A big plate of sideoders – of squirrels and international understanding

In the following days Liverpool and Co decided to go all England on us. When the Birkenhead expedition team travelled to Chester and made its way around the town hall, Giorgis and Agnes going at each other as usual, the heaven´s urinating on our heads seemed quite hostile.

Agnes might have been somewhere in the midst of checking Tammy´s French skills when Giorgis commented in one or the other way that made her produce a far-eastern battle cry and send an accompanying kick within centimetres of Giorgis´ nose. She went for kickboxing lessons at the university sports centre and took the freedom to sometimes practice on him. Truly, their double effort as a Greek-French one-two-punch was first class entertainment. When they did not tongue-lash each other, they basically only waited for the next opportunity. As I saw it, they would either wind up getting married or they would wring each other´s neck. Maybe both. In either sequence.

Before they could do either though Giorgis espied a little bushy squirrel in a tree in front of us. It had its tiny claws clung into the bark and was looking at us. Giorgis was off within the blink of a second.

“Ah, wonderful! Shtay like that, my dear!” he screeched. “You´re adorable! Stay exactly like that!” He pulled out his camera and approached the pretty animal, literally shaking from excitement. “Ooh, you are so gorgeoush, my dear! Simply gorgeous! And now look here and give me a poshe. Be wild. Be an animal. Be… Though, come to think of it, I guesh you kind of are already, hu hu.”

“Oh my god, Giorgi, you are such a dork!” laughed Tammy and shook her head. So did Agnes and I.

“But what can I do? There´sh a flame burning! Kill my flame, darling! Kill my… no, Tammy, come on, how could we shay that properly? Like, shtop a flame from burning?”

Tammy giggled. “Quench, I guess.”

“Quench my flame! Ohhh, I love it! Quench my flame, you little fluffy Birkenheadish shquirrel-dear!”

While Agnes made sure she repeated quite audibly how crazy he was, she did find the general topic of squirrels interesting enough to elaborate. Apparently the French claimed it to be the most intricate German word to pronounce. Which made me make her say it. And what she said was so French, so beautiful that I wanted to hear it again. You´re terrible, Agnes said, laughing. Giorgis shouted the same but he meant the squirrel that had turned its back on him and his camera. We weren´t done yet. As it turned out, squirrel was simultaneously the most difficult English word for Germans to say. At least that´s what Tammy claimed. It was common knowledge, she assured me. An anti-Teutonic tongue-twister. So I said it. Tammy was silent for a moment or two, processing what she had just heard, and then came to the conclusion that I had just proved I wasn´t German.

“Maybe I´m French”, I said. “What´s squirrel in French?”

“Écureuil”, said Agnes.

I raised my eyebrows. “No, I´m not. Never would I go as far as to exchange Eichhörnchen for this. French is just such a strange language.” I winked at her. “No offense.”

“No offense taken. Zoa is German. What can we do?”

“Not much, I guess.”

“No, not very much. Aich-un-chen.”

I leaned in on her. “And here we are, in the onset of the 21st century, a freezing rain going down on us, a Greek, a French, a German and an Australian….”

“Who is really just a Chinese in terribly bad disguise!” said/giggled Tammy.

“…and we´re all talking together in more or less the same language. About squirrels. Now that´s a form of beauty.”

Agnes lowered her eyelids and the way she looked at me now, there was something in her eyes that I had not seen before. “And now tell that to our grandparendz or their parendz. I don´t think they would believe you.”

“No, probably not.”

“No”, she agreed with what I had agreed with her. “Probably not.”

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