We were in Austria, visiting my mom’s cousin. She wasn’t home, but she’d left the key with a neighbor in another building.
“You go get it,” my mom said, and stood sentinel by the door to the apartment building, in case someone came in or out, giving her access. Now, my mom does understand some German. I, of course, do not. So mayhap it wasn’t the wisest division of labor, but I trundled myself off anyway to find the neighbor in her building.
Ever the intrepid traveler with no fear of tackling conversation, somehow under the illusion that I must have the necessary tools for all communication, I pressed the elevator button and scrambled in my mind’s flotsam and jetsam of senseless words to find something German in there.
By the time the doors opened on her floor, I’d picked out some shiny and rarely used gems in my international lexicon. I had it!
Now, my cousin’s last name is Junger. Which, believe it or not, is relevant. For this was my sentence, my first in German:
“Ich bin kleine Junger. Schlussel–nichts!” After which I planned to shrug expressively.
In my mind, you see, the above sentence, cobbled together from a collage of German words floating about in the ether, meant: “I am the small Junger. Key–not here!”
Really logical, no? She’d know she could give me the key as I was related to my cousin.
I still think it might have worked, if she’d not been patrolling about at this very time downstairs, where she found my mom and chatted happily to her in grammatically correct German, giving her the key and waiting with her for me to give up knocking on her door an apartment over.
About a year later I finally asked a German-speaker what I’d said.
“I am a small young one. Key–nothing.”
Well, we can’t all be Shakespeare. Or Goethe. 🙂 Or Rainer Maria Rilke… HAWT writing that man had… 🙂 (And absolutely randomly, are any of you guys Rilke fans?)