Germany Part 2 — Kirchheim, Ye Olde Stomping Grounds

Ahh, Kirchheim.  Ahh, Owen, Germany.  When I left you, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again!  I knew it would have taken some extraordinary coincidence to again delight my eyes upon all those sweet, smiling co-worker faces I left.

…or, to give the fates a break, a stupid-expensive plane ticket…so… screw fate!

My dear, sweet old friend and former co-worker picked me up from Stuttgart and whisked me back to Kirchheim.  And then, off to Reutlingen to have dinner with another former co-worker who escaped and the other 1.5 fabulous people in his new family.   It was then that I learned I’d be trying Croatian food for the first time, as my buddy is from Croatia and knew of an authentic place to grab eats.  I was so excited to try cevapcici for the first time; can’t you tell?Cevapcici

It was actually pretty damn delicious!  Although the digestifs our hostess kindly passed out to us not-pregnant people at the end nearly ended me.  A younger me would have tried to finish it anyway…but older, wiser me thought ahead to the dark, winding, zig-zagging road ahead of us still that night…and begged my Croatian friend to finish mine.

On the journey back to Kirchheim, the navigation system shot out this image, and, maybe it was the turpentine I just tried to choke down doing something to my brain, but I died laughing:

Kitten Schade

For some reason, the word, “Kitteneshalde“, got turned into “Kitten Schade” in my mind, and all I could think of was that most epic scene in Boondock Saints… you know the one I’m talking about.  Anyways, though, the real word doesn’t mean that at all.  🙁

The next day I had to myself to get into trouble as my old friend had to go to work…at the office where I used to go to work… it was a very strange feeling.  It almost felt like I was playing hooky.  Luckily, though, I knew the town I was in well and had a list of souvenirs to pick up (read: chocolate), so I made good use of my time.

As I strolled into the town center, I came across this marvel.  Now, the definition of irony tends to be an often debated topic in some circles I travel in.  May we now lay the topic to rest with this?  This.  This is the definition of irony:

Forbetter your English
Forbetter your English

Yeah.   Looks like they took German words and phrases and just…directly translated them, e.g. verbesser –> Forbetter.  The only thing funnier than this sign was probably the lone American hysterically laughing in front of it to the point of tears in the midst of a busy public square.  See, then we all get to enjoy!

There were a couple extremely important items to pick up besides chocolate, and one of them was the contact solution I was running dangerously low on.  Damn you international fluids-on-airplanes police and me not wanting to check a back ever during my entire galavanting trip.  Damn you.  So there I was… looking forever for contact solution…when I found this:

Eenie, Meenie, Miney....
Eenie, Meenie, Miney….

Shit.  Well, which one would you pick?  Apparently, I did O.K., ’cause I never went blind.  Yea!

The other essential item on my list was one that made me extremely thankful to be trotting around a place I once lived: it was gelato, and my mental map of where to get the stuff had not faded whatsoever.  BOOM!

If you're in Kirchheim and need gelato, I can help...
If you’re in Kirchheim, Germany and need gelato, I can help…

It was all too soon time to leave my mini day-trip, but not before I snapped this pretty pic of this familar town hall and grimacing German faces.  Aww… I miss you.

Kirchheim Rathaus

Back at my friend’s house, a surprise BBQ was being prepared!  And the surprise turned out to be me.  He invited the office of old coworkers and new ones I hadn’t met and told no one I would be there.  Little trickster.  And there was meat!  Lots and lots of meat.  And bruschetta.

How To BBQ in Germany Properly

I’m so lucky.  I paid back my gratitude by getting into an argument in German with the first guest to arrive — a new guy I’d never met.   My buddy laughed about how I didn’t know what he meant by the “Hugo” store when he told me about it earlier (then he showed me the Hugo Boss website… and…ohhh… yeah).  New guy decided this was a keen opportunity to lecture me on how Americans have a shitty, myopic worldview.  I retorted with something like, “maybe our worldview is made up of more important things than brand names”.   And then there was silence and I noted that his face was turning red and asked if he was ok.   (He was ok, thank God.) WINNING.  “GERMAN FLUENCY LEVEL  +1”, I said in my own head.

When Norbert Aldiek arrived at my friend’s door, I heard his familiar and extremely distinctive voice and got so excited that I forgot to play along with the game of me being a surprise.  I shot up and ran to the door shouting, “ich kenne diese Stimme!” (I know this voice!)  He stared, mouth agape with his hands up ready to catch something.   For the first time since I met him, he had no words.  Norbert told me later that he was mustering every brain cell to conjure my name through the shock of it all without success until finally, “ahhh.. McDermott!”

I try to keep the friends I mention on here anonymous out of respect for their Google factor…and other things…but…I mention Herr Aldiek because he is a famous author now and celebrities should just expect this type of thing.  Here is the wunderschön optics book I begged to see which Norbert contributed to:

Handbuch Bauelemente der Optik by Naumann, Schröder, and Löffler-Mang
Handbuch Bauelemente der Optik by Naumann, Schröder, and Löffler-Mang

After some time spent pondering the parts he created,

Survey says?
Survey says?

I decided I was super proud of my old friend!

Optische Abbildung – Norbert Aldiek

In case you happen to need an excellent optics handbook auf Deutsch, well, you’re welcome:

I left Kirchheim and its castle Teck (at the tippy top of the mountain/hill in the top image, btw, how the hell did I ever walk up there before, that was crazy), with my belly full and my heart full to overflowing.  I felt so happy and blessed to see all these beautiful souls again and congratulate them on marriages, babies, books and their own epic vacations…  Yeah, sometimes you just have to stop hoping for fate to reunite you with amazing people and go visit your family, already!  Thank yous guys again for all the additional joyful moments you gave me this time around.   Ich liebe euch!