Klaus Hnilica
Thursday October 31st, 2013

Northern Lights Above the Kinzig…

”Does this ’Northern Light’ actually exist, or is it something you only know about after drinking yourself comatose?” – Maria put this deliberately stupid question before the gossipy assembly at the ’Artemis Palace’ in Gelnhäuser Straße, where the perspiring regulars had already been waiting for their Gyros for what felt like a hundred years… …

Quarkteilchen_if_blog”How come you can start talking about this – when we are all sitting here suffering from the far too high temperatures?” Gerald moaned next to her while his dripping wet upper lip gave a scarcely noticeable tic.

”Well, I thought I had heard someone at this table talking about the Northern Lights just now”, Maria was surprised. Irritated, she moved her black abundance of hair into the thunderous babble of voices.

”Nay“, Gerald bloated while tiredly drying his forehead and drowning his second glass of beer, “I heard nothing remotely like Northern Lights?“

”Hey – listen: who of you intoned ’Northern Light’ just now?”, Maria shrilly trumpeted into the wafting round.

”I did”, Kurt called from the rear end near the edge of the table, “I told Martha – quasi to cool down a little – about our last cruise to the North Cape and about those unbelievable Northern Lights we had there to look at every evening  – they are truly spectacular!“

”There you go – I heard Northern Lights, didn’t I? I am not deaf, am I? But you, Gerald, maybe you should move from getting drunk on beer to having your listening devices checked, what do you think?“

”Haha – how funny”, Gerald mumbled. He carefully dried his perspiring face using two paper towels and immediately proceeded to order his third beer, since he was already talking…

”So Kurt … do you now know how one of these ’Northern Lights’ are created?” Maria was in an aggressive mood.

”Yes … or rather, no!“, the dark-tanned,  tall Kurt said with a regretful frown on a face sparkling with wetness.

”To be sure, our guide explained it three times a day, but I forgot – and besides, to be perfectly honest, I never really understood it, anyway. All I know is that it has something to do with the magnetic field of the earth.“

”And? Is that all?”, Maria brashly dug deeper.

”Yes – that is all I remember, Madam Schoolmistress.…“

”Well, this is less than nothing, Mister Kurt … What was you name again?“

”Canpourer “!

”Sit down – your grade is F, Mister Canpourer!“

”Well, I am sitting already, am I not?”, Kurt laughed and returned to his illustriously painted Northern-Cape- Martha.

”And – you, Johannes, maybe you know how this ominous ’Northern Light’ is created?”, Maria suddenly asked the man sitting opposite, since she could not help being her usual deep-digging self, after shortly having mustered Johannes.

Simultaneously, she provocatively pushed one of her black strands of hair behind her protruding ears and enjoyed the bashfulness she caused in the ’silent potter’, as she derisively called the industrial ceramics worker, with her surprise question.

Actually, Johannes was truly a very quiet person! And extremely inconspicuous!!

His sparse, dirty blond hair – cut short, too – added to the entire impression, although the wide-spaced face improved significantly whenever he showed that impish grin.

He was thirty, a bachelor and, regardless of his shy nature managed to sit opposite Maria during every single meeting of the regulars held every third Friday; in fact, it seemed like he wanted to make absolutely sure that all her evil arrows of venom landed exclusively in his body, just like with Saint Sebastian, and could not harm anybody else.

Perhaps that was also the decisive reason why he was still – eight months after Kurt had first brought him along – sitting in this circle; because he had been hired by the company Heraeus of Hanau for a two-year research program in the field of industrial ceramics and was a total stranger in Rodenbach.

And it seemed like the glowing heat of this summer was exactly what he liked best: how else could you explain that he – who was always so reticent – was always in a good mood and even paid for all the drinks for everyone; even for the ’venomous Maria’, as he provocatively called her. This, however, was answered by her with no more than a forgiving smile that barely involved a downward movement of the left side of her mouth.

Also, Maria had no problem with the brutal heat at the ’Artemis Palace’: as soon as she had worked her way through her Gyros without any large-scale heat attack, she immediately commenced by asking the ’Northern Light’ question in the direction of Johannes and the totally faded, atrocious Acropolis picture hanging on the wall behind him in her loudest voice!

Since, however, Johannes was still busy chewing a huge lump of calamari, he only replied “is that so” after Maria had tauntingly commented to him that, after all, he was the one who habitually behaved like your know-it-all.

”Yes, that is so”, Maria cuttingly remarked; for a moment, she had the attention of the entire group.

”Is that really what I am doing?“

”Well, you know, sometimes that is what you are doing… “ came the reply from everywhere.

