My wife’s mother and aunt escaped from the Nazis. It’s a long story involving trains and boats and English people, but none of that is important for the purposes of this post.
All you need to know is that their escape from Germany entitles the next two generations of their family to become German citizens. This works in somewhat the same way as legacies at college. If your father went to Yale, you’re in, even if you’re an idiot. If your mother was born in Germany, you’re in, even if your knowledge of German culture is limited to owning a copy of Der Struwwelpeter, inarguably the most demented children’s book ever published, featuring stories with morals such as: if you suck your thumbs they will be cut off; if you leave your gun laying around while hunting you will be shot at by giant rabbits; and if you don’t eat your soup you’ll be dead within a week.
Where was I?
So my wife Barbara and her two sisters, Karen and Gwen, decided it would be a good idea to take Germany up on its invitation, especially since, with our new President, it sometimes seemed as though it might be advantageous to, shall we say, have another country in their back pocket.
The first step in the process was getting a copy of their mother’s birth certificate from Horb, the German document elf. No wait–Horb is not a person (or an elf), but a town in the German state of Baden-Württembergnot, in the Administrative Region of Karlsruhe, in the District of Freudenstadt, in the…oh, hell–let’s just think of Horb as the document elf.
Once the birth certificate arrived from Horb, it was just a matter of making an appointment at the German consulate in Manhattan. The night before their appointment, Karen (who’s living with us while her house is being remodeled) and Barbara decided not to go, ostensibly because President Trump was at that time having a bit of a verbal skirmish with Angela Merkel to the point where, when they were pictured together, you could just tell that Merkel wished she was a giant rabbit with a rifle.
That wasn’t the real reason, though. The real reason was that they realized they’d have to get up at six in the morning to make their appointment, and it suddenly didn’t seem that important to be able to add “Frau” before their names.
Also Barbara was a tad nervous about the whole dual-citizenship thing.
“What if they cancel our U.S. passport when we get our German one?” she said. “What if Trump starts a war with their prime minister and they don’t let us back in the country?”
“I think she’s a chancellor,” I said.
“The head of Germany is the chancellor.”
“What if they ask me what the head of Germany is called? What if there are other questions like they ask when you try to become a U.S. citizen?”
I said, “Isn’t it a birthright sort of thing? I don’t think you have to renounce your U.S. citizenship or know anything about Prussia.”
Barbara didn’t look convinced.
“It’s just something to have,” Karen reassured her. “We’re entitled to it, so we might as well get it.”
So now they’re scheduled to go to the consulate in July. If anyone from the NSA, CIA, ICE or Homeland Security is reading this, please note that their intentions are totally innocent and they love America just as a mother loves her charming but underachieving child who is always making bad decisions. Also, if Trump gets out of hand, we want to be able to go somewhere with good beer and good cars. That leaves out Canada.
If the sisters someday go to visit Horb, I hope he will make them feel welcome, and I especially hope that, while they’re away, President Trump does not initiate a very specific travel ban for dual citizenship sisters and their children.
I really don’t think I’d look good in lederhosen.
See you soon.