Germans have a name for the folk who inhabit the southern reaches of the state of Baden-Württemburg. They call them Swabians.
The name carries some unfair baggage. The stereotype paints them as dour, mildly pessimistic, stubborn, cheap (EDIT: thrifty), prone to one beer too many. Swabians are, many mantain, the Scotsmen of the Continent.
Fun-loving Bavarians love to diss Swabians. How can they live so close to France, and not pick up some joi d'vivre? How can they make the world's most superb luxury cars, and take so little joy in personal luxuries? And why do they have such lousy senses of humour, even by German standards*?
Stuttgart is the capital of Baden-Württemburg, and I travel there a lot for business. On the way home yesterday, a curious sight confronted me at the Hauptbahnhof.
The Argentine** Tourist Board sent two tangoistas on tour, to encourage shivering Germans to enjoy a sunny, South American summer.
The tango: a dance of love, a declaration of passion, a sexual intrigue on four feet. Here is what the Argentine Tourist Board says about the tango
"So far, everyone from the intellectual to the suburban[ite] create, feel and speak the language of tango. And even though much has happened since 1880, the essence of tango, brazen, unrestrainable and bonded by blood, remains latent in the canteens of La Boca and in the saloon bars of Recoleta."
By contrast, poet August Lämmele writes the following verse about Swabians Drink what agrees with you,
(By the way, Lämmle is considered a Swabian wit.)
Eat what you have available,
Do what you're supposed to do,
Say what you're allowed to say,
Think what you want to think.
Hardly surprising that our splendid, passionate tangoistas found an audience. A fine audience, a curious audience, even. But a small one. Who never quite got excited by it.
You can see a gentleman in the picture immediately above, siezing the opportunity to interest his Fräulein in a lttle romance. She ain't buying it. A true Swabian, she's doing what she's supposed to do.
People are different. Ain't it great?
*OK, that was a cheap shot.
** No jokes about the Special Relationship, please.
Hat tip to this gent.
Drink what agrees with you,