Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Life in the Burg


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

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

21 thoughts on “Life in the Burg

  1. Sounds a bit Stepford Wife-y. You stay as you are – you have far more character than those ladies.

    And enjoy Berlin, when you get there.

  2. I’d have a sinilar problem fitting in there – Lindt also being my preferred medication. Luckily we have a wide distance between us and the neighbours here, though they still manage to think we are pretty strange.

  3. I recently passed one of those staid retiree types trying out his newest garden toy: half rumbling monster half blowtorch. He was using it with much glee to burn off the fledgling plants growing up between the tiles of his walkway. Those poor creatures didn’t stand a chance.

  4. I agree with Wendz – just make sure you don’t find the words ‘I’ll just die if I don’t get that recipe’ coming out of your mouth. Berlin sounds good. Actually be warned – all my students adore Berlin and don’t want to come home once they’ve been there…

  5. Mmph, mmph, you caught me eating a piece of Lindt chocolate right now! Where you live sounds better than where I live (the no crime bit is a winner) then again I definitely wouldn’t fit in there. We’ve got this great Japanese restaurant within walking distance of where we live – and it’s got a sushi train! Actually, I appreciate this area more now – it may be one of the weirdest places on the planet but it’s got good restaurants.

  6. Ach so, maybe I’ll see your garden when I land in Frankfurt in two weeks, heading for a meeting in Darmstadt. I’ll try to spot the electric barbecue.

  7. I think I could live in the Burg 😉

  8. Berlin sounds like a great alternative to the Burg, for a while.

    May you never fly the lace curtains nor manicure your lawn to within an inch… We like you just the way you are and, quietly, I think the other residents of the Burg should envy you, just a little 🙂

  9. Oh my gosh — I’d never, ever fit in there. Good for you for finding a way to make it work!

  10. Way to be yourself! …and don’t ever get lace curtains. Light up your grill, turn on some music, and bring life to the Burg. We like you just the way you are. :o)

  11. Sometimes I feel like a transplant where I live too – I am forever thankful I have no lawn to care for and I don’t have to spend my weekends in the garden, but all around me my neighborhood is a testament to the possibilities limitless water and fertilizer provide.
    Get thee to Berlin. I’m heading for Chicago, soon.

  12. After a full year of trying to fit in a very bourgeois neighborhood, and discovering in my dear neighbors’ glare that I always have something wrong, I send you my most heartfelt commiseration. Enjoy some fresh air in Berlin!

  13. Last time I came around for a visit, I think I saw a dead tulip sitting in the neighbor’s front garden. Perhaps she needs a talking to for her inability to keep a proper Burg garden! haha!

  14. All that house-and-garden-keeping sounds exhausting. Good thing you’re “not from around these parts” and can get away with being different, huh?

  15. Hmm, the mid life crisis. I wonder what brings it on? I really don’t think pavement bashing and leaf blowing are the solutions, though! I don’t think the Burgers have it sussed at all. Barking up the wrong tree, if you ask me.

  16. hmmm… I don’t know Charlotte… I think that little kitchen window of yours is just SCREAMING out for a nice little lace curtain… it will make your cleaning lady SO happy! 🙂

  17. I grew up in a planned community…so there are actual rules about keeping up your yard, what color you can paint your house, how many cars can be parked at the curb, etc., all enforced by levying fines! Lace curtains are definitely still optional however.

    My parents moved there because of my dad’s job, but they always said they were glad to move away from the ordinary neighborhood of my birth, with its pink, aqua and whatever other color houses. I think when I finally own my own home, it will not be beige.

    Yesterday, the front page of the local paper here featured a large color picture of a woman working to abate non-native weeds in a nearby watershed. That was the lead story!! Not much goes on around here either, and this city is often listed as one of the safest places to live in the US. But, in this case, safe equals very, very boring.

  18. Charlotte, are you friends with the burg wives? Do they “accept” your beautiful individuality? I hope so. I hope they are not too “stepfordly!” And, do they know you have a blog?

  19. Hamburg is nice too.

    I’d like to have one of these women who self-medicate by cleaning come and stay with me for awhile. Let me know if you happen to talk with one who is dying to visit Boston.

  20. I am one of those women who self-medicate by cleaning. If I get into a cleaning fit, my poor dear husband immediately tries to find out what is wrong and how it can be fixed. Fortunately, that is not the only time I clean, otherwise my house would be a complete disaster; most of the time I don’t feel the need for medications.

  21. Pingback: When I Was 35 « Charlotte's Web

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