Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Last night I had a dream.
Fräulein Dr. M., my teacher at the Barkhof, a Gymnasium (= academic highschool) in Bremen, visited me.
Fräulein Dr. M.'s teaching subjects were German and English, and she always has been one of my role models. She was a Lady. Elegant. Kind, but stern. Sophisticated. (She did her Ph.D. in a time when most women weren't even allowed to do their A levels. And paid a price: she wasn't married. Everybody had to call her "Fräulein", a grown-up woman, fortyish. With the arrogance of youth we thought she was "past it" - though we noticed that men adored her. But she kept her private life ladylike to herself. Married later.)
So, what was she doing at my bedside, sitting there upright in her absolutely charming cherry red lady's suit? (That dark red suit was one reason why I admired her: it was très chic, it was vivid, not those drab black and grey clothes the other teachers wore. Yes - I was superficial with 16 -- come to think of it: still am).
"Britta", she said, "your blog..." (in dreams you seldom wonder).
"Yes?", I said warily.
"It's off the point", she said. "Look at your heading: If not now, then when? Then look at your last post."
"I know", I said sulkily, "I wanted to say that when the sun shines but you are too lazy because it is cold outside..."
"Then say what you mean, for heavens sake! Why did you choose that title, by the way?"
"Well, I saw so many women giving up because they get older. I wanted to encourage them to accept their age but in spite of it spring into action, make the most of it."
Fräulein Dr. M. looked deeply amused. "You? You speak of accepting one's age - and never tell anybody how old you are? May I remind you of the incident at ..."
"No", I interrupted hastily, "don't. Admitted: I am not happy with that title."
"Ah", said Fräulein Dr. M. "Why?"
"It sounds so - desperate. Like those awful new-age sayings - written in lipstick on a mirror - "Today is the last day of your life" - I always feel as if a gun is pointed at my back. I am a quite happy person, I don't want to be reminded every day of my mortality."
"Ah", said Fräulein Dr. M. again, rising. "My dear: you are in detention. I give you two hours to think about what you want. Meaning: Keep the header - or toss it away. But stick to the point".