First Dates Germany: bluntness at its best

Words can’t describe the joy I felt when I discovered that First Dates Germany is a thing. It was yesterday, and my life hasn’t been the same since.

If you’re unfortunate enough never to have heard of this show, here’s a quick summary: strangers meet for a date at a restaurant owned by a flamboyant, semi-famous chef; the encounter is filmed and dissected by a snarky voice-over with a penchant for puns.

The Irish version debuted on RTE back in 2016 but tragically – while the episodes are available online – you can’t watch them from abroad.

That said, I have (obviously) seen enough episodes while back on the old turf to make a meaningful comparison with the German version.

Here, based on several glorious hours of binge-watching,  are my first impressions of First Dates: Ein Tisch für Zwei:

The Teutonic reputation for bluntness and practicality?  Firmly upheld. One woman praised her date for his attractive personality but rejected him on the basis that he simply wasn’t “optically” up to scratch. Another factored in the cost of the airfare that would be required for a long-distance relationship between Cologne and Zurich.

And when it comes to paying, there is far less beating around the bush. One young man leant back luxoriously when the bill came, waiting for his date to pay up. “I like to be treated,” he said simply, as if this was all that was required for a free dinner. It worked.

“Can I pay?” another man asked his date.

“Sure,” she said.

No “Ah, God no.” “Ah go on.” “No, we’ll split.” “No I insist.” “Oh go on then.” “Are you sure? Next one’s on me.” “If there is a next time: oh God. How presumptuous.” “Thanks ever so much. You’re too good.”

If you think it’s all about reason and logic on the German dating scene though: think again! These people are obsessed with star signs! In fact, asking prospective love interests their Zodiac sign appears to be a standard first-date question. This, of course, presents plenty of opportunities for some astrological banter too. Take last night – for example – when a Pisces (the German word for it is Fisch) ended up ordering – you guessed it – fish.

Staring blankly in the face of compliments is also common among participants in First Dates Germany. “You have lovely eyes,” one date said to another last night. No“ah stop” in response. No “yours aren’t bad either.” Not even an embarrassed glance to the side. Just silence and a long, impassive stare back at the admirer.

Altogether, First Dates Germany does not have the delicious appeal of the Irish version, with its self-deprecating and often highly witty participants. But the candor offered by the Germans offers its own unique comedy and charms.

Consider me hooked.

 

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Enda’s National Address goes down a storm

Curled up in a blanket with a cup of camomile tea at 9.30 to watch Enda address the nation. Nice and cosy. The anticipation was killing me during the weather. I usually love watching Jean Byrne talk about unsettled conditions but it wasn’t her place today. Talk about stealing Enda’s thunder.

Got the three-day summary anyway and then – hurray – grim-faced Enda appeared in his red tie. He looked tiny in front of those enormous flags. Wonder how it feels to be on a wooden chair with the weight of the nation’s deficit upon you. Did anyone notice the upside-down glass? Talk about half empty. Not a drop. You’d think he’d have got thirsty addressing the nation for that long, but these are the times we’re living in. Silver quill on the desk made it all very official didn’t it? I swear he was looking me in the eye the whole time though. Wonder if everyone got that. Might be a Mona Lisa trick they teach you in the Dáil.

Anyway, he was very fluent. Don’t care if he had it all on a screen because he was looking me in the eye. Told me I wasn’t responsible for the crisis. Relieved. We’re spending 16 billion more than we’re taking in though. Not so good. Liked the way he said “Eamonn Gilmore and I” – best of friends. Said they’d imposed losses on some bondholders. He forgot to say which. Ah well, there was a lot to be said.

And then, last thing I expected, he thanked me! For my “courage, character and sense of responsibility”. Ah Jaysus Enda. It’s the least I can do. Any time. You’re doing fairly well yourself, with all your kite flying and addresses to the nation.

Might be because I’m an English teacher now but really noticed the Taoiseach’s emphatic ‘B’s and ‘P’s. The way he said that lower rate of interest on “Bborrowings” will save “ten Bbillion” in time and that we have to “Bbuild on those first steps” and how “Ppublic sector Ppay”’s been cut. Kind of charming.

Said a few times he wished he didn’t have to say this but he does. Ah, Enda.

In fairness, he didn’t shy away from the serious stuff. It’ll take years to recover, we remain fragile, change won’t come quickly enough for many people out of work.

And after all that, still with steely blue eyes directed at me he says: “I am VERY OPTIMISTIC”. He wants to make Ireland the best small country to do business, to raise a family and to grow old”. Good on ya, Endo. Yes we can. But rather you than me.

Oiche mhaith now, Taoiseach. And for God’s sake, have a sip of water. You must be parched.

For Enda’s back story, click here.

Enda's red (ad)dress