“What are you going on about, dear?”
“I told you you should have bought an iPhone,” she said for the thousandth time. “They have an App that will translate whatever you want, just by speaking.”
Henry growled. “Too much money,” he said. “I don't need a cell phone with all that crap.”
Martha shook her head and compassion disappeared from her face. “And, how much money are we wasting standing here while you look through that phrase book?”
“We spent several thousand dollars to come to Germany just so you could destroy your health cursing and screaming at a phrase book?”
Henry turned away muttering to himself while Martha drifted away to a nearby shop. “What are you doing?” he called as he caught sight of her looking at some wares in the window.
“Oh, I'm just going to spend a few of those dollars you saved,” was her reply.
Martha exited the shop just in time to see her husband grab a pedestrian and wave a map in front of his face. “Can you tell me...”
“Es tut mir leid, Ich sprechen kein Englisch,” the man responded with a smile and broke free.
Martha smiled at the man. “Danke,” she said, then turned to scowl at her husband. “Let's not restart the war,” she warned him.
“I should,” Henry groused. “Maybe they'll have the decency to learn English the next time we beat 'em.”
Martha tsk'd and shook her head in dismay. “Could you even pronounce it correctly if you found what you're looking for?”
Henry scanned the vocabulary in the pamphlet and shook his head. “It's the damnedest language I ever saw,” he said. “It looks like they string whole sentences together in one word.”
Martha looked at the paper in his hands. “Someone told me that they string adjectives together to form nouns,” she said.
Henry looked at his wife without understanding. “You know,” she continued, “like... like an airplane is 'athingthatflysthroughtheair'.”
Henry mulled this over and grabbed the next pedestrian. “Wo ist der stinkinsnarlinrunninhoppinflyin place?” he asked.
The pedestrian turned to the woman who accompanied him with an astonished look on his face. “Blimey!” he exclaimed. “Damned early t'be drinkin' ain' it?” and they hurried away.
Henry watched them walk away, his mouth hanging open, then turned to glare at his wife when he heard her laughing.
“Sorry, dear,” she apologized. “But you did say it with a very nice German accent.”
The next pedestrian cocked his head to one side and stared at Henry with the compassion of one encountering a lunatic. However, when Henry had repeated his question, the man pulled an iPhone from his pocket and held it up for Henry to speak into. “Wo ist der stinkinsnarlinrunninhoppinflyin place?” he asked.
The phone was silent, and Martha slapped her husband on the shoulder. “Speak English!” she commanded.
“Oh,” Henry stammered and then asked his question as though speaking to a deaf man, mouthing each word carefully. “Where is the zoo?” he asked.
“Wo ist der Zoo,” the phone spoke, and Henry stared at it blankly. “Zoo?” Henry repeated. “That's it? Zoo?”
The man spoke into the phone. “Hast du eine Karte von der Stadt?”
“Do you have a map of the city?” the phone translated.
Henry fished through his pockets until he found it and thrust the map at the man. The man opened the map and turned it until the streets drawn on it lined up with those around them.
“Sie sind hier,” the man said pointing.
“You are here,” the phone translated.
“Gehen Sie diesen Weg etwa einen Kilometer.”
“Walk this way one kilometer,” the phone translated.
“Dann hier rechts abbiegen,” the man continued pointing to another street.
“Turn right here,” the phone translated.
“Und gehen noch eine halbe Kilometer,” the man instructed.
“And walk another half kilometer,” the phone translated.
The man looked at Henry and waited. Henry nodded and said, “Thank you.”
“Danke,” Martha chimed in.
“Bitte,” the man responded, smiled, and walked away.
“There,” Martha said. “I told you that you should have bought an iPhone.”
“Why?” Henry asked looking perplexed. “He already had one.”
Martha shook her head in disgust and began walking in the direction of the zoo. “Men,” she muttered just loud enough for her husband to hear.
“What?” he asked, following. “I asked for directions, didn't I?”