Germany, silliness

Greetings from the Schwarzwald… where pan pipes are considered soothing.

Yesterday was a very busy day. We woke up early, with plans to go to Stuttgart and see our dentist. We were long overdue in seeing our dentist, Dr. B. It had been over two years, mainly due to COVID-19, and the inability to travel with ease coupled with conflicts of schedules. Originally, I had planned for us to stay in Stuttgart, but our favorite hotel was totally booked. Then I remembered how much I liked visiting The Black Forest when we still lived near it. So, even though our hotel is 100 kilometers from our dentist’s office, I booked us in a very nice resort for four nights. But we spent most of yesterday in our old stomping grounds.

I am pleased to report that I had a good checkup. Bill was not as lucky. He’s been complaining about his teeth recently and, sure enough, as the dentist was probing, one of Bill’s fillings fell out. Bill has to come back to Stuttgart next week. He’ll just take the ICE train and do a one day visit. We both got very thorough cleanings that were much needed and appreciated. My gums are a little sensitive today.

After our dentist visit, we had a hearty lunch at a steak joint. Then we met someone in my wine group who was going to be picking up corks. I collect corks from our many bottles of wine to give to the crafters among us. After chatting with the lady from the wine group, we headed back to the hotel, spent a little time at the pool, and then I hung out at the bar, while Bill talked to his therapist online. It was a little strange sitting alone in the bar. This resort is loaded with German couples and families, most of whom don’t seem to speak English. I caught the bartender glancing at me, probably wondering where Bill went.

Over the sound system, they were playing music from the 80s and 90s. We’re talking Celine Dion, All 4 One, Boys to Men, and Phil Collins. It was actually a little depressing. For one thing, those songs were all hits when I was a lot younger. As I was listening, I was reminded of my 20s, when I was younger, healthier, and probably prettier, although you’d never know it by my non-existent love life in those days. I had images in my head of going to bars and feeling invisible and broke.

Add in the fact that while this hotel is very pretty and has old school charm, it’s also a bit dated. And so, I felt almost like I was in a time warp, accented by the outfits some of the people were wearing. Not that I can talk about that myself…

This hotel also pipes annoying Muzak into the halls and restaurant. It’s basically a step up from the horrible Muzak my dad used to force me to listen to on our car trips. Bill and I were eating breakfast and “Careless Whisper” by Wham came on, only it had been softened into a soothing version of the original. And that arrangement included pan pipes!

Who in the hell wants to listen to pan pipes in an 80s song about breaking up? It reminds me of the time I heard a Muzak version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses.

I know… I know… who pays attention to the music piped into restaurants? I do. I’m obviously not the only one. I am a frustrated musician. Every time I hear pan pipes, I’m reminded of Zamfir. He used to be on ads in 80s and 90s, selling his pan pipe versions of the day’s hit songs. It made me want to tear out my hair.

Yikes! This gives me chills.

In college, I joined Sigma Alpha Iota, which is an honorary music fraternity for women (as opposed to a sorority). Pan pipes are part of SAI’s insignia. Members have pins they wear that have pan pipes in the middle of them. I appreciated being a sister of SAI, but I’ll be damned if I will willingly listen to pan pipes by choice. I’d rather visit the dentist, as long as he doesn’t play Zamfir’s greatest hits during the exam.

As Bill and I were discussing the pan pipe infused hit song, “Careless Whisper”, originally made famous by George Michael, somehow our conversation morphed into chat about patient privacy. Germans actually have a very interesting approach to privacy. Bill was lamenting about how our dentist, who was trained in the United States and is half-American on his dad’s side, doesn’t have any qualms about talking about other people’s issues. HIPAA does not exist in Germany. So Dr. B will tell Bill about my teeth, and he will tell me about Bill’s teeth. He doesn’t bat an eye… and in fact, he speaks loudly enough that anyone in the waiting room can hear him.

But… people who commit crimes in Germany are often not publicly named. Here, there exists the right to be “forgotten”. They don’t go in for canceling people. So, if someone commits a crime, he or she can do time and then try to rejoin society. Read a newspaper about a crime and you’ll see a photo of the alleged perpetrator, face blocked by a binder and first name and last initial used instead the whole name.

Germany also has an annoying Data Privacy law, which requires Web sites to state upfront that they use cookies. Every time I hit a site in Germany, I get a pop up that tells me about cookies… and any site that doesn’t want to comply is unavailable over here without the use of a VPN.

I’m sure there’s more to the privacy law than pop up ads. A few years ago, when I was having issues with quitting Hello Fresh, I read that if I wanted to make a big stink, I could remind them of the data security law to light a fire under them. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, although there was a lot of swearing involved with getting them to completely delete my account.

Anyway, no one screams about HIPAA here, because there is no such thing. Our dentist will happily talk about my last remaining baby tooth, which will turn 50 next year, should I live that long and it doesn’t get abscessed or anything. He’s probably told his other patients about it. Every time I see him, he mentions it. I think he said that prior to meeting me, the oldest person he had ever met with baby teeth was about 35.

Yesterday, as we were driving back to the Black Forest, we passed by our former digs… or, actually, we didn’t go by where we lived. We just passed the town, and where we used to turn to go home. It was a little surreal. We spent four years there. It was mostly a good time for us, except for dealing with our former landlady, who seemed determined to paint us as people we aren’t and make us pay for things that weren’t our responsibility. That experience kind of soured me a little… I would have preferred to have left on much better terms, as we have in almost every other living situation we’ve been in as a married couple. But I guess this kind of thing happens sometimes.

