European Perspective: Spring of the Living Statues


I found out the hard way that German winters are one hundred times more difficult than anything I’ve experienced in Indiana. Now that it’s warm and pleasant outside, you’d think that my demeanor would reflect that. Unfortunately, the bitter cold fueled misery has been replaced with constant anxiety as warm weather marks the return of Europe’s most horrifying entity: the living statue.

When I first arrived in Germany, it was the tail end of the summer and the population of Berlin was out in full force. As a result, street performers took to the street to entertain tourists and locals alike, individuals with a wide array of special and not so special talents. However, there is a breed of performer that lurks on the fringes of street performer society, waiting patiently for an unaware passerby to mistake them for one of the thousands of statues erected around the city.

Living statues seem harmless, their motivations not unlike the jugglers or the accordion players but for some reason I can’t bring myself to trust them. Being an avid gamer and horror movie fan, I understand what can happen when inanimate objects come to life and I’m not willing become the source material for a cautionary tale about trusting statues.

People often compare the living statue trade with that of mimes, but at least with a mime you know what you’re getting. Living statues put a ton of effort into blending in, the sort of effort that say a trapdoor spider would take in order to trap an unsuspecting insect as it scurries past. Mimes are pretty easy to spot, unless of course you live in a city composed entirely of mimes (this is not very likely as I’ve never heard of such a thing and I’m on Reddit all the time).

You may be considering a trip to Europe and I absolutely recommend it. That being said, here’s a few pointers should you come into contact with living statues:

  1. Treat all statues as if they could be living statues. They’ve gotten really good at make-up and it’s really difficult to tell as of late. I haven’t seen one yet, but I’m sure that people will convert animals into living statues at some point in the future. Because bears, lions and dragons tend to be to go-to source material for sculpting, being naïve could cost you.
  2. If you must pose with a living statue, make sure that you’re in a position to defend yourself should they suddenly attack you. The statistics for living statue attacks are probably lower than sharks (which are pretty low themselves) but just like you shouldn’t test your luck with sharks, you shouldn’t test your luck with living statues.
  3. One living statue is unnerving, two is frightening but more than that and you’ve got a possible living statue invasion on your hands. Because they’re trying to make money, it wouldn’t make sense for them to group up, thus limiting their income. Report all living statue mobs to authorities or a guy with “nothing to lose”.
  4. If you’re concerned about whether or not a statue is a living statue or a normal one, ask them. Just like with undercover police officers, the living statue code prevents them from operating under false pretenses. That is not to say that some wouldn’t lie to you, but it’s worth a shot.
  5. Despite your children’s urging, living statues do not make good pets. Good-natured parents often make the mistake of growing fond of a living statue and then taking it home, only to find a middle aged man washing paint off himself in the shower the next morning.

Be careful because from what I’ve heard, living statues have already crossed the Atlantic and are showing up in major cities.  You’ve been warned.

Ethan Moses took on the role of a European stay at home husband back in the summer of 2012. These are his stories.

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