You Know You’re A Foreigner When…

Actually, the question of “foreigner” never comes up much here in Gutenberg Land.

Unless they need someone to yell at because the local news stations

have been whipping them up over the political situation in the world at the moment,

or they need someone to put on a national costume and sing a couple of folk songs

for a voting rally for one of the local political parties to prove they are “pc.”

And just for the record,

in case someone German is reading this,

since several do,

and I have just heard recently that some members of a local school read this,

for integration studies purposes:

I’m from Illinois.

We wear bluejeans,

and sometimes a German dirndl,

but NEVER a Texas cowboy hat.

So now we have gotten that out of the way:

There are a few things that you have to learn as a Gutenberg land foreigner,

and no one will ever give you tolerance on:


the local dishes ARE good.


wine, a ring of baloney, and whitebread hard rolls are so good

they are eaten for breakfast.

(At least in public)

Get used to it.

Then there is handkaes.

What can I say?

A stinking lump of a form of cheese that is see-through,

has the consistancy of rubber cement,

and is soaked in oil, vinegar, and onions all night.

Eat it.

It is no worse than liver and bacon.

And if you sit at a table in a small local wooden pub from the sixteenth century

eating your handkaes,

or pigs ears with remoulade and pan-fried potatoes,

probably why I became vegetarian,

the locals will sit down at your table,

and tell you all the terrific stories about the night the bands of robbers

hid from the French in coal cellers,

or how high you have to mound the asparagus,

or which of the local doctors,

with French names,

only became doctors because the family were the illegitimate sons of the emperor,

on his way to his coronation,

and that’s why the fifth generation still can’t tell a hangnail from a burst appendix.

And so on.

So, as I said at the beginning, no one here really worries much about foreigners.


there are just three types of Gutenberg land residents:

The Mainzer,

someone who at some point has moved into the capitol of Gutenberg Land,

having arrived here from any one of the five continents,

and a whole lot of places whose names I often can’t remember,

since they unfortunately seem to change a lot.

Then there are the  Määäänzer, someone who is born somewhere in the environs,

speaks some form of dialect similar to the real thing, and uses some of the local idioms,

but really isn’t a:

Meeeenzer, ie

someone born in the narrow, rabbit-warren-like half-timbered maze

of the oldest part of town, and,

and here is the most important part,

within the sound of the Cathedral bells.

Not St Stephen Chagall,

or St John, St. Peter and Paul,

or any of the literally hundreds of saint named churches here in the area.

And, while we are on the subject,

most certainly not within the sound of the gigantic,

super rich merchants of the 19th century built,

competition for the cathedral, gulp,  Christ Church.

Foreigners yes, other religions, yes.

protestants, no.

And then, of course,

in order to be a real Meeenzer, you have to:

speak perfectly, and accentlessly, a dialect

composed of words left behind by the following:

the celtic tribes who lived on the hills, once the dinosauers left,

and left words like Idar for water

the tribes of Franconia,

who left back a few choice words,

mostly swears and scatalogical,

the French during the French revolution

(most people don’t know that Mainz actually declared their own republic,

at the time of the French revolution,

and that that coward Goethe sat on the other side of the river and helped shoot canons

at the Meeenzer to curry favor of the German royalty of the time.)

From them we have words like Andau-

the name for a local bar,

frequented exclusively by students and real Meeenzer,

where everyone stands, packed in like sardines, beer in hand,

and rubs shoulders with the local dialect speakers.

An Andau is actually a manhole cover.

And if you don’t know that,

or that a monde is a show window of a store,

or that the local greeting is “aye, gude, wie”

you probably are a Määänzer,

or even worse,

a Mainzer,

and will have to endure many many long evenings

of listening to the Meeenzer tell you what it takes to be accepted.

And now that I’ve shortened it for you,

welcome to the neighborhood.

copyright 2016


4 thoughts on “You Know You’re A Foreigner When…

  1. Mainz has 111 saints, Tammy. that’s a whole lot of bells. Still, unless it’s a high holiday and they all go off at once, it’s still a nice comforting sound.


  2. wow! you sound like a native!
    I couldn’t even tell you that much about the town I live in and I’ve lived here now for about 30 years!
    fascinating stuff.
    I think it’s good to feel like a foreigner every now and then. to feel uncertain about the way things are done.
    keeps us on our toes I guess!
    I wouldn’t fare very well in germanland i’m thinking… food wise. ever since I saw the movie ‘babe’ and became aware of farm factory practices in general… I don’t indulge in meat. it’s too cruel.
    and our german restaurants here serve EVERYTHING PIG! no thanks.
    you crack me up.
    you need your own show. you should look into it over there. i’m dead serious about that.
    XOXOXO♥ happy weekend in mainz… er I mean maaanzer… er… meeenz… er…
    I would dearly LOVE to live where I could hear cathedral bells.


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