I recently read an article in the German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, “Endlich Loslegen, #nachCorona.” (Translation: Finally getting started again, #afterCovid.)
It describes the kinds of predictions people made on German Twitter, under the hashtag #nachCorona (after Corona) about what they would do after COVID died down. At least, to the point, that it no longer interfered with normal life. It also provides a handy expandable pie-graphic of tweets on topics, like travel, family etc.
The introduction is what really struck me. It used the expression “Wenn wir wieder duerfen“. This translates to my opening line. But in German, you may notice, there is no need for the passive voice.
Duerfen already means to be allowed, to be permitted. It is an active, modal verb. So in German, you can express the freedom to act, as an action in itself.
The introduction also contains a delicious phrase, which translates roughly, to The Great Procrastination, but is so much more colorful, in German: die grosse Aufschieberei.
Putting an “ei” at the end of most any verb root makes it into a “mess of,” as they might say in the South ( as in a mess o’ greens.) A grouping of some kind: Schlaegerei –brawl–from schlagen, to hit; Plauderei –chit-chat, from plaudern, to talk or make small talk. In another sense, it may indicates a shop, where you buy things —Brauerei,(brewery) Konditorei, (pastry shop,) Baeckerei (bakery); or a country or place —Tuerkei (Turkey), Slowakei (Slovakia.)
I’ll have to leave it to the native-born, or to more fluent students of German, to hash out all the nuances of this grouping suffix.
But I love the apparent meaning, to a person with just a passing understanding of German: That the world has, because of COVID, basically pushed off into the future, all the things we had originally hoped to do now. Aufschieben means to put off, postpone or defer (per Langenscheidt dictionary online) but schieben means to push or shove or put, and auf means off, among other things.
So the expression die grosse Aufschieberei brings into my skull, the image of the whole world taking its plans for 2020 and early 2021, like a pile of papers on a desk, and violently shoving them off. To be ignored and neglected, until some future date of safety.
Now, that we in the US are at least toying with the idea that this may be over, and we are more than ready to celebrate, this poem may seem a little late to the party.
Speaking of celebrations, on Monday, Stephen Colbert hosted his first on-stage show, since the early days of COVID. It took place in a packed Ed Sullivan Theater in NYC, before a live studio audience (all fully-vaccinated, to be sure.) While watching, I found myself grinning from ear to ear. I giggled and guffawed and cried. For a taste, check out The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (start at 3:42 for the snippet of the “VaxScene” dance).
The Jon Baptiste song “Freedom” at the end, was the best. That’s the kind of music we’ve all been longing to hear.
Hope that Happy Days Are Here Again, for all of you. And that relief will come soon, to the whole world. Thanks again, for reading!
When once again, we are allowed
To amble freely on the green,
To hug and kiss and shout and scream,
And dance, a wild, ecstatic crowd,
And laugh and laugh and laugh out loud;
When once again, our hands are free–
Not tied behind our shivering backs–
And we can fend off all attacks
And hold close, friends and family,
The rest: agree to disagree;
When we can touch and sniff each fruit,
And haggle, for a better price–
And be like lions, not like mice–
And wade through stadiums, to boot,
And from garage sales, haul our loot;
When once again, the school bus beeps,
And we encapsule every class
For field trips, racing ‘cross the grass,
And stumbling, tumbling in a heap,
Not worrying, which friends they keep;
What joy! What electricity!
We’ll raise the flag! We’ll travel wide!
We’ll shun the cage we’re trapped inside!
We’ll act with such alacrity,
Embracing long-lost Liberty!
The sky’s so blue, without a cloud–
For once again, we are allowed.
Copyright 2021 Andrea LeDew
For an optimistic take on a group of atypicals, read Indigo.