Riddle me this: have you ever gone swimming without your legs?
Okay fine. Neither have I.
But imagine that you don’t have any legs and all of your friends are like, Hey y’all. Let’s go for a swim in the local swimmin’ hole! And you’re like, Okay! So you and your friends head down to the local bog or crick or whatever it is kids these days swim in. And you all jump in! Everyone is laughing and splashing and carrying on. And you’re having an excellent time until wait a minute. You remember that you don’t have legs. So then you immediately start pouring all of your concentration and energy into swimming, because hello. You are in a giant body of water and you have no legs. Your arms are giving it their all, and man did you used to underestimate these scrawny chicken wings. They hold up for a lot longer than you thought they would, but eventually they start to give out. You’re getting really tired but still try to act like everything is totally fine and normal. And meanwhile all of your friends are leisurely swimming laps, splashing water at each other, and just generally being all laid back and relaxed and whatnot. So you continue to swim swim swim and oh hey you just hit me in the head with a beach ball oh no it’s fine I’m just nearly drowning here it’s totally cool. You start to panic a little because man there is water everywhere and what the bell just slithered past your bellybutton? Finally you realize that your chicken wings have nearly flapped their last flap, so you swim a beeline to the shore, where you sit next to a sea lion on a slimy moss-covered rock and watch from afar as your friends continue to have a jolly ole time in the bog that is as deep and wide as that Fountain you sang about in vacation Bible school.
That is how total immersion in the German language feels to me.
On a related note, I’ve become convinced that my German-speaking skillz are atrophying more each day. Even more than my scrawny chicken wings when I stop pretending to lift weights. Here is evidence of my hypothesis:
The other night, on a mission to the grocery store, I stepped out of my apartment and pushed the elevator button. The elevator arrived and delivered to me a dude of not unreasonable attractiveness. I smiled and said hello in German, and he also smiled and said hello in German, then got out of the elevator and proceeded to ascend the stairs. I got on the elevator and politely asked it to take me to the ground floor, but it decided instead to follow the command of the previous occupant, and thus went up to the fourth floor. The fourth floor, by the way, is really the fifth floor, but Germans are horribly mixed up about building floor numbering and call the first floor the ground floor and the second floor the first floor and so on in an increasingly out-of-whack fashion. So the elevator doors opened onto the fourthfifth floor, and here comes Herr Of Not Unreasonable Attractiveness up the stairs. I then did what I do best in times of sheer panic: I laughed uncontrollably. He also chuckled and said, “Have a good evening!” in German. And I replied, “Hahaha yeah hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!” in German. Then the elevator door closed and I died of mortification.
I think the good news here is that my roommate is back now and has promised to help me practice German. So soon I will either be insanely fluent in German or else the best nervous laugher who ever cackled.