The rule at the climbing gym is that I must always speak German. It’s a fairly easy rule to follow, because everyone is speaking German, and the language level can be pretty basic. The same topics and words appear over and over. It’s easy to dip my toes into a conversation, especially if the topic is about how to climb a particular route. Also, the conversation patterns in the gym are easy-going and inter-spaced with silence. Perfect for a slow, clumsy foreigner to interject fascinating tidbits of stimulating conversation.
However, when I speak English, I pass my thoughts through a series of filters which includes: Could this be interesting? Is this important? Is there any way this thought could make me look like a moron? When I speak German, the series of filters begins and ends with: Am I capable of expressing this in the German language?
Potential Friend: Hey, we have the same shoes!
Me: Yes! They are popular. I see many people with these shoes.
Potential Friend: I guess they are popular because they are so comfortable, and not so expensive.
Me: Yes, that’s true! Also, they are green!
Potential Friend: Yes, they look nice.
Me: I like green. I had a pair of shoes once that were green, and I liked them.
Potential Friend: Cool.
Me: I don’t know why they don’t make more green shoes. You don’t see many green shoes out in the world.
Potential Friend: Uh huh.
Me: But these shoes can hurt my big toe sometimes, so I think I should get new shoes.
Potential Friend: Oh.
Me: Maybe I can find new shoes that are also green.
My new friends will be the most awesome and patient people ever.