I recently traveled to Switzerland to do some sightseeing and take a vacation from the daily grind back in Chicago. At least one of my gnomes always tags along me when I travel, because as I have learned, gnomes love adventure and they are extremely photogenic.
I arrived in Zürich, Switzerland on a chilly February evening and began to explore the city. As I passed techno clubs and artsy lounges, a flash of color caught my eye in an alley…an alley that seemed no different than other alley in Zürich, Chicago, or anywhere else in between.
Lo and behold, what do I see? Dozens of life-sized gnomes extending from one end of the alley to the other! I squealed with delight and ran up to greet them with my best fake Swiss accent. I was so thrilled to meet them that I could barely hold my camera still enough to snap a shot. My travel companion, who happened to my boyfriend at the time, looked at me with a familiar sense of confusion. He had never understood my fascination with gnomes. Ignoring his blank stare, I shoved my camera into is hands and nodded towards the gnomes, still too excited to form actual words.
I scoured the premises, but try as I might, I could find no explanation of where these gnomes came from and why they lived here. There were no signs to explain their presence and no one around to even ask. I chalked it up to the general mystery that surrounds all gnome-kind and proceeded to enjoy the rest of my vacation.
When I arrived back home, I was determined to get to the bottom of these mysterious Swiss gnomes and expose the secret that I felt compelled to discover. Despite countless hours on the Internet, my research turned up absolutely nothing! It was as if I was the only person who encountered them!
Just as I was throwing in the towel, I came across a Wikipedia article entitled “Gnomes of Zürich”. Was this the key to my mystery? According to the article, “Gnomes of Zürich is a disparaging term for Swiss bankers. Swiss bankers are popularly associated with extremely secretive policies, while gnomes in fairy tales live underground, in secret, counting their riches. Zürich is the commercial center of Switzerland.”
I conducted further investigation about these so-called gnomes. I became infuriated that “gnome” was a hostile catchphrase propagated in the 1960’s and associated with greed, deceit, and secrecy.
My gnomish discovery was a political statement! This was not just another familiar case of gnomes appearing in unexpected places. No, no, no. By pure chance, I stumbled upon a piece of history that I would have otherwise never encountered!
Gnome lovers, be warned. The Swiss are attempting to ruin the reputation of our sacred gnomes. This means war.