Today was one of those days.
Long ride downtown,
then the usual parking problems,
the glorious thrill of pure magical sunshine on the Rhine,
the chance to watch kids play on the grass between the main government buildings,
a group of Swiss tourists who put up a small day tent for their kids,
with Swiss flag
on the small grassy enclosure near the “Fish Gate,”
the place where the fishermen land their fresh catch each morning.
No, not from the Rhine any more,
but the water is slowly cleaning up, and some day….
And in the midst of all of this,
on a clear Friday morning at Gutenberg late elevenses time,
we ordered a hamburger.
And were served.
Gasp, and double gasp.
And… when it arrived,
not coffee macchiato, not croissants, or muffins, a boiled egg and hard rolls, bread and cheese,
a real hamburger,
not from The Colonel, or Mac, or King,
but a hamburger.
And at almost twelve,
not after twelve,
or one o’clock,
but almost twelve-
when any other normal person in Gutenberg land knows
you have to go to a Chinese,
and drink tea for a half hour,
or to the great kids of foreign ancestry
whose waiter uniform is shirts with the logo “Made in Gutenberg Land…”
No, believe it or not,
just because the weather was so perfect,
and the view of the market was so perfect-
all filled with fascinating foreigners,
all in heavy hiking sandals
and with Nordic walking sticks,
at the front a guide like a boy scout troop leader,
with a pennant marked “Thor” or “Odin”
we let our guard down for a moment.
Sunshine, tourists, Friday, work over soon
(37 1/2 hour work week here- ie short Friday)
and recoiled in horror as we discovered we had been served-
parsnip, carrot, and beetroot fries.
Now, if you are not born in Gutenberg land,
or haven’t really lived here for a long while,
you probably don’t really understand the sociological significance of that statement.
Think the unthinkable.
The Titanic sinking.
The land of potatoes potatoeless.
And you start to get the picture.
Thousands of students in the university cafeteria suddenly not eating large gluey square potato dumplings.
The Christmas market without potato pancakes.
No potato soup on Saturday.
No potato bread,
potato salad national championships each year-
first prize a trip to Cologne
to see the French revolution musical “Les Frites”
no more “pommes fritz ‘train crossing barrier'”
(stripes of catsup and mayo over the top)
No, the world was coming to an end.
No more small french fry trucks ringing bells to call customers
as they circle the neighborhoods Sunday at 12 pm.
The German economy would come to an end.
Life would never be the same.
And then the waitress saved the day.
“Would you like pommes fritz with that? Red and white?”
O Tempora, O Mores.