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Cucumber Castle

- on German History -

Japanese names, by virtue of being written in Chinese characters, always have a literal meaning. For example, a colleague of mine is called "in the middle of the mountain, healthy".
Now, I have repeatedly been asked by my Japanese friends what is the meaning of my name. While a rump should be explained in your English dictionary (or just order one in a steak restaurant), here is an excerpt from an email exchange with "safely eat vegetables and children" about what in the world "Armin" stands for.
(Please squint an eye on historical accuracy - if you care for the small print, consult the reference material.)

> So, could you tell me the source of your name ?

All right, hang on.

A long time ago, Germanic tribes were running around in the forests of Northern Europe, huning bears, fighting each-other and doing all kinds of really fun stuff, all barefoot.
Meanwhile, South of the Alps, where the climate is more suitable, people settled down and came up with sophisticated ways of growing vegetables, twisting twigs and piling stones, even thought of organizing things, building countires and empires.

One day, these folks set up an army to go North and get rid of those stupid gaijins(1) making trouble in the forests. Because the so-called Romans were well organized and equiped, they quickly made it up half the way through Germany, bringing their architecture and culture. To the Japanese's - excuse me, the Romans' - surprise, however, the German guys wanted to keep runnig through the forrest rather than mow the Romans' lawn. Feeling a bit squeezed up North, the Germans came together, and, well, they said, let's stop fighting among ourselves for just a moment, gather a really big gang and beat up those smartlings. They even came up with something close to an army with a chief commander. His name was Armin der Cherusker (nicknamed Armin Che, after an Argentinian trouble maker). They beat up the Romans all right, and because the emperor down in Italy wasn't interested in hanging out in those rugged cold forests in the first place, they were never bothered again.

Now, I have no idea why this guy called himself Armin: His fellows obviously didn't care much about writing down those things. In any case, they surely ate all kinds of fruit, berries and stuff on days when they didn't find a bear around, but they didn't get to eat any vegetable, except when they stole it from the Romans' fields, I suppose.

If you have ever tried it, and survived, you know that stealing vegetables from the Romans is a perillious exercise that you wouldn't want to do every day. So, slowly, at the border line, right in central Germay, the tough guys of the Germans got extinct while the soft ones got bribed, and just as dropping water will carve into rock, over many centuries, the Germans hesitantly started wearing shoes, adoring digital watches, and nowadays the young ones are roaming the forrests with cell phones. Rather than hunting bears or stealing vegetables from the Romans, they turned to buying Doener Kebabs form the Ottomans - a fellow tribe that had hassled the Romans further South, but then ran out of money, which lead them to start up business by setting up a staggering number of restaurants in the German forrests, instantly outcompeting earlier Anglosaxon missionaries and burger chains.

The few remaining wild beasts among the Germans could not cope with all this modern softcream. So they started to wander the whole planet in search for forrests where they could roam as wildly as ever, without taking a shower and washing their clothes every day. This is the reason why, nowadays, on occasion, you can find an Armin in rather odd places.

(1)gaijin - Japanese word for foreigners, slightly derogatory, literally meaning "outsider".
For more detailed historical studies, ask for "Asterix" at any French comic shop. Japanese E-Dictionary Friends Bookmarks
Written on Sept. 24, 2001 by Armin Rump