Sunday, April 16, 2023

Marie-Chantal in Germany, part 1

While I had a few weeks of vacation, Papa searched for a German family who would look after me while I take the Abitur, the equivalent to the French baccalaureate and British A-levels. As for my year in Edinburgh, he again thought of asking the International Desk of his bank, but he met a German gentleman visiting the Horse and Rider Exhibition of Paris. He helped him cash a foreign draft, and they chatted.

It turned out that Herr Manfred Schubert is a saddle maker, for those riders into competitive dressage and racing. "A small family business near Münster, in Rosendahl." They befriended, and Papa invited him for lunch at the bank's executive cafeteria. Manfred offered to take me in and mentioned that he has two daughters. "One of them, Eva, is taking the Abitur."

A week later, I landed at the Münster airport. I was welcomed by Mrs. Schubert and her daughters, Eva and Emma. I didn't repeat the mistake of wearing jeans as when I arrived at Edinburgh. I was wearing a tartan mini kilt. I was warmly welcomed. Eva was nineteen, a year younger than me, and her sister Emma was seventeen. They were both wearing jeans miniskirts, and for their mother, it was a granny length skirt. Phew!

 They were forgiving of my German mixed with a few French and English words. As most German, they spoke French and English. They had no difficulty understanding me, but knowing that I am to learn to be fluent in German, they only spoke the language of Goethe. Eva was chatty, and Emma was exuberant. Twice, her mother told her to calm down, and she immediately obeyed.

The girls helped me load my suitcase and carry-on, into the booth of an old Mercedes. It was obvious that the family's philosophy was the same as Papa's, buy a good car and keep it twenty years. We soon left the autobhan, and it was bucolic scenery of meadows with big cows and horses.

I discovered Rosendahl, their village. It was actually larger than I had imagined. Their house, on a small plaza with an antic fountain, was quite big. On the ground floor were the family's sattelmacher shop, and a large garage. I was led straight to the girls' floor, within the tall roof. They showed me my room. It was lovely, with comfy furniture, and a view of the plaza with its fountain. They showed me their zimmers. From their windows, I noticed the small and very well kept garden in the back. I visited the bathroom, and saw on the wäscheleine above the bathtub, that both sisters wear the same plain white cotton knickers.

I was told that the floor below was about the bedroom of their parents, an office, and a room for guests. I wasn't invited to have more than a peak of the landing and office. Another floor down and I discovered a large lounge, a dining room, and the kitchen. It was all furnished with traditional and comfy furniture. There was also a large library. The girls were told to set up the table for dinner, and I helped.

Herr Schubert had closed shop, and invited his three employees for their usual end of week drink. One of them was much younger. I figured he must be an apprentice. I was introduced as Marie-Chantal, the French student. He chuckled as he said, "I now have three girls!"

Their parents sat, and the girls did the service. I wanted to help, but their mother told me to sit down. Herr Schubert announced. "You will call us, Onkel Manfred and Tante Bertha." I knew that onkel means uncle, as for tante it is the same word in French, meaning aunt. Onkel Manfred also announced that my bicycle has arrived. "You will unwrap it tomorrow, and the girls will take you on a tour of the village." He had the same no nonsense tone than Tante Bertha. I understood I am to obey, as their girls.

After dinner we watched some telly. Eva's miniskirt rode up too much for her mother's standards. She snapped her fingers, and waved her hand. Eva hastily pulled it down.

Later I had to empty my suitcase. Emma mischievously wanted to see what I had. Eva pulled out a pair of powder blue lacy knickers. "Mutti won't approve!" Emma plucked a frilly pink pair, and suggested, "Sis, you better give her a few pairs of your knickers, or she will be in trouble with Mama."

A minute later, Eva was back with seven pairs of plain white cotton knickers. She called those schlüpfer. I pulled a face, and they both laughed.

Emma added, "You don't want to upset Mum!"

Eva dotted the i and crossed the t, "We are ten years old for Mama, you as well!"

Later, when in bed, I texted Papa and Maman. I told them of my very nice bedroom, and the delivery of my bike. As I fell asleep, I mulled over the plain knickers, the being ten years old, but so far so good, no smacking sounds as on my first night in Edinburgh.

Marie-Chantal and co

To be continued...


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