Prose: Schmerz – Part 2

Germans do not acknowledge Schmerz.

While there is some facility in doling out and absorbing Schmerz throughout the indelible history of their time, despite their affinity for control – they have not yet mastered an auspicious way to conquer this unavoidable consequence.

This is a clear case of culture clash, coincidence and contradiction. While pharmaceuticals reign supreme as one of the top industries in Germany and the socialist environment allows easy access for the treatment of Schmerz, in my experience I have learned that many Germans will tolerate the agony of Schmerz by defeating the acceptance of its existence with feigned tolerance and an inclination to refuse any responsibility for the cause of the beast that is Schmerz.

I will use three not so little bears as a reference.

The first time I experienced the tragedy and comedy of German Schmerz was when I met a friend for a glass of weiß wein.

He limped obnoxiously towards me with a bright and ironic smile (immediately I pondered the impossibility that it had anything to do with his disposition), and when he finally arrived and greeted me with a hug I queried the obvious query.

“I think I broke my foot,” he explained and continued onto another topic that coerced an immediate interjection which was thwarted by a, “Naw, ist okay.”

He told me what happened but it didn’t matter because the inconvenience of Schmerz was not something he was willing to readily admit to. Despite the fact that I had to help him walk several times and I winced as he winced in pain, the big beast using me as a crutch rather than a human, he totally disregarded the Schmerz.

Later when he went to the doctor and found out he had a sprained ankle – they gave him a set of crutches that he never used. He told me he took one Ibuprofen and he should be fine.

Another tall, hefty man engaged in Schmerz epitomized the same attitude. Instead of doctoring himself by ignorance and ignoring it, he went to the doctor. Torn tendon.

The bandage wrap, topical cream, anti-inflammatory and (by American standards) low dosage pain killers sat lonely on his dining room table for most of my weekend visit, all of which might have rolled or bounced on the wood top thing from the vibrato of our screaming matches and stomping through the apartment trying to explain to him that in order to relieve Schmerz you must accept that it exists in the first place.


“Elevate your leg and put ice on it for 20 minutes,” was combatted with very stern and echoing, “Naw ist okay,” as my head spun around and around and around…dizzied by the frenzied sharp shouts of Schmerz, always followed by a complete lack if interest in ending said Schmerz altogether.

I was shocked when after the two hundred and twenty fifth time I yelled at him to get an ice pack he finally came back home with one. “Ist cold,” he protested, but found much comfort and joy when he realized that his compromising position allowed him the freedom to treat me like a slave, that oh so common Teutonic quality of barking out orders with that chasm of a pregnant pause before the chagrinned “Please” (statement, not question) slips out of their smile upside down lips after I give them the same sharp look my Mother and Father would give me when I was a young boy learning how to mind his manners.

There is another story of Berlin bear Schmerz – this time a captivating display of athlete turned invalid.

Without warning (sans the abhorrent declaration that the Schmerz was not a problem he caused himself), the seething Schmerz was in full blast trying to make itself known to the owner, a German owner that refuses to show weakness, emotion, or admit any sort of defeat.

Instead of listening to what the Doctor said/says, his exercise addiction and extreme denial provide a scary exposition of this all too common sehr deutsche personality flaw. He went running again, worked on the machines at the gym and ran around town devouring the Schmerz as nonchalantly as he could muster, the oversized meanderer.

“Do you want me to go to the Doctor with you?”

“Naw ist okay.”

I asked Schmerz Bear #3 rhetorical questions, mostly different versions of “Why are you so stupid?” knowing full well my effort was fruitless considering he had all the answers.

His shin splints do not allow him to take more than 3 or 4 steps without demonstrating that the Schmerz is real; it really exists.

After he denied my request to use a bag of vegetables as an ice pack and all the other things he should and should not do, I ended the conversation angrily with one last request coerced by another catalyst of Schmerz I was shocked to hear he was going to birth: “Please don’t ride your bike to the Doctor.”

I have spent too much of my time trying to encourage Germans that their bodies are not impervious. From a Yankee point of view and coming from a place where people go to the Doctor for a broken toenail, that capitalist wonderland that is the un-United States of American’t, it is no wonder then that these feuds arrive sporadically.

Having studied Anatomy and Physiology for so long as a requirement for my dance courses and a general nerdy interest overall – I am always appalled by these German rebuttals denying the truth of my prognosis’s. it’s no reproach of theirs, for all of Europe is mostly correct in assuming that American’t breeds a very reputable and infamous lack of education in their (our?) culture.


Berlin, this old city, is rife with refutable tradition. The undying adulation of non-feeling passed down from generation to generation; surely a proud badge of an attribute to well represent the Black, Red and Gold.

This old town with its lack of elevators compares to Seatlle’s lack of flat ground. Much like the wary west American’t city, veteran denizens rely on the advent of crutches and canes to make their way around, stubborn and determined.

The heavy haunches that are genetically inherent in this Aryan society bare the brute force of its own making. It’s not subjective, it’s science.

I never was so much of a leg-man until I came to Berlin, now hip-hunting almost daily in a marked attempt to catch a glimpse of those leg of lamb legs that they hone so well, even in times of physical adversity. I digress, that is a topic for another time.

But I continue on, hoping that one day they realize that it hurts me to see Schmerz.

It does not elude me so much as frustrate me, this abundant proclivity for such uncanny cultural proclamations. Turns out, all this nonsense has helped me to learn a new German word: Kummer.


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