Saturday, October 13, 2007

30 July: Evelyne and Marlena

I don’t think I ever mentioned that back in early June, Evelyne’s friend Marlena started walking with us in the mornings. As you may recall, Marlena was hit by a car last year and seriously mangled her leg, so Evelyne lost her walking partner, which is how Evelyne and I started walking together back in April. Marlena has been through numerous surgeries and physical therapy over the past few months to put her knee back together. (She brought one of her X-rays one day to show us the five or six long screws through her knee!) She walked with a full-length brace and hiking poles for the first few weeks but now is getting around very well with just the poles.

Marlena is a real character – 60ish, from northern Germany, married with two grown children. Her husband often took business trips to America and she, like Evelyne, is fascinated by all things American. Of course once Marlena started walking with Evelyne and me, our system of alternating between English and German every other day pretty much went out the window. Marlena speaks amazingly good English for a 60-year-old who has no reason to practice it, but she really likes to talk, and it’s obviously a lot easier for her to talk a mile a minute in German. I’ve mostly taken to keeping my mouth shut and just listening to Evelyne and Marlena jabber in German for an hour every morning. It’s really tough to follow everything they are saying and sometimes I find myself tuning out (which is rather embarrassing when they suddenly turn to me and ask me a question). It’s hard for me to get a word in edgewise because my German comes out so slowly; by the time I formulate a sentence in my head, they’ve moved on to another topic. But I have to give them credit – Marlena is always eager to learn new words in English even though she prefers to speak in German, and Evelyne makes an effort to speak some English nearly every day. (And when Marlena isn’t around Evelyne sometimes apologizes for her friend’s incessant chatter!)

Most of the time Evelyne and Marlena share gossip about their families and friends. Evelyne is always complaining about how lazy her kids are and how she has to get after them to clean their rooms and do their homework. She’s also rather irritable about her in-laws. (Her sister-in-law gave Birk a measly 5 Euros for his 15th birthday!) Being a native Swabian, money is a sore subject and she’s been getting on her husband Gert to kick his cigarillo habit, which costs at least 30 Euro a month. Gert recently suffered from a slipped disk and stayed home for two weeks, which drove Evelyne absolutely crazy. She’s not sure what she will do when Gert retires and he’s home all the time. Suffice it to say that families the world over apparently suffer similar gripes!

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