”Aw – I am truly sorry”, Johannes said with a faded red colour in his face “basically, if I remember correctly, I never wanted to get the reputation of being a know-it-all – but still: here’s to you all!”. He took his glass and raised a toast for all of them before swallowing the remaining Amthystos – some sort of Greek ’Grüner Veltliner’ – in a single go.

”It is truly great that we now clarified this issue – but now let us return to the ’Northern Light”, my dear Johannes. Because you can rest assured that you are not going to sneak out of this one!”, Marias words after a short interval were friendly but still put before him in such a way that Johannes knew what was up.

Because, even though having to look at the orange-coloured sparkling long-drink Maria had been nipping at all the time like an Indian Trunk made him sick deep into his bones, he courageously said: “Ok, I will try!. But first we have to clarify a few basics, otherwise there is no chance! Are you fine with that?“

”If it is absolutely necessary?“ Maria grunted.

”So, Maria, do you know what an ’ionised particle’ is?“

”I am assuming that with ’particles’ you do not mean the extremely delicious cheddar cheese particles you can get at the Briegel bakery, or the even more attractive ones with butter streusels I so very much like stuffing my mouth with? Because, my dear Johannes, those are all but ’ionized ’… “

”Johannes – you pig! Is ’ionising’ something you would not wish to talk in the company of ladies?”, Kurt interrupted from his corner of the table.

”Or maybe some precious antiquity?”, his colourful Northern Cape Martha sniggered.

”Or do you mean one of those boring ’atoms’ every German who thinks in terms of sustainability has to avoid these days when you say particles?”, Maria suddenly asked surprisingly seriously. She emphasized her spontaneous attack of seriousness by a cunningly lady-like sip from her ’orange-coloured manure extract’.

”What do I see”, Hermine, sitting next to her friend Maria, taunted, “our pain in the neck is now suddenly leaning towards natural sciences. If that is not something totally new!“

”Now, if I am correct, Johannes, then what you mean when you say ’ionizing ’ is that an atom is separated from an electron and the remaining atom is horny enough to change into a ’positive ion’, or what?”, Maria asked into the silence while now provocatively putting both her elbows onto the table.

Johannes, a little confused about Maria seeming to have sudden strokes of genius when it comes to physics, closed his open mouth and clucked in Maria’s direction: “yes – that – is what I mean, Maria! In fact – that is exactly what I mean…!“

”And do you also mean that, during this ’ionizing process’ the other electrons of the thus divided atom are pushed to higher energy levels, producing a truly illustrious spectacle of light whenever falling back down onto lower levels?“

Johannes only nodded mutely, since his mouth, faced with such an amount of physical knowledge, had fallen open again by itself.…

”What? And this is supposed to be all there is to the ’other-worldly Northern Light’? Johannes, you cannot be serious about this, can you? Or were you just choking because you can no longer manage to close your throat?”, Maria, visibly content with the reaction her stale physics paper caused, giggled. After all, it had only been a few weeks earlier that she had graduated from high school with extremely satisfying results. …

”No, Maria, that alone is, naturally, not yet the ’Northern Light’, Johannes replied slightly acerbically, even though he was impressed. His eyes never left Maria and at long last, some perspiration was building on his forehead, “incidentally, it also depends on circumstances where and how this ’ionization process of atoms’ happens!“

”So what circumstances are we talking here, why don’t you continue, you wisecrack?”, Maria urged him on.

”Well, for instance the geo-magnetism on the North Pole …“

”And why is that?“

”Because on the North Pole, the geo-magnetic lines are directed into the ocean at right angles …“

”Or into the ice”, Maria interrupted him, “which makes it twice as fascinating, doesn’t it?“

”Yes – you could put it like that. That is why, for example here, over the Kinzig, you will never see any Northern Light – because the geo-magnetic lines are never directed into the Kinzig at right angles. Instead, they lie over it in flat lines, if you know what I mean…“

”Do you mean lying in flat lines … or laying flat, Johannes? Incidentally, there is a slight difference, as you might actually know…“

”Didn’t I tell you all that this ’ionization process’ must be something you would not wish to talk about in the presence of ladies!”, Kurt yelled over the general bawling.
”But now, other than those geo-magnetic lines allegedly lying flat over the Kinzig…”, Maria kept at it, “what other ’fascinating circumstances’ are we talking here when it comes to the Northern Lights? Can’t you stop building up all this unnecessary tension, Johannes?”

”The cycle of the sun… my dear Maria – and this strange eleven-year-period“!

