The Boss's Dog
The Germans have a word for it
The Boss is capable of addressing me in German just to confuse me, although it’s not so much proper German as a random string of German words that appeal to him.
Because the family say he can’t speak German at all.
They say, in fact, he only mastered Achtung! and Führer while reading war comics as a snotty-nosed brat, back in the olden days: the rest came when he started enjoying German wines like the fruity Gewürztraminer and the dessert wine Beerenauslese – which you can only pronounce correctly after practising on them for a long time.
But he insists the Germans have a knack for producing simple words that sum up complex situations, in a way that English doesn’t. One of these he likes is Treppenwitz, literally “a staircase joke”. This describes the response you’d wish you’d made to someone who made a wisecrack about you and you didn’t think of the perfect response until afterwards ... by which time you were heading up the staircase.
And The Boss uses Fremdscham, or “stranger shame”, quite a bit these days. This is for the truly cringeworthy remark, like someone at a party sniggering about the host’s taste in furniture when the host is standing right behind him.
More often it’s for the person making a fool of himself by repeating a rant on Facebook that turns out to be an urban myth, or a discredited conspiracy theory debunked years ago — and there’s a lot of that about.
One that appeals to me is Aufschnitt, meaning “cold cuts” – the pieces of salami and ham that humans might pick at when they don’t want a hearty meal: the kind of food I can deal with at any time. But The Boss says it means more than that – it’s the idea of grazing. Which is always good.
Another one I like is Gemütlichkeit, meaning a cosy place. But the Germans use it to describe much more, like that feeling I have on a wet winter Sunday by the crackling fire, with The Boss reading and playing some of his melodic jazz, preferably offering me a treat now and then. Cosiness with a warm body and a warm heart, the Germans say.
Then there’s Streicheleinheit – a word the Germans must have invented for dogs and cats. The translation is “a unit of caressing” but they use it for the need we all have for a little tender loving care.
Best of all is Schadenfreude – that little rush of guilty pleasure you can have witnessing another’s misfortune. Although in my case it isn’t guilty at all.
In fact, I have spoken of the joy I have felt while watching The Boss bending over, one hand crimping his nose and the other wrapped in a thin plastic bag – as he retrieves my warm poo from a public park.
This happened more often when we were in Melbourne a bit before COVID and he became quite good at it. But he always disliked it, which of course only enhanced my enjoyment.
I was reliving that minor ecstasy the other day after he mentioned that some Melbourne councils were considering closing their off-leash dog parks and sporting ovals because of the mounting pile of uncollected dog droppings.
Inner-suburban dog owners have erupted in anger of course, saying the councils should enforce the rules against the dog owners not doing the right thing. The Boss reckons that won’t happen – no council officer is going to shirt-front a big bloke with skull tattoos on his head and two bull terriers with stud collars in tow, just to give him a ticket.
The big bloke will be leering at him with a Backpfeifengesicht – the kind of face you just want to slap, but probably can’t. Woof!