Saturday evening we were invited to friends for chilli to "celebrate" her birthday, a low key event due to the fact that they'd buried his mother just two days previously.
We spent the evening in the kitchen (where all the best parties end up anyway, so why not cut out the middle man and start where you mean to finish?) which was very cosy, I'm glad we were the second couple to arrive because at least that ensured we bagged seats around the table and didn't have to spend the evening propping up the worktops, although it also meant that we couldn't pick and choose who we got to chat with.
The chilli was delicious, Michael is a good cook (bearing in mind that for a day job he's a surgeon, replacing shoulder, knee and hip joints) but as anticipated the chilli was so mild that I could barely tell that it was chilli (the give away was the kidney beans) but many of the other guests found it still too spicy, ladling on the crème fraiche that was there for just such people.
I felt quite sorry for the chef, due to the funeral earlier in the week, there were still relatives hanging about that needed to be entertained. Fine, except that Michael had clearly been the baby in the family and the rellies were....older, and had come armed with baby photos. Poor Michael, a grown man with a successful surgical career and two children in high school and yet still the photos circulated, he was very good about it though, as the photos to continued while he took refuge in the male, football corner - despite the fact that he isn't a football fan.
Why is it that whenever two or more men are gathered together the talk turns to football (unless of course they both work for the same company, in which case they talk work) It did on Saturday, naturally, and I can't for the life of me remember how we, at the predominantly girlie table got involved, leading me to prove that women (or me at least) do understand "the offside rule", and what's more I then went onto to prove my understanding - in German...I'm so much more fluent after a glass or three of wine.
I learnt something new about Germans on Saturday night. They always greet everyone, handshake if you're not close, kiss on the cheek if you're more friendly/female and so on, it's not just polite it's expected of you, and woe betide you should you enter a room/restaurant/bar/cafe and accidentally (because you're not German and therefore not aware of the slight that is occuring*) not greet someone - social suicide. But when you walk into a room already full of people it is a bit of a pain to have to go around shaking hands and saying hello, so the crafty Germans have come up with a way round this, they knock on the table. Quite how this introduces you to everyone I don't know, but at least you can't be accused of deliberately ignoring someone. They also use the knocking on the table as a means of applauding and to back someone up in a discussion (the way the English say "hear hear")
Everytime I think to myself, "we're not that different, afterall" I discover something new (even after four years) which makes me go "huh?" all over again, but I guess it'd be a boring world if we were all the same.
* I am guilty of this, I have been told by a friend that she's been asked why I've ignored such and such a person...I swear that half the time I wander around in my own little bubble, oblivious to the faces on the people around me - although since the complaints I'm trying hard to look at people** in order to decide whether I need to smile and say hi.
** maybe that's why I think that Germans stare, maybe they're not just staring to be nosy, maybe they're staring and wondering to themselves, "do I know you? Do I need to say hello in order not to accidentally offend you?"