GERMANY - The German island of Sylt. Also known as the Hamptons of the Hun. You didn’t know that Germany owned a resort island in the North Sea, just a few hours from Hamburg? With beach parties and blondes and volleyball? Seagulls, windsurfing, and hotdog stands? Neither did I. But it’s where the moneyed Germs keep thatched vacation homes. And so here I am with my aunt for two weeks staying at her dacha.
Our first day here we go food shopping in the giant Famila Supermarkt. We start in the sausage section, possibly the largest part of any German supermarket. Packaged wursts of all kinds stuff the mile long refrigerated case, which looks exactly like where you’d find the milk and eggs at an American supermarket: in other words, they’re staples. Five blond girls shop together; one of them I saw that morning on the plane. At the gate in Düsseldorf she had looked serious and unsmiling, as though grieving over a bad grade. She wore defensive sunglasses. Now, she laughed and chatted with her hot friends. 18? 19-years-old they are? No more than that. They all wear shorts and their hair runs loose, ready for more sun bleaching. On each a perfect ass. Tragically, they ignore me.
Here’s the thing and it’s what makes this moment so special. They spend much time combing the sausage case. One of them picks up a package and shows it to the others. A discussion ensues and then she throws it back. Now, another chooses a contender. Currywurst? This is serious business: a dozen makers of bratwurst compete for business. Then they all gather in front of the case, pointing and debating. I can’t tell you how much this scene warms my heart. When in America has anyone ever seen a group of beautiful young women arguing excitedly about what kinds of sausages they should buy for their vacation weekend at the shore? I would say that it’s never happened.
This produced in me a stab of nostalgia for Nadia, the Croatian. Spending the afternoon one day near her apartment on the Upper East Side, we passed through some Bulgarian street festival and she kept on wandering to the sausage stand, repeatedly failing to fight the pull of her heritage in an adopted land that frowns upon beautiful women lusting after minced meat sheathed in intestinal casings.
In the end, Nadia had said, “Look, I think now I’m going to go eat a sausage.”
My kind of girl.
The five young women finally moved on, chatting and giggling, their cart now well stocked. They would never grow tired of eating wursts. German women never do: they eat sausage and drink beer up until the day they die. But they don’t age gracefully here. Better to see and remember the sausage girls now, before they grow old in the German way, before their faces become square and leathery, their hair sensibly short, their mouths hard, and their eyes suspicious.