This statement left me with more questions than I had answers.
Me: What are you talking about? What do you mean by “bad taste?”
Kay: Kind of like… (as his voice trailed off, I noticed he was pointing at my pajama bottoms in all their plaid Paul Frank glory.)
I was puzzled, at this point, and hoping he wasn’t going where I thought he was going with this conversation. Visions of “White-Trash Parties” filled my head.
Kay: In German it is “Schlechter Geschmack Party” but we just say “Bad Taste Party.”
Me: What the hell are you talking about?!
Kay: You know? Like a bad taste party (as he was motioning to his mouth like he was pulling up and throwing out puke).
Me: You do know these are new pajama bottoms I bought in the US last October which I am just now able to wear because they finally fit, right?
Kay: My brother needs a top for the party…
I sat for a moment letting it sink in that he wanted something of “bad taste” to match what I considered awesome pajama bottoms. I was not only proud to fit in them finally, but that they had Paul Frank monkey-heads on them… even though my toddler referred to them as mice when he saw them.
Me: So something… “peinlich?” (Sometimes I can only think of a German word and not its English equivalent. “Peinlich” is kind of like embarrassingly stupid.)
Kay nodded his head in agreement.
Ok, now that I understood the theme, I was questioning why he would be asking me.
Me: What are you saying? My wardrobe and sense of style is “schlecht” and I should be able to find something since all of your clothes are so fashionable?
He didn’t answer that question.
Smart move on his part.
I was a good sport though and went downstairs to find my stash of ‘70s tops and bottoms from Halloweens past. I even found a “Hustler” hoodie. (No wife beaters though.)
Maybe he asked me because I’m such a pack-rat and he actually throws out old clothes?
To make matters worse, he went through the pile I carried up to select (according to his opinion) what would meet the “bad taste” standards.
Not sure if he was being polite by rejecting two tops I still wear during the summer or if he thought maybe it was a test and didn’t want to fail. (One is a bright orange spandex material top that I can totally rock when we are down in Miami. Same goes for the purple print, snake-skin tank-top he said “no” to.)
Kay started to put some clothes into a crumbled-up plastic grocery bag.
Me: Hey. At least put them in a nice bag. Your family doesn’t give us things in ratty old bags.
He went back to the kitchen and returned with a thick, red “Esprit” bag.
I started to chuckle because just a few days prior I was mentioning how Esprit was a big thing in the ‘80s in America and then died out in the ‘90s; you don’t see Esprit in the US any more. Quite frankly, it makes me think of neon colors and rubber bracelets.
Kay couldn’t understand my Esprit humor since it’s still a big brand in Germany (headquartered inRatingen – a neighboring city). In fact, the brand is so popular in Germany, there is actually a huge outlet store in Ratingen.
Next thing I know, Kay is cramming the clothes into the red Esprit bag without even taking the time to fold them.
And then I thought, “I may have clothes that are ‘Schlechter Geschmack’ but at least I take care of my things so that they can become old enough to be schlecht.”
Thank goodness this was the equivalent to a “White Trash Party” otherwise I would have flipped a gasket about him sending clothes to his family in such a manner considering that when they do laundry, clothes are folded thoroughly; so thoroughly, it looks like everything has been ironed. I’m not kidding.
I think all German women must have to pass some kind of laundry folding test to receive their perfect homemaker certificate before graduating school; they hand-press their clothes meticulously.
It wasn’t until Kay’s grandma helped me fold Fynn’s clothes one day that I saw the technique. She was lining up the fabric precisely on the seams, folding the clothes over, while finely pressing down as she slid her hand across the material with each crease.
I didn’t know how to react considering, that yes, I fold clothes, but it usually entails slapping the clothes together and tossing them in the laundry bin being more concerned with time management than quality of a fold.
Well, what the hell do I do now that she’s here? Follow her lead and pretend that I too meticulously fold my family’s laundry?
Yep. I didn’t feel like being scolded by Oma that day.
When I overheard Kay mentioning to his male neighbors that his grandma irons everything including socks and underwear, I had to inform him about the “hand-pressed” technique.
This came as a surprise to the neighbors leaving me wondering if maybe not all Germans do this?
Nah, I think the men are just completely oblivious to the technique and believe that their clothes magically appear on hangers and in drawers much like the German fairytale “Die Wichtelmänner” better known in the US as “The Shoemaker and the Elves.”
Germans may not believe in ghosts, but apparently the men believe in house gnomes (Heinzelmännchen).
When I received maternity clothes back from my sister-in-law… same thing. The clothes came back in better shape than they left; meticulously folded and appearing to be ironed.
So Kay sent my crumbled-up, bad-taste clothes to his brother’s house. Totally against German standards and I’m sure I got the blame for it. Messy American. Hey, living up to the German standard is difficult.
Now if only I could not be such a hoarder; I didn’t even ask if it was Kay or his brother that thought I would have a “bad taste top.”