Yesterday, I was sitting on the train riding home from work.
It sounds simple, but I actually travel two hours a day to get to my job and back, and it totals out to four train journeys. I was on the last leg (the u-bahn), after working 6 hours without a break, and my eye lids felt heavy. It could have been from the wine-schorle I was drankin with the friend I met in the park right after work, but I was pretty sure I was just tired from starting my day at 7am.
I was sitting next to an Asian woman, but we didn’t pay each other any mind. She was scrolling around on her phone, and I (phoneless) found random things to stare at like I usually do. Then, a couple stops in, another woman came over and sat directly across from us. I looked at her — brown skin, long black hair, and very stylish clothes — and then went back to daydreaming.
I felt nice and comfy riding with my two Ausländer sisters, which doesn’t happen too often in Stuttgart, and my thoughts floated off to my bed, still another 15 minutes away. I imagined walking toward my house, looking up at my bedroom window from the street, and let that feeling of excitement to just relax wash over me. Man, does it give me anxiety to be outside… and then I was snapped out of these thoughts because the brown girl in front of me was doing something AMAZING.
Like a true German, my eyes turned to her and they couldn’t turn away. I glanced to the window, I glanced at the ads above the window, but somehow my eyes kept coming back to her. And my Asian sis was right there with me. Because the girl in front of us was full-on grubbin.
I mean… Grubbin.
I’m talking she had a doner. (A doner is a Turkish kebab sandwich that I’ve never seen anywhere in the US in my life, but here in Germany it’s THE #1 fast food meal. It’s filled with thinly sliced seasoned chicken or beef, salad, vegetables, and two sauces, a white garlic yogurt sauce and a bright peachy sauce I really don’t like). Anyway, doner is not an easy thing to eat gracefully. The sauce gets all over your face, the lettuce falls out, it drips from the bottom, and the ingredients get caught in your teeth.
But it’s so0o0o0ooo good. And it fills you up like nothing else. The Germans joke that it’s a surefire way to cure any hangover. And I mean… come on, if the Germans say it, it must really be jam-packed with the good stuff (Thanks Turks ;-).
And here’s this woman with her whole face in one. The sauce splattered on her cheeks, pieces of chicken falling on the floor, and she can’t stop. I’m amazed.
Her eyes meet mine and we both smiled and then that awkward thing that always happens in Germany happened. That thing where German society is so anti-social toward “strangers” “Fremde!” “Ausländer!” that even when you’re not from here, you find yourself withholding your natural social skills because of the conditioning.
But thankfully, in all of our Ausländer elegance, the silence was broken when she said, “I’m sorry!”
She was looking down at her mess and we both started laughing and I said back to her, “Hey! Don’t say sorry. We are allowed to eat too!”
In German, the words were: “Wir dürfen AUCH essen!”
Idk why I said AUCH (ALSO). I mean, I know why, but I’m surprised it really came out of my mouth.
You see, the reason why I was so amazed is because I can’t remember ever seeing a beautiful woman eat like that in public in my life*. *Unless we’re talking about me 😉 I really dgaf about things like that (anymore at least). But yeah, here was this woman, GRUBBIN on the train, unapologetically, and it made me feel inspired and angry that so often we women will only eat when the situation is combined with napkins and utensils.
It reminded me of those teenager days back in America, where the girls would sit around and advise each other on how to act around guys. I remember specific conversations about food, and how a guy “really has to know us” before we can “eat”. “Like, I’d NEVER eat a burger with a guy on the first date!” “A salad is the best option!” It was all so weird. It was partially why I stayed with my first boyfriend for so long. Yeah it might have been abusive, but he knew me well enough that I could eat.
I don’t know. Clearly this woman’s rebellious act of eating a doner sent me into some sort of tailspin down memory lane. And to be thrown to 2008 and forced to crawl my way back to that u-bahn now 10 minutes from my house in Germany, made me so angry that it’d taken so long to see someone ELSE not give a fuck.
And she didn’t. In response to my “Wir dürfen auch essen” she said, “Dürfen? Wir MUSSEN!” Which means “Allowed? Sheeeit we HAVE TO.”
And I kid you not if she was not a random person on the train I would have given her some snaps for that. Here I was on my “Men eat like this everyday, girl, we’re allowed to eat too.” And she came back with “Allowed? I’m not asking for anyone’s permission!”
Anyway, it was a good day. Definitely woke me up a bit and gave me some things to think about. What would a world look like where femme-bodies could fully and unapologetically just be? You know… not have to think about things like how we “look” when we eat or walk or talk. What if we could just be? And if the answer to that can really be found in a doner sandwich, then maybe, just maybe, the Germans do have some things right.