Stolz Wie Bolle: “Proud As Bolle.”

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I love this guy. German people, c. 1916. Photo: Unknown
I love this guy. German people, c. 1916. Photo: Unknown

For all the love I have for words, you’d think I’d have managed to learn another language by now. When I was going to go to Peru back in April, I surprised myself when I focused on remembering Spanish words; turns out I remember a lot from Senora Harold’s clase de espanol, including “Puedo, por favor tener una galleta? No? Okay.” 

And I’ve got a healthy store of foreign words and phrases at my disposal (e.g., in extremis, tikkun, bete noir, lasagna, etc.) but these are but pebbles tossed into vast seas of possibility available to me if I could truly speak another language. Today, Claus had the occasion to share with me a fabulous, brilliant German idiom and I have to share it with you:

Stolz wie Bolle.

The direct translation here is “proud as Bolle,” Bolle being a man’s name. Bolle — you could translate it to “Bob” from the German if you like, or just say “BOL-ee” — is the village guy who wins a ribbon for his prize hog at the fair and then walks around the rest of the year snapping his suspenders and offering all kinds of advice on hog farming, finding ways to mention, offhand, you know, that he won the big show.

Isn’t that great? That there’s an idiom for that thing that humans totally do? It’s so sweet! My sister told me about a guy in an improv class she took once who would totally Bolle-out when he was praised by the teacher after a scene. He would try not to smile so hard his cheek would twitch, he’d get all puffed up and then be impossible the rest of the night.

The image for this post does not come from Wikipedia for once; this is a portion of a photo that Claus sent me from his personal archive. It is a picture from almost exactly 100 years ago. The guy pictured is a villager who came to welcome home a distinguished general who had returned from the war. The look on his face is precisely stolz wie Bolle because he got into the picture. The distinguished man of the hour is in the center of the shot, but Bolle made it into the frame. You can tell he can’t wait to get to the bar and accidentally bring it up.

That man makes me so happy. His smile is a straight line!

By the way: my Small Wonders fabric line (exclusively for independents, you know) has a line extension coming out soon. In addition to the India, China, France, USA, South America/Peru, and Netherlands groups, we’ll be adding Japan, Brazil,  and Germany — just for you, Bolle. Small Wonders is available at your local quilt shop and at fine online retailers like Missouri Star and Fabric Depot.