November 2009


Learning the Hard Way…

Last spring, when I moved into my new apartment, the previous tenant gave me my two sets of keys—one I immediately attached to my personal key ring, the other I kept on his provided lanyard-style key-chain.

Personally I dislike the around lanyard key chains—but all the cool kids like to wear their keys like necklaces, and, quite frankly, the lanyard was handy for hanging on the nail where I like to keep my spare key. I never gave it another thought, and I’ve loaned my keys out to several guests and to friends who’ve brought in my mail while I’ve been out of town.

None of them ever said anything about it, and had you asked me, I would have said that the lanyard was an advertisement for that telephone company here in Germany that starts with a V—and then I would have taken a stab at it—I think it’s name is Versatel. I can even tell you why I thought this: Versatel’s signature color is red, and the word on my lanyard started with a V and was in red.

However, I was wrong.

Really wrong.

For some reason I carried the keys with me to a party a week ago Sunday and pulled them out of my pocket so that I could use the lanyard to entertain the party’s star guest, a two or three month old kitten. The kitten loved it, I spun it in the air, the kitten attacked, and all was right in the world until my friends asked me a question.

“Adam, you do know what that is advertising?”

I paused and realized for the first time that I didn’t—and in that way that one just knows that one is about to get some bad news, my stomach dropped slightly.

“No, no I don’t,” I replied.

“That’s the birth control pill,” I was informed.

Since learning that my lanyard is promoting the German pill, I’ve taken an informal poll of men and women—all but one woman have recognized the name; and all but one man have not.

So for those of you who are curious, Valette is birth control—specifically the pill.

And for those of you who want or need help, note that the website helpfully comes with a “Partyplaner”–which is exactly what it sounds like in English, a helpful Party Planning guide:

Hier im Partyplaner findest Du viele Profi-Tipps für Geburtstagspartys und andere Feste.

Viel Spaß beim Feiern!

Or, in English:

Here in the party planner you will find other professional tips for birthday parties and other celebrations.

Have fun celebrating!

I might note that the previous occupant of my apartment was a man—and he didn’t seem like a pharmaceutical salesman to me.

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