We are in Munich, where my husband grew up, for two weeks to see friends and family. Most tourists to this town land right in the middle of Marienplatz and, after watching the figurines come out of the Glockenspiel (clock tower) to perform two stories from the 16th century, every hour on the hour, they head on over to the Hofbräuhaus. They go to Hofbräuhaus ostensibly to get a stein -- or five steins -- of beer, although tourists of the hetero male persuasion are just kidding you about the beer (which they can drink elsewhere); they actually want to see just how high and crushed together a dirndl with appropriate bra can set a pair of huge breasts. There the tourists may also eat not-particularly-good food, and then they can go home and say that Munich is full of big-breasted women serving beer and fatty sausages. And they all feel like they know Bavaria.
Just to let you in on a secret, lederhosen and dirndls are not costumes that people put on only when they perform in Bavarian cabarets (like our friend Barny, who I described in ‘Clichés are the Funniest Things.’). Some people in their 20s get married in these clothes, our male friends put on lederhosen (sometimes with a cool tee shirt) to go to a restaurant or even a hike in the country, and of course you wear your dirndl to Oktoberfest. I am serious.
My husband has been longing to buy the entire lederhosen getup and, the other day, he did. His new lederhosen, pictured up on the right, are knee-length black leather with nice stitching and matching Hosenträger (suspenders). There is a blousy white shirt, which I think is in style everywhere, and black leather shoes with ties on the side that he wears with natural wool socks. I am still married to him. He actually looks very nice and I think he is going to meet our friends at the airport in this garb next Sunday. I hope they get off the plane. When we arrived at the airport a week ago there was a man in lederhosen meeting someone, and he didn’t mean to make anyone laugh.
Of course our teenaged sons, ages 16 and 17, are very wary of the new outfit. They try hard to be German in Germany. They are passport-carrying Germans. But they grew up after all in France, where the Republican model has more or less discouraged such shows of traditional costume. So they do not have a good sense for the lederhosen and they are worried that their father might put his on in another country (like the U.S. or France) at exactly the moment when a new girlfriend innocently arrives at the house. I am fanning the flames of this fear by telling Markus how cute and sexy he is in the lederhosen.
But they cannot see it, and privately they want me to stop.