”Are you telling me that this hellish sun, which makes us all perspire so profusely, also has a period? Now that would be really freaky, wouldn’t it?”, Maria screeched. At long last, she took at least one of her elbows off the table and pulled another wet strand of hair back in such a way that Johannes saw her sweaty, shaved armpits for a moment …

”Now, Maria, you do not want to become unappetizing, do you?”, Hermine interrupted her while all the others were so totally exhausted that all they could do was give Maria a silent toast.…
Johannes, too, no longer smiled. His enthusiasm to give a ’scientific explanation’ about ’how the Northern Light is created’ had totally disappeared.

And since all the others were also fed up both with ’Greak Cuisine’ and ’Greek Heat’ and Maria’s nagging Northern Light interrogation, Kurt spontaneously declared it was time to go, with which he put a rather unexpected stop to the Northern Light spook in an uncool way.

Even Maria remained silent while embracing everybody around and exchanging body fluids …

But when, endless weeks later, on a Tuesday in November, which, incidentally, happened to be her twenty-first birthday, at 6 p.m. the iPhone started ringing in her flat-sharing community in the Old Village where she had been living ever since she started studying in Frankfurt and it was Johannes at the other end, she was more than a little surprised.

And she was even more astounded when Johannes said he wanted to apologize, because of the time in August when the sub-tropical circumstances had prevented him from continuing with his Northern Light explanation and because he had never shown up again afterwards.

“Consequently” – he said – after having taken several deep breaths, today, on her birthday, of course purely coincidentally, provided she had nothing better to do, there might be an opportunity to, well, not precisely explain the Northern Light to her, but at least give her a chance to look at it in a really cool manner … if that was what she desired?
”Look at what?“

”The Northern Light!“

”But where?“

„Where – where, where, Maria, stop asking questions …“

”But I want to know where?“

”Well – what do you think: naturally over the Kinzig, where else?“

”You really must have lost it now!“

”No Maria, you can really see it today!“

”Maybe you can see it today, because you are drunk, at least that is how it seems to me?“

”No – and so are you, Maria, even if all you are slurping all the time is this strange ’Orange Manure’…“

”But you said yourself that there can be no Northern Light over the Kinzig, because of the flat magnetic field”

”Yes, that was yesterday, Maria. Today, there is one… “

”That sounds like you want to knock me flat, doesn’t it, you joker?“

”No, that is not what I want – I mean, naturally I would not mind you lying flat – if you know what I mean, but not today!“

”So when?“

”I do not know, Maria. But today, I would like to show you the Northern Light – really …“

”Are you telling me really only the Northern Light, Johannes?“

”Yes, as truly as anybody can honestly be truthful …“

”Fine – then I will trust you, Johannes, and I will come – or maybe you want to meet me, since I do not know where exactly I am supposed to be?“

”Of course, I am already standing at your door …

”So why don’t you come on in?“

”Well, if I may?“

”Stupid. You may…!“

And quite apart from what nonsense they wrote later about this alleged laser spectacle in the bird’s preserve area near the Erlensee on the Kinzig in the ’Rodenbacher Boten’ and in the ’Hanauer Anzeiger’– the duration of which was just on the wrong side of making it possible for the authorities to, even after several weeks, find the bold originator who cared neither about upsetting the angry citizens nor about the scared animals  – Maria never wanted to talk about the ’Northern Lights” after that Tuesday. And she also did not want to hear about them ever again. But this was certainly not because she felt sorry for all those scared birds …

And she also never again sat opposite Johannes during any of the subsequent “Artemis Palace” regular’s meetings. Instead, she sat next to him while he, like in former times, silently smiled and tried to catch the occasional venomous arrow sent out by her even in this position that was definitely less than fortunate in terms of defence.

Incidentally, during those meetings the hands of the two of them mostly remained invisible! Basically, the only times when their hands were seen above the table was while they ate their Gyros or the usual calamari pieces – and, of course, when Johannes paid for both himself and Maria.

And when, at one time, Kurt Canpourer boldly put the loud question before them if they both had no lower arms left since you never saw them – just like they had been amputated – Johannes and Maria only looked at each other and then at the circle of friends – without blushing in the slightest.  …

Totally cool!

(Translated by EG)

This story is taken from the book “LichterWahnSinn” by the group of authors: Wortspieler; the picture is by Ralf Weingärtner

1 Kommentar zu “Northern Lights Above the Kinzig…”

  1. Martina (Sunday November 3rd, 2013)

    Jetzt verstehe ich das Nordlicht zwar immer noch nicht ganz und gar, aber endlich, dank dem Quarkteilchen-Foto, dass Liebe wohl wirklich durch den Magen geht, oder?

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