You can get used to almost anything in life, including living in a foreign country. I go about my daily life and do not even think on the U.S. most of the time. There are more important things to be done: buy bread, go to the post office, grade papers, call the tax consultant. Then every now and again . . . Something happens and WHAM you wonder, "What the hell kind of planet did I land on?!"
It happened yesterday. Normal Monday. I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the gym. When I walked in, I noticed the women behind the counter. They were dressed in togas. Dear God. I forgot about Carnival. The interesting thing about living in a very Catholic area is the random holidays and festivals that call for costumes and large amounts of alcohol. I grew up in the Baptist south. I do not recall the beginning of Lent in this manner.
I smiled and laughed. Rosenmontag can be fun. But then there was the music. The God-awful, why do they listen to this stuff music. In German it is called "Schlager." I really need to learn how to post audio feeds, because you have to hear it to understand. Let's just say that Schlager is not exactly what you want to be listening to when lifting weights. Then everybody started to sing along. That was when I had the "moment." "WTF?? Where am I?"
Carnival is really popular in my county and a bit further south in Cologne. I heard on the radio that English tourists (i.e. they come from England) can take a class called "Talk like a Kraut" and then travel to Germany's Carnival. That made me giggle. Mostly because you only need to know like 6 words of German to survive Carnival.
Bier = Beer (same pronunciation, isn't that convenient?)
Noch eine = another one
Bezahlen = to pay
Toilette = toilet
Ubergeben = to throw-up
Today I gave a "drive-by" hello to a woman on the street. I was walking back to my car, when I saw a women who looks exactly like someone in my office building. I was trying to be friendly, "Hello!" I chirped with a completely goofy grin on my face. She smiled but had her eyebrows together in that, "Do I know you?" look. That is when I realized that (a) I had no idea who this person was and (b) she is going to go home and tell her family about the crazy lady walking down the street saying hello to random strangers.