Monday, February 23, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 107:
three amurkin jokes

them trips to london n paris cum durin the brake between semesters. by the time we wuz reddy to go back, emily had dun cunvintsed me that thay wuznt no need to keep pertendin i wuz a'gonna git much of innythang out of a flossofy class. so we sined up fer the same classes, all of em in english fer the mos part n all of em bout langwage or literchur.

by this time we had been thar long a nuff to unnerstan sum of the jokes that wuz tole bout amurkins. we gut to here plenty of them jokes whenever we tuck add vantage of a trip to berlin a bunch of german banks put together fer all the forn students. we had dun visted berlin fer new years, witch we spent near dm600 fer that trip, but thisn wuz a lot longer bein fer six days n only cost us dm60. they put us up in a nice hotel thar on kant straße rite round the corner frum kurfurstendamm, witch twuz the center of west berlin at that time n folks called it the europa center. ye could git a real idee of whut had gone on thar on a counta how they had em a burnt out church name of kaiser-wilhelm gedachtnis kirche, witch thay wuz two towers toot, one a burnt out shell, tuthern a modern piece of arkateckchur that they wuz usin lack a museum.

we gut on a bus that tuck us to berlin early in the mornin in march of 1980. on that bus with us wuz all them other forn students that had tuck the same trip, n in amung em wuz a cuple frum amurka that we hadnt never met before. ye mite could thank we wooda been quick to make friens with em, but by then we had hung roun with everbidy but amurkins till sum of the jokes we wuz tole gut to hurtin to whar we wuznt eager to be the butt of em.

furst amurkin joke:
whut duz yer avridge amurkin do to be unnerstood whenever they run into sumbidy that dont unnerstan english?

i member the day i furst herd thisn. it hurt a lil on a counta i hadnt run into too minny amurkins n i hated folks to thank we wuz that rude. we knew thay wuz a slew of amurkins thar on a counta darmstadt had em a base full of soljers.

shore a nuff, not two days after i herd that joke, i wuz standin one of them lil carts whar ye could buy a wurst n pommes frites n a peece of bread n a co cola all fer dm2. in frunt of me wuz a woman that ye could tell wuz frum amurka on a counta she wuz wearin a pair of stretch pants that wuz a cuple sizes too small n her hair wuz all puffed up n colord a shade of orange ye dont see on human heds all that often. she had dun orderd the same thang i wuz waitin to order, witch the wurst wuz a sausage n pommes frites wuz short fer pommes de terre frites, witch wurd fer wurd that means apples of the earth fried on a counta in french ye call taters apples of the earth, but we call em french fried taters.

thang ye mite not speck is how ifn ye wuz to buy ye sum pomme frit in west germany at that time (n mayhap now -- debbie? kin ye enliten us?) ye wood git a big ole paper cone filled with hot fries n coverd with a heapin heppin of mayonaze. fur as me n emily could tell, mos ever german lacked it thataway. as ye know, i had dun larnt how french fries could go jes fine with blue cheese back whenever i gut my furst job at bobs big boy restrunt so twernt such a awful sprize that folks wood eat em with mayonaze, lease not fer me. but fer that lady twuz lack they had dun set out to insult her. she gut to screamin her fool orange hed near off bout how stupid them germs wuz to give her french fries with mayonaze. dint they know twuz proper to put ketchup on em?

she had dun razed her voice purty good to whar ye could probly here her frum sachenshausen, but twuznt a'wurkin on a counta the folks stuck in that lil cart fryin up wursts n pomme frit jes dint speak no english nor unnerstan it much even ifn twuz hollerd real loud. ifn i hadnt been so hungry n pore a nuff that i only had the two marks, i probly wooda walked away, but i figgerd i wood hep the woman sos i could git my order in. i splained to the folk whut twuz she wonted, witch ye wood thank twuznt much of a sprize fer them sellin the wursts, but the ackted lack twuz jes as strange to have ketchup on taters as havin mayonaze on em seemed to that woman. after that the woman wonted to know wood i go shoppin with her on a counta her method of hollerin english to folks that dint unnerstan whut she wonted wuznt wurkin much of innywhar. i tole her i wuz too busy, gut my food n went off to the amerikanische bibliotek, witch that wuz whar me n emily made our home on campus once i had give up on studyin flossofy thar.

twuz quite a differnts once we wuz takin classes in english. in them flossofy classes, i always felt lack the lowest of the low, lack i dint hardly know whut wuz a'goin on even whenever i did on a counta i couldnt make my points in german befor sumbidy else tuck over n tride to splain whut they thought i wuz a'fixin to say or even whut i shoulda been a'sayin. but in them classes in english, thay wuznt no better eggspurt in the langwage than either emily or me, so we tuck to heppin out the teechur, witch he wuz a man name of herr hauptmann n he could speak purty good english but always ackted lack he dint know nuthin compard to me n emily.

