There are certain things that you simply should not do in Germany. I call them the "German Social Sins." Once you commit one of these social sins, you are forever looked down up as a lesser member of the social order, or has been my experience, simply someone who does not know any better. Because you do not know any better, some take pity on you and try to "educate you." Run from these people.
I have gathered a list of some of my favorites, and I will document them over the next week for my friends who do not visit me, but should.
6. Wearing a T-Shirt Under Your Sweater
You MUST do this in Germany. I do not. I never have worn a t-shirt under a sweater . . . well perhaps under a really itchy one. I never felt the need and never really worried about the cold.
Two winters ago I bent over at a Christmas party and exposed some of the flesh of my back between my jeans and my short sweater. "Kind (Child!) you are going to catch a cold!! You had better put a t-shirt on or you will get ill." Hmm . . . I thought about this for a minute. I spent my college years (7 out of 10 anyway) in two very cold places - the Appalachian Mountains and the Chicago area. I was never really sick. Actually I can probably count how many times I have been ill on two hands. I asked the well meaning woman, "What do you mean I will get sick?" "Your kidneys, you have to take care of you kidneys!"
My kidneys?? I thought this was an outlier, a random moment. Turns out - the majority of German women like to tell me about how I am damaging my kidneys by not wearing a t-shirt. Honestly, I never gave my kidneys much thought. They are there. They do their thing and stay out of trouble. I have had a couple of bladder infections but never anything with the kidneys.
Last week yet another older German woman (whose advice was unsolicited I might add) told me again that I need to wear a t-shirt and cover my kidneys. "There is nothing wrong with my kidneys! I have not worn t-shirts for 28 years and I am a healthy individual." "Well, you could get a bladder infection you know." What?? A bladder infection is caused by bacteria and how will wearing or not wearing a t-shirt prevent bacteria from developing in my bladder?
I have a very good reason for not wearing a t-shirt. They make me sweat. I hate sweating and it makes me very uncomfortable. I am warm enough with just my sweater. I suppose though, that I should thank the older German women for their very helpful (or not) advice. It is amazing that I survived this long left to my own devices, you know running with scissors and all.
Now, if I can just get a message for my aching kidneys . . .