In Texas Gruene is Pronounced “Green”. I know it makes you wonder if people in this state are literate, but it’s true. In the Texas Hill Country, we like our German heritage, we just really like funny pronunciations. (To prove my point, Manchaca is pronounced “Man-shack,” and Guadalupe is pronounced “The Drag.”)
Recently, I was feeling a bit lonely for Germany so I packed up my ever-willing Frenchman and set off to the nearest “German” town. Thankfully, we didn’t have far to go. In about 45 minutes we reached the adorable, antique town of Gruene nestled on the banks of the Guadalupe River. I was so excited to see German things again that I leapt out of the car full of anticipation. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was quashed by a wall of 95-degree heat. Right, so the universe was reminding me that I was not actually in Germany. I got the hint.
Once I recovered from the shock of the temperature, I immediately regretted my choice of wearing pants. You see, I still haven’t given up on the idea that pants are appropriate in all seasons. I forgot that this theory only works in climates where there are not 9 months of summer. Needless to say, my Frenchman, who has not given up on his roots, had chosen to wear a similar ensemble that consisted of black jeans and a sweater. He too was suffering.
Naturally, our outfits compelled up to immediately duck into the ice-cream parlor and hunker down until we could formulate a plan.
With it’s icy air and slightly bleach-y scent it seemed like any other ice cream shop in town. Except that I suspect that it had not been redecorated since 1962. Even though we were supposedly in a German heritage town, this place oozed Americana; it was the most un-German shop I had ever stepped foot into. I mean, it even came with a Slurpee machine.
Frenchman’s eyes were bugging out of his head.
Even though we had just been teleported to the 1960’s, we were too hot to care about anything other than obtaining some sort of cool refreshment. Good thing that in an ice-cream parlor that is never a problem.
Thankfully, not only did this place look like it was from the early 60’s, but it also cost about as much. So, to keep with the times and our budget, I suggested we buy a Slurpee. I was met with a look of confusion. A Slurpee? As if any American ever could fathom not knowing that sparkling cherry taste in their mouth. The Frenchman, however, did not.
Possibly it was the look of horror on my face that convinced him to buy this childish beverage, or maybe it was his curiosity. I will choose to put it down to his bravery and sense of adventure that he was willing to try a bright red beverage with a funny shaped straw. Either way, Slurpees were purchased.
The first sip was magical. I was transported back to the long summers of my childhood, where everything was new and shiny and I didn’t have to pay bills yet. I am not sure where my Frenchman went, but his blue eyes danced assuring me that he was loving Slurpee schlürfen.
High on the sensation of sweet, icy beverages we floated back to the car. Yes, I hate to admit it but it was too hot for us to walk let alone wander aimlessly. Instead we crawled back into an air-conditioned car, turned due west, and drove back home in the setting sun.
So although our trip may have been the shortest holiday in “Germany” that anyone has ever taken, it may have been the best. I felt re-grounded here in my own culture. I realized that a great part I miss about Germany is the joy that comes with experiencing things for the first time. Luckily, I have someone through whom I can vicariously. Whenever I go out with him, it’s like I rediscover my own country. I see it through a lens not of someone who grew up here, but as someone who is just now experiencing all the novelties and quirks of their new country. And that makes every day of being home an adventure.