We’re harboring Germans in our basement, and their little dog Mickie, too. I guess I should say hosting, or housing, but the words harboring and Germans in the same sentence seems more fitting and slightly more ironic/comical.
We met said Germans at Kerksi’s bar at the bottom of the hill. Their knowledge of English was helpful, because sometimes charades and pictionary get really old as a form of communication, especially since I’m not good at either. And they were forest dwellers, living in a log cabin at the top of the hill that overlooks the whole town. Each day, they could be found walking up and down the hill, with their little dog Mickie by their side, traveling to wherever they need to go, sometimes walking an hour or two in each direction. I went to their log cabin one night after too many shots of Rammazoti and one glass boot. It was what you’d expect from a German log house, set back in the woods. The rooms were small and the house is heated by only the fireplace. American music bellowed from their stereo, mostly classic rock, which they love. Family pictures hung from their walls and my favorite part of the whole house–the spicket for the shower is outside. Spicket. Outside. Yes. How fantastic is that? I found real people of the woods. I felt like I had just uncovered some magical treasure, because who knows people like this?
And so S and M. S and M as in their initials, not the other S&M, which if we wanted to talk about that, we’d have to discuss the neighbors to my left, who run an underground weekend sex club in the back shed of their house. They act like I can’t see what’s going on around 11pm from my window. But ehhhhh, that’s another story for another time. Back to S and M, our basement dwellers. S is a small, mousy-ish woman, with a tiny, squeaky voice and a luxurious little mullet. M is from our area, but he seems more Eastern European, with his shaved head and rough around the edges look. He works at a factory nearby and does local carpentry or side jobs for people of our town. It’s clear they’ve both been around the block and have their own stories to tell and I like the mystery in it all.
So anyway, we’re lounging around the house one Saturday, sipping on bloodies and rocking the sweats when the doorbell rings. Sure enough, it’s our friendly wood dwelling neighbors, stopping by to say Happy New Year on their walk down to the pub. We invited them in for a drink and they started to tell us about how recently their water line froze and broke, or whatever happens when your pipes ruin in the winter. What happens now, I asked. We walk to get water, they say. To where? Oh, about 5km each way, to S’s sister’s house, to shower and to do laundry–but the 5km is through the woods. (which is really amazing to me) What do you do , I asked, when you want water to drink or cook with? Or for the bathroom? We walk down the hill to Kerksi’s bar and fill up jugs of water and then walk back up the hill.
Get the hell out of here. It’s could be a show or a book, like the Swiss Family Robinson, but I guess here it’d be Ze Deutch Familie Schmidt. Anyway…
And so then the bloodies kicked in and I had an idea. They had never seen our house. They didn’t even know we had a spare in-law apartment that was empty in our basement. And so when I asked what they were going to do, and they told me about how no one in town would rent them a room or apartment for the rest of the winter, I knew what had to be done. So I showed them around, negotiated a monthly price, and offered our basement apartment to them “until the snow melts.” In retrospect, that was a horrible little timeline to toss out there. I mean what if the fucking snow doesn’t melt til May?
But there it is. The basement dweller situation. And it’s fine, so far. No issues. Not even the one my mother suggested one day: “What if they kill you in your sleep?” Normally I’d tell her to stop with the crazy, but I could only assure her. “Mom, I’m 85% sure they won’t do that.”
85% is a good enough trade-off for good German karma these days. Good German karma comes with a price.