*** i like... sharing

I really like Jan Weiler, so I attempted to translate a short story from his book "Mein Leben als Mensch" (My life as a human). So that I can share my enthusiasm... Here is a link to his blog (in German though).


Natalya. That is the name of our Au-pair girl. She is from the Ukraine and has almost entirely milky white skin, as well as a diploma in Physics. That means she is decidingly more intelligent than me and my wife put together, but luckily she can’t really express this- at least not in German. If we were from the Ukraine, we would be held at her intellectual mercy. But if that were the case she wouldn’t be with us in the first place but rather with another German family. Natalya isn’t our first au-pair, but the first that really makes us happy.

The story of our, so far futile, attempts to find the perfect au-pair girl is told through a string of seemingly meaningless defeats. The first of which inflicted upon us was a young lady from Georgia. The internet claimed she was a German teacher, experienced with children and pets. None of which was true. In reality she resembled more a quivering bundle of nerves, partially blinded in one eye due to a vaccine injury. Irina disguised her disability by lowering her head and wearing a thick curtain of hair over her face. She spoke almost no German. At night she would worship little figurines, which she had neatly arranged on the desk in her room.

After three days of living with us Sara and I had to leave town for a weekend. To be on the safe side, we left the kids with friends and instructed Irina only to feed the dog and to walk him three times a day. She sat on the edge of a kitchen chair, nodded despondently and looked down. We found her in exactly this position when we got home three days later. The place stank like an animal shelter, because the dog had left droppings all over the show- at least he had gone to the bathroom to pee. When we asked her why she didn’t go out with the dog, she gestured towards the window explaining that it had rained the entire time and she wasn’t sure whether the dog was allowed to get wet. We lost faith in her.

Attempt number two was called Laura. She came from Riga, wore sneakers with ten centimeter high soles, smoked like a chimney, drank my beer and wanted to become an actress. She had an open being, but no connection to children whatsoever. Laura only spoke English. Within two weeks my wife and I also only spoke English. She liked to sleep late, which made it impossible for her to attend the German classes that we had arranged, and were paying, for her. After three months I gave her an ultimatum (in English) “Two busses drive from here. One goes to school, the other one to Riga. Understood?” She chose Riga.

Our third au-pair was Kenyan. The children loved her, especially her beautiful skin. Her name was faith. At the beginning she made an effort. After a couple of months however, she discovered the Munich nightlife and became more and more withdrawn during weekdays. She practically didn’t speak a word with us anymore and feverishly anticipated the arrival of every weekend. When she came home on Mondays, she smelled like a port tavern. And one day she stopped coming altogether. She sent an e-mail in which she wrote “I am pregnant. I am sorry. Thank you. Faith”. We never laid eyes on her again. Instead her appalled and very religious father phoned from Nairobi, to ask me what exactly I had done with his daughter.

And then Natalya. She got off a bus filled with au-pairs three months ago. Her hairstyle resembled something like an orange coloured mushroom cloud. She was carrying a suitcase and an old computer- with monitor, to which we do not have a fitting power outlet. Natalya is: perfect. She can handle children, cook, iron and is not in the least scared of dogs. When she says “Ai unterzdand” she really understands. Her favourite German word is Scheißhaus*. She can giggle about that for half an hour. And she really is extremely clever. Recently she wrote on our shopping list that she would like some cling wrap. She was planning to wrap it around herself and jump trampoline to do something for her figure. Natalya, however did not write “Please buy cling wrap”. Instead she wrote “Buy please you polyethylene”.

* “Scheißhaus” means toilet in German, direct translation being “shithouse”

1 comment:

  1. I love this story! more please, i don't understand a word of german!