I tried to appreciate how truly beautiful the area where we lived is. It really was a naturally beautiful place. Where we are now isn’t nearly as idyllic, although it is also an attractive area. It’s just that the Black Forest is extraordinarily beautiful, even at the edges, which was where we lived. I miss being able to take off on weekends and be in the forest, where there are stunning views everywhere you look. And it’s nice to be back down here… Germany is different in this area than it is where we are now. God help me, if you were to ask me where I feel more at home in Germany, I’d have to say the Stuttgart area… as whacked out as it can be on many levels. I do love it here… and it’s great to be back. I hope we can do some more short visits. I guess if COVID keeps up, we may keep traveling within Germany.

Well… Mr. Bill has come back to the room. He’s excited, because the sun is out, and he wants to go for a walk. I suppose I owe it to myself to take a walk and exercise my old bones. It would be a good idea, since today is high falutin’ culinary day. We have reservations at two fancy restaurants today, since there are weddings tomorrow. So I’ll stop here… and try not to get too upset over the news… or pan pipes arrangements in piped in music from the 80s and 90s. The Schwarzwald is beautiful… but it probably appeals most to people of a certain age. Alas, I am reaching that age.


Old school…

I had kind of a rough night last night, which involved getting up repeatedly thanks to a certain monthly nuisance. I woke up cranky and kind of mentally fuzzy, since I didn’t get the best quality of sleep. Sometimes I have topics on the brain as soon as I get up. This morning, I didn’t really… even though I finally resubscribed to Hulu and watched the most recent episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale.

So I did what I always do when I don’t have a topic to write about. I went to YouTube and promptly found this episode of The Price is Right from 1981. I was eight years old when this episode aired, on April 22, 1981. I remember watching The Price is Right was a special treat, since it aired at 11:00am on weekdays and I was always in school at that time. The Price is Right is probably my favorite game show of all time. I think it appealed to me because there were so many different games. I had a short attention span when I was a child, so that format and the variety that came with it was very attractive to me. That, and I enjoyed the corny music. On this episode, they even used the Family Feud theme song for one of the prizes, a really tacky, tricked out van.

Bob Barker was hosting the show in 1981. At that time, he’d been on The Price is Right for 8.5 years. He would continue to host for another 26 years before handing over the show to Drew Carey. I’ve seen Drew’s version of The Price is Right and I think he does a good job. I also like that they stopped only offering American products. In Barker’s day, one could only win American cars by Chevy, Ford, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile. But you can win a Mini Cooper on Drew Carey’s version. Since I have a Mini, I like that they can now be won on TPIR. They’ve also updated the models and the music. I’m kind of sorry they updated the music. I loved that they kept the same groove for so many years during Barker’s reign.

I’ve heard lots of stories about how Barker was on the show. Supposedly, he sexually harassed his models. But, as a host, he was the consummate professional. He knew the big wheel so well that he almost always could tell where the spin would land. I’m sure that was frustrating for the contestants, as Barker would announce the score and get it right 95% of the time, even before the wheel stopped spinning. He handled people so well; always thinking of something to say and saying it in a friendly way, even when people did dumb things. In the 80s, Johnny Olsen was the announcer before he died.

I think what I enjoyed most about this episode were the ads, which the uploader kindly included. I remember a lot of those ads, because back in the those days, I was addicted to TV. During this particular broadcast, they even had a “test” from the Emergency Broadcast System. Back in the day, networks would periodically have these tests to train people to know where to get information in the event of an emergency. Nowadays, we have so many ways to get informed, but back in the old days, TV and radio were where it was at. The EBS system was replaced by the Emergency Alert System in 1997. I love the cheesy ads they had, too… some of which were for products that no longer exist or will probably be defunct very soon (Sear’s fashions, anyone?) and pitched by long dead people like Tom Bosley, who used to sell Glad trash bags.

One person commented on the video that his grandmother was Keely, who won the first prize. Keely was quite a looker in 1981. I know that was 38 years ago, but it doesn’t seem so long ago to me. I remember that time well, even though so much time has passed.

The Price is Right also reminds me of Granny’s house. I don’t really know why, since it was rare for me to get to visit her at a time when that show would be airing and I would be able to see it. There was something about the music, the cheesy prizes, and madcap games that reminded me of being at her house, having fun with my cousins when we weren’t fighting amongst ourselves. I’ve been thinking a lot about those times lately, especially as my Uncle Brownlee is entering his last days. Granny’s house, after all, is now his house. For awhile, my dad was even buried there. My mom eventually had him moved to the family church cemetery, since she probably realized that this would eventually happen and the property might no longer be in the family’s hands. My Uncle Brownlee, by the way, made the wooden box my dad’s ashes were buried in.

I’ve always been a nostalgic person. I love watching old TV, listening to old school radio and music, and looking up old news or old people I used to know. About the only old school stuff I don’t enjoy is some of the clothes… especially 70s era clothes. Actually, I’d probably toss in 90s era clothes, too. But give me an article about disgusting casseroles from the 70s, embarrassing toys or snacks from the 80s, or misleading ads from those days (Wonder Bread and Hostess Cupcakes are “wholesome and healthy”? I don’t think so.) and I am happy as a clam in high water.

Well… I’m feeling slightly more awake now. We tried to get rid of a futon and grill today. The futon was picked up by the trash people, but they left the grill. Bill is going to be annoyed about that (ETA: the grill was picked up later). I’m going to finish the laundry and maybe take a nap, if my body doesn’t keep waking up to go to the bathroom. If not, maybe I’ll read some old school porn or something.