Stepping into the fat bowl

Hustysk Helens Adventskalender

helen-hustysk

Idiom: Sie ist ins Fettnäpfchen getreten

Literal translation: She stepped into the little fat bowl

It is Saturday and it is Lucia day! Günther’s colleague Gudrun has invited him and Elvira to see the Lucia concert. Elvira who is still annoyed with Günther, decided to decline the invitation. Güntherdoes not really know what that is all about but he trusts Gudrun’s good taste in music. Gudrun’s former boyfriend Mats from Dalarna introduced her to the tradition and even though she is happy now with Alfonso, she still enjoys seeing the lights and listening to the angelic voices. Just when they are about to sit down in the crowded church, Gudrun spots Sabine. The friends greet each other warmly and start to chit-chat. “How is it going with your promotion, weren’t you going to start a new job soon?” Gudrun asks Sabine unsuspectingly. Sabine’s face suddenly looks like she just ate a lemon. “We should sit down, the concert is about to start”, she answers brusque and turns around. Gudrun gives Elvira a baffled look. “I think you just stepped into the little fat bowl”.

Stepping into the fat bowl means you have done a fauxpas and/or brought up a subject the other does not want to talk about. So watch out for those fat bowls!

Make-up

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: Das kannst du dir abschminken.

Literal translation: You can clean that off your face.

After the short-tempered incident in the lab, Sabine and Detlef are not on good terms. Elvira’s friend returns to her job the next day and works her shift but when she comes home to her girlfriend Angelika, she is in low spirits.

When you clean something off your face (very literally de-makeuping it), you forget about the idea.

When you clean something off your face (very literally de-makeuping it), you forget about the idea.

Angelika who is baking Christmas cookies takes off her apron and hands Sabine a star cookie with chocolate chips. “What’s the matter?”, she inquires. Sabine sighs. “Detlef told me today that I can clean the new job off my face. I will be forever stuck in the same project!”

 

Not a buck left

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: keinen Bock mehr darauf haben

Literal translation: to not have any buck left for this

It has been another long day at the lab when Elvira finally comes home. She is passing the Christmas markets and smells the mulled wine, the Bratwurst and the gingerbread. But since Elvira is not one for spending money unneccessarily, she pulls herself together and walks past all the temptations. She will have dinner at home with Günther. They have still not decided on New Year’s Eve and Elvira is tired of the discussions. It is just an evening like any other anyway, she thinks. Tired and cold from the low temperatures outside, Elvira unlocks the front door and drags herself up the five flights of stairs. From the other apartments, she can also smell food. The neighbors below them are eating some kind of fish and next door they must be having cake even. As Elvira opens the door, she can barely get in because the trash bag that she put there in the morning to be taken out is still there, blocking the door. When she comes in, she sees the dishes piling up in the kitchen. There is no dinner to be seen. Instead, Günther is sitting in front of the TV, watching a rerun of Mitten im Leben. When Elvira catches sight of that scence, she loses it. “I do so not have any buck left for this behaviour any more!” she shouts as a greeting, meaning that she is very fed up with Günther.

 

The flagpole and its end

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: Hier ist das Ende der Fahnenstange.

Literal translation: This is the end of the flagpole.

Elvira is sitting in the lab with her colleague Sabine. They are working on an important project that is to be submitted before Christmas. Both have been working overtime a lot and come in even when they were not feeling too well. They are determined to deliver excellent results while Detlef, the boss leading the project, is not working too hard.

The end of the flagpole is the a limit of some kind, often also the limits of one's patience.

The end of the flagpole is the a limit of some kind, often also the limits of one’s patience.

At 10.30 p.m., Sabine is getting ready to go home after a long day when their boss steps into the lab. “I fear I will have to ask you to stay the night”, he says. Sabine and Elvira look at him in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me”, Elvira says. Sabine shakes her head and grabs her bag. “We have been working more than 12 hours now every day for weeks on end. This is the end of the flagpole, Detlef! I’m going home!”

 

Male cat

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: Ich habe einen Kater

Literal translation: I have a male cat

You remember last Sunday night, don’t you? Elvira, Günther and Rüdiger partied with many glasses of wine and stayed up late. They even considered making blue the next day, but as dutiful Germans they did of course not put this outrageous idea into practice.

The next morning, Günther shows up to work. He works in an office with his colleague Gudrun, they are both employes by Helen Enterprises. Gudrun raises an eyebrow when Günther comes in late, with dark shadows under his eyes. He moans as he sits down on his chair. “My head hurts like crazy!” He explains to Gudrun. “We drank too much last night, I have such a male cat!”

