There are some words that you don't learn in class and you don't hear in general conversation, but for which you will occasionally need. Not often. Just about once a month if you're forgetful, like me, and never remember to put supplies in your purse. Then you might be wandering around your city on a Sunday afternoon looking for some Geshäft that is open, but of course nothing is because half of Europe is under the hold of Vatican... the dirty Catholics. Well, if you are in Germany on such an occassion, 1) do not find yourself in such a predicament on a Sunday, 2) do not have a train to catch, 3) be perpared to have yourself embarrased in front of old men.
I walked into some Tabac on such a day as aforementioned and was about to politely exit once I could tell from a quick glance that the owners, an elderly couple, did not have for sale what I needed.
"But hold on a minute!" they requested. "We may have it here, just tell us what it is."
Well, I did have a train to catch, so I ventured a guess at the word, "Haben Sie Tampons?"
Expressionless faces responded. I tried again. The woman made a few false guesses, but I could see the old man's brain a-ticking..., "Ist es für..?" and then he pointed, very discreatly, between his legs. I nodded that we understood each other.
"Nein, haben wir noch nichts," he told me.
My exit was quick; naught but a "thankyou" and a wave.
For future reference, they call them "ob"s (pronounced like "oh" and "bay,")because that particular brand is the prevailing sort that you'll see in these parts.