Working out of the Zentralbibliothek (Central Library) in Hamburg is never dull. I usually pop home for lunch, but today I was pressed for time because I spent 2 hours this morning sorting out a business card order that didn’t arrive. It would have taken a fraction of that time if I spoke real German as opposed to my fractured version. (I get I love you and I’m sorry mixed up, and that’s just the start of my German language issues.) Anyhow, not the point. I ate lunch at the café in the library. (If you’re in Hamburg, Café Libresso offers cheap, tasty food.) My first forkful of turkey schnitzel was poised for devouring when a man sat down at my table.
“I want to give you my phone number,” he said.
“Oh,” I said. “Um, uhuh. Why?”
“You look like nice lady. I am nice boy.” (He looks about 45.)
First of all, thank you. My hair is a mess, I have a weird combination of a nice cardigan and workout trousers on, and I have the frazzled look of someone who is frustrated with not being able to speak the local language well. (I did not accidentally tell him I loved him by the way.) Secondly, while he seems very nice, I’m wondering where this is all going while I sadly lower my turkey schnitzel back down to my plate.
“I live with my mother here in Hamburg,” he informed me.
“That’s nice,” I replied. (Where is this going?)
“We can meet next week if you like?”
“I’m going to be in Poland next week, but thank you,” I offered.
So far, our conversation was in Gerlish (half German, half English). Of course, he switched into Polish when I mentioned Poland. What?! (He is from Egypt. I was in Egypt once and was so impressed with the people I met there who could carry on a basic conversation in at least six languages.)
“Ah, Poland!” he said (in Polish). “My brother is married to Renata.” (There are a lot of Renatas in Poland. I don’t know all of them.) “I will marry you,” he said in English. “Then you can stay here.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I can stay here without marrying him, so instead I said, “Thank you so much, but I think I’ll just eat my lunch instead. I hope you have a really nice day.”
He looked dejected, but wished me a nice day and wandered upstairs. Moments later I saw him running down the stairs and into another section of the library. (No one appeared to be chasing him…)
So, I’m not engaged, and I can report that if you are looking to marry a man so that you can make Germany your home, you just need to head to Café Libretto. Try the schnitzel, too.