Saturday, June 10, 2006

An evening ritual

Standing behind the bar at the hotel, filling up drinks or drying glasses, gives me a clear view of the seated guests. The smoking area are the tables and chairs nearest to the bar and kitchen, and the non-smoking area is done in a terrasse-style, full of windows and colourful seats behind the smoking area. So, basically, you can see most of the guests, except for the ones who have reserved eons ago to sit in the large-group/party area, situated cosily away from everything.

Many of the guests here are elderly: usually retired with a good chunk of money. I've noticed a pattern with many of the elderly couples who come in and eat. Both of them will enter the door at the right of the bar, the woman always in the lead, the man always trailing behind. She will smile and say to me "Good evening", "Hello", "Good morning" or whatever it may be, and he will grunt a semi-understandable greeting.

The couple will find a table, with the woman fussing, and then they will sit down. The woman will try in vain to engage her husband (presumably) into conversation. He will maybe grunt a little. After about five minutes of this mainly one-sided conversation, they will sit in silence. He will stare out of the window at the beautiful Alps, and she will look around the restaurant for someone else to talk to. Often, the woman who owns the hotel, Frau Kaufmann, will come and talk to her, or sometimes I even will. Of course, I always make sure that people know that I am Canadian or at least a non-German speaker when I talk to them, so at least I have an excuse for my terrible grammar and poor vocabulary.

After the couple has finished drinking and eating dessert, the man will definitely not talk (he usually orders a massive dessert, so he is probably half asleep), and the woman will be wide-awake, looking at him, looking at the empty plate, looking around the restaurant. But, at this point, she doesn't look as perky as she did when she first came in -- she looks more concerned, or looks as though she were thinking about doing something drastic. Finally, her and her husband will mutter something to each other, and then they will both get up (again, with her leading). The concerned look that she had a minute ago will now have completely vanished, and she will smile broadly and wish you a good night. The man will usually also smile and also wish you a good night (but in a gruntier tone). Then, they will leave.

And I assure you that this pattern has been repeated with quite a few other couples! The woman will always try to start conversation, she will always lead conversations with her hubsand, and her husband will always just tag along, in a grunting tone. Quite peculiar.

The other night, however, we had a bit of a different crowd -- a few young teens with their parents and a few younger couples. We also had two couples from Massachussetts! Every time I hear English or French (which is so very rare here), I get extremely excited, and I naturally engage myself in conversation with them.
Strangely enough, I get just as excited when I hear German back home!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hallo Miranda
Ich lese mit grossem Interesse Deine Berichte.
Zum Thema .. aeltere Ehepaare in
Es ist kein Unterschied zwischen hier und Deutschland. Wir gehen oft aus Essen und ich beobachte gerne andere Menschen. Aeltere Ehepaare, die taeglich zusammen sind, fuehren in
Restaurants keinerlei grosse Konversation. Vor allem Maenner, die wollen ihr gutes Essen und ihre Ruhe.
Dagegen einige Frauen zusammen, das ist ein anderes Kapitel ........
Berichte weiter und lass' es Dir gut gehen.
Herzlichst OMA