She met him at an international student exchange. He was German—not her first choice. But he was dark and subdued, unlike the Brazilians who talked too much and ran their eyes over every woman in the room.
“Hello. I’m Sharon,” she said.
He stood up. “My name is Hans.”
They drank plastic cups of fruit punch and communicated in simple English phrases until it was time to go, and then Hans grew agitated.
“Will you … can I … “ he began, fighting the language.
“All right,” Sharon said.
She wanted to see a movie but his English wasn’t good enough. They went for ice cream instead.
“In Germany,” he said, “We have an ice cream shop that sells every flavor in the world … even chicken soup ice cream.”
“Yes,” he said, “although I do not eat it because I am vegetarian.”
Sharon frowned. “I’m not vegetarian, but the chicken would need to be free range.”
“You want the chicken for free?” Hans asked. “Are you mean?”
This was not going as well as Sharon had hoped.
“I’m Scottish,” she said in an attempt at humour. “We count every penny.”
“I do not like stereotypes,” said Hans. “Scottish people cannot all be mean. It is like when people say Germans want to conquer the world. Perhaps you are mean but not all Scottish people will be mean.”
“I’m not mean,” Sharon said, indignantly.
“You said you were.”
“I was joking,” she said, despairingly. “Can’t you understand that?”
“There you go,” said Hans. “Stereotyping we Germans. You Scottish people are not good.”
Sharon sighed; she knew he was not for her. But a good ice-cream wasn’t to be wasted, so she rammed the chocolate-and-mint cone down Hans’ shirt front before turning and walking away from him for ever.