After all this time, it’s taken an encounter with popular culture –a night out at the movies — to drive home the fact that we’re not in Canada anymore… (Toto? Dorothy?)
First off, the theatre caters exclusively to English-language movies. Expecting mostly ex-pats in the audience, I was surprised to find that the vast majority of people surrounding us while we were waiting to be let in were native Germans (try finding a foreign language film back home without sub-titles!).
We bought popcorn (options: plain, with sugar, or with cheese and bacon), a coke for me, and a nice cold beer for Laird. He remarked that if some of his friends back home knew they could drink beer at movie theatres, they’d be moving to Germany in a shot.
Next, the previews and advertisements.
First, a long piece moving over epic landscapes of the American west, cowboys riding their horses over the open range. Cut to the rugged faces of cowboys around a campfire, their craggy faces lit by the flames. I commented on this unusual attraction Germans seem to have for the “Cowboys and Indians” stereotype, and then something about how this piece was right out of an old Marlborough ad from the 1970’s. You know, before smoking advertisements were banned? As I spoke, one of the cowboys pulled a pack of Marlboroughs out of his shirt pocket….
Another ad for cigarettes followed, a long one showing 20 somethings partying and having fun.
Next, a rip-roaring sports car scene of a muscle vehicle winding at high speed around corners and through the streets. It screeched to a halt, and a team of uniformed racing pit mechanics raced to surround it. They lifted the shell of the car up, and trotted away… leaving a cute little Mini in its wake.
The “pièce de résistance” came when a lissome young woman walked onto the screen, her perky breasts bare and wearing only a very small g-string. The conversations around us barely faltered; few in the audience paid attention. The woman on the screen walked over to a bowl on a table, and picked up a walnut. She then reached around herself, placed the walnut between her butt cheeks, and tightened her facial muscles as she took some effort to (apparently) squeeze. Removing the now broken walnut from her nether regions, she began eating the meat with a sly upturned look toward the audience. Words appeared… an advertisement for a work-out gym! I started laughing, really hard; Laird grinned. The rest of the audience, with their solid German indifference to nudity, registered little reaction.
That was the moment. Europeans are not like North Americans. They’re the cool, sophisticated and smart older cousins with great clothes (when they’re wearing them). I’m the crazy dumpy garden lady with a floppy Tilly hat, worn out boat shoes and an oiled canvas coat.
But I have a feeling we’re going to get along just fine.
The movie, by the way — a piece of pure Hollywood cheese (“The Terminal” with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones) — was a let down. I got my money’s worth out of the ads!