To a visitor it may seem charming, quaint, and possibly even picturesque. But few modern Germans want to live in a Hintertupfingen.
Mention of the name fills the man in the street with an odd mix of nostalgia and claustrophobia, yet no region really wants to lay claim to Hintertupfingen. The –ingen ending to the name makes it sound Swabian, but it’s a made-up place that symbolizes the back-of-beyond rural Germany where time stands still. You can still find slices of that kind of Germany in north, south, east and west, but wherever it stands, the basic ingredients will still be the same. A village, not on the road to anywhere. Little sign of life, and yet all the houses are well tended, and the cars standing outside them are immaculate. There’ll probably be a crucifix at the village entry, and a small church in the centre with a resident priest who’s been there forever. There’s usually a bakery, probably an Italian pizzeria (run by a Greek or a Turk, but who cares), possibly a car dealership, and maybe even a village traffic light.
Tourists may think Hintertupfingen quaint, but in the end, not a lot happens here
The houses will be uncompromisingly plain, but there’ll be geraniums in window boxes, and wood piles in careful stacks. The lady of the house will be in her housecoat, pretending to water the window boxes, but actually keeping an eye on the street – and on her husband. For the gentleman of the house will be out the front in his blue overalls, using his new wood-splitting machine to improve the family pile, because a good wood pile is a symbol of carefully-controlled, ordered lives (and nudge nudge, Viel Holz vor der Hütte – a lot of wood in front of the hut – is also a euphemism for a well-stacked young lady).
Tourists may think Hintertupfingen quaint, but in the end, not a lot happens here, which is why the children have long since gone. The women pause in the street to complain to each other about the Euro. The men meet at a regular Stammtisch at a former hunting hut in the woods, more out of a sense of duty than anything else, to complain about the Greeks. Most would prefer to be home watching Tatort or the Bundesliga, but one or two of them have been known to have mistresses in the past, and they have a reputation to maintain.
When night falls, anything could happen in Hintertupfingen – but it is not the kind of anything that would even make it to the middle pages of the local press. Fox and rabbit say goodnight to each other. The Pizzeria closes after a quiet night’s trading. The traffic lights change, in unhurried style, from red to green, and back again.