So, my wife being a from Europe, you know where the history is from, I decided sometime in early 2001 to take a very early version of my family to Germany as a surprise. At the time we were just Susi, my Son, and me, so pretty easy to get everyone on a plane and head out. Not like today where there’s five of us and frankly its like moving Patton’s 3rd Army to Bastogne. I found a German holiday airline called LTU which I’d never heard heard of and quickly did a check on them to find out they fly American Metal! All Boeing 767, 757 and and Lockheed L1011 fleet! You should know that usually my fear of flying limits me to the saying “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!” And even better; I got airfare for the three of us to Berlin from Miami at just under $1,100.00 SCORE!!!
As is typical of me, I tend to act first and then think, if ever, later. I purchased the tickets right then. After a few minutes of patting myself on my back for my ingenuity I promptly told my Dad who was rightfully amazed at the airfare as well and then said “Well, Cor, thats pretty fantastic, I’m sure that you’ll have a great trip and that…..hey, uh, wait a second,…..we got your passport in November of 91, it has to be expired now…” Way to kill my high, buzz killer!
Well, I wasn’t gonna let a little thing like not having a valid passport spoil my fun and it turns out there are plenty of places that can expedite passports, so not a big deal at all! Confident again in my score of scores I return home to surprise the wife.
“Hey, Hun, I know how you’ve been missing your family a bit lately and I bought the three of us tickets to go there next Friday…”
“Thats very nice, but I don’t know why you spent the money for tickets when we could have just driven to Fort Myers.” says my bewildered and slightly annoyed with me Frau.
“No, you misunderstand, my fault, I meant Germany, we’re going to Germany next Friday, here’s the tickets!..”
“………….Was???” A peculiarity of native German speakers is that if you surprise them enough, they revert to their native tongue’s method of expressing shock and awe enunciated as “was???”.
“We. Thats, me, you, and the boy, are going to drive to Miami next Friday, we’re going to leave our car in Long Term parking, then walk across the parking garage to Concourse E and board a flight that will go to Dusseldorf, then board another flight from Dusseldorf to Berlin whereupon I assume, if everything works properly, we will be in Germany sometime the next Saturday morning.”
“oh my god…Oh my god….OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!! Holy Shit we’re going to Germany!!! OH MY GOD!!!!…..wait. Did you say next Friday?”
“yes” I said becoming somewhat wary of her tone. “I did say next Friday, and yes, I know my passport is expired, not to worry, I have that fixed!”
“Oh my god Honey, NOOO!! We have to go to Miami, NOW!!” my wife says clearly agitated and I started thinking that this was just too much for her and I shouldn’t have sprung it on her like this, it was just too much at once. She just doesn’t get it that its next Friday…poor thing..Little did I know just how little intelligence I really have…
“Honey, we have to go to the German Consulate, right now, we have to go today! My passport is expired too! And what about the boy??? He needs one too!!”
Who’s the smart one now? None of us can legally travel anywhere outside of the US! Great!
After getting all of the required pictures taken for the Americans in the famn damily and our US passport applications expedited out, we have to drive to Miami. There is no choice, there is no way out, there is only German bureaucracy ahead.
The Germans, by and large, excel at certain things. Beer production, automobiles, cameras, and when they’re not busy invading the Low Countries, they utilize all their talents and skills at perfecting the art of bureaucracy. They aren’t just good at it, they’re the gold standard of the world!
The German Consulate in Miami is located directly off of Biscayne blvd and directly south of the Dolphin Expressway. Get on I95 take it south 48 miles then take a left onto the Dolphin, then first exit, Biscayne Blvd. Its a 50 mile straight shot door to door from my house in Pompano Beach. Might as well have been in Outer Mongolia! I, like every other Floridian of class, look down on Miami as that other country that us good folk don’t go to. In short, sometime before the Mariel Boat lift, and through no fault whatsoever of the people that invaded from various Central and South American Countries, Islands, Dictatorships, Theocracies, Banana Republics, whatever, everything south of Milam Dairy Road has been lost to Florida and the United States. Oh, sure, we took the Keys back, but Miami is a lost cause!
Getting back to Ze Germans; we arrive at the Consulate ready for whatever rounds of stupidity were going to come about. Pleasantly though, we flew right ahead in the passport line, encountering no resistance whatsoever! Until Frau Hoffman, the dreaded Passport Lady of the Consulate noticed my son with us in line.
“Und who is dat?” she says while pointing at my beautiful baby boy. “Well, thats my son, Conner” I retort immediately not liking her tone very damn much.
“He was born to dis woman, SuSAN?!” Frau Hoffman asks clearly about to lose it. “Uh, what’s this have to do with my wife’s passport application?” I’m really beginning to wonder if the whole lets marry a German idea was worth it at this point..
Frau Hoffman clearly not used to addressing Ugly Americans manages to spit out “……Und who are you….?”
There I was. Minding my own damn business. And she just declared war. Typical. Stupid. But Typical.
“I’m the boy’s Father, I’m her Husband, and I’m hungry and I want out of this building now before traffic builds up and I’m stuck in the godforsaken hell hole of city with you, so do me a favor, take my money, issue the damn passport, and let me be on my merry!”
“….Ja, dis I can not do…..”
Susi is now giving me a look that I’ve not seen before. Its something between consternation and abject fear. No matter, I’m 24, I’m 10 foot tall and I’m bulletproof! Screw Hoffman, I’m up and out!
“ok, Frau Hoffman, I’ll bite, why can you not “do dis”?
“Ja, ze Boy ist a German, he needs a Kinderpass”. she says to me like how stupid of you, American, did you not know we vould claim this boy of perfect Germanness as our own? I’m really tempted to do something something rude and stupid that I’ll never regret, but Susi will have to live with for a while… I don’t but damn did I want to!
“Uhm, No, I was, well, I was in the delivery room when he was born and I’m pretty sure that occurred in Coral Springs, since you know, I drove there…so, yep, he’s American, Born on US soil, means he’s native, and no he doesn’t need a whata ma call it Kindergarten pass, he’ll go to Kindergarten when he’s 6 like every other American!”
Susi was and is a good girl. She causes no muss, never ever initiates a fight, never ever never ever even thinks about confrontation. EVER. I’ve now gone over the holy line with her. I’ve insulted a member of her government! thats a big no no in the big red book of how to be a good German. You just don’t do shit like that if you want to accepted in polite German society! Fortunately for me, I barely like being ‘Merican…and I really hate being behaved.
But, the look on her face was becoming worse. She’d lost all color and was really trying to look as small as possible for a woman of 5’6 stature. While I had been thinking up colorful and insulting things to say to Frau Hoffman I had sorta noticed that both Susi and Frau H were talking in very clipped and very rapid German. With Susi speaking low and very quietly..
Finally I’m ready for my next salvo to spring forth and the war ends abruptly. “Honey, the Government says he’s German, so, he’s German, you need to do what they say, please honey, I don’t want to cause a scene..please, just do this, please I don’t want to get into trouble!!”
The “Government” she says…the government…..which government, ze Germans? But, then I have a quiet moment of reflection. I can argue my point till I’m blue in the face or….
“Hey us, Mrs Hoffman, uh, just how much is a Kid passport anyway?” not wanting to be bothered with niceties anymore. “ja, das ist 20 marks, uhm, so, $40.00″.
Fucking knew it, its a shakedown!…whatever, its a $40.00 shakedown and then I can be on my way! So German paperwork signed, additional money given to stop a potential diplomatic row, and we’re back to Pompano to await my passport and Conner’s now redundant US Passport…
Corey Kleiman will return in Ian Flemings “Live and let Fly”