One of my favorite t-shirts
When I was living in Hamburg, I made a few friends who were kind enough to tolerate my crappy German and even speak English with me. There was six or seven of us, and we did all the things twenty-something Europeans do – we hung out at cool cafes and bars, we went dancing, we drank a lot of Vodka Red Bull, we ate a lot of brunch.
One night we went to a bar in the Karolinen Viertel (the Caroline Quarter). It was the end of the week, and we were all feeling lazy, and it must have been pretty early because it was just us and the bartender and the music wasn't loud yet.
Everyone ordered a beer, and then the girl behind the bar asked me what I wanted. I never liked beer, and I still don't know anything about cocktails. What I wanted was dessert wine – sweet and elegant, a drink that I actually enjoyed. I knew the word for dessert is Nachtisch (literally after table, or after dinner) and the word for wine is Wein (say "vine"). So I looked her right in the eyes and asked for Nachtisch Wein. She looked at me like I had just asked to make out with her grandmother. And then I realized that everyone in the group was looking at me too. And I heard those words that every expat fears in a tone that didn't inspire confidence ...
"What did you say?"
"What is that? What do you want?"
"I want dessert wine. Nachtisch. Wein."
And then they laughed and laughed and laughed. Turns out the german words for dessert wine are Dessert Wein (like "dessair vine").
But what they all thought I said was Nackt Schwein.
Which, of course, means naked pig.
A few months later, they made me the shirt for my birthday. It remains one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received, and I still wear it all these years later. The two dots above the i are a particularly lovely touch.