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Bad Kissingen

Posted by on December 16, 2010

Bad Kissingen originated as a small German seaside resort town on the North Sea, where a tiny geothermal vent pressed up through the narrow crust, producing hot springs with a far higher than typical sulfur content. Hence the name–in the marginal dialect of Lower Middle Flendish, “kissen” means “to break wind.” (It is a little appreciated fact that Henry Kissinger’s family originated from this portion of Germany, but this explains why in his globe trotting travels he never visited northern Germany, because he feared locals would laugh uncontrollably when he would be introduced.)

Today, however, Bad Kissingen is located in the midlands of England, about a hundred kilometers southeast of Manchester. After the first World War, the defeated, broken Germany was desperate to pay off its war debt. The Duke of Flenda sent his son to France and then to England, trying to raise capital. It was in Great Britain that the Duke’s son found a suitable mark, in the form of Lord Smithe-smith. Smithe-smith had made a fortune in undergarment procurement for troops in the trenches during the Great War and had pounds to burn. He also fancied himself somewhat of a lady’s man. So when the son of the Duke of Flenda approached him, Smithe-smith thought the name “Bad Kissingen” rather racy and suggestive, not realizing it mean “bath of farts.”

A huge convoy of barges were towed across the channel, around Denmark, and into the North Sea and the northernmost shores of Germany, where tons of sulfurous mud and thousands of acre-feet of water that smelled like dead feet were loaded and trundled back across the channel and across the famous English canals to the small village of Sack-under-Stick on the south side of the Stick River.

When Lord Smithe-smith arrived at the newly reconstituted Bad Kissingen, with his wife, his ex-wife, his mistress, and his ex-mistress all optimistically in tow, he found the townspeople of Sack-under-Stick fled and the air unbreathable with the stench. The shock caused Smithe-smith to have an immediate stroke, although for years rumors abounded that he had in fact been beaten unconscious by his enraged wives and mistresses.

From his hospital bed, Smithe-smith wrote angrily to the son of the Duke of Flenda, then to the Duke, and finally to the German ambassador, demanding his money back. There was no answer. He then pleaded with Whitehall to intervene, but was told that there was nothing to do under the treaty of Versailles. Three months later Smithe-smith died a broken man and, according to his will, was buried on the Isle of Skye, as far as it was possible to be from Bad Kissingen and still be in the British Isles.

With the money, the Duke of Flenda, one Heinrich Goebbels (the name means in Lower Middle Flendish, “something God coughed up”) built an armament factory, and his son, Joseph, embarked upon a famed and meteoric career in government. A few decades later, tens of millions more were dead, and it is not inconceivable that a randy English lord, a fast-talking German lad, and tons of stinking mud, plaid some small part in setting the stage.

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