So, sorry about not writing one of these for a couple of weeks. Life can get a little hectic here, and I find that spending my free time documenting my non-free time is not my favorite thing in the world. Who would have thought? Anyways, that is all behind us now. I promise I will start doing better about this whole documenting my year thing. Also, when I break that promise, I will at least try to deliver entertaining stories. For instance, this time I am going to write about my first time I went to play volleyball here. Bonus, there will actually be pictures in this post at the end!
First a little background. Volleyball has a pretty decent following in Germany. Of course nothing trumps soccer, but still, a much bigger proportion of Germany plays volleyball than in America. Therefore, it was pretty easy to find a place and people to play with. Going into it, I guess I had similar expectations to what open gym is like in America. You show up, warm up a little, play games for the duration of the time, and then go on about your business. I was totally off base.
To begin with, our warm-up was playing a short game of soccer. You want to know what intimidation is? That would be playing the national sport of the country you are in with a bunch of people you just met, who speak a different dialect of the language you have learned for the past nine years. After we finished, and I did not embarrass myself, I thought we would start playing. Nope. Then we started doing volleyball warm-ups. Now a half hour has passed, we finally have the net set up, I am all warm-upped and stretched out and am ready to play. That is when we started to do drills, and I mean drills. It is at the point that I started doing pushups after making a mistake during a drill, where I wonder what the hell is going on. We are sprinting for loose balls, running complex plays and generally practicing like a team preparing for a game. Mind you, we actually do not play other people, so this is really just for the upkeep of our skills.
Now do not get me wrong, it was a lot of fun and the other guys are really nice and friendly. It was just absolutely like nothing I expected. So after two and a half hours of working my ass off, we are finally finished. Somebody then asks if I want a beer. I thought I was being asked if I wanted to go out afterwards, because there was festival in the city that night, so I naturally said yes. That is when the beer is brought out. Right on the court. Now understand, we just trained for two and half hours, and I am completely gassed. The last thing I wanted in that moment was beer, especially German beer.
For those of you who do not know about German beer, let me run it down for you. First of all, I have not found any, and I mean any, that are under 5.3% alcohol. Secondly, there is about as much beer in two American cans as there is in one German beer. In other words, one German beer is the equivalent of at least four American. Furthermore, pretty much everybody has at least a beer a day. In fact, they like the taste so much that some people drink alcohol free beer during the day. I know waiting until I turned twenty-one to drink made me a lightweight, but I will be drinking everybody under the table when I get back.
So the beer gets brought out and everybody gets one. At this point, I still hated the beer and was getting used to it. Of course, I am not about to not finish that beer and do my hardest to keep a good poker face while I drink it, because I mean come on! This is Germany! I am not about to be known as that kid who cannot drink the beer. So we finish our beers and head to the locker room to change.
Except, we are not getting changed. Instead, we are all showering. In a single room. With no partitions. Now for those of you from an older generation, I know this does not seem weird. The thing is, this really does not happen that much today for my generation. The only time I can see this happening is after a high school or college game. Even then not always, as the showers in my high school did not work. Regardless, I was definitely not expecting this, and it was all I could do not to laugh as the drawers dropped all around me. Still, there was no way I was not doing this, as I did not want to be also known as the weird kid who does not shower after playing like everyone else. In other contexts, this whole story would be a great PSA about peer pressure, seeing as I started drinking and getting naked even though I did not want to. Furthermore, because I was not expecting this to happen, I did not have anything to shower with. No towel. No soap. No shampoo. Nothing.
Also, because when it rains it freaking pours, the moment after I get naked a very nice named Aldo decided to strike a conversation with me while he is in similar state. I was not even in the shower yet, and there I am having a conversation in German about how he and is wife, who are from East Germany, went to New York after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The whole time I am thanking God that that German beer was working overtime on me, because there was just no possible way I could have gotten through that conversation without it. Moreover, this happens every damn week now! Somebody just talks to me while we are standing there buck-ass naked. I am afraid to go to the bathroom with these people, because I think somebody is going to break that rule and start talking to me there. Every guy reading this post just understood that last sentence.
Anyways, so we shower and a few of us head out to the festival that was happening in the city. Honestly, as far as organized, massive events go, Europe kicks America’s ass. The entire city was lit up in lasers, with all of the buildings having different sceneries and images projected onto them. In other words, unbelievably awesome.
At this point I started to like German beer, mainly because I was having too much. What can I say, when in Rome right? At one point, I actually had a beer in each hand due to miscommunication. You really can never take the ASU out of the kid, can you? We just find a way to drink excessively, even if by accident and through language barriers. Sadly, I was unable to finish one of them, which marks the only time I have not finished my drink in Germany. Also, I am now in love with German beer, and definitely credit that night. I really do not want to go back to American beer, or water as it is called here. This is especially true because everything is under three euros here, which you know, awesome.
In the end it was a great night, and I was lucky enough to find a great place where I could get a nice souvenir. If you understand that comment, you really know me too damn well.
For those of you who guess that final picture, congratulations! As you can see, however, I have moved on from bricks to cobblestones.