I have a little game I like to play in Vienna. It's called "How long can I go speaking only German and have people think I actually understand and speak the language?"
Still working on that title.
And the game, since normally it only lasts about two sentences.
Tonight I made a significant amount of progress, however. I went into one restaurant where I asked for a place and was told they didn't have one and I should go to the same restaurant around the corner. Realistically, I only understood the general gist of that, but it was all in German and I still figured it out, so...5 points for me.
No one else gets any points in my games.
I went to restaurant number 2, was escorted toward the back of building and given my choice of going to the left tables or the right. I chose the left in German. I managed to order from a German menu (not too difficult since I knew my last Viennese meal needed to be Schnitzel). Still...I awarded myself 10 more points.
I felt that things were going very well, especially when they brought me a schnitzel that was twice the size of head. A difficult feat, you might say, considering how happily I award myself points. Nevertheless, it was true. I couldn't see the plate beyond the schnitz. I was gnawing happily away when the waiter returned. He threw off a quick phrase and smiled at me. My blood turned cold and I felt points slipping from my grasp as I just stared up at him and smiled blankly. He continued to stand there smiling politely, and I panicked. Too much eye contact, and still no German coming from my mouth. His phrase still hadn't registered in my brain. Occasionally the quick ones just take a moment before I realize what's been said. STILL NOTHING! There we were, for what felt like an eternity of misunderstanding. What was I to do?! Abandon ship? Quit the game when I was so far ahead? (Who knows of what or whom.) It could not be! There was only one solution...I smiled some more, nodded, and buried my face in the schnitzel.
I knew it was over. I'd been called out. But when he returned to see if I had finished, he spouted off another German phrase and I QUIT! I took off running. Okay, not really. But I did tell him that I spoke only a little German and hadn't understood. So he replied in English, saying that it was not a problem.
But it was. When he brought the check, I found that dinner cost me not only 18 Euro, but also 15 points.