she said she wasn't even sore the next day.

    Regarding adolescents, I'm barely out of adolescence myself and even I get that you have to give them a bit of space and take everything they say with a grain of salt. The woman probably really was a bitch, as is probably also true of your landlady.

    1. Well, I can say that in both situations with the landlady and the bitchy mom, I did see nice sides from both of them. I would say of the two, the bitchy mom was more of a genuine bitch than the landlady is. I don't get the sense that the landlady is truly a nasty person most of the time. She's just very pushy and old fashioned. I have also heard her make some vaguely racist comments, although she does seem to try to be pleasant. Her husband is a lot more laid back, as I'm sure he has to be in order to be able to stand her.

      That's really something about your mom. I'm glad she wasn't hurt. That would have been an awful injury to recover from.

  2. I'm reluctant to make a racial generalization, but . . .
    I've known for people from Germany well. Two were foreign exchange students in high school. One was in the high school choir I was paid to accompany while in high school. She was brand new to the choir and didn't like the music the director had chosen. She had her mom send her old choir music from Germany. she took it to the teacher copying room, had copies (illegally, as the music was copyrighted) made under the choir director's account for all members of the choir, and distributed them at rehearsal, telling the director we would be singing her choices instead of the music the director had selected. The directed collected the copies and handed them back to her.

    Another foreign exchange student was on the track team with me. she didn't like our uniforms. She went online and found other track uniforms selections for the team to vote on. (We were supposed to be grateful because she had allowed us to vote instead of choosing for us.) The track coach asked her who was going to pay for the new uniforms. she looked at him strangely and said, "The government." He laughed at her. We didn't get new uniforms that year.

    I had a German classmate in a microbiology lab in undergrad. If there was a line to use any equipment
    (there weren't enough robotic colony counters or spectral videometers or other devices for everyone to use simultaneously) she would walk to the front of the line just as the person using it was finishing, then grab it. after she did that abut four times, someone finally got the nerve to ask her what she thought she was doing. She said, "I don't have time for queues." a rther tough-looking Hispanic girl took exception to her actions and her explanation. It didn't come to blows, but it got too close for my comfort. We never saw her in that lab again. I don't know what happened to her. I assume she dropped the lab.

    We had a German woman in my cohort in the first year. (There's a guy from Switzerland still in the cohort, but he's pretty mellow.) As a second-year med student, she tried to give advice to an attending surgeon about a procedure when she was shadowing the surgeon who was assisting in the surgery. I'm not sure what the details were concerning the precise reasons, but she's no longer with us.

    It may be a coincidence, or it may not. I don't have a large enough sampling population for the results to be valid.

    1. Well, it's true that sometimes German women can be pretty assertive to the point of rudeness. I have noticed it myself. It seems less common among the men.

      On the other hand, I have also met some really nice German women. I'm sure there are all kinds... although I have to admit, it does seem like a cultural thing that they can be bossy and dictatorial about some things. In that way, they aren't unlike some of the Russians I've met, although Russians are also very blunt.


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