Pretzel Bracelets

| November 16, 2012

How I came to have four pretzels in a bag:

When my daughter started kindergarten two weeks ago, I was given a handout about the upcoming St. Martin’s Day celebration. As it was explained to me, Sequoia would make a lantern, then all the kids would walk through the streets singing.

Meanwhile, I was told that there were [debatable word: bracelets] for sale.

Teacher: “If you want to purchase [word], they’re €2 each, you write your name on the list.”
Me, not understanding: “The lanterns cost €2? Okay.”
Teacher: “No, the lantern she makes here. If you want to purchase a (Teacher is pointing at her wrist), you write your name on the list.”
Me: “Oh, yes, we’ll get a bracelet.”

I walk up to the vestibule and look for anything that looks like a list. I find one and am thrilled to see our name on the roster. I notice that some people have put quantities as high as ten. I return to the teacher.

Me: “How many bracelets do families usually buy?”
Teacher shrugs: “Two…5…8…”

So now I’m thinking, Hmm…maybe I’ll get six, to send one home to Sequoia’s friend, grandmother, and aunt, with our description of the holiday festivities. I return to the board and write 6, then notice a second column in which some people have written “bzt”. I am staring. A staff member comes up and, in German, begins explaining, finally dumbing it down enough to “give euro to lady”, I write “bzt”.

“Ah. Paid.” I used to be good with context. I’m now a floundering moron.

I soon bring €12 to school to pay Sequoia’s teacher.
Teacher, incredulous: “How many are you buying??”
Me: “Six.”
Teacher: “Well, okay…you can eat some for breakfast, I suppose.”


Kari: “You eat them? They’re edible bracelets?”
Teacher, touching her wrist: “Yes.”

I’m now thoroughly confused. Are these candy bracelets? Who eats candy bracelets for breakfast? Maybe they’re gingerbread?

Me: “Well…okay, just 3 then.”

I pay. I return to the sheet. I change the 6 to a 3 and mark “bzt”. All is good.

The night comes. We attend the festivities in the Marktplatz and participate in the procession through town. We arrive at Sequoia’s school, where we stand around a bonfire and sing until an announcement is made. Then we all head toward our children’s classroom groups.

My landlord’s niece attends the same kindergarten as Sequoia. Her sister-in-law asks me, “Did you order your [I hear ‘bracelets’ and Paul hears ‘pretzels’]?”

We retrieved our bag of 3 “bracelets”. On the outside of a soft and lumpy bag, it read Martindale- 3.

Inside: 4 pretzels.

I think Sequoia’s teacher might just touch her wrist mindlessly. And I might not understand English. Or she said bracelets. We may never know.

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Category: Ex-pat Parenting, FAMILY, In Germany A Broad blog, karilogue top bar, Linguistics, Martinstag, Shits & Giggles, Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (1)

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  1. Michele boyd says:

    lol glad I am not the only dummkoph. I am 64 and not a stranger in a strange land so you have a pass. Good for a funny story.