The Everything Animal

· 513 words · 3 minute read


We are ahead of ourselves. We want to be here in April 2020, not September. In April 2020 the kids will take the tram by themselves. They will have strong friendships. Alison and I will understand the healthcare system, and know enough German to order a sandwich without having to point.

But it’s September, not April. We’ll have to wait for the sun and moon to come and go a hundred and fifty times.

I wish there was a magical way to do this. Like when Trinity, in the Matrix, calls back to the ship and says “I need a program for a V-212 helicopter…Hurry!” Her eyelids bounce around and presto — her brain instantly learns how to fly the helicopter.

Or like a screenplay [1]. Those screenwriters don’t waste time on the learning part. Kung Fu Panda turns into a martial arts wizard in like 5 minutes. Every Marvel movie too. Christian Bates (Batman Begins), Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) — they all figure out new super-powers faster than it takes me to get a bucket of popcorn and milk duds.

At work today — the cleaning lady, who speaks poorly (she’s Croatian) asked if we had dirty dishes to give her. She said “schmutzig,” (dirty) which is just like the Yiddish word “shmutz.” I asked someone to interpret for me. So one of my workmates wrote it on a whiteboard [2]. Next, someone else wrote the word for “squirrel tail.” I had heard this word before, in a lunch conversation. It’s a popular word in Austria — used to test if you speak Austrian German. If you are from Munich, you have no idea what the word means. I added the words I learned at the train station today (train, railway), and the word for wheat beer, which I learned at a bar.

The final word on the whiteboard is a long word for “anything animal” ) — loosely translated to “Wunder Wuzzi” — which lacks both the word “anything” and “animal” — but I digress. An anything animal is an animal that does anything. It makes milk, it grows wool, it lays eggs, and it tastes like bacon. The word for this Wunder Wuzzi animal is EierLegendeWollMichSow (“egg laying wool milk pig”) [3]. Along with squirrel tail — this vocabulary is useless — besides a few laughs.

The everything animal was referenced later today in a slide presentation. It’s a common saying here— there is no everything animal. In English we say there is no silver bullet. No easy way. No shortcuts. We have to go through the learning part, the hard stuff.

  1. Not to be a downer — but this is one of the things I dislike about super hero movies. That learning bit is the thing I am most interested in — even if I feel too lazy sometimes to go after it myself. I dislike plenty else about super hero movies — or should I say movie — since most are basically a variation of the same film.

  2. This week’s words für Matt:

world map