Happy Birthday to my dear Jacqueline Smith! We won’t have time for a birthday dinner tonight, since we have men’s choir rehearsal, so here’s a photo from after our recent dinner in Reinsdorf, Saxony, from the parking lot next to the Hirschgasthof, looking over a field of feed corn toward the sunset.

To Germans, one oddity about Americans is our love of corn, especially corn on the cob. To them, corn is for cows & pigs. I hear that Maiz for humans is making inroads over there, but eating off the cob certainly reminds them of the difference between essen (to eat, human-style) and fressen (that’s what animals do with food). My dear wife (see above) has reminded me that I’m a particularly, ah, enthusiastic corn-on-the-cob eater, which she ascribes to my South Jersey roots. I remind her to smile when she says that, and anyway, I reject (on this issue) her Upper Catskills gentility, and, given her dislike of raw tomatoes, what I believe to be a slight lean toward un-Americanism.

But no such complexity that night at the Hirschgasthof. Meats, vegetables, potatoes, all good German fare excellently prepared & delivered by a young man more eager to practice English on us than we were to practice German. Two locals in our room off the bar had obviously been smoking but snubbed out the butts when we walked in, lending an air of rusticity & unspoken camaraderie to the table d’hote.

The food really was good, the waiter really was eager to talk, enough so that he had to be called for more beer from the other room. He had been to New York City and would love to live in America, or maybe Canada. We are all very free, he said, and everyone in Germany knows your business. We allowed that it may be a result of country v. city living. He agreed, and, having thought more of it, admitted that he loved knowing the names of just about anyone he sees, or, if in Zwickau, halloing someone across the street he hadn’t seen in two years. So, I trust he will work through these issues in what I hope will be his glorious life, and that wherever he ends up, he’ll remain as friendly as he is now. I wish him a wife as good as Jackie—he’ll be lucky indeed.

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