today is german reunification day, blah blah blah

Did you know that today is reunification day in Germany? Ho-fucking-hum. I’m out of olive oil and all the stores are closed. Is Germany a better place now that it’s one instead of two? I couldn’t tell you. I can tell you this: there are very few holidays that interest me and now that I live in a country where most of those don’t even exist I have slid further down the spiral of holiday apathy. I would like it if Germany got more into Halloween though, and they do give Christmas an alcohol-infused flair that can be quite pleasant.

The weekend found me on the road with the Beard’s newest musical project (Gorgor Noisid) for their first two shows (Cologne and Frankfurt). I had been mildly worried that I would be passed out in a corner come ten o’clock (when I’m usually passed out in my bed at home), but this must be the good part of the pregnancy because I managed to stay up until two and midnight respectively without flinching. I hadn’t been to a concert in a long, long while. You see, the thing about the smoking debate amongst radicals in Germany is that there is no smoking debate. Radical venues and autonomous spaces are almost unanimously smoking locations. Yes, the smoking ban has arrived in Germany, but what the law dictates has never played a large role in the decisions of autonomous spaces.

I don’t enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke on the best (or most unpregnant) of days, but the potential risk to the Peanut from second-hand smoke has meant that I hadn’t been to a concert since the last time we played with Black Diamond. Then two weeks ago Scissors suggested we make one of the Mainusch concerts smoke-free so that I could come. I don’t like asking people to go out of their way for me, but I wanted to see the concert, so hell, why not? Though a smoke-free Mainusch meant an empty Mainusch between (and before and after) bands, it was pretty sweet to be able to hang out again and see some live music.

In Cologne the show was at the AZ I featured pictures of after we played there with Black Diamond this summer. We had played an early-evening show in the courtyard out back, but this time the show was in the basement. And it was a non-smoking place! Halle-fucking-lulah, I said. And then everyone smoked inside anyway, and the Beard and I spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the steps outside. Which was no big loss because, awesome as Grrzzz are (crusty disco dance music!) I probably would have just watched them from the couch anyway.

In Frankfurt I had expected to have to sit outside for the show: it would be held in the dank, moldy Ex cellar in a city (so I was told afterwards) known for it’s ornery smokers. But my friends didn’t want me to sit outside by myself while the bands played, so they spread the word that the concert room would be a non-smoking area. This is what I love about radical communities. It is usually really important to everybody to make sure that no one is excluded because of a situational thing that can be compromised on. But alas, it came to words with one smoker who was incredibly perplexed and irritated at being asked to put out his cigarette in the concert room.

“If you’re pregnant, why are you even here?” That was his first question. Gosh, you’re right! *Smacks head.* I should be at home in front of the stove where I belong! Pregnant women really shouldn’t leave the house. Or attempt to have any semblance of a normal life. Or to ask people to not smoke for 30 minutes so that they can watch their friends make music. The nerve! Unfortunately I am never witty or biting or particularly articulate in situations like these, and I left it at a simple, “Should I not be allowed to see my friend’s concert because I’m pregnant?!”

He thought about that for a little while, then, when the room was briefly silent between songs, leaned toward me again. “You can’t be in a room full of smoke because of the baby, but you can be in a room this loud?” He gave me a look that said “check mate, asshole.” I furrowed my brow. “Umm, smoke has been proven to cause damage to unborn children, whereas loud music can’t harm them because of the amniotic fluid.” I’ve done a lot of research on the subject. I’ve talked to a midwife about it. Had he? I doubt it. But by the end of my sentence the next song had begun, and he didn’t hear me.

0 Comments on “today is german reunification day, blah blah blah

  1. You must be very young. We old ‘uns remember the years of anguish, the Berlin Wall, Germans being shot trying to visit other Germans …. Reunification Day matters.

  2. Your right Leslie, that part of it is certainly better. When I typed that sentence I was thinking in the vague general picture political sense, as in does it matter that where once there were two countries there now is one? But the things you mention are of course absolutely not to be underestimated.

    Very young? Relative I guess. I was seven when the wall came down.

  3. Wow. People always talk about how progressive Europeans are..Ive never been to Germany but its sounding pretty backwards at least concerning attitudes towards smoking..Yikes!

  4. Peanut?! Congratulations!!! Wonderful news! (Sorry I obviously missed it.)
    We brought our peanut to see Arcade Fire and he seemed to like it. Then again, he didn’t have any fucking assholes wrecking his mother’s buzz.
    And you’re right. This holiday is crap, as much fun as a wet sock. Halloween is the deffo the best.

  5. you remind me of when Steve (my husband who was born and grew up in Germany) and I were in some beer hall in Munich and I wanted to eat out in the beer garten out back because of the smoke in the hall and he said, rather plaintively, “but I like the smoke.” Guess where we ate?

    And people who don’t want to do something can be pretty rude about being asked to do that thing, no matter where they are in the world.

    Steve has told me about the stores in Germany being closed for holidays, and I think that’s a good thing. I think a little planning ahead on our part is a small price to pay for the civility of everyone being able to spend a holiday where they want and not having to work it. Having said that though, I have to admit that I would probably curse about not being able to get something I forgot because the stores were closed!

  6. Paula: I’m all for the stores being closed whenever, for holidays real and imagined. I’m just, even six years into being here, always hopelessly unprepared when they come (especially on a Monday) because I don’t have a fucking clue when they all are.

    Haha, and in Frankfurt, where I happened to be on Sunday, they had a “shopping Sunday” (all the stores are closed Sundays in Germany, for anyone who didn’t know) where all the stores were open this Sunday anyway so that people wouldn’t miss out on a whole day of shopping.

  7. Irish Berliner: Thanks! Yeah, I might like this holiday more if anything happened. But mostly it just sneaks up on me without warning and leaves my pantry empty.

  8. I think Reunification Day is one of the few holidays that are actually meaningful if you are not a Christian. The reunification was a big deal, I mean how often do you experience the reunification of two states that had different political and economic systems? The Germans had been working and waiting for it for almost 50 years. I was a teenager when the Iron Curtain was still closed, and it was very eerie to know that you couldn’t get any closer to the border to your neighbouring country because you could be arrested or shot. And travelling there was out of the question for most people, too. I can see that this is no longer relevant for today’s teenagers, but for my generation, it still matters.

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