Klaus HnilicaThursday April 18th, 2013
Carl and Gerlinde (XXX)
”Whatever is the matter with you, Carl? You have been gaining so much weight during the last few weeks that I really must fear you might soon explode!”, section leader Dr. Osterkorn scornfully said as they left the meeting room after the usual “Monday Strategy Meeting”.
”Well, your waistline is going south like a donut baking in hot grease: maybe your Gerlinde is intent on selling you to the highest bidder?“, Bernie laughed loud and boisterously.
”Now you, too, start going on about it! Two weeks ago, my extra-nosy secretary already asked me if I had a thyroid gland problem”, Carl replied in a small voice.
”There you go, Carl – that means I am not seeing ghosts! Mind you, I find it great if you enjoy your food and you also have my heartfelt blessings. But then, as the sector sales manager of TRIGA where you have to sell all these athletically-oriented products, maybe you should be a little appearance-conscious, shouldn’t you?“
”Bernie, are you really telling me what I think you are telling me… …“
”Why don’t you consider my words a bit of an advice, Carl! As you know, I am sometimes a little direct” – Dr. Osterkorn did some mollifying eye-blinking, gave Carl a well-aimed pat on the shoulder with his athletically muscled paw and disappeared towards the vacant office of Miriam Braun – who was still into her baby pause and certainly had no idea about the extremely attractive blond girl having already done a practical term in her office chair for four weeks. Allegedly, as was heard on the bush telegraph, she had already tried on several new underwear models for a certain Mr. Dr. Osterkorn …
Carl, although glad to be still able to walk upright after the friendly pat on the shoulder by Dr. Osterkorn, actually started feeling a slight uncertainty slowly creeping up inside every atom of his body …
And since his secretary Bettina, who otherwise used to be responsible for all the little ailments, had just gone ahead and quitted serving him his morning poppy seed strudel and coffee from one day to the next without ever consulting him about it – mind you, if he was totally honest he had to admit that said poppy seed strudel had been rather dry of late and thus had been sticking to the palate with the coffee at times in a rather unpleasant way - there was, unfortunately, no way she could be the counsellor she had formerly been on this sensitive issue!
And Gerlinde was totally out of the question! After all, she already complained on an hourly basis, just because of these few ridiculous extra pounds he carried on his, as he found, still rather Apollonically …
Due to this standoff, Carl would probably have to get active himself in this case in his usual efficient way! Well, it would have been a miracle indeed if, just this once, those super wise ladies had been able to help, wouldn’t it?
Besides, this was men’s business!
After all, there was nothing easier than dispose of a few “unnecessary grams of fat”: all he had to do was – basically ridiculous – be a little disciplined when eating and – bingo! – exercise more. And we are talking a lot more exercise! Certainly, Sir! No need at all to start wondering or getting into endless discussions, as women always did in these kinds of situations!
No: next week – or the week after next – or maybe better in May, or perhaps June, when it would be really light in the evening, there was no need to do anything more than register at one of those fitness studios and book one of these often mentioned evening courses! And that was all there was to it, wasn’t there? It was really quite easy…
Moreover – and this must certainly have been a twist of fate – it was now springtime and that meant a lot of gardening, anyway: which was basically an ideal recipe for losing weight!
He was sure Gerlinde, too, would be more than delighted if, for once, she did not have to rely on Hannelore’s strange “Polish Gardening Gentleman” who always turned the trees and bushes into embarrassing shaving brushes in spring! No – starting immediately, the “brush miracle” was going to stop. And almost magically, he, Carl, would turn slim in the process. Wasn’t that more than fantastic?
However, it put a little damper on his enthusiasm when Gerlinde, on the next morning when he outlined his plan for her during breakfast, was not really beaming from the inside. But perhaps she just was not yet quite awake when she asked rather soberly: “and why all of a sudden – this gardening enthusiasm?” while stirring in her coffee a very long time, even though, as Carl knew with absolute certainty, there was no sweetener in it. …
”Well, you know, Gerlinde, I really need a little more time to relax and exercise – some way or other, the hard work on the job recently made me far too lethargic!”, Carl tried to suck up to her with an attitude of seeking understanding.
”What surprising self-awareness – and as early as sunrise, too – at half past eight. Isn’t this quite remarkable?”, Gerlinde sneered at him.
”Call it as you will, Gerlinde. But I am absolutely determined to exercise more and to contribute more actively to our household gardening”, said Carl with a smile while giving Gerlinde’s left hand – which was just reaching for the blackberry jam container - a loving squeeze over the breakfast table!
Immediately afterwards, however, Carl abruptly looked at the clock, pressed a quick kiss onto her coffee-scented lips and made a hurried exit with the parting words: “let us talk in more detail about my ’gardening program’ tonight”.…
Except – the way it turned out in the evening – was typically Gerlinde!
Because when, after a hard and tiring day’s work, Carl arrived home in the evening, his ever-so-caring Gerlinde confronted him with a “Gardening Schedule” which not only took his breath away, but – and this was totally unfair – in which was also written everything that had to be done! Of course, at the very top, there was the huge weeping willow that had to be cut each year. A job which not only meant plenty of work balancing on a ladder high up in the air, but also several days of “grinding work”. But then, who could ever work in the garden this long with this totally unexpected “Intermediate Ice Age”? – After all, he was not an Eskimo wearing thermo underwear, now was he?
And the weeping birch, too, had to be pruned!
And the ten bushes along the border of the garden, and the laurel, the two weigelia, the fusted, as well as the juniper and the chestnut in the front garden, the American dogwood and the flowering cherry – not to mention the thirty heather bushes, the far too dense grass and six cedar bushes.
Carl did not get any further with his studies of “Gerlinde’s Gardening Program”: because by the time he reached the American dogwood, the first bottle of beer was empty. And when the second bottle was opened, he – after this murderous day of selling underwear – certainly no longer felt inclined for more “gardening nitpicking”.…
Apparently, Gerlinde – typically feminine – did not even begin to understand what the work she had written down actually meant. And with these arctic temperatures to boot! Incidentally, there was not the slightest hint of spring and balmy air to be felt anywhere! Now wasn’t this the absolute horror: the way this year presented itself! You really had to ask yourself seriously when this stupid global warming all the media were busy talking about was going to start. Wasn’t it unbelievable how those “Catastrophe Apostles” were on the wrong path?
The only person who had not been off track – unfortunately she was off him, as well – was, again Gerlinde! Now that lady was someone you could rely upon a hundred per cent when it came to this issue, Carl thought when he eventually – regardless of all his tiredness – went to get the third bottle of beer from the basement by himself: you really had to signal only the slightest bit of inclination towards helping with the garden, and Gerlinde, this extremely perceptive person, would already come up with a “gardening program” the realization of which would turn you into a walking skeleton in no time. With his dear Gerlinde, it would probably be best to actually apply for early retirement…
Was that really what Gerlinde wanted to do to him – just because of those few, ridiculous extra pounds he was carrying on his ribs? Or on his hips? Or wherever? Was that really worth it?
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday January 24th, 2013
Carl and Gerlinde (XXIX)
Each day, it got clearer for Carl that there was no way out of the “thunderstorm that cleans the air“ in the form of an argument with Gerlinde. Otherwise, he was in danger of being driven to insanity by her shopping mania.…
For several weeks, no day had passed without Gerlinde persistently telling him that, again, some absolutely sweet, light-blue little pullover with beautifully open-worked raglan seams had shrunken so much without her having done anything that there was definitely no option but to throw it away: regardless of the fact that she had only worn the beastly thing three times and only hand-washed it in lukewarm water twice – could you imagine!
And then what about the annoyance with these stupid apricot-coloured cardigans you could not find in any of her usual boutiques, except at abominable C&A! And there – typically! – you only could get them in sizes fit for pregnant walruses and sumo-ringers, but not for normal humans. Let alone for her after her eight weeks of New York Diet and minus six kilograms, who now urgently needed all kinds of new clothes; including underwear – of course from Carl’s spring collection!
Or else she would grumble at the breakfast table, even before her first sip of coffee or bite of bread, about totally uncool Wedge Sneakers from Goethestrasse she had bought for a celestial bargain price. Due to the new padding she had to wear, these same sneakers caused her feet such pain that the only thing left for her to do with them was give them to the OXFAM people. Her only consolation was that those torture sneakers had not gone well with the new, exquisite, black Zoé Lu bag she had discovered in a tiny boutique after weeks of search, anyway.
But other than this exceptional lucky strike, so she lamented without ever pausing to catch her breath, the last few weeks had been so lousy for her that you really could no longer file it under ’the usual hard luck’! No – no matter how Carl tried to soften the blows, there was definitely more to it. After all, it was not just her impossible clothes where she kept being out of luck, she eagerly said while chewing: all Carl had to do was remember those insane, black, Moroccan olives from the market a short time ago. There had been such a huge discount on them that she absolutely had to buy four pounds, because everything else would have been the height of stupidity. But as so often, our dear Mister Carl had not liked their taste – and consequently they were thrown into the biological waste still wrapped in their original packaging!
Or the twelve bottles of Spanish red wine from Freixenet she bought at the bargain price of four euros and ninety-nine cents because she had intended to surprise him. They had immediately ended up in the sewers!
These days, this was always the typical chain of events whenever she wanted to do something nice for him, Gerlinde pouted – and then she disappeared among coughing and sneezing into her freshly prepared anti-chill bath, which almost had overflown, as well. …
“Just relax!“ Carl shouted after her. But then he was truly glad that she had left, because he simply could no longer put up with this wretched nonsense. Mind you, he certainly was patience and endurance personified. How often had he tried, during endless and grueling discussions, to discourage Gerlinde from this unspeakable hunt for bargains and rags. He had advised her to buy purposefully, moderately and without hurry, and told her it did not matter if it cost a little more! Above all, he had told her to always follow an exact plan when shopping and only buy what she had intended to buy! Wasn’t that a simple rule everybody could understand and stick by? Even she as a woman?
But today, Gerlinde was incapacitated by this admittedly evil cold. So here was his chance that, at least for one day, there would be no shopping chaos in his household! Due to this one-time chance, he was even prepared to go to the supermarket and quickly – before office hours – get the few things Gerlinde had written down:
1 LOAF OF WHITE BREAD – 4 LEMONS – 4 TINS OF SARDINES – 2 packages of BUTTER – 1 kilogram of LENTILS …
That was all!
It would be best to buy the white bread as he passed the bread counter when leaving, that much he knew although he definitely did not know his way very well in this allegedly so great supermarket, where he always had to spend endless time searching.
But maybe this was why they always did this product re-arranging. Besides, he had read that, in all the supermarkets of the world, the customers were encouraged to walk counter-clockwise, because significant studies had revealed that sales were higher than if customers went through the rows clockwise.
But now, with all this running counter-clockwise, he first had to find the lemons – he was sure they must be with the fruit!
Gerlinde often lamented that there was far from enough fruit – and when she arrived it was often already sold out!
Today, there were heaps of gorgeous mangoes on the tables, also two brands of sweet melons and beautiful papayas – they were not precisely cheap, but huge – delicious-looking pineapples – at a bargain price – and heavenly, yellow kiwis. She liked kiwis, didn’t she? So what could be wrong with him taking advantage of this unique opportunity and really stock up? He was sure Gerlinde would be enthusiastic…
But where to find those damned sardines? As far as he remembered, that was next on the list. Or where to find someone you could ask? Today, the supermarkets no longer seemed to employ those people! They were hiding, because they themselves did not know where to find things; after all, the products were now put into the shelves by cheap leased labor.
In his misery, Carl simply asked the small, corpulent saleslady behind the fish counter where he could find the sardines! And since she was so friendly with the information she provided, he also bought from her a good portion of seafood salad and two delicious portions of smoked trout she assured him more than once had only just arrived.
But before he actually reached the alleged proximity of the desired sardines, there were a few tests he had to pass – like in a fairy tale: countless long and high shelves filled with inlaid herrings in hundreds of different jars and tins. He got the impression you could get twenty different kinds or marinade and more! In fact, you could even get them in tomato juice, which was something Gerlinde had asked him to get a hundred times already. Consequently, he boldly put no less than five tins of them into his trolley, topping them with eight different glasses of mussels, before starting to look for the butter…
Who but his impossible, stubborn solar-inspired neighbor Konrad and his frozen Luise were standing before the butter shelf! And were they not just at the moment trying to find what they wanted among all the two hundred different butter brands? Just like he was going to?
There was nothing to it but escape!
At dawn, the Konrad family was definitely not something you wanted to cope with. Not even Gerlinde could expect this kind of sacrifice of him! As fast as lightning, Carl turned left towards the red wine and instinctively grabbed a bottle of Amarone for 36 euros.
But unfortunately, he was too late!
“If that isn’t our dear neighbor stocking up his wine depot after the holidays“, he heard someone say behind his back. Carl turned around, pretended to be surprised at seeing them and said: “Oh my God – it is the Konrad family! Are you, too, out shopping?“
“What does it look like to you, Mr. Neighbor?“, a smiling solar Konrad yelled over the distance of five rows of shelves.
“Aren’t you in a good mood so early in the morning?“, Carl’s attempt at humor was a little forced. Still, he asked Mr. Konrad if he, too, liked Amarone.
“My husband only drinks German wines“, wrinkled Luise interrupted them, “with those, at least you know what is inside“.
“That is true“, Carl nodded thoughtfully, “but if you stick to the high-priced wines in here, you will also never go wrong …“
“Well, we certainly cannot afford to buy one bottle of wine for forty euros“, Mr. Konrad grumpily replied.
“So what do you drink?“
“You know, in the Palatine, you can get quite a good vintage for next to nothing if you buy directly from the winegrower?
“Is that so?“, Carl said while adding eight more bottles of Amarone with a feeling of satisfaction he seldom experienced. Meanwhile, the Konrad couple shook their heads and went their way.
But Carl really got fed up when, back at home, Gerlinde – in cross-examination style – asked no less than five times about the stupid lemons and sardines. Not to forget the eight times she asked about the shitty butter and lentils. Did she imagine there were no other problems in the world?
Typically female: never look beyond your own plate. After all, there might actually be more to see than these narrow-minded household peanuts.
The great fruit he had bought was not even ignored!
And when he dared to politely mention it, Gerlinde only retorted she did not know what to do with this amount of products? Was he supposed to get a bigger refrigerator immediately now, as well, or what on earth did she expect? Unbelievable what women imagined …
If that was all the gratitude he got for voluntarily doing Gerlinde’s household chores, then thank you very much – he was not going to do it again!
The same was true for such wisecracks as “I do not remember having written Amarone onto the shopping list”. Consequently, Gerlinde was never ever going to hear about the eight beautiful bottles of Amarone that were still sitting in his car: except if she was prepared to join him when he indulged in all the eight little bottles…
Klaus HnilicaThursday October 25th, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXVIII)
It was like a meteor strike!
At least with respect to how often it happened. In terms of the actual damage done, it was actually initially negligible!
But if you looked at how frequently it happened, it was really as scarce as a meteor strike – which, basically, is no surprise when you are talking a mushroom dish. After all, mushrooms are rather few and far between – and the yellow boletus even more so!
If, however, you included the slime mould ’Physarum polycevalum’ into your considerations, then fungi suddenly were no longer all that scarce; not to mention all those disgusting fungi that seemed to feel comfortable on the most intimate parts of the human body with their mycelia. Nobody could claim they were not itchy!
Still, the fact remains that the slimy protozoon ’Physarum polycevalum’ is a lot more aggravating than all other fungi, because it can practically make its slimy way on the shortest route to all the places in this world without any involvement of brains. In particular, it can go wherever you will find oats. And you really can find oats everywhere, can’t you? Not just in larders, kitchens, drawers and on tiled floors.
But, of course, you could never find them on Gerlinde’s kitchen floor!
Let alone in one of her drawers, because, naturally, this brainless ’slimy’ would never have even the ’slightest chance in the oats‘ world’ where Gerlinde’s cleanliness and orderliness reigned - a fact that went without saying, both in her own and Carl’s opinion.
But – at least so Carl thought – why should that mean that no other fungus must ever appear more often than a meteor in their shared kitchen? Take, for instance, the much-loved-by-Carl yellow boletus Boletus edulis of the giant puffball group. He certainly would not have minded if this species had found its frying and comfortably frizzling way into the sparklingly clean kitchen a little more often over the year. That would definitely have been welcome!
On the contrary!
Well, basically, as a logical conclusion and if you do the probability calculations, it had to happen at some time, didn’t it? So it happened that one Wednesday, when Gerlinde, as she put it, just could no longer resist the almost obscenely displayed yellow boletus at Emmi’s fruit and vegetable stand on the weekly market at H., she actually bought some.
Buying them had practically become a duty since Emmi had already registered how longingly Gerlinde had looked towards the yellow boletus while being served the desired fruit choice of mango, melons, papaya and kiwi. Almost at an aside, Emmi had informed her that Carl, as he had confessed not long ago, liked the yellow boletus ever so much. So Gerlinde really had no choice but to ask the caring Emmi to weigh in a good portion of those obscene yellow boletus for her Carl who was obviously loved by all women. Well, she had better take six hundred gram, Emmi said with a roguish laugh!
Gerlinde even managed to get the wide tagliatelle from the neighboring stall and still be there as promised for a cup of the delicious cappuccino with Hannelore and Kurt at their favorite Italian restaurant before heading home to prepare the mushroom festival for Carl…
Later in the afternoon, when Carl came home from the office surprisingly early and as he just unlocked the door, his very sensitive nose – which, strangely enough, always found its way to the kitchen like a magnet needle found the North Pole – noticed that actually something as fundamental as a meteor strike must have happened: his Gerlinde, who was not known for being particularly enthusiastic about cooking, was busy preparing his favorite dish!
Tonight, he was indeed going to eat – mind you, this was no fata morgana – ’Roasted yellow boletus in cream and wine!
It really seemed almost like Gerlinde had foreseen that this was a day when he would be especially in need of some balm to make him feel better. After all, this had been another one of those days you really want to forget in a hurry. Otherwise he would probably not only have murdered this new anathema Fritz Kogler in cold blood right the next day, but ’Golden Bernie’ , who had seen to it that this ’slimy fungus Kogler’ got into the section ’outerwear’ with sales as his responsibility, along with him.
Mind you, there was nothing basically wrong with Fritz Kogler. Except that, for a man, he was just too handsome, and he knew it, too. And the young female employees were falling for his slimy charm just in the same manner as did scattered oats when confronted with the ’Physarum polycevalum’!
Incidentally, this whole affair had already been going on for three weeks. After all, it had been the wish of Dr. Bernhard Osterkorn that this slimy Fritz should definitely learn about the entire TRIGA company; and the section ’hosiery and knitted articles’ for which Carl was responsible as a salesperson, was definitely part of the whole company.
And it was truly sad that this stupid, very pregnant cow, Miriam Braun, who, after all, had already been ensnared by our ’dear Bernie’ did not notice how this Fritz Kogler kept listening in on her and spinning intrigues all around her!
For Carl, it had been quite obvious after no more than two days that this slimy Fritz was massively pushing towards the ’underwear’ of Miriam Braun. He literally thirsted for her post as soon as she would be on her maternity leave. But the allegedly so clever and worldly Miriam Braun never seemed to notice it. Instead, regardless of her pregnancy, or maybe because of it, she was totally fascinated by the disgusting Fritz.
And that was exactly what promoted ’Bernie‘s’ always brilliantly seedy game: because since Miriam Braun had disappointed him, it was clear that this beast had to be demolished piecewise until she would herself realize that she had been a huge mistake for TRIGA and was no longer needed. So sunshine boy Kogler was exactly what Dr. Osterkorn needed at this time.
But now – back in his home sweet home – Carl’s world was at least in balance for one small moment. His beloved Gerlinde had prepared his favorite meal for him!
It all smelled absolutely heavenly …
Gerlinde, too, exuded some aroma when she came towards him with her happily reddened face; the light and sweet Riesling she had used for the sauce had apparently already had some effect on her…
She was truly excited when, after her deliciously wet welcoming kiss, she told Carl in randomly capricious fashion how it all had happened with these strange mushrooms today. How they had attracted her attention in a truly obscene manner and she had therefore had no choice but to buy them; how she was now truly looking forward to all this mushroomy paradise which, basically, she had not dared to prepare in ages. As this went on, Carl saw himself being more and more compelled to suffer the ever-present multitude of odors wafting through the air. Snuffling with relish, he pushed Gerlinde ever further back into her own, holy kitchen area, directing his own insatiable nose not only towards the frying pan where the first installment of golden-brown delicacies was already comfortably frizzling, but also towards her fleshy, naked arms and her neck until finally reaching her slightly lighter, flimsily soft hairline in acrobatic sniffing manner, while a fidgety Gerlinde, getting less and less focused, tried to turn the brown mushroom slides with her kitchen utensils….
Making use of her last reserves of housewifely instinct, Gerlinde also tried to direct Carl, who wound himself around her in python style, towards the already waiting mortar with the fresh caraway – before, with a shrill outcry and several more noise, this makeshift defense, too, broke down and the more and more stony mushroom glory got mercilessly charred in the frying pan…
The accompanying wads of smoke shortly afterwards not only caused the smoke-detector to activate the siren; they also remained lingering through the entire building for several days, reminding them in a ghostly manner of the events of the day.
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday September 27th, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXVII)
”What a heavenly, mild late summer’s day“, this was already the fifth time Carl said it to Gerlinde, regardless of the fact that he was already perspiring like a farm horse and had a distinct feeling that this stupid fold in his sock would, again, give him a painful blister near the ball of his right toe.
Yet he kept hiking spiritedly, never lamenting. After all, he knew how much his Gerlinde appreciated these brisk winter hikes on a Saturday afternoon.
There was nothing she would not do in order to remain in shape!
Carl certainly did not want to look inferior, did he? Consequently, the stabs he gave the poor asphalt path – which, however, kept winding through the jungle-like mixed forest without any sense of pain – with his “Nordic Walking“ sticks were just as merciless. Uprooted spruces, pines that had been turned around by the storm and birches that had suffered serious cuts piled up on top of each other in the small forest between the robust beech trees. Freshly planted alders, protected against damage caused by game animals with hideous plastic tubes, hid bashfully behind a man-high wall of fern…
No, this forest definitely did not encourage you to collect mushrooms, thought Carl as he kept perspiring while poking these strange sticks around. In fact, he already regretted having parted with his last paper napkin after handing it to a friendly gentleman in a jogging suit whose nose had dripped and who had asked for it in his despair.
To be sure, the liberating moan of the poorly shaved man had given him a short moment of the wonderful feeling: you did a good deed! But then his own nose became jealous. All of a sudden, as if on command, it started sniffing and would certainly have forced an unappetizing slime trail upon him, had not Gerlinde at the last second prevented the drying-up of this geyser-like fountain with her tissue emergency package. …
The elderly couple, however, would probably not have been threatened by Carl’s sniffy slime trail, because they came from the opposite direction with quite some speed! Both of them were small, their hair remarkably white. The gentleman had an extremely red face, while she looked tiny and petite – but still had a rather wiry step.
Considerably farther back, a dark-haired man in a grey, caftan-like outfit suddenly appeared on his bike. He was apparently in a very good mood and singing to himself something in a loud and shrill voice in an unintelligible language …
When he passed the elderly couple, they turned towards the singing fellow and the elderly gentleman, too, said something. But the singing “Turk” – that is what he looked to be with all his mob of black hair – simply continued pedalling on his noisy bike. He never took notice of anything happening in his environment. Carl and Gerlinde, too, were subjected to his passing them with a thunderous voice!
”This is outrageous – all these strangers“!, the red-faced gentleman was quite upset when he called this to Carl and Gerlinde as they reached the same level with him “they look to scare you, but when you give them a friendly time of day, they never even bother to thank you!“
”He never even looked at us – just kept blaring into the forest and terrifying the birds“, the man called towards his wife, who nodded her agreement.
”Mind you, if you take it literally, they are actually guests in this country“, he said in the direction of Carl, who now stood still and nodded his assent.
“You would think people can at least return the good day when someone older gives it to them, wouldn’t you“?
”Well, I am sure he would have said hallo if he had not been so immersed in his song – he did not look like a “non-greeting grump“ to me”, Carl consolingly said to the excited man whose face muscles were now quite active.
”No, no – he certainly heard it when my husband said hello“, the small athletic lady with the agreeably wrinkled face suddenly said, “because my husband spoke really in a loud voice. But this is what it is like today: there is no more respect left for us elderly persons, in particular not from strangers…“
”Today, everything rots and degenerates!“, the red-faced man enthusiastically cut his wife short. And since he had so unexpectedly found sympathetic listeners in Carl and Gerlinde, it seemed that quite a few things he had kept inside suddenly surfaced.
In a croaking voice, he declared that all you had to do was look around you in the forest and you could see yourself how everything looked beyond decent description! Everything was topsy-turvy! Tattered tree upon tattered tree! And in between, all these abominable roots from the upturned trees! It was all absolutely disgusting! Terrible! Awful, he said to his permanently nodding wife; in former times, such a thing did not exist. The German forests used to be spick and span and empty. After the war, the people had gratefully carried home every piece of driftwood they could find and used it for firewood. But today, nobody cared about anything…
“Sad times, indeed“, his wife sorrowfully commented.
“Well, but – maybe today not everything is quite as bad as you may think at the moment …“ Carl cautiously ventured to say one last time.
Absolutely! It is not bad, it is a lot, lot worse, said the gentleman! It is simply abominable how matters stand today: immigrants and criminals all over the place, lies and fraud and murder and homicide wherever you looked. The rotting forest fit perfectly with the entire picture. “Yes, it really all fits very well“, said the concerned man several times and his wife also said it all fits very well…
“But, of course, you are not like that“, the old man spontaneously said to Carl and Gerlinde, “you say hello in a friendly manner and also listen when someone talks to you; this is, of course, totally different…“
“Well, but then, you are of a very different type from these immigrants …“, the disappointed red-face finally said appreciatively, before disappearing with curses and a shaking head, taking his wife along.
But even before Carl and Gerlinde had regained their former rhythm properly and commenced to continue with their harmonious stick-prodding along the forest path, the snotty-nosed wearer of the jogging suit for whom Carl had sacrificed his last paper-tissue came along again. Since, however, Carl had re-discovered half a packet of tissues in one of his millions of jacket pockets during their talk with the elderly couple, he once again turned to the suffering gentleman. But the sportive “snot-nose” immediately cut him short, asking him if he wanted his tissue back. Of course, Carl laughed and said no, instead rescuing the man once more.
And then they went home with quick steps: Carl badly needed a restroom and also felt a terrible burning inside – he was certainly going to drop dead unless he got a beer within the next ten minutes, so he said to his confused Gerlinde.
Consequently, they now really got into it and covered the last leg, even inside the town, amongst intense Nordic-stick activity on the pedestrians‘ path. With quick steps, Carl and Gerlinde also passed the front lawn of ’Solar–Konrad’. Herr Konrad, who was busily sweeping birch foliage, greeted them from afar and Gerlinde even added an ’aren’t we busy at all times, Herr Konrad’ to her compliments, while Carl made a point of looking the other way with an air of constipation…
“Now what was that supposed to mean …?“, Gerlinde asked after a few more steps.
“I am no longer on speaking terms with Konrad“!
“And why is that so?“
“Because this idiot always lets his d…ed dog run freely in the garden, where it terrifies me no end with its aggressive barking every time I walk past …“
“But it is not very nice of you to ignore him on account of this…“
“I do not mind – this is something he cannot do to me “!
“Did you ever talk to him about it“?
“No – he will certainly have to know himself what is good manners and what is not …“
“Well – it seems we have discovered the true ’non-greeting grump’ here, haven’t we“, Gerlinde signed as she opened the front door, suddenly feeling quite chilly…
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday September 6th, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXVI)
Well – where else? Naturally, the only direction it could carry him is ’aloft’. After all, the joy he now again found with the ’eternal feminine’ moving actively night in night out next to him as it used to. Not to mention how it saw to his household day in day out in the daytime in the most expert fashion, on top of treating him, this ’untamable masculine’, to the most tricky delicacies when he returned from the firm of an evening – exhausted but never ever again in a bad mood – to relish hiding in the well-prepared ’little nest’ …
And this wonderful mood of his he now carried right into the firm each morning - to the true delight of all his co-workers and in particular his secretary Bettina – also proved to be surprisingly stable throughout the entire day.
Even when dear ’Bernie’, alias Dr. Osterkorn, seemed to use his nerves for some kind of daily exercise like a super-motivated rope-pulling athlete, his good mood remained. As it did when Miriam Braun, the new ’underwear sales representative’ in her very pregnant condition now perceived the world exclusively over her mother-to-be womb and apparently preserved all her creativity for the twins she expected!
In fact – his robust good mood could not be destroyed in the evening, let alone at night, when he was permitted to indulge in Gerlinde’s homey warmth. That was the time when he would inhale her fragrance and again and again delight in her delicious, uncovered body with its endlessly long legs that permanently found their tentacle-like way to his side of the bed in the semi-darkness of the bedroom. The same was true for her satiny arms: each morning, he wound his way out of them with the utmost care, because he had and wanted to prepare breakfast while Gerlinde still continued enjoying her dream world among those smacking sounds he had – totally inappropriately – in former times called snoring.
And for Carl, it was also quite obvious that, now that Gerlinde had made the re-appearance he had totally given up on believing in, he would not start fretting about the months that lay behind in a small-minded way. He was definitely not going to annoy her with petty reprimands.
No, that was the last thing he would do! What right did he have to do anything of the sort, anyway? After all, they were not even married, nor did they plan to get married in the near future; both of them had already made a disastrous experience with this oh-so-blissful marital status.
To be sure, he would certainly have liked to know what she had been up to on Tenerife – as he had been informed, that was where she had been! And he was wondering whom she had met on Tenerife? And why had her ’Ex-Hubby’ all of a sudden so lavishly let her stay in his Porto Santiago apartment? And how often had he, perhaps, visited her there? And how, on the whole, it had been with all those gentlemen in this allegedly so dream-like Porto Santiago?
But no, he was not going to ask! This was her affair and hers alone! He would rather bite his tongue off – which, incidentally, would also have looked stupid and would have made neither him nor Gerlinde any happier.…
When all was said and done, the only thing that mattered was the fact that Gerlinde was back with him and apparently also enjoyed it; everything else was basically irrelevant! At least for the time being!
Oh my God, what a blessing it was to live with ’cleanliness revisited’! Everything sparkled, radiated and smelled like heaven… it was simply beyond words! And if this fundamental joy he felt when everything was nice and clean was really bourgeois, then he certainly relished being the greatest bourgeois on this planet and in this entire solar system!
To be sure, he was himself quite surprised at the new joy he experienced when being permitted to pamper Gerlinde. For instance with his extremely appreciated, delicious breakfast varieties: on top of delicious coffee and fresh rolls, there were the most exotic jams and cheese from the most exquisite delicatessen shops. On Sundays, he even added Norwegian salmon and champagne! Now if that was not something special! And he really enjoyed seeing how Gerlinde beamed at him and relished all those delicacies he was offering her. Yes, that was really something that made his day!
And it went without saying that he no longer quietly hid behind those huge pages of a popular daily every morning. Instead, he enthusiastically related numerous big and small curious incidents that happened in the firm, or else he would tell about things he had read. He also often talked about his new position. Times were frequent when he also asked her opinion about some underwear collection or other. This went especially for the latest one, for gentlemen; and how she felt about Frau Braun’s pregnancy problems and if she was going to finally come and visit him at the firm and meet Bettina, his secretary?
And unless he was totally wrong, his small ’sneering blackbird’ was even at times a little proud of her Carl and of what he had achieved while she had been gallivanting on the Canary Islands and barely making ends meet – hopefully not with too many alien body contacts?
When, on one of the subsequent Fridays, Gerlinide even went so far as to ask him to accompany her and Hannelore to a private view in B. at 5 p.m. – it was about ’monitoring the female by the female’ and the exhibited works were exclusively by women – Carl literally melted and looked truly happy; of course, he promised to call it a day at the office a little early, even though he already feared he might, again, be the only representative of the male sex among all those art enthusiasts. After all, the same always happened when, for the sake of Gerlinde, he now also went to see one of those typical ’women films’.
On the fringes, too, this vernissage was exclusively female: a young singer contributed to a great atmosphere and a famous author presented a very adequate reading of one of her own short stories written around a painting. Of course, the artists were also introduced by a female member of the city council; the only man who was allowed to say a couple of welcoming words was the mayor himself. But he certainly vanished into thin air faster than you could say “good-bye”, which left Carl S. the only male creature worth mentioning in the room who thus was subjected to the entire broadside of fantastic female art on this afternoon. You could easily ignore the two unimpressive, diminutive so-called men who drowsily sat there without much interest …
But at least there was, as Gerlinde stated, cool beer! Also, there were mountains of delicacies! Incidentally, this was no more than a minor negligibility for Carl. After all, he wanted to totally focus on the quite substantial number of paintings by all those female artists. …
And still, by the end of this very successful private view that had enjoyed acclaim from all parties present, there was some domestic strive at home between Carl and Gerlinde after they had – in a rather befuddled state – been given a lift home by Hannelore.
Mind you, Carl had really intended it as a compliment when, seeing the group of artists assembled around Gerlinde and Hannelore who had both bought pictures, he had remarked in a far too loud voice that he was truly surprised to see how well women could paint these days. There was no way he could have made out any difference in quality to what men painted! With admiration, he said more than once that this was truly phenomenal. He had given his voice a pronounced and strong sound between several more glasses of champagne – and then was totally perplexed when, all of a sudden, he saw himself deserted by everyone except two silent, not totally alien ladies who wore a stony countenance… Well, that was definitely the time for him to notice that, apparently, something had gone wrong!
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday August 9th, 2012
Carl und Gerlinde (XXV)
What good did it do Carl that he actually had a suppressed love for cleanliness and tidiness if he found no service person who actually rekindled this long dormant passion of his?
In fact, he no longer expected miracles! After all, even the sixth attempt at getting a cleaning lady worth her name only resulted in making his house look more like an asylum for the homeless than the representative abode of a department manager at TRIGA! Why, Carl asked himself every day – and recently even during his sleepless nights – was it so terribly hard to find a lady in Germany who actually did some good cleaning work at a reasonable price and not at the same time look like a walrus?
Mind you, Carl did not insist on someone with Heidi-Klum looks! But on the other hand, he did not at all feel like – as he remembered from childhood when riding the ghost train – getting the fright of his life whenever coming home unexpectedly and meeting one of those monstrous cleaning ladies who were busy with the vacuum cleaner and whose body odour actually gave him allergic coughing fits! He was certainly not expecting too much if he refused to continue subjecting himself to this kind of psychic terror week after week, was he? Especially if you took into consideration what high prices those cleaning amazons charged?
To be sure, his new, seventh attempt, Frau Ilisevicz, did not give Carl the impression that his modest flat was turning into an asylum for the homeless after four weeks. Instead, however, it seemed to mutate into some kind of ’horse breeding farm’ in an alarming manner. Because, instead of simply tidying and cleaning everything, the robust, horse-faced Frau Ilisevicz moved her wiry backside among whinnying sounds over all the accumulated mountains of old newspapers, empty plastic wrappings, moldy food left-overs and discarded drinks packages with such ignorant stamina that Carl not only started believing she was a ’horse re-incarnated’, but also one of the ’blind horses’ that used to work in mining tunnels. Yet there was one fact that contradicted such blindness: as elegantly as a Lipizzan horse, she managed to dance around all the overflowing ash-trays and dirty plates sitting on the chairs and the huge carpet in front of the TV set, dexterously never once causing any of those objects to be moved by even a millimeter! Neither did she ever blindly trip over any of the pile of shorts or socks, or the rolled-up heap of vests or sweaty t-shirt clumps. Instead, she saw them as steeples that motivated her to jump over them, rather than, perhaps, lift them or – heaven forbid – put them into the washing machine.
Carl had made three attempts at putting a stop to this progressive ’home-turning-into-a-stable’ and alienation process. But each time he regretted it the very second the unmindful words crept over his lips, because his breathy admonitions always caused such an hurricane-like Indo-German/Serbo-Croatian thunderstorm of words that the only way to safety was instant flight.
Compared with this ear-splitting Serbo-Croatian non-stop soundtrack, even the reprimands he had to expect from his secretary Bettina with respect to his failure seemed to be downright ridiculous: like a soft, consoling aspiration from heaven!
And perhaps it was actually this quiet, motivating intervention by his secretary that made him put a final stop to the unmentionable ’Ilisevic Thunderstorm’. Maybe it was not because of the strange fact that, during the last few weeks, he had to take up his pre-arranged clothes-brush each morning before leaving his house and brush the dust, horse-hair and remaining straw from last night from his business suit…
Luckily, Hannelore had given him some advice with the subsequent Frau Moravec, which, imprudently, caused positive expectations in Carl! Hannelore had said that a very, very good girl-friend had urgently recommended Frau Moravec for him. At an aside, she had added that it might be a good idea for him to let breakable objects disappear before she started work …
Or course, Frau Moravec did not have the athletic behind of the ’Female Horse Ilisevicz’, neither could she whinny as charmingly. In fact, with her strong, dark fluff and pressed-together lips surrounded by wrinkles she looked more like someone who had been dealt a hard blow by life and barely survived – but, boy, could she clean! After two weeks, Carl’s ’Quasi Horse Farm’ was again in such shape that he not only identified it as his own home, but also realized all of a sudden that he was again starting to enjoy coming home after a long day’s work. The only drawback was that wounds he had believed long healed broke open with a vengeance and he was painfully reminded almost on a daily basis of his beloved Gerlinde – who had also always seen to it that everything was clean and tidy!
Somehow or other, however, he was quickly getting uneasy about having had to look for a glass after brushing his teeth for two days. And both in the bathroom and the restroom for guests, the glass toilet-brush holders also seemed to be suddenly missing. One of the two expensive clay ravens on the hall cupboard seemed to have disappeared, too. And in the spare bedroom for guests, the night lamp with the coloured glass lampshade – which, incidentally looked absolutely hideous but was a memento from his mother – apparently also somehow vanished into thin air! Mind you, it had not totally vanished: when he wanted to make space in his rubbish bin for a bucket full of dried dispersion paint, he actually discovered the poor lamp. It lay there in a terribly desolate state, squeezed in right at the bottom of the bin…
The discussion with Frau Moravec – Hannelore had agreed to be present – was a teary affair! With each new outbreak of sobbing, the good lady told him how sorry she was for everything that had happened. She said she certainly did not know what was the matter with her, but lately, all those particular pieces she had intended to clean or dust had been slipping from her fingers! It had happened totally without her doing anything, Herr Carl had to believe her, she sobbed. Afraid to lose this well-paid job, she had unfortunately hidden or disposed of all the broken objects, because she had hoped that something so clumsy would never again happen to her – and then it happened again!
Of course, she was going to pay – as far as this was possible – for all the damage she had done, Frau Moravec sniveled. She was desperately trying to do some damage control on her longish nose which had turned purple and seemed to be threatening to burst at any moment like a blown-up rose bud.
There was nothing Carl could counter against this stream of tears!
Nor did it help that Hannelore was present. Consequently, Carl interrupted the mountain torrent of tears shed by Frau Moravec by cautiously asking her to, please, not keep any future damage secret but instead tell him immediately, or else put broken objects onto the table in the corridor. Exuberantly happy with having been given this second chance, Frau Moravec wanted to embrace Carl, probably drowning him in tears in the process because of how clumsy she was. Carl, however, again chose cowardly flight over heroic death by drowning …
Of course, being as naïve as he was, Carl had not anticipated what he would find sitting on the table in the corridor over the next four weeks: the damaged table vacuum cleaner and the formerly beautiful big salad bowl, as well as two framed prints from the corridor that Gerlinde had given him a long time ago, the radio alarm clock and the expensive spiral-shaped lamp from the sitting room side table! In view of this new damage rate, he then found it no longer very hard to put a stop to the involuntary destruction campaign by a Frau Moravec who really did excellent cleaning work in his house. He paid her two months‘ worth of wages and ordered her to stay away from his home until further notice!
And just when this gigantic cleaning lady problem seemed to be manifesting itself so hopelessly that even Hannelore could do nothing more than listlessly shrug her tiny shoulders and Carl again stood at the beginning of yet another bleak phase of helplessness as he returned home from his office totally drained and unnerved, well aware that the only refuge remaining to him now was to find relief in his daily infusion of red wine - who else but Gerlinde would he find sitting in his living room on a Tuesday in August! Fresh and tasty like a ripe peach, she gave Carl such a lovely smile that, regardless of his red face and jittery knees, he was immediately aware of just now having the final solution to his pain of a cleaning lady problem within reach …
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday June 7th, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXIV)
The news exploded like a bombshell! Miriam Braun had been working as sales manager for almost six months in the sector ’hosiery and knit-ware’ at TRIGA – and now this! For the general manager, Dr. Osterkorn, it really hit home: this was not how he had envisaged the career of his promising, attractive model manager…
And Carl had not yet so much as settled comfortably behind his desk, when Frau Wolf balanced her usual morning coffee precariously towards him with an air of conspiracy. He was sure she would have burst with a loud bang if she had been forced to keep her news to herself for as much as another half hour. That would have made her new hair-dress quite obsolete, too! Mind you, this ruthless summer haircut looked extremely well on her. Besides, it would have been a pity to spoil her lascivious smile and those super-big eyes of hers …
”Have you heard already, Carl?“, she nervously hissed while slowly placing the cup of extra hot coffee and the exquisite piece of her delicious ”Poppy Seed Strudel“ at their usual place next to the screen.
She seemed to enjoy their new sense of closeness. Last week, they had finally – during a dinner – made “thou-ing and thee-ing each other” official with two modest kisses. How very moderate! Basically, it was a pity, but then, it was certainly the right thing to do!
”What do you mean, have I heard… “? Carl asked sluggishly.
”Well, the news about your Miriam…“
”Bettina, how often do I have to tell you, she is not ’My Miriam’!“
”I, know, I know, Carl. It was just a joke! Everything else would certainly be grotesque; if someone gets someone else put in front of him in such a brutal way as you had to suffer with this Miriam Braun, you definitely cannot expect him to like her, can you …“
”So what is it with my dear boss Bettina, who was put in front of me“?
”Carl, you will never guess.“
”Is there something between her and Osterkorn? Well, that would not surprise me … “
”Well, there might be, but I do not know about it “…
”Or did she secretly try on our underwear collection in her office at night?“
”I am sure that would have been something you would have liked to see?“
”Now I know: she is again wearing this hot rubber underwear…“
“You pig! Is there nothing else you can ever think of?“
“I can – but not when I see you standing in front of me obviously totally beside yourself …“
”Well, you can slow down, Carl – because your dear boss is simply and quite unspectacularly pregnant!“
”She what! Pregnant? Impossible!“
“Is, too. She is four months along already“.
“Four months? But you cannot see anything!“
“Well, you may not see anything, but I can see something!“
“So who told you this spectacular news?“
”I am not telling! But I bet it will be a boy“.
”Is that your famous female instinct talking?“
“Call it whatever you want, Carl. But in the end you will see I was correct!“
“So who is the father? Braun spends every hour of the day at the company, including the nights?“
”Well, there is no shortage of rumours, but nobody really knows“.
”So when is she due?“
”Probably in October or November …“
“In other words: exactly at the time when we are supposed to present the new company structure! Now won’t our dear Osterkorn be just happy? I think the first thing I have to do now is enjoy a really spiteful breakfast on your delicious poppy seed strudel…“
“Go ahead, Carl. You are not the only person who is happy about the turn of events“, Bettina said with a roguish smile. “And before I forget: Dr. Osterkorn will expect to see you at ten“.
“And he wants to see the documents on the current budget planning“, she added. But this last sentence did not really seem to register with Carl. Instead, he seemed to disintegrate in seed puppy strudel and cold coffee…
When, at ten on the dot, Carl entered Osterkorn’s office, there was a short moment when he actually was afraid Osterkorn was going to embrace and kiss him. That is how enthusiastically he was welcomed. His right hand was gripped in such a vicious death grip that Carl, for the slightest fraction of a second actually feared he would have to amputate it…
“Mr. S., we have a huge problem – or are we already ’thou-ing and thee-ing’ each other“, Was Osterkorn’s greeting.
“Yes, three months ago on Milano, with Frau Braun…“, Carl tentatively replied while doing a few finger stretches in order to re-vitalize his numb right hand.
“Carl, now I remember! So once again: I am Bernhard, my friends call me ’Bernie’! Carl, as you know, six months ago, after intense negotiations, we both installed Miriam – that is Frau Braun – to become sales manager for our sector ’hosiery and knit-ware’ . Regardless of her youth, she came with absolutely excellent recommendations and references. And even you, my dear Carl…“
“I? Are you – sure…“
“Or course, Carl. At the time, you were the determining factor, as they say; without your mute content, I would never have dared this courageous step with Frau Braun. Never. Absolutely not. Don’t we both know that I always sought and seek your consent? After all, nobody knows TRIGA as you know it, Carl, do they?“
“No buts – Carl! But what a miserable host I am. Would you like a cup of coffee, or a glass of water?“
“No, thanks. I have been served superbly by my …“!
“Now isn’t she just a dear, Carl? I really envy you there. Unfortunately, we both are not to be envied with respect to the problem I just mentioned …“
“What problem are you talking?“ Carl asked hypocritically.
“Just imagine, Carl, our good Frau Braun, for whom we both really took all pains, told me yesterday – as bold as brass – that she is pregnant“!
“Pregnant? – Wow. But then, being a young woman, maybe she is entitled to it, isn’t she?“
“She may be entitled to it as a young woman, but not as a freshly-made sector sales manager! And if that was what she was planning to do all along, she should have told me when I interviewed her, or at least when she noticed what a huge task there was ahead of her…“
“But perhaps she never planned to get pregnant, perhaps it just happened“, said Carl, playing naivety.
“What? Just happened? This is the 21st century – no, that is not something I am ever going to believe. Braun cunningly planned it all from the start, Carl, you can believe me. There you see again: women, women, women; it is always the same, you can never rely on them“!
“I am not sure. Are you, perhaps, going a little too far…“
“Am not! It is exactly as I said. In the end, women will always play their tricks on you. But, of course, they want equal rights! And, naturally, they want to earn at least as much as their male competition! Sure, sure. But as soon as you take them up on their word and want to see them deliver what they promised, they slick their tails – which they don’t have but would very much like to have – between their legs. Carl, you cannot say I am wrong, can you? …“
“ Bernhard, maybe you want to be a little careful with your choice of words. They might be a little over the top right there…“
”Over the top, Carl? Ha, ha, ha! There is no need to become mute among friends, is there? You must be permitted to talk freely in certain contexts. After all, this talk about emancipation is nothing but shallow drivel. Don’t we both know what women really want, Carl! And we also know that, come November, the new company structure has to be finished! And so did Frau Braun! But, no, she has to pick this of all times to give the world another mouth to feed and then be gone for nobody knows how long! Well, if you are perfectly honest, this is more than a little unfortunate! Where am I supposed to recruit a new sales manager who fits the job description in a hurry now? One who knows both the market and our products. It is basically impossible!“
“Oh, yes, I admit, this is not easy, Bernhard.“
“Call me Bernie, Carl. Let us stick with Bernie. Aren’t we old, war-proof friends who now have to stick together in order to see how we can put the shoulder to the wheel? Consequently, I thought maybe we should make good use of the time – as long as our consultant is still in the house and generating the new company structure – and do some castling between you and Miriam.“
“What castling, Bernhard?“
“Come on, don’t pretend ignorance, Carl! What I mean is, of course, that, starting now, you will be in charge of the total sales and Miriam will do underwear. Naturally, the entire process will be accompanied by a suitable added income for you, Carl. So how do you feel about it? Isn’t this a great offer among men?“
“Well, Bernhard, I must say this comes as a bit of a surprise for me …“
“What do you mean, surprise, Carl. Don’t we both know you would have been the right person to do the job from the beginning? And if you had not given me the wrong ideas by being so enthusiastic about Frau Braun …“
“Yes – after all, you had all the opportunity of the world to stop the employment of Frau Braun by how you evaluated her. But, no. All you did was sit there and silently nod. Well, Carl, there you see. There are times when you should not just let your judgment be clouded by a woman’s bust size. Sometimes it is wiser to actually judge them by their qualifications. … But, hey, let us be done with it. Nobody will ever bear a grudge against you, least of all your old war comrade Bernie…“
“No but Bernies. Carl, we two men now simply have to right things that went wrong because, again, women fucked it up big time. I am sure we will manage, as in old times, won’t we?“
Enthusiastically, Bernie jumped up, ran towards his cupboard near the entrance door with surprising speed and dexterously fished for his most expensive Cognac, along with two not really small cognac glasses while plastering a conspiratorial smile onto his face. And before Carl had time to think about what was happening, he already cheered along:
“To us men, Carl. Nothing will ever strike us down, not even women!“
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday April 26th, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXIII)
Of course, Carl had often annoyed her! And during those last weeks before she – admittedly a little cowardly and not very stylishly – had made herself scarce, he had actually done so without pause – at least that is how Gerlinde felt about it. Now, on her day of leisure of all days, she was sitting on her patio in Porto Santiago and, again, looking for excuses for that life of hers you could only call Bungled up with a capital B! But then, if you were honest and thought about it objectively, Carl had not been such a catastrophe, had he?
Certainly! But on the whole, he did not look all that bad! At least from the rear! And if he took pains, he could be really charming, there was no denying it!
Unfortunately! If what she had heard was true, some of his ’special underwear plants’ fell victim to his urban charm on an almost weekly basis, didn’t they? And we are not just talking Hannelore and, what’s her name? Some of them were fellow employees and customers. As far as ’underwear’ was concerned, they were far from just aiming at the ’appetite for selling’. Rather, their interest was exclusively with the ’appetite for him’.
Mind you, between bed sheets, Carl was certainly not your superman!
But – and you had to admit that was quite a rare quality in a man – if he set his mind to it, he was capable of quite a bit of sensitivity and fantasy! For most of the women, that was apparently enough! Well, the same had been true for her in the not so recent past, hadn’t it …
And – Carl was certainly lavish! With him, she had never had financial worries! Unlike now, when, regardless of free accommodations she never quite managed to make ends meet! It seemed that somehow she had totally miscalculated this when she had so abruptly left all those weeks ago. Just as she had miscalculated some other things as well! If Anna had not offered to let her do part of the waiting at the ’Salzburg’ cafeteria, she would now look quite stupid. But as it was, things were looking quite well: she was busy, she did not get cabin fever and she grew to be a terrific tip magnet: before the poor guys had time to think twice, their cents seemed to find their own way onto the invoice plate …
Well, the working outfit was certainly rather forbiddingly scanty! She really could hardly draw breathe in those tight-fitting shirts! Comfortable was certainly something else! And poor Dottore Satori also kept breathing hard whenever she bent down towards him … Now how was this going to end?
It was no surprise that the anatomically so interested Dottore soon believed he had acquired some right to her just through his ’tipping habits’. Consequently, he kept talking her up and inviting her out to share a meal. Once or twice, maybe even three times, she had already accepted. Without ever confessing to Anna!
The meals had certainly always been tasty …
But whenever he came along with his post-face-lift accompanying shadow for a small Aperol or a big Brown with Apple Tart, he was as stiff as freshly beaten egg-white; in the most rigorous way, he avoided every single gesture of friendliness, just in order not to give his jealous ’Botox Mummy’ a reason for stupid ideas.
The mummy probably also sat on the money! And there must be plenty, because, as Anna knew, both of them had now already been staying in the luxurious 5-star patio hotel not far from Gerinde’s bungalow site during a number of weeks in winter for several years!
Except – Gerinde was not quite able to figure out to what end the good Dottore kept trying his luck with her each week anew. With his distrustful ’aristocratic grandma’, he certainly was not going to be able to enjoy himself on the sidelines. Not to mention that Gerlinde did not at all feel like it these days: her life was complicated enough as it was. Thank you very much.
But perhaps it was just another case of testosterone. Just like with Carl, it probably immobilized all rationally controlled brain regions immediately as soon as a female object appeared on the horizon that looked even remotely like potential prey. The remaining parts of the brain were automatically set to emergency operation: calf-eyes, grinning impertinently, increased saliva production, et cetera, et cetera. …
Anna said it had taken more than a year with her too, before the Dottore had stopped with his attempts; but then she, as she had admitted to Gerlinde, had at one time let herself be persuaded to a do small ’intimate fight’ in the kitchen, which had been a bad mistake, because the good Dottore had assumed this gave him rights he actually was nowhere near having. But there came a time when he eventually realized his mistake. Ever since then, he always got a bigger piece of apple cake than all the others…
Well – sitting under her sunshade, Gerlinde had to admit to herself that probably tomorrow would be another one of those days at the ’Salzburg’ when she would catch herself wishing her ’mister impossible’ were sitting at one of the tables, instead of the constantly grinning Satori.
But then – if she was perfectly honest – she had no idea what she would do if actually her impossible Carl were sitting there, smiling and ordering his beer in a tight-lipped way? Would she ignore him? Pretend he was a stranger? Or even send him away…? Or would she, perhaps, even be glad? Actually, would she be glad enough at seeing him to embrace him and kiss him in front of everyone?
Mind you, all this regardless of him being a truly disgusting, ego-centred ’chauvi’ for whom women were just something to be used! While he himself never managed to achieve even the smallest of results at home! Not to forget that he, quite wilfully, occasionally provoked and annoyed her by his lack of culture and boorishness. And the only things that surpassed his obesity were his bouts of perspiration, his rhino snoring and his roaring laughter. Yet – and this was the strange thing – you could, for some unfathomable reason, like him …?
Consequently, Gerlinde, sitting under her sunshade at 26 degrees Celsius and drinking one small Aperol after the other, started asking herself more and more intensely and audibly why this stupid cow Hannelore had not long ago made it more than clear for this impossible dummy Carl where, when and how he might find his ill-treated Gerlinde. And that said Gerlinde might perhaps, under certain circumstances graciously see fit – if it had to happen and he were to swear a holy oath to improve his manners and if he were to really ask her very nicely – to let herself be persuaded to try one last time with him. And if everything else, too, was perfect, she might just consider making an exception to the rule and just this one more time fly back home with him…?
Or did that serpent Hannelore play a false game? With her, you could never really know …
(Translated by EG)
Incidentally, the ‘strange hens’ are drawn by the author himself!
Klaus HnilicaThursday April 5th, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXII)
If things had been normal, Carl would have seen Gerlinde’s tight backside – instead of the carrion crow building her nest and therefore endlessly picking branches from the crown of the defenceless weeping birch! Because with this kind of Saturday morning in springtime, Gerlinde could have been depended on to bustle around amidst the early bloomers as early as the sun rose. She would have enjoyed the smell of the damp soil and none of the dithering worms underneath the mouldy clumps of leaves would have had a chance against her successful attempts at pointing them towards the already eagerly watching birds …
But things being as they were – all Carl did was sadly gaze at the sun-invaded garden from the patio with watery eyes after a meagre, self-made breakfast. Every corner of the garden was aching for Gerlinde’s ’green hand’!
Last spring, as Carl now remembered, he still had accompanied Gerlinde’s enthusiastic gardening with his competent remarks from the patio, helped by coffee and cigarillos! Incidentally, this, too, had not been pure joy, because Gerlinde had, by moaning in a rather demanding manner, cleverly managed to make him permanently give her a helping hand with various accessory services: a few cuts with the spade here, remove a branch there, throw this pile into the compost and please water this here. It could easily have happened for him to be made busy for the entire day in no time, had he not started setting his pegs at the right moment with determination!
And at the time it had been her wish to have the garden pond installed next to the laurel tree. Including ten sparkling gold fish which Hannelore and Kurt had generously contributed – and which now he had to deal with; just like he had to deal with the dirty brew, the water plants and the smelly mud…
Well, Carl wondered, maybe the pond was actually more important than cutting the tree. And that was something he definitely was not going to do himself. That called for an expert. Sucking intensely on his fourth Davidoff and immersed in his own thoughts, he made his way over the dew-wet lawn towards Gerlinde’s much-loved ’puddle’. He was already wearing his light trousers and white shirt for today’s leisure time.
Although not a single ray of sunshine illuminated the turbid water so far, Gerlinde’s gold fish were already busy! To be sure, they moved slowly, but still they moved! Carl knelt down and tried to motivate the small lazybones! Since, naturally, today there were none of Gerlinde’s complaints about not kneeling in the grass when he wore the light trousers, because it was impossible to wash grass marks away, he let himself be carried away by the small red-glowing lazybones to do more and more daring tricks. Soon, he was wet up to his elbows!
But careful! His watch! And the trousers also looked like they had suffered already! After all, he had to go and visit Hannelore and Kurt. At long last, they had once again invited him to have lunch with them – after that embarrassing Othello night. There was no way he could afford to let that become the next disaster…
All of a sudden, he felt his cell-phone vibrate in his breast pocket!
Without thinking, Carl dried his wet hands by once more rubbing across his light trousers. Instinctively, his hand moved to his trouser pocket, while the second hand shock off a nosy fly from his nose. Oh God – how his hands smelled of mouldy water! No – gardening would definitely never become his job. The atrocious smell alone was enough to keep him from it…
”Are you sure you are coming, Carl?“, Hannelore piped.
”Yes – yes“, Carl forced himself to say into the telephone – while having lost his balance a moment before and, to make matters worse, having landed fully in the wet lawn on his trouser backside …
”Carl, are you feeling well?“
”Yes – well, I only – just …“
”Carl – what is the matter?“
”Nothing, I only lost my balance and fell back.“
”Did you drink again?“
”No – yes, but not much!“
”That is what you always say!“
”No, do not worry …“
”But I am worried!“
”Oh – God, my bottom is wet!“
”My backside, Hannelore, can you hear me – and the watch! But where is it – where is my Rolex. The one I got from Gerlinde as a birthday present?“
”Carl, tell me what is the matter with you? You sound totally confused.“
”The Rolex is gone …“
”Well, it is. I was just busy annoying Gerlinde’s goldfish in the pond – and now the Rolex is gone.”
”Yes – before you rang up, I still had it!“
”Impossible! Perhaps it fell into the water?“
”No – no, absolutely not! Or may be yes?“
”Oh Carl, you really are unlucky these days, aren’t you …“
”Well, Hannelore, you can say that again!“
”What a shame, Carl.“
”Hannelore, I must ring off and look for the watch. I cannot rest otherwise. Please not to hold it against me, I will ring back, ok.“
The light trousers, the white shirt! Carl could not have cared less!
He threw himself at the edge of the fish pond and instantly started digging in the mud like crazy, using both hands and in water up to his shoulders; to be sure, he could not see anything in the dark brew, but once in a while he felt a goldfish – well, at least something – but unfortunately no Rolex!
Had he not just heard the front door bell ringing? What perfect timing. With him dirty all over …
But then he already heard the inimitable voice of Hannelore from the garden door and Kurt’s lamenting!
They both wore overalls and rubber boots; carrying a save-all, plastic buckets, rake and a dirt-water pump!
”Oh, yes “, Kurt sounded from afar “he who will not cherish the goldfish does not deserve the Rolex!“
”Now Kurt, stop these stupid slogans”, Hannelore scolded him “doesn’t Carl have enough to deal with already?”
”There you see, Carl, what a strong advocate you have!”, Kurt winked at him and, after a short discussion of the situation, he immediately took over!
Meanwhile, Carl made a fortunate exit, explaining that he had to bring a welcome drink; and Hannelore preferred seeing to the goldfish, while Kurt loudly developed the strategy.
But even after all the goldfish had been sitting in the plastic bucket for some time, the pond water had been pumped out, every square centimetre of the pool had been minutely inspected and the first round of beer had been drunk – there was still no Rolex to be seen anywhere …
”Hannelore, now the water plants must go, there is no other way” cried Kurt energetically “along with the stones“!
Still, Carl could not understand what all the fuss about this stupid watch was about! Why had he ever started playing around with those stupid fish in the first place?
Maybe Kurt had been right with his shallow slogan!
And Hannelore also made him jumpy: she kept asking where exactly he had stood when he first noticed the watch was missing; had it been over there or over there, on the other side, where Kurt now stood, or here in front of them …
He was definitely fed up with it! Still wet from top to bottom, he spontaneously turned around, took up the basket with all the empty beer bottles and went for more: beer was the only thing that could help in this situation.…
Yes, and just when he returned to the battlefield with the freshly filled basked, Hannelore, who, following orders, had already taken the water lilies out of the pond and put them into the bucket, not only gazed brazenly at Carl’s wet trousers. In a definitely rude manner, she looked between his legs!
She wined like a chainsaw, pushed Kurt away from the stones towards herself and yelled as she pointed towards Carl’s right upper leg.
”Carl, why don’t you put your hand into your right trouser pocket?“
”Why should I?“ he was dumbfounded as he put down the full basket.
”Just do it!“
”Ok, I will do it” as he said so, he started uncertainly looking down his own front.
”Oh my God, there it is – the Rolex! What a stupid dope I am?“
”You can say that again”, smiled Hannelore. “You should be glad Gerlinde is not here to witness it …“
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday March 22nd, 2012
Carl and Gerlinde (XXI)
26 degrees Celsius at Puerto Santiago! Cloudless skies! A steel-blue ocean looking like freshly ironed! And numerous minuscule ships before Gomera …
Gerlinde might easily have been happy in her apartment with the rough-hewn Spanish furniture. But no – for two weeks, she had now suffered from this terrible mental emptiness! Lethargically, without drive and perhaps even desperately, she bravely tried to get rid of this siesta sadness each day.
The horrible ’Kalima’ had thrown in his towel! Thank God for small mercies! She could have continued lying there and dozing under the awning all afternoon.…
But Gerlinde forced herself to get up, bought white bread, bacon, eggs and orange jam at the Calle de Honduras Supermercado and then decided it was high time to visit the ’Salzburg’ at Arena. Seeing Anna! Without Anna, her mouth would have grown stuck together! More often than not, the only person she talked to for several days was Anna …
She had not imagined the complex of bungalows could be quite so deserted at this time of year when she, spontaneously, had decided to spend the winter out here in order to get a grip on the situation with Carl and herself. Neither had this been the case when, ten years ago, she had bought this apartment with Jürgen. At least that had been the impression she got at the time; but then, they had never stayed there for any considerable time in winter, otherwise she would perhaps have noticed the very unstable presence of the English occupation right away: sun-tanned and beer-bellied!
Gerlinde had never told Carl about this little refuge of hers in the Canaries. Of course, Hannelore and Kurt knew about it: after all, they also knew her ex-husband. And Jürgen probably had gotten wind about the fact that her first ’amorous intoxication’ with Carl had now paled. Which is probably why he – not without ulterior motive – had offered her the apartment for ’pondering and meditation’. Of course, it was free for her – and he had promised that he was absolutely not going to intrude on her or molest her in any way!
”Great Indian’s Promise”, he had sweet-talked into the telephone – cute in his own way!
And since he knew only too well how Gerlinde suffered from winter depressions, it was absolutely clear for him that she was going to bite.
After a few mouthfuls of champagne with lavish helpings of Aperol, she even agreed to squeeze into her white cotton dress, press the complementary black straw bonnet on her head and disappear behind her extra-large sun-glasses. All sadness was instantly gone! Encouragingly, she told herself that this new afternoon at the ”Salzburg“ in Arena was going to be approached with relish and she was determined to plunge headlong into evil-doing – hoping that an opportunity for such was soon going to present itself…
Then there was this incident when she was happily strolling along the picturesque promenade towards Arena: a girl standing on top of a single lava rock that protruded far over the ocean! Determinedly, she stared into the depth, where one wave after the other broke on the black lava cliffs. The girl was totally immersed in herself, not taking any notice at all of the passing pedestrians; and they, too ignored her! Perhaps they had seen it all before?
But then, the girl was so tiny, so beautiful, so fragile, wearing her minuscule bikini. But before Gerlinde could cry – no, no don’t do it – the petite figure trembled and immediately afterwards the girl disappeared in the depths without any further ado!
Gerlinde was aghast and hurried towards the rocky edge, but all of a sudden, an athletic young boy looking around sixteen and wearing bathing trunks came running up the promenade path from the lower levels. He happily smiled at her and, without hesitating or looking, he dived headlong far into the ocean. About twenty metres down, his landing on the wavy water was as swift as an eel’s. The two lovers laughed and yelled as they crawled towards each other, embraced and kissed without ever even once looking up towards the few spectators.
As she went further on her way, Gerlinde also laughed. This bizarre happiness made her happy and she suddenly found herself wondering if Carl would ever have jumped after her like this? If not immediately, then after how many glasses of beer? One? Three? Five? Or not at all? Well, and then she wondered why the question had come to her mind? She actually was a little surprised at herself …
As always, Anna had kept a seat for Gerlinde at the “Salzburg“. Without prompting, she brought the Cortado, along with a huge piece of her beautifully crumbly apple cake with cream and a huge bottle of Aqua without glass!
Anna was approaching thirty. She was a good-looking dark-haired lady who had gotten stuck at this place four years ago. But now she already prepared to try her luck elsewhere. And Gerlinde felt drawn towards her…
The dashing cigarillo type – strangely enough, he looked a little like Carl, except he was a lot younger and more athletic – also again sat outside at the corner table with his obligatory “Corriere Della Sera“ and “Welt“. Like yesterday and the day before, he nodded towards her in a friendly manner when their eyes met. But Anna cautioned her! Dottore Sattori is not on the market, she said conspiratorially. For several years, he has now been accompanying a certain Dagmar von Platen, who was a person you did not want to get on the wrong side of.
She was a lady who might quickly see to it that something evil befell you, Anna whispered with a smile. The way she changed topics to talk about those forest fires wreaking havoc on the island for days on end and, like the Amen at church, setting a new hill aflame each night and leaving nothing but desolate, charred soot deserts was a little too hasty. Allegedly, they were originally triggered off by family feuds, knew Anna, but, of course, there was no lack of imitators!
Last night, they had set the hills near the ’Great Gala’ on fire. Anna said that was also why the fire brigades were ceaselessly on the alert and you could even see the huge trails of smoke from outer space. Then she jumped up to quickly serve an Austrian couple who had newly arrived. Apparently, she knew them, too.
Well, and then she had, again, been sitting here deep into the night! Once more, Gerlinde had indulged a little too much; there was not the slightest inclination in her to climb back up the hill she had climbed down at noon. Neither did she feel like rounding the harbour a second time in order to get to her apartment.
Instead, she preferred to pay for the taxi at the opposite side of the street. Unfortunately, Anna, again, could not come. She had to clean the pub, lock the door and deposit the day’s turnover at the bank. What a pity. Anna’s caresses were a balm for her …
Gerlinde felt tired and exhausted when she finally sank onto the sofa of her apartment! Without Anna, without Carl, without Jürgen and without Dottore…
And, again, she had not used the time to ponder about her situation! And it looked like she was not going to do so tomorrow, either, or the day after tomorrow: well, what was this stupid pondering supposed to get her, anyway…
Laughter and sounds of talking from the other houses made her get up again and walk onto the patio. The night was so shamelessly satiny, and on the opposite side, at Gomera, the car’s front lights trembled like fireflies through the protective night. All over the sky, stars seemed to sparkle!
But what good was romantic scenery at night if it was wasted on a patio, thought Gerlinde with a grumpy smile, before indulging in one last ’Carlos’ in order not to start weeping again …
But then the very last drop was also consumed! And the last cigarette was finished!
And when, around midnight, she woke up from her self-pity for a short moment and closed the patio door, she realized with shock that this nightly endeavour had been a fatal error; because, again, one of those ’devilish beasts’ had quickly found its way into her living room …
Oh God, how very much she would now have liked to call for her impossible Carl!
And call is what she did! Yes, she even yelled! Again and again, she yelled: Carl, you monster, this place is full of cockroaches! Cockroaches! Cockroaches! Cockroaches… Huge, disgusting cockroaches!
Carl, you have to kill them. You definitely have to kill them, because I cannot! Don’t you know…
But this abomination of a man was not here! As always when you needed him …
(Translated by EG)
And two weeks from now, on April, 5th, 2012, we will be back with “Carl and Gerlinde”