German Lesson

Arturo Castro Nagueros, the excellent featured artist at last night's Zakk Barabasch open stage in Düsseldorf.

I’m walking with my mandolin from the U-Bahn stop in the direction I hope the GPS is trying to lead me, up a wide, dark street toward a downtown open stage/jam session a new friend has recommended. Aha! A man with a guitar case, slowly walking the same way. “Entschuldigung?” (excuse me/sorry) “This way to Fichtenstraße?” (I point up the street, in case my Germglish isn’t clear enough). “Ja.” (Oh good; he’s friendly and understands me.) He laughs. Snorts, actually. “But (he continues, in good English) say “FISH-den-straße. FICK-den-straße would be ‘Fuck Street.’” “Oh!” (We both laugh) “Uh, FISH-den-straße, then. Vielen Dank! This is important to know!” And we part ways. I can’t stop laughing for at least a block.

[How to pronounce “ch,” as in “Bach:” Somewhere between “k” and “sh” An airy, not quite gurgly “hhhhh” cat hiss that issues from back of the throat and sends breath gently along the top of the mouth. or the sides. or–oh, what do I know?]