Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Gambling Frau and her belching cat

Last night we had dinner over at our neighbor's place. She was so impressed by our Thanksgiving cooking that she set aside the raclette grill and made an elaborate dinner with three courses--(an apertif) salad, curry and rice, and dessert (plus grappa and espresso).

The most popular topics of conversation were gambling (we even got to see her "Casino Tasche" (Her special casino purse that is black with gold tassles.) We learned that she had spent the afternoon at the casino (losing 600 CHF) as well as the day on Wednesday there. She was very excited to learn that Brian knows how to play poker and so our next evening spent together will be a poker night so Brian can teach her the subtle art of poker playing. Then the three of us will at some point next year go to the casino together. Since I am the only one that has yet to visit the Baden Casino, this will be an interesting time. I've already labeled it "Gambling with the Frau."

The other popular topics were Swiss politics (got a little lost during this conversation), crime, and music. On the crime front, we got the alarm demo. Frau is very proud of her new alarm as she installed it herself on her door. It makes the loudest noise I have ever heard and the poor cat was beside herself. Anyhow, Frau informed me that she keeps a cell phone by her bed, so should anyone break in while she is asleep, she can promply call the police from her phone. We were also given a light timer as Frau is very concerned for our apartment since we will be gone for over 3 weeks during xmas. She informed us that people stand up on the castle that overlooks Baden and search the town for places to rob. We tried not to laugh and accepted her timer. We decided not to tell her how the street we used to live on in Richmond was a hotbed for various murders and break-ins. Baden, from her perspective, is just as scary. I guess it's all in what you know.

On the music front, our Frau has taken piano lessons for 12 years and can play Offenbach's Barcarolle and proudly started playing it from her electronic keyboard in the back room while we were finishing our salads. Between dinner and dessert, we all went back and she played it again for us. It was a very Swiss rendition. By this I mean, she played it to the exact tempo and with it's own background electronic waltz. This meant she could play a very full version by only using her right hand to play the melody. She was very exacting in her tempo, saying "Eins, zwo, dru" throughout. (The Swiss German numbers for one, two, three). It was very funny.

Then she wanted me to play some of her songs. Of course, they were about the level I played back in the 4th grade, so I had no trouble playing the right handed melodies along with her crazy electronically programmed left hand accompanient to Frank Sinatra's "My Way," and La Donne Mobile" and "Strangers in the Night". I sang too. I think she was truly amazed as she kept showing me every song she had in her entire binder. Some had crazy titles like "Something stupid," and "Frau Meier". Needless to say, I didn't know those.

Her cat, Schnoerli, threw up 3 times during our dinner on three different Oriental carpets (of course like any spoiled animal never once throwing up on the regular floor). Then she slumped over the couch for most of the dinner in the "woe is me" position, but by the end was feeling much better and got up into the drawer where Frau keeps little mice and she threw one down for all of us to realize she wanted to play.

So that, in a nutshell, was 3.5 hours of fun with the Frau. All in German of course, with certain points in Swiss German when Brian and I just shrugged at each other and let her babble on. And the guessing is over, as tonight she told us her age: 73.


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