I think most Americans understand that Europeans are generally much less prude than we are. Europeans approach sex as a very natural thing and it is talked about openly rather than in private and in hushed tones. And that thing that happens to women every 28 days… it’s natural, too. Men don’t make sounds like they’re watching a terrifying horror movie when you talk about it. I explained to my German last week that American women typically can’t talk to a man about her “monthly” because most of them act repulsed by it. I also explained that I’m certain this is the reason that for the last 20 years, I’ve battled feelings of shame and disgust every 28 days. It’s like a feeling of depression that sets in and I know it’s a result of feeling like I should be ashamed by the very natural process my body was designed to go through. His response: “How horrible for women! It’s so natural! I can’t believe that!” I told him, “Believe it. Even my very loving, amazing, wonderful father said on many occasions that he wished he didn’t have to even see commercials advertising pads and tampons because it grossed him out so much.”
It’s absolutely refreshing being with an open-minded man that I can talk to about anything. And I’m not saying there aren’t American men who are just as open-minded and easy to talk to. I know they’re out there, but I’ve met only 1 that I can recall.
That being said, it’s extremely difficult to embarrass my German since basically nothing is taboo, but I did it and it was marvelous…
A few weeks ago while shopping at Kaufland (a grocery store), I got his face to turn as red as a tomato and all because of the little fruit we call a fig. The German word for fig is feigen, but I didn’t know that at the time, and in the middle of the crowded produce section I gasped, “FIGS! I’ve never tried a fig before! I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen a fig in real life. Honey, have you tried figs? Do you know if they’re good? I want to try a fig!”
He replied, “Shhhhhhh!!!!! Honey… stop. Stop! Shhhh!” Then he whispered, “Do you know what fig is in German?” I told him no and he explained that it is the German equivalent of the F word in English. So I had basically asked him in the crudest way possible if he’d ever tried sex before.
Obviously, I found this to be extremely delightful and giggled about it for several minutes.
The next day was even better, though. We were back at the same store and looking at breakfast foods. I told him how good oatmeal sounded since the weather is getting colder now. He asked me what oatmeal was and I said, “Well, it’s made from oats which is a grain used in cereals, but instead of adding cold milk you use hot water and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then it gets… you know… mushy.”
The German: What did you say?
Me: You add hot water and they get mushy.
The German: *face turning beet-red* Honey, one more time, please, but much, much quieter.
Me: It gets muh-muh-muh-muuuuuushhhhhyyyyyyyy. With an M.
At this point, I actually heard the couple behind us snickering but I had no idea why. At a low whisper, he asked me, “Do Americans have a very ugly slang word for vagina? Like, really ugly?” I told him we did and even though he doesn’t know the word, it’s so ugly I didn’t want to say it. Finally I got out that ugly C-word and cringed as I said it. He replied, “Yep. If it’s that ugly then it’s definitely the same as ‘mushy.'”
Ha! I’m laughing again as I type this.
So I leaned in and whispered, “Honey, the figs yesterday were really mushy. Are figs supposed to be mushy? I’m not sure I want to eat a mushy fig!” And though I was whispering and nobody was in our aisle anymore, his face was bright red and I erupted in laughter loud enough for half the store to hear.
Of all the things you can talk about openly in Germany, mushy figs is definitely not one of those things… I mean, unless you’re aiming to embarrass someone.