“Hans! Hans, over here!” came a shout to Herr Guten’s left, revealing a tall teenager bearing down upon him. Hans recognized the young man from the photo stuffed in his pocket.
“It is good to finally meet you,” Hans carefully enunciated each syllable.
“Yeah, same here! Hey, did you bring along any hot babes from Germany?” Jim Banks scanned the baggage area quickly as he joked, flashing his infectious smile.
(“Our women are not feverish—what does he mean by that?”)
Gathering luggage, both boys ambled toward Jim’s parents.
“Guten Tag,” shaking hands, “we’re sorry, but that is the only German we speak. Jim was rather lax in his studies over the summer, I’m afraid.”
This would prove to be an understatement, but Hans, excited to be a foreign exchange student in America, was determined to overlook his new friend’s German-less-ness.
“Hope you’re hungry,” Mrs. Banks continued, “we’re serving my salsa salad tonight.”
“Hans, I have to warn you. Mom’s salad is a really hot dish!”
“Jim, stop throwing cold water on my cooking,” his mother retorted, smiling.
(“A hot salad? Maybe he means, salad on a hot dish. American customs are very strange. Maybe throwing cold water on it makes it fresher.”)
Thus began a confusing first week for Hans, an excellent student who, although at the top of his English class back home, had trouble mastering the colloquialisms and nuances here.
“Don’t get so hot under the collar about it,” advised ever-optimistic Jim.
Hans, who was wearing a t-shirt and jeans at the time, wondered if he was visibly sweating.
“No, this is a fresh shirt,” Hans responded.
“I said——,” and the doorbell interrupted their fragmented dialogue as twin sisters, Laura and Lana Laraby, stepped in.
“We thought you boys could use some study partners for the Current Events project,” began Laura as she deposited a stack of newspapers on the kitchen table.
“Yeah, there’s been a ruckus at City Hall—a lawyer was knocked out cold by a judge over in Liverpool,” Lana added.
(“I wonder if they mean that judge threw the guy out in the snow.”)
Jim winked at Hans as they all sat down for an entertaining evening of homework, followed by a mystery movie on cable television:
“What I need is some hard, cold cash,” Hank exclaimed, “and I know the bank to get it from!”
“Na,” disagreed his accomplice, “the jewelry store downtown has lighter security.”
“That loot would be too hot to fence --we’d have to stash it for years!”
“So, it gets buried as a cold case.”
“I don’t know . . . Remember that cold-blooded murderer down Heming Way? They caught him cold twenty years after! “
These conversations in the fast-paced movie sometimes stumped Hans:
(“I wonder if banks here refrigerate their money for some odd reason—wonder how it changes from cold to hot. Buried in a cold case of beer? . . did the killer catch a cold that entered his bloodstream?”)
After the girls’ departure, Hans lamented his lack of girl-appeal.
“Are you kidding, man? With your accent and muscles, you leave the rest of us guys out in the cold! And, but the way, Laura Laraby has the hots for you!”
“No, I didn’t. I always come inside with you! What do you mean? And, you can tell Laura for me that I don’t like cinnamon candy—she can keep it!”
“Huh? Why you giving her the cold shoulder?”
By this time, Jim and Hans were both frantically thumbing through their lexicons to clear up the communication gaffes.
Jim began again, “You’re really going to get me into hot water with Lana if you ignore her sister. Can’t you pretend to like her for my sake?”
Hans knew there wasn’t a Jacuzzi in the house, and he couldn’t figure out how his feelings (or lack, thereof) for Laura would force Jim & Lana into a bath.
“My shoulder is warm, and I’m not willing to give up my body parts for anyone!”
“Oooh! That was COLD, man, but I don’t see what body parts have to do with the issue at hand. You sure are hot-tempered today.”
Tired of exchanging meaningless chatter, both agreed to shake hands and retire for the night, but not before Jim had the last words:
“News flash, hot off the press: Laura likes Hans!”
Hans fell asleep almost instantly, dreaming about a terrific storm that caused lightening to strike a printing press.
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