Thursday, May 24

why it pays to learn customs

I hate it when I do this: I travel outside of Canada, fail to know a particular custom and cause what would constitute a international scandal if I was someone famous but I'm not a celebrity (well maybe in my own mind, but that doesn't count) so it doesn't make headlines.

I might score being the subject of a dinner time conversation among the people who witnessed my social gaff, but definitely no more than that.

Well this guy - he made international headlines for his gaff, all without the aid of a celebrity status.

Somehow he thought it was "acceptable behavior" in Germany to walk around public places donning just his birthday suit.

That's not one that I've heard before. Bartering for goods in Thailand, different ways to hold a glass when having a drink poured for you in Korea, paying for a complete round when hitting the pubs in the UK, those I heard before traveling but I never heard of sight-seeing naked in Germany (Pop Quiz: Acceptable customs in Germany: sunbath nude in public parks? Ja. Attend Oktoberfest without lederhosen or any form of clothing? Nein).

This reminds me of when I was in Thailand a few years back. There was a female German tourist that spent the entire time naked. She was with her family (husband, teenage son, and young daughter) and they were staying at the same bungalow rental as me.

She was probably in her late thirties or early forties. It was really hard to tell under the crazy tan she had - she was the color of a chestnut with the whitest blond modified mohawky-buzz cut I'd ever seen. She looked like a shiny, mommy-fied Wendy O. Williams.

She scared me.

Not because she was always naked and resembled a woman who liked to blow things up (the constant nudity was traumatic) but she scared me because she was always yelling. She yelled when she was happy, she yelled when she was mad, she yelled in the early morning, and yes, I unfortunately also know (along with half the island) that she yelled when she was having relations. And here is some advice, don't sit next to this lady in a bar because she inexplicably becomes louder when under the influence. How is that possible? I don't know but she defied convention.

I must mention the reason I thought about this particular blast from the past was because it wasn't socially acceptable in the area we were staying to be bare all that you got.

And yes, she was always naked.

Wait, no that isn't true, she always wore the same bikini bottoms to all meals.

How did I feel about this? Let's just say, I didn't rent a moped after I saw her returning from town one day. I didn't really have any problem ignoring the fact that she was in the buff, she had a wide-shoulder atheletic build and looked like she could qualify for a light-weight class in the WWE. But it was impossible to ignore her voice and need to talk yell all the time.

Here's a picture of the restaurant at the bungalows (that open air area on the left). The food was divine and I still dream of it to this day. The seating consisted of plastic deck chairs which apparently warranted a layer of lycra to protect from possible sticky situations.
I always felt bad for the local staff when I saw this lady. They were so obviously uncomfortable around her, yet they were always gracious and polite to her. Each time the young waiter finished with her table, he would give us this face that said "I'm dying and I don't know where to look when she talks to me". He was such a nice man and he revealed his feelings about her after a night of hanging with us at a local bar. He was an excellent Thai boxer and had a really interesting story. Maybe that is a post for another day.

That restaurant was also the scene of many of my traumatic experiences that involved this particular lady and her need to engage all people within a hundred foot radius in her conversations:


*Nodding my head in agreement, I grin like an idiot while waving and attempting to run by as quickly as possible while trying to look like I'm not trying to run away*

What can I say? I'm Canadian, by custom we try not to be rude.


Lisa b said...

I don't know what to say except this is a hilarious story and I think I am now being traumatised by my mental image of the naked german lady.
Some people cannot be explained.

crazymumma said...

It is astounding the behaviour of people at times. She sounds friendly though, and I think social gaffes can be pretty much forgiven in the face of just being plain old nice, yet oblivious....

Kyla said...

Oh man, I don't think I could have handled it as well as you. Random nude people skeeve me out.

nomotherearth said...

Nude and loud?? Not good. I'm not sure even incredibly attractive people should be nude all the time..

mamatulip said...

I will never forget the time my childhood best friend's mom stepped out of the bathroom to tell me something -- stark naked. I'd never seen another woman naked besides my mom, and being about 9 at the time, I was totally fascinated...and a bit horrified, 'cause it was ALL THERE. I did my best to not gape, but I'm not sure I pulled it off.

kittenpie said...

Erlack! That would be a gaffe ANYWHERE!