Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Yudengoths?
Remember last year when I went up to Hibbing to visit the birthplace of Bobby Z (Dylan)? Well, this year's trip to Minnesota (henceforth known as Upper Germania) didn't take me that far, but I did at least get to the see the Nordic Inn B&B (Bed & Brew). Informally known as The Viking Inn, the Nordic has a kind of rape and pillage theme -- or, wait, make that a "raid" and pillage theme, today's Vikings as prone to being PC as anyone. In any case, the theme is there in essence, with great horn-bearing helmets and fur-coated shields and leather armbands free for the wearing. There are also medieval shoe-like strappings for the feet, which are not optional, but mandatory, much in the style of those households that demand you remove your Doc Martins before you trod over their shag carpets and throw rugs. Best of all, though, is the proprietor of the Inn, Steinaar, a round-stomached, barrel-chested, stain-covered direct descendant of Ostrogoth (or is that Visigoth?) warriors. As Steinaar explained, the "aar" at the end of his name denotes warrior; and since Stein is a stein glass used for drinking beer, you can put the rest together yourself. Over a stein of Sam Adams and a smaller stein of homemade mead (the less said about, the better), Steinaar traded quips with us, most of which concerned his various orifices and appendages (that's right, plural). Since he demanded that we take names as well, I dubbed myself Crowbaar, later changing that to Wetbaar, while Tracey went for a variation on her last name and became Starkaar, though it turned out she could just as well have stuck with Stark since it's basically of Viking, or at least Germanic, origin. Anyway, as I was saying, the Inn was run on a theme, right down to the rooms themselves, ours being Odin's Loft, which not only had a hot tub and the classic Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis film The Vikings, but also a bed shaped like a Viking ship. All night I tossed and turned, dreaming of fair-haired maidens and cheeks of red, the fjords pushing me on to ever greater adventures, until finally I found myself on the great plains of Greenland, only a hop, skip and jump from these blessed United States (which is most likely where I would have ended up had Steinaar's wake-up call not interrupted me; my apologies to the Sons of Columbus.) All in all, a fine time and a worthy lead up to our conquest of Chicago where the Heebie-Jeebies did its Viking-like thing and turned the unsuspecting populace into a quivering mass of acceptance before we departed. Now if only I could find my own Jewish-Viking lineage. If anyone has any leads, just let me know.