thang wuz, he had im a lil gurl name of elise bout three years old. he had marrd a french woman n gut a english nanny to take care of the child, witch whut we found mos amazin bout elise wuz how she could speak all three langwages jes fine, dint mix em, but as far as ye could tell, dint know she wuz speakin three differnt langwages. i member one time we wuz in the post offus n sumbidy had dropped a stamp, witch in german ye call a stamp die briefmarke. thays a slew of rules ye gut to use to figger when ye use the wurd fer 'the,' witch tiz either 'die,' 'das' or 'der,' to refer to them stamps accordin to how minny ye gut n whuts bein dun with em or to em or whutever. corse them rules fits rite in with rules guvernin how ye use yer 'ein,' 'eine,' n 'einen' thangs as well. tiz part of the misry of trine to master german. innywho, along cum elise to pick up the stamp on the floor n she hollers out, 'hier is eine!' i had to add mitt feelin a lil envyus bout how she could do that on a counta how twuz so hard fer me n emily jes to member the lease thang bout witch form or ein ye use.

whenever ye see sumthin lack that lil gurl, it makes ye wunder bout sum thangs. tiz purty easy to figger whut a person wonts whenever yer face to face with em, but thays times when it seems lack tuther side dont wonta git whut yer sayin. fer instunts, whenever we wuz in paris, me n emily stopped at a place fer sum food n deecided we wood have us a nanner split fer deessert. we knew thay wuznt no way we could eat one each, so we figgerd we wood order one n ast fer two of them long spoons ye normly git to eat such thangs. the garçon that wuz our waiter brung us the nanner split n one spoon. i picked up the spoon n pointed toot n held up two fangers. he looked at me lack i wuz cumplainin that the spoon wuz dirty. i pointed to myself n did a charade of eatin n then pointed to emily n dun the same. but no matter whut kinda sine langwage i used, that thar garçon wuz not gonna unnerstan. so i held out the spoon tords him lack twuz a sword till he wuz backin up. i backed him into the corner whar they kep thar silver n gut me a nuther spoon. i pointed to the two spoons n held up two fangers. he turnt away.

corse, i reckon ifn i coulda gut emily to use a lil of her french on the fella we mite coulda had a quicker result, but she dint much lack usin innythang but english, witch that meant we wood wurk conversayshuns thisaway. ifn they could speak english, then emily wood speak english to em. they could anser back in german n she woodnt have no problem, but she wuznt a'gonna risk bein makin a miss take with her german. ifn they couldnt unnerstan her german, then she wood take the questchun n kindly nudge me in the ribs a lil with her elbow, witch that meant i should splain whut her anser wuz. i could generly guess it purty good tho we did have a cuple fuss n fites over how i dint know whut she wood wonta say n i sed the rong thang.

but even so, woodnt ye thank a person that wuz wurkin in a tourist shop thar in paris france wood know jes a nuff english to git sumbidy a second spoon? it shores seemed thataway to us. corse, ifn thats the case, how kin ye splain this. whenever we wuz cummin back frum paris on that trip, they cum roun to check our tickets n fer sum reason, they gut to squawkin thar french bout sumthin. we ackted ever bit as smart n hepful as that garçon had dun us n even offerd to speak german, witch woodnt ye speck the ticket-taker on the train twixt paris n frankfurt to larn im a lil german jes in case? but nary a one of them fellas that cum along splainin whutever twuz in french could unnerstan a wurd of english or german. finely thay found em a woman frum india who could speak english, french n german besides hindi. she splaind to us how we had to pay a nuther $25 each on a counta twuz a speshul train. we tride to show how we had dun paid it, but thay wuznt nobidy takin our side, so we give em a nuther hunnert bucks.

secunt amurkin joke:
yer amurkin cums into the room n acks lack nuthin wuz happenin till he gut thar.

taint much of a joke, but twuz apt. whenever we wuz arguin bout pall ticks, witch thats whut we dun as often as not lessn we wuz amung friends, twood be one of the furst thangs folks wood pull out. turnt out we amurkins dint git much respeck on a counta we wuz purty much ignernt of whut wuz a'goin on in the worl outside of amurka. so we cum over to a place with our ways of doin thangs n try to git everbidy to do the way we do whuther or not tiz sumthin innybidy thar is reddy fer or wonts. they wood give eggzamples lack the shah of iran n how we tride to git them iranians to modernize, witch lots of folks figgerd twuz to git em to ack n thank jes lack amurkins.

shore a nuff, them two amurkins on that trip wuz jes thataway. i gut good at the eggspresshun, 'wir haben nicht hören können,' on a counta them usin it so much. all of us forn students wuz on the same bus n they wuz takin us round to see thangs lack whar hitler hung up his enemies with piano wire or whar potsdammer platz wuz or checkpoint charley or a museum full of thangs frum egypt. they wood be late cummin back to the bus n then they wood be jes chatterin away in the back while the tour guide wuz splainin sumthin new. purty soon they wood catch on n furst thang that fella wood say wuz, 'wir haben nicht hören können.' so everbidy wood git to here the hole splainayshun all over agin. i kep thankin mayhap sumbidy mite tell them two that joke, but i reckon everbidy else wuz havin too much fun. it gut to whar as soon as that fella razed his hand, folks wood git reddy to laff.