Having a male cat means being hungover. Here you see a male cat chasing soap bubbles.

Having a male cat means being hungover. Here you see a male cat chasing soap bubbles.

Canadian Cousin

At the Beatles Square on Reeperbahn

At the Beatles Square on Reeperbahn: Evelina, Ingrid, my cousin Kiarmin and me

Last weekend, my cousin from Canada visited me. “Whaaaaat”, you say, “you have a Canadian cousin?” Well, actually I even have two. (We counted that we are in total 16 cousins in 6 countries on my paternal side.) Since they grew up on a different continent, we have never met and when Kiarmin dropped me a line on Facebook saying he is in Scotland and is considering to come to Hamburg, I thought: ’bout time we met!

From the moment we caught sight of each other on the metro platform, we were chatting away as if we had met several times before. After three days in Hamburg, he even knew the city better than me and could explain things on the Reeperbahn to me. (Thanks to me forcing sending him on a Free Walking Tour though.)

Although most conversations included laughter, the most hilarious part was when Kiarmin recounted where he had been in the city. He does not speak German so his variations of the Hamburg streets and landmarks were a source of amusement. He told us he came via Haffenbaffen (Hauptbahnhof, central station) and really liked the Sternschwanz quarter (Sternschanze). Ingrid and I (because of course he got to meet Ingrid) thought it was so awesome we gave him a list of Hamburg names and made him read it out on video. My cousin is a great sport so I get to show you. I think he is doing amazingly well! (Not even Germans can pronounce the last word…)

Blue Mondays

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: Blau machen

Literal translation: to make blue

It’s Sunday and Elvira and Günther have invited their friend Rüdiger för dinner. Rüdiger is really fun to be with and makes every gathering a sucess. They eat a traditional North German Sunday dinner with green cabbage that is currently in season. The second light on the advent wreath Elvira’s sister made for them is lit and Günther pours one glass of wine after the other.

Illustration by Ingrid. She wants me to mention that these were done in passing and amateurishly. Fishing for compliments!

Illustration by Ingrid. She wants me to mention that these were done in passing and amateurishly. Fishing for compliments!

Soon, the friends are tipsy and reminisce on the times when they still studied. “Those were the days”, Rüdiger says with a melancholic smile. “Oh yes”, Elvira agrees. “Back then, we could drink all night and make blue on Monday!” What does she mean? To make blue means you are absent from work or school even though you are not sick. It is a habit Germans disapprove so make sure to just use it to say “I would never make blue on a Monday!”

Put in the sand

Hustysk Helens Adventskalender

helen-hustysk

Idiom: etwas in den Sand setzen

Literal translation: to put something into the sand

In Germany, the drawing of the lottery numbers on TV takes place each Wednesday and each Saturday. Many Germans play the lottery twice every week for years and decades. Elvira is frugal and sensible woman so she would never do that. Her colleague and friend Sabine, however, cannot resist when the kiosks put up posters saying “48 million euro in the jackpot on Saturday”.

sand

Not only can you put money in the sand, you can also put an exam or a relationship in the sand. It is not a good thing to do in any case.

 

She hurried to the shop across the street and bought her lottery tickets for ten euros. On Monday, Elvira asked how the Saturday drawing went. “Oh”, Sabine replies bummed, “I did not win a cent. I put ten euros into the sand!”

 

 

The sixth door: Noses

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: Ich habe die Nase voll.

Literal Translation: I have the nose full.

How to use it: Your friend Elvira and you are downtown, shopping Christmas gifts. The stores are crowded, the streets are packed and you barely fit in the metro car. (Because German cities are overpopulated.) Elvira has finally gotten the perfect present for Günther and you managed to buy something for your godchild, but both of you are very exhausted when you sit down in a café. You want to tell Elvira that you are fed up with all the Christmas stress, so you say, “I have the nose full of Christmas shopping!”

The fifth door: Having birds

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helen-hustysk

Idiom: Du hast einen Vogel.

Literal Translation: You have a bird.

How to use it: It is Günther and Elvira’s anniversary and he wants to take her out. Günther has already reserved a table at a really nice restaurant in the HafenCity in Hamburg and has a little jewel box in his pocket. At breakfast, he reminds Elvira of their date night. She tells him her experiments in the lab didn’t work yesterday so she plans to spend the night with her research. “You want to sleep over next to your bacteria?!” Günther says annoyed. „You have a bird!” A bird? Yes – this is the German way to tell Elvira that he thinks she is crazy.