Mood: party time!
Topic: "Frodo's Dilemma" (3)
Gandalf long ago counseled Frodo to learn the ways of the lands outside the Shire. Gandalf knew that Frodo would need to rely on what he knew when the time came to enter Mordor, and to scale Mount Doom. Frodo has written of his voyage into East Germany, and the unforgettable bus trip up "the Berlin corridor." The tale this evening is of the trip back, and how Frodo first tried to apply what he had learned about the peoples of Gondor, Rohan, and Cirith Ungol.
The sun had set and all the travellers were weary. The clubs and the taverns of West Berlin had both refreshed and spent the energy of the Americans. The tours and the propaganda on the other side of "Checkpoint Charlie" had sullied the festive mood, and most were contemplating the mental anguish of a first approach to Evil. Frodo, not yet known to Samwise, nuzzled with one of his fellow vagabonds. The Germans, who occupied most of the bus, were gathered in the rear and were treating the drive as if it were merely the culmination of a brief vacation. Soon, they began to sing.
German drinking songs draw participants easily, and the Americans, including the Hobbit, joined in when they knew the proper words. The festive air drew the dissonance from all, and anon the memory of the Evil fell further and further behind. When at last a pause fell upon the throng, one of the Germans called out, "How about some American drinking songs?"
Frodo and his nuzzling companion looked at each other, and soon all of the Americans shared an equally blank stare. What to do, "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?" All came to the conclusion that there are no American drinking songs, and for the briefest of moments, all were equally distraught. Suggestions came forth from every angle. "Dixie." "Hound Dog." "My Girl (Frodo thought that suggestion might get him past first base)." "Rock of Ages." (?) It was apparent that the diversity of the Americans meant that no one knew the same songs, and that our silence reflected poorly on our national character. To be humiliated, by Germans, was too much to bear.
He was from the Midwest someplace, and when he stood up and shared his basso profundo of "On Wisconsin," all of the Americans could at least join in the chorus. The little guy from "Little Italy" then commenced with "Hail, hail, to old Notre Dame." Frodo started, in typical off-key, "I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech," and then the Germans caught on and joined in with the best phonetical version that "Fighting Bob LaFollete" would have ever heard of the Wisconsin fight song when the Americans commenced a second go-round of the songs drawing the greatest applause. By the time that the lights of the bus station were at hand, the travellers had shared all that they could, and had unanimously had great fun crossing a cultural border.
Frodo has always wondered if the Germans sang any American songs to serenade their more recent travelling companions. Many times has he brought smiles to Sam and others of the Fellowship when he sings "In Munchen steht ein Hofbrau Haus. . ." Imagine a group of Frenchmen trying to follow "Boomer Sooner," in German.