We had seen a midnight movie at the Berlin Film Festival. My German friends spoke English fluently, but ever the adventurer, I kept volunteering my German phrases (most of which I’d learned from early Fassbinder movies: ja, ja, sehr schön, alles klar–the latter employed particularly when very little was “clear,” struck me funny).
As we exited the theater, it was snowing, precisely cold, and beautiful, the Memory Church, and the large Mercedes Benz symbol in the near distance, dark backgrounds providing contrast. “Ja, ja ist Schnee,” I offered, with the language skills of a kleines Mädchen, but approximately correct. And then, feeling emboldened, added “Ich bin kalt.”
Feeling a little giddy, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (even though I knew about the jelly donut), was about to come out of my mouth when I was interrupted. “No, no, no, nein,” I was forcefully admonished. And then they were laughing. “Mir ist kalt,” I was corrected, was how to comment on the temperature. My faulty grammar had broadcast, “not hot to trot.” And the potential use of “Ich bin heiß” (ja, “hot to trot”) was nixed también.