I live in the Burg*. The Burg is near downtown Heidelberg and the Mannheim metropolis, but it is still the Burg. In Mannheim, you can get a sushi dinner, a massage and a Brazilian – all at the same time, if that’s your thing – but in the Burg all you can get is pizza, Chinese and a thousand variations of sausage, potato and cabbage – and you really wouldn’t want those all at the same time.
Housewives in the Burg are exacting. Not only are their windows always clean, so too are their front steps and the stretch of pavement abutting their front gardens. It is not unusual to see Burg housewives, and the occasional well-trained house-husband, picking imaginary pieces of litter off the pavement in front of their gardens. I believe that in the Burg, housewives medicate their midlife crises not with Valium or vodka but with cleaning – day in, day out, rigorous, vigorous cleaning. Burg husbands are allowed to subsume their midlife crises by playing with expensive garden toys – sit-on lawn-mowers, leaf-blowers, anything that plugs, plays and does garden work. Gardens need to be immaculate in the Burg, manicured down to the last rogue blade of grass. And Burg housewives always have lace curtains in their kitchen windows. You are not a good Burg housewife if you do not have lace curtains.
There’s no rush hour traffic in the Burg. I don’t think there’s any crime. Every week the local paper reports on dance-club meets, sporting success and musical evenings by Burg stalwarts. There is tennis, football, gymnastics, ballet, inline-skating, dragon-boating, swimming, athletics, softball and skate-boarding. There is dog-walking, duck-feeding, weight-watching and senior aerobics. Every week is a festival of activity. The Burgers take activity seriously. They Ride Bikes, Eat Ice-Cream and Make Seasonally Appropriate Cakes with the same attentiveness that metropolis drug dealers give to guarding their patch.
I am not a good Burg housewife. I don’t have lace curtains. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I have no front garden to manicure and no pavement to pluck. I medicate my midlife crisis with Ritter squares, Milka or – on days when I am feeling rich – Lindt tablets. I speak funny. I’m sure that with my excess of jewellery and refusal to wear elasticated waists, that I look funny too. I don’t fit in. My husband prefers playing with bicycle components to toying with garden equipment. We only use our garden for entertainment – watching our children play and grilling on our electric barbeque. Our garden needs a Brazilian. It could probably do with a sushi dinner and a massage too.
I love the Burg. Life here is great. But sometimes a girl needs a metropolis in her life. I think it’s time to go to Berlin. I believe they have sushi dinners there.
* Apologies to Janet Evanovich