Yesterday German engineering won the Olympic gold medal in making me shriek and squeal with joy and disbelief.
This happened after I had cooked a delightful dinner of chili with chocolate for my roommate, her boyfriend, and one of my teacher frandz. We also dined on homemade Nutella banana bread, because I am trying really hard to be a good Hausfrau and learn how to cook real food and not just pasta with a side of raw bell peppers. I am also evidently trying really hard to incorporate chocolate into every food I eat.
After we had stuffed ourselves to the brim with chocolate and I had reenacted my first traumatizing experience with German doorknobs to everyone’s simultaneous confusion and delight, my teacher friend decided it was time for her to book it back to her house for the night. We all gathered around in the apartment entryway and naturally lapsed into a deep philosophical discussion of shoes. This happened because Germans take off their shoes before they go into the rooms of their apartment, so in every apartment you will find an enormous entryway display of footwear. They claim that this practice is to prevent dirty shoes from tracking in the filth of the world onto their beloved floors.
But the truth is this: Germans worship shoes.
I know that this is the case because of two reasons. The first is the aforementioned footwear display in the apartment entryway. It is a shrine. Every apartment has one, but some are more impressive than others. Most just have the shoes arranged in an orderly and proud fashion, and guests who visit the apartment will exclaim upon entering, “My, what an impressive shoe collection you have! Might I try on your high heels and prance around in them a bit? Or your boots? I’d love to stomp around in that fancy footwear.” And the host will of course oblige them, as long as this prancing and stomping occurs outside the house.
The second way I know that Germans worship shoes is because every single one of them owns a shoehorn. In German these are called Schuhlöffel, or shoe spoons, and they are the Ark of the Covenant of every shoe shrine in the land. Each shrine is required by law to contain a minimum of two shoe spoons.
Before I moved here, I thought that people stopped using shoe spoons in like the 18oos. But I guess that was just when the shoe spoon industry was taking off in Germany. Since living here, I have seen shoe spoons in every apartment I have visited, and in multiple stores across the country. One time when I went to IKEA I even found a gigantic basket filled with them.
As it turns out, the shoe spoon is designed for putting on shoes. Apparently they are not only good for really-hard-to-put-on 19th century shoes, but also for 21st century shoes that just won’t let your foot in without some outside help. Before last night, I always struggled to put on tricky shoes with my bare hands. But from now on I will use my handy dandy shoe spoon, which my roommate gave me after listening me scream ecstatically for five minutes straight after experiencing the magic of the shoe spoon for the first time ever. Now I will never have to struggle with stubborn shoes ever again. Thank you, German engineering, for maintaining this tool that I didn’t even know I needed but now can’t live without.