The Great Migration Part I: Preparing to Leave Germany

Dear Readers,


I know I’ve been away from the blog for a while but rest assured that I am alive and well in the US. I have made the great journey from Europe to America, but it did not come without the shedding of sweat and tears. My transatlantic voyage with Wife and two cats did not go off without a hitch or twelve.


As a result, I have decided to recount the ordeal in a multiple installment piece entitled, The Great Migration. What’s with all the grandiose wording and dramatic presentation? Well… there’s a very good reason for it so read on for Part I: Preparing to Leave Germany and see for yourselves.





the underwhelmer




The Great Migration


Part I: Preparing to Leave Germany.


As my time in Germany was drawing to a close, I began preparations to move across the Atlantic back to the US. The plan was simple; take the underwhelmer, Wife, Other Cat and Skittles (along with our collective meager possessions) and transport ourselves from Germany to that fabled land of monster truck rallies, high fructose corn syrup and chain restaurants.


What could possibly go wrong?


Unbeknownst to me, my elegantly simple plan was about to have the survival rate of an ice-cube at Hiroshima.



It all started when I had to get my mandatory “you’re moving to America and we have to make sure you’re not a carrier for Super-Ebola or some other scary virus that we saw in a movie one time, therefore it is real” medical examination or the YMAWHMSYNCSESOSVTWSMOTTRME, for short.


I drove to the nearest hospital that could do all of the required tests and examinations. The powers that be decided to skip the phrenology readings and trepanning so I didn’t have to go to outside of Germany, but I did have to drive for 3 hours on the German autobahn to get to where I needed to go.


For those of you that didn’t react at all to the last half of that sentence, let me clarify something for you. The German autobahn is the highway system of Germany. There is no speed limit in most sections and German-built cars are very fast.


This is an American speed limit sign.



This is a German speed limit sign.



I love the autobahn, but I drive a small, flimsy little shoebox of a car that was designed for short trips to the grocery store and nothing else. A simple trip down to the next exit on the autobahn in my tiny car is thereby transformed into a white-knuckled game of automotive Russian Roulette.


To top things off, my car hates me. I don’t know what I did to it, but it actively tries to kill me on a regular basis; it has an exciting tendency to drift into the left lane with no input from the driver. I imagine that the ghost of Genghis Khan or a person of equivalent evil is somehow bound to the car and wants to end my life in a spectacularly gory fashion.



Despite the best efforts of my haunted car and with a little bit of luck, I made it to the hospital and began my physical examination.


I made my way to the doctor, who resembled Norman Rockwell’s interpretation of an elderly physician. I answered a few generic questions and then I was then asked to get naked so I could participate in the old turn-and-cough check. I normally don’t object to getting naked in front of strangers.



*Above picture not drawn to scale.


This time was different though. While he was clasping my cash and prizes with his old, frigid hands, the doctor asked me to turn around and bend over. I was not amused. The exchange went something like this…


ME: Sweet Chocolate Christ, your hands are freezing.


DOCTOR ICE HANDS: Sorry about that. I’m going to have to ask you to turn around and bend over.


ME: Well, normally you have to pay extra for that.


DOCTOR ICE HANDS: Haha! That’s funny, but I seriously have to check your prostate.


ME: I’m 27 years old… you guys don’t check that until I’m at least 30. Wait… my wife put you up to this, didn’t she?


DOCTOR ICE HANDS: Turn around sir.


The whole ordeal was over shortly afterward and the doctor had ordered, among other things, some X-rays and range of motion check on some of my joints. I had then resolved that I would continue on with the rest of the day without having to get naked, probed and poked (in no particular order) again.


I put my robe back on and made my way to the X-ray department. I was met by a cheery young woman who explained all of the fascinating ways she was going to X-ray me. I feigned enthusiasm for the field of radiology and got on the X-ray table.


She paused, looked at me and then asked me to remove my clothing. It went something like this:


X-RAY LADY: You’re going to have to take off your clothing and put it in that chair over there for these X-rays.


ME: Oh, ha ha… very funny. Did Doctor Ice Hands put you up to this?


X-RAY LADY: Umm… I don’t know who you’re talking about, but if you don’t take off your clothes it’ll mess with the X-ray results.


ME: How will my clothes mess up an X-ray machine?


X-RAY LADY: It clouds the final image. We need clear results on your final X-rays.


ME: What about all the muscle and bone in the way? Doesn’t that cloud the X-ray machine?


X-RAY LADY: Yes, but…


ME: *Interrupting* You know what? Fine. X-ray away to your heart’s content. I wouldn’t want my Jethro Tull T-shirt * to mess with science.


* The underwhelmer dresses in only the highest of fashion.


After an hour of naked X-rays, I finally made my way to the physical therapist to check my range of motion. I walked into her office and she shut the door.


You guessed it. I was once again asked to remove my clothing. All of the previous clothes-shedding was accompanied by lying still or minor movement at the most… not this time. I had to pose, twist, hop and generally make an ass out of myself in front of a fully clothed woman. It was like reliving my days as an exotic dancer all over again.




As I left that wing of the hospital, a man seated in the waiting area called out to me and tried to get my attention. I didn’t turn around for fear of having to remove my clothing once more.


A few minutes later, I left the hospital with the suspicion that I had somehow been violated by a small cabal of people masquerading as health-care professionals.





I didn’t think about it too much as I had to focus on the harrowing drive ahead of me. I needed my mind right to ward off the evil schemes of my murderous car.


I eventually made it home, alive and in one piece. I sighed a breath of relief and then I realized that I had to schedule a veterinarian appointment for Other Cat and Skittles; they had to get their health exams too.


I dialed the vet’s office and a woman who was tragically born without a personality answered the phone in a depressed monotone.


VET LADY: Vet’s office, Super-Sad-Lady* speaking.


*I don’t remember her name, but I do remember the void where her sense of humor should have been.


ME: Hi. I’d like to schedule a check-up on Monday for my two cats.




ME: Umm, the underwhelmer?




ME: Uh, OK.


VET LADY: Show up at 8 AM sharp. Bring a $100 dollars and a stool sample.


ME: Lady… I don’t know what kind of weird kink you’re into, but…


VET LADY: *Interrupting* It’s the cats’ stool samples and the $100 dollars is because our credit card machine is down.


ME: Oh, um sorry.


VET LADY: 8 AM sharp.


ME: OK, but you have to admit that was funny, right?


VET LADY: No. Good day sir.


As I lowered the phone from my ear, I realized that my adventure didn’t end at the hospital or even the autobahn for that matter. In truth, it had only just begun.




P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s installment, The Great Migration Part II: Planes, Trains and Anguish.


P.P.S In case you were wondering, I met the Vet Lady the following Monday and she made Mr. Spock look like an emotional roller coaster.