The summer heat lay on our limbs for two months like a sleeping bag zipped shut all around. It wasn't the air conditioning that provided cooling, but our daughter. No, she didn't fan us with a palm leaf, which I would have found quite appropriate and which would have pleased the environment and her upper arm - no, she created a frosty atmosphere without any physical effort, because nothing went the way she thought it would would have.
Since puberty got hold of our daughter, Wombi, shortly after her 13th birthday, we keep the windows closed so that the neighbors don't call the police. The pubescent is noisy and unpredictable when she's not sleeping or eating like a wombat - which luckily she often is.
The stories I am telling here – a journalist, 41, from Vienna, married to Olaf, 46 – are of course not about the puberty in my family. no They spring from my blooming imagination or come from other families. It's tough there - in the other families...
During her summer internship in a small café, she was bothered by the gravel-covered ground, into which she crunched and sank with every step. She was bothered by the sun, which cheated its way through the colorful umbrellas and shone in her face. The people who weren't kind enough. The bosses who asked her to do undignified jobs like polishing cutlery. And the zero tip strategy for interns.
Before I flew to Italy, I advised her to politely complain to the restaurant operator. She made snorting, moaning noises. Olaf stayed with her in Vienna while I flew south with her little brother.
"Thanks for leaving me alone," she said scornfully as we said goodbye at the airport. "You can do it. You're big," I said encouragingly.
For two weeks I only heard sporadic reports from home. Then the day finally came when father and daughter joined us.
In a good mood, the teenager toasted me with an iced tea in the piazza and said the important Italian sentence: "Facciamo un brindisi." as my eyes fell on my daughter's fingers cupping the glass. She saw me freeze and a smile crossed her face. "Do you like my new nails?" she asked, holding out her hand. I downed my Aperol Spritz in one gulp.
"Why. Have. You. That. Done?” I ground out. "You said I was big already," she grinned.
Changing my mind three days later was the fault of a taxi driver. He closed the car door with a bang and failed to notice that he pinched a finger with a blue nail tip. We packed ice on the bruised finger and waited for it to turn blue. But nothing happened. The artificial nail had taken the blow like a shield. So the nail was a hero, I couldn't say anything more.
A little later we drove back to Vienna. Without the big child, who wanted to spend two more weeks with friends without his parents. But nothing came of it because the child fell ill. After the evil C could be ruled out, the doctor consulted by phone guessed summer flu. But the condition of the teenager did not want to improve despite heavy medication. We worried a thousand kilometers away and contemplated returning.
Until Olaf came across an article on the Internet in the evening that exposed artificial nails as a breeding ground for infections. It quickly became clear: the child had ten ticking time bombs on its fingers. There must be suppurating wounds smoldering under the plates. The more we read on the subject, the more certain we were that the nails were to blame for our child's poor condition. They would poison her. It said somewhere that a woman had once even gone into a coma because she was allergic to the nail gel. What if ...
We hardly slept for worry.
Just before I booked a flight, the teenager dragged herself to the Italian nail salon and had the gel filed off. Underneath was… nothing.
"You drove me crazy with your horror stories," she snorted afterwards.
"Please, for the future, skip those nails," I said, "this doesn't look good, nor is it healthy."
"I'm already grown up," she replied, "when I've gotten my tip back, I'll think about it again. From the age of 18 I could get a tattoo without your permission....."
My piercing scream rent the air.
"Nails, please more nails! The nails are great.”