twuz a shame really on a counta how our guide wuz jes loded with informayshun n seemed lack we wuznt gittin near as much as we could since she had to splain so minny thangs twice. her name wuz fräulein astrid müller n we wood git to know her a lil better on a counta she had applied fer a d-a-a-d n gut a fullbright to study at nun other than utk! once she found out bout how we wuz frum thar, she give us speshul treatment n we promissed we wood hep her git settled in whenever she gut to amurka.

innywho, that trip wuz a nuther lesson in how thangs dont look to nobidy else the way they duz to us amurkins. thay wuz a passel of greeks thar n thay purty much gut the party goin ever evenin. branimir wuz thar, so he kep purty close to us. thay wuz a woman frum finland name of marketta, witch thang bout her wuz how she spoke grate german n english besides finnish n russian. she n emily gut to be good friends that trip.

i cant count the conversayshuns bout how twuz amurka that wuz the biggest evil in the worl. ever time i herd that i ast whut bout the soviets? n ever time folks wood say they wuz trine to be as bad as the amurkins but jes dint have the resources. we wood ast whut they meant by that, but fack wuz, we dint know near as much as they did bout thangs lack cyprus or israel or amurkin troops in germany or ships in the persian gulf or indian ocean or bases all over the worl. they kep astin us whuther we wood lack to have bases with forn troops over in amurka, bases that wuz put thar whuther the local folk wonted em or not. twuznt sumthin we could magine, but i cant hep but thank twoodnt go over verr good. n they wonderd how we could talk bout nuclear proliferayshun when we wuz thonly ones ever to use such a weppon n since thay wuznt nobidy that had as minny as we did.

but thay wuz a fella thar that saw thangs our way, kindly. his name wuz winston churchill ngowa n he cum frum tanzania in africa. he had dun been to skool in berkeley n had wurked a spell in moscow n spent sum time at oxford in england. now ye mite thank africans wood be maddes of all at the usa, but twuznt so with this fella. as he put it, the one place in the worl whar the black man (as he put it) has dun made it is in amurka. he mentchuned mohammed ali n sports figgers n entertainers n even thurgood marshall. he dint speak german verr well, so he gut to sittin in the english seckshun of the bus load, witch that included marketta n branimir n emily n me. the amurkin cuple wuznt innerested in innythang the group wuz a'doin n they purty much kep to tharselves.

innywho, we gut to be friends with winston. he splained a lot of thangs bout sub-saharan africa to us. he sed ye could tell a lot bout africa by unnerstandin whut folks wuz hopin to becom, witch he splained that thisaway: ifn ye draw a line rite down the middle of africa, everbidy in the west half wood wonta be french n everbidy in the east half wood wonta be a english gentleman. n all of em wood wish they could git to amurka. twuz a bit of a sprize to here, but i half to add mitt, we lacked larnin it. we gut to be purty good friends with winston.

whenever we wuz cummin back home they put us on the train fer sum reason. we gut to sittin with a fella frum germany that had dun studied in moscow n knew a lot bout how thangs wuz behind the iron curtain. he spoke verr good english n when we ast him why, he sed twuz obveeus to him that the worl langwage wuz english n everbidy needed to face facks n larn it. twuz a reglar eggspreshun: face facks n larn!

fer instunts, he sed, yer germans needed to face facks bout how thay wuznt noway the res of the worl wuz a'gonna let thar be a united germany ever agin. twood be too powerful fer europe. sides, he figgerd bof the soviets n the amurkins wonted to make shore that ifn thay wuz a nuther war to cum along, the germans wood be killin each other furst thang. face facks n larn!

then he sed he dint figger the soviets wuz really as scary as everbidy sed. he splained the concep of the potemkin village, witch we hadnt never herd thatn befor. he sed twuz a sad thang how the amurkins wuz so ignernt bout the res of the worl. he figgerd ifn we knew the facks, we woodnt be so skeerd of them soviets on a counta twuznt no way they wuz keepin up with amurka. face facks n larn!

so we ast him did he thank that meant the wall wuz ever a'gonna cum down. he dint thank so. but whut ifn it did? whut if the wall cum down fer say a week. dint he figger everbidy wood eggscape frum the east during that week? he laffed at the idee. no, he dint thanks so. he figgerd mos folks wood cum over fer a day or so to visit relatives n do sum shoppin. then they wood go back home to the comfert of knowin they had jobs n health care n educayshun. face facks n larn!

then he tole us a nuther joke bout amurkins.

third amurkin joke:
thay wuz three fellas travelin by trane, one frum france, one frum ussr n one frum germany. the fella frum france pulls out a bottle of sum champane. tiz a fine vintage n everbidy is impressd. he throws it out the winder n sez, we gut so much champane in my cuntry that we kin throw it way. the fella frum ussr pulls out sum vodka, a fine make n throws it out the winder, splainin how they gut so much good vodka in his cuntry that they kin throw it away. they turn to look at the german. he holds up an amurkin.

he laffed hard even tho me n emily wuznt laffin atall, tho i reckon we gut the joke.

No comments: