Klaus Hnilica
Thursday April 18th, 2013

Garden Lust and Garden Frustration

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”.

”What do you mean, Bernie?“, Carl was irritated.

”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?

KH
(Translated by EG)

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