Fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahnbahn

My wife tells me Austrians have the highest driving fatality rate in Europe. It’s not surprising, they combine the aggression of German drivers with the lack of discipline of Italians, the melancholy Slavic death wish with the English penchant for driving on the wrong side of the road. So all I could say was, tell me about it. In the middle lane minding my own business, I said. Left (passing) lane totally empty. Guy zooms up right behind me, passes me on the right, I said. Or this morning, a crazy woman on my bumper all the way into town, although I’m doing the speed limit. Then we hit traffic and slow down, she stays right on my bumper as if that’s going to speed up traffic. Then when we merge into another road, she crosses three solid lines to pass me. Zoom.

Stop it, you’re making my head ache. Why do you always rant like this.

Or that guy in the smokey little white compact with the refrigerator tied to his roof, did I tell you about him?

Look, I’ve been driving that stretch a lot longer than you have, she said. Don’t you tell me. Why do you let them get to you?

Because their aggression puts my life at risk, I said. And did you see how all the daffodils are blooming out front? And in the back yard too? And that purple thing, I think it’s a hyacinth?

??? she said.

And did you see how cute the little one was, sleeping with her stuffed animals?


Tiger toast

To make the small one’s toast more entertaining this morning, so she’d eat faster so we could get out of the house earlier so I could fill my car’s tank at the gas station, I applied the Nutella in horizontal stripes.
“There. Now you have Tiger Toast.”
“Could you please make more stripes perpendicular to those? I’d like a checkered pattern instead.”
So I did.

Hey little girl, you going to eat all that candy all by yourself?

On page 17 of today’s Vienna edition of the Austrian newspaper “Der Kurier” is an article entitled “Alkohol in Naschereien: Eine Gefahr f

How do you know when to leave?

We talk occasionally about people who left and survived, and those who stayed and died. Those who left in 1939 or 1938, or even earlier – how did they know? Did the others think they were just being paranoid? Did those who stayed do so because they thought it would pass, because they had faith in their neighbors to come to their senses?

This Salon article, “This is not America,” which I found linked at Sue’s which she found at Brian’s, discusses this from an American point of view. Some creepy things are happening in the United States, and a lot of people are accepting them – torture seems to be necessary now, and we are suspicious of each other as our rights erode. Personally, I believe that Americans will come to their senses and that things will get better, although it might not happen automatically. But when I left the US in 1980, my dismay at goings-on under the Reagan administration – and the approval of wide sections of the population – made it easier to go, and to stay away.

It’s nothing new. Nixon was breaking laws and I’m sure he wasn’t the first. But I’ll tell you what was a turning point for me. 4 or 5 years ago I saw footage on BBC of American protestors in California being tortured by police officers. They were handcuffed and a police officer used a cotton swab to apply pepper spray to their eyes as they begged him not to. (Here’s a link to something on that.) Seeing that footage really made me wonder where the United States was heading.

But I’m sure it’s only temporary.

The tigers of Austria

“Are there tigers in Austria?” She spoons another load of some sort of whole-wheat-organic-pops-with-not-so-much-sugar-coating into her mouth.
“Just in zoos. And maybe a couple of your high-end circuses.”
“Uh huh.”
“And one in our town.” Holds up hands like claws, grimaces. “Chchchchchch.” (Chchchchch being the guttural unvoiced growl sound, unlike the voiced Grrr growl sound).
She jumps in delighted fright, spraying milk across the table top. Laughs.
“Sorry.” He wipes up milk.
She bares her own claws. “Chchchchch!”
He flinches. “Two tigers at the table, I guess.” He waits until she calms down and starts eating again. “Chchchchch!”
Again, she flinches in real fright, laughing at the same time. Chchchch’s back.
This goes on until they are late for kindergarten, the chchchchching back and forth.

They enjoy being tigers. He remembers a dream – when she had just learned to speak, he started relating to her one he’d had about being in the jungle with her, and confronting a gigantic tiger that wanted to eat them, so she could escape. She looked up at him from the mat where she was reclining as he changed her diaper. “Tiger eat daddy,” she said.

Further discussion revealed that she’d had the same dream.

As life went on, following the dream, he marveled at the way that it – life – gradually inflicted the same wounds on him as the dream tiger had. Appendectomy scars. Various other scars. This was not good, because, since the tiger had eaten him, he had a lot more wounds to look forward to.

There at breakfast, he thought he understood his dream, finally. You face the tiger so your kid can live.

Who knows. Maybe. Dreams are tricky. Dropping her off at the kindergarten, she came to the window to wave. “Chchchchch,” she said, showing claws.

“Chchchch,” he said.