My German tutor and I have developed a learning method that seems to work well for me. We have stopped following the book. Instead we have discussions about whatever topic happens to strike our interest that day. Our discussions have ranged from cultural differences to politics to fashions and so on. In German, of course.
As we chat, she will stop to teach me new words, correct syntax or proper grammar. Then she assigns homework to reinforce the impromptu lessons. It seems to be working and my confidence in German is growing.
Today we happened to be discussing hair. I explained that I have yet to get my hair cut in Zürich because I am afraid of the end results. Instead I wait until we are going back to the US and get it done there.
On the streets of Switzerland you see some extremely strange hair styles. Multi-colors that do not occur in nature. Uneven bangs. Strange spiky things. And even stripes of color which takes the highlighting process and goes over the edge with it.
But there is one thing I fear more than anything else -- somehow ending up with a European mullet. It's true! You see them all the time. It's not a full Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1990. But it is close enough to send chills down my back.
Of course, at this stage in the discussion we had to stop in order to determine how to translate "mullet" into German. She didn't know what it was and I had a hard time explaining it in German. I first tried Beruf (office) while pointing at the front and Fest (party) while pointing at the back. That didn't work.
Then I said kurz im vor und lange hinter (short in fore and long behind).
She immediately shouted Vokuhila!
Then she wrote it out for me. It is the abbreviation of Vorne Kurz Hinter Lang (forward short behind long).
Mystery solved. That is what the European mullet is called in the German speaking areas.
And now when I do eventually get my hair cut here I can confidently say "Kein Vokuhila, bitte."
Now I just need to memorize how to say "No stripes, no unnatural colors and no jagged, spiky things, please."
It might be a while before I brave a local hair salon...