Saturday, February 7, 2015

Those untrustworthy Hessians

There’s a story about an American doing some historical research in England, who stumbles on two towns, just a couple of miles apart. The inhabitants of one refuse to speak to the inhabitants of the other, and vice versa. This intrigued the American, and he scoured the local libraries and museums for clues as to how and why this came about. After three years of hard work, he finally discovered that the problem started after one of the towns neglected to warn the other that the Danes were invading, 1,000 years previously.

You’d think the Germans would be more sensible than that, but you’d be wrong, as a recent conversation that took place bears testimony. As a bonus, it also describes, in a nutshell, the typical mode of communication employed by me and my wife.

Wife: So, I was at the store, and this man — Hessian, of course — came in with a bottle and told the cashier she’d just sold it to his brother. Well, obviously, her face fell; she could get into serious trouble for that. So, anyway—

Me: (interrupting) Hang on — trouble? Why?

Wife: Well, him being under 18 and everything.

Me: Oh! She sold a bottle of something alcoholic to somebody who was under age?

You see what I’m up against? I usually have to remember half my wife’s lines for her.

Wife: That’s what I said.

Me: Then what?

Wife: Well, I’d already paid, so I didn’t hang around. But I saw him leave the store, with the bottle, and get into the only car there registered in Hesse.

Me: What does his being Hessian have to do with it?

Wife: Well, nothing. But... you know, Hessian. What else would you expect?

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