The Hun is a strange creature indeed. The stray example abroad might prove to be amusing, if not quite charming. This charm, however, rarely extends to the invasive hordes seen in parts of Spain and Italy in August. Observed in their native habitat, Huns are some of the more confusing creatures on earth.
Let us start our discussion of the Hunnish character in the context of humour. The Hun has a reputation for being humourless – a reputation that most Huns are fully aware of. Please allow me to tell you of an instance when this was made clear to me. Last Sunday, through an act of mass spite by the Deutsche Bahn proletariat all trains for the hour were cancelled. Trying to bide my time, I returned to kiosk at Trier Hbf for a second cup of coffee. The attendant, slightly bored due to light traffic, was more than willing to stop and chat. Our discussion eventually touched on jokes. A female Hun, also desperate to stave off boredom, had joined our little conversation a few minutes before. Thinking of nothing better to do, I told them the joke about the world’s shortest book being The Complete Collection of German Jokes. The attendant, clearly of West African extraction, had a laugh. Surprisingly, the Hun laughed loudest and thanked me for telling her a joke to add to her collection. German humour, it seems, tends to be highly situational. Perhaps not the best joke tellers, Huns still find humour in daily situations and make sport of what they can.
Another most amusing aspect of the Hun is his, in in the case of the other half of the population, her, personal character. The Hun is, in general, straightforward. While arguably not the easiest lot to get on with, Huns are usually blunt and honest. The Hun rarely smiles, but a Hunnish smile is a sincere smile. A Hun laugh is a whole-hearted laugh. There is little mystery to what that smile or laugh means, or what is hidden beneath it. There isn’t. Or, to be more accurate, there rarely are ulterior motives. Moreover, a Hunnish invitation to have dinner is an honest and sincere invitation and a genuine attempt to show hospitality. Unlike similar invitations frequently issues in a particular island of some size north of France, there is genuine discomfort if the invitation is not accepted at some point.
A further example of the quirkiness of the Hunnish character can be found in the response to need or perceived vulnerability. Last week, while walking to fitness centre, a young, well-dressed woman ran up to me in a state of panic. She said that a woman was lying in a car park and was unresponsive. She did not wish to be alone and telephoned emergency services. It took a fair amount of effort on my part to convince her to leave at least 2 yards between her and the “woman”. Having lived in a major urban centre I am very familiar with the effects of drugs and alcohol on the common vagrant and generally can spot one with little effort. Within a few minutes an ambulance arrived. Both medics were, on sight, as cynical as me. Our mutual cynicism was not unwarranted as that unresponsive woman was a man who had drunk himself into a stupor. Being legally relieved of our obligation to remain, she with a look of disgust went to work and I, with a roll of the eyes and a knowing glance at the medics, went to work out.
A further example of Hunnish concern was displayed today. Having an unusually low body temperature and a sluggish heart-rate, my tolerance for cool weather is unusually high. As it is late October, temperatures have declined into the ‘teens. This does not stop me from walking about with wet hair. The attendant at fitness centre was concerned about my health, asking if I would be able to avoid illness. I simply laughed and told him that I had spent the past two winters in a place where the average temperatures at night can fall to -40 for weeks. This was warm for me.
In short, the Hun is a complicated but surprisingly humane creature. Despite a certain difficulty that takes some effort to grow accustomed to, the Hun is surprisingly warm if given a chance.