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“Go watch the fish drinking in the river”

They loved Christmas. Like lovable children in love with love they were last seen   whispering sweet lullabies to each others earlobes while they linked their arms to drink a toast to the new year. They had met one summer in the first  summer Christmas resort that “Leisure Reloaded Ltd.”, the renowned family-friendly hotel chain,  had opened in the middle of the Nevada desert. Both of them belonged to the age and social group that the hotel company was targeting. His name was Klaus, proud of his bavarian German blood , and hers Carole, from South Carolina, also known as The Palmetto State. He was a morose bachelor that kept on reproaching himself having gone astray in his search for love and she a spinster  still willing to give love a chance under the palmetto shades or a coconut tree, for that matter. They were in their late-fifties and half a century , give or take an hour, was the time span they secretly believed they could count upon to meet each other one day and finally fall in love.

But God´s invisible hand by the means of “Leisure Reloaded Ltd” family-friendly hotel chain had arranged otherwise and showed itself willing to make that waiting time much shorter. According to the marketing files of the company  Carole and Klaus were raised within wealthy, healthy and wise family environments in which the pattern of success was woven according to the catholic motto: show your neighbours you´re happy so that they can be happy too. An important milestone in this life pattern were the Christmas celebrations, with their hammering home of an ubiquituous and allmighty love that prevented anyone from raising a complaining voice,unless he wanted to bring upon him the unanimous wrath of  all the blessed souls smiling around him. The company´s files attested particularly to this matching feature of their personalities. Beyond any national difference, there remained the stubborn  fact  of their exemplary abiding by what was expected from them , that is: smile, keep on smiling, don´t spare your nice white teeth from displaying your lovely smile  to all the smiling people around you , go give yourself a treat and allow your jaws and cheeks to stretch to the utmost in an everlasting smile and if , by chance, the time comes when your jaw muscles begin to give in or your cheekbones sinews to fall apart in the face of such an unbearably protracted smile , don´t worry, for a reasonable flat-rate “Leasure Reloaded Ltd” family-friendly hotel chain will provide you with the best plastic surgeons available round-the clock in its luxurious summer Christmas resorts.

In spring , the flowering season, their laptops had  blossomed with spam emails sent from the marketing department of “Leisure Reloaded Ltd” family-friendly hotel chain. At the beginning neither of them had paid any attention to those spams because they never bothered to check their junk email folders. Fussing with spams was far from being a priority in their always busy lives. Their pride wouldn´t allow them in any case to stoop so low. Spam… Only the fact of the spelling of this word bearing such a ressemblance to “sperm” was enough to  make it  too sticky a thing for them. Still, as summer approached and the prospect of not having anyone to spend their summer holidays with, began to cast a dark shadow over their strong believe in  love having  to smile upon them, no matter how, no matter when, whatever the cost, they ended up opening their junk email boxes, not without previously assessing  that their mouse clicking into the junk box was not witnessed by anybody.

In doing so they both recalled their last summer´s dissapointments. Both of them had taken a cruise. Carole to the caribbean sea, Klaus to the mediterranean.  Carole had shortly before decided to join a catholic tourist league following the advice of a close friend, that had extolled the  charisma of its tourist guides and the spiritual lessons they delivered from the bridge of the cruise ship to the lost yet affluent flock that out of loneliness had surrendered  their emotional fates to them. As it happened Carol´s way of surrendering her emotional fate , her passionate way of joining the morning gospel activities on deck stretching her arms toward the preaching tourist guide in a sort of religious fit and the shaking up and down of the chunk of meat forcibly fitted into the blue- velvet breeches that she wore while she bounced on deck to the tune of those morning gospel songs, winded up misleading the tourist guide´s leadership, who couldn´t avoid  getting carried away by sin and grab Carole´s ass  thinking  that she would surrender it to him with one of those gleeful smiles of hers. But Carole´s outright decent reaction took the form of a resounding smack on his face after which she left the boat with a swaggering gait heading toward the port authorities of Puerto Vallarta, the caribbean haven in which the ship cruise was temporarily docked, and where she intented to report the ominous harassment she had been victim of. After phoning some of her Palmetto State cronies from the port´s head office she got  indemnified in cash by the  travel agency and the shipping line diligently paid her the travel back home on another cruise ship which at her sole request was christened anew as “Love Boat” and to which she was able to transfer overnight in the same harbour.

In regard to Klaus, what else can we say but that feeling sick because he wasn´t used to travelling by sea , his only attempt to shake off the cobweb that was spinning in his increasing bachelor hopelessness  was to enter the ship´s cockpit and slipping his arms around the waist of an attractive female officer  to start talking  her about the concept of anguish and fear in Heidegger´s philosophical work, after which she started  to feel sick herself , if not directly willing to jump off the boat and be carried adrift  in the wake of the  boat´s bloodthirsty propellers.

In view of all these mishaps, Carole in Charleston, South Carolina and Klaus, in Regensburg, Bavaria- decided almost simultaneously to try and take another  glimpse at the “Leisure Reloaded Ltd.” spam campaign in the junk boxes of their laptops and thereupon and almost also simultaneously, darted out of the junk folders at a click of their mouses and proceeded in haste to close the laptop lids with the aid of their hands and arms and elbows and what not  and having assigned their chests the task of covering closely from behind the whole exit manoeuvre, they ordered finally their eyes to look anguishly around their rooms lest someone had seen them clicking into the junk box in desperate search for those redeeming spams. A word “Spam”, by the way, over which they kept on musing because of the unsettling similarity its spelling bore to “sperm”. But, however it may be, being both regrettably alone at their respectives homes, who could  be there  watching them? God, perhaps? The absurdity of this made them smile out of relieve and the stronger their awareness was of God not being snooping around their rooms the sooner their smiles  turned  into a mischevious grin full of guilt, if such a thing is possible, which indeed it is.And with this queer grin in their faces they summoned  the peace of mind necessary  to open  their laptops again and  begin feasting on what the spam ads had to offer them.

The “Leisure Reloaded Ltd.”spam brochures were, admittedly, smartly edited and  included colourful pics of the brand new premises that the company had built  in the middle of the Nevada desert. The Nevada facilities consisted of  a sort of gigantic shopping mall with the shape of an enormous ship cruise- a “shipping mall” the company´s bright brand manager jokingly liked to call it in the quarterly board meetings they held- a metal structure in the shape of a cruise ship stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by huge palm trees ,whose shades were, no doubt, far much larger than those of Carole´s modest South Carolina´s  palmettos and, as to Klaus, alone the palm trees sunny luxuriance was enough to meet his craving for heat after the frozen winter he had had to endure in Germany. But, of course, not only nature´s profiglacy played a role in their decision making. No. There were also their spiritual needs to cater for and that´s where the marketing people of “Leisure Reloaded Ltd.”  had put the icing on the cake.

The hotel company´s by-laws defined its mission in the following terms: “to develop a welfare community within our new premises, a community formed by a set of  catholic affluent people in their fifties whose succesful professional careers have, no matter the reason, luckily decoupled from their crippled emotional fates  and that, no matter the unreason, feel that their unmatched longings for love and happiness could only be fulfilled during the Christmas celebrations” Should “Leisure Reloaded Ltd.”  make, incidentally, some money accomplishing this charitable purpose, the company´s by-laws took, in passing, the opportunity to  disclaim any responsability whatsoever concerning what further uses it would make of any extra dough that winded up in its pockets.

As a matter of fact Carole and Klaus were two respectable catholic urban individuals in their fifties that met by far the marketing mix requisites that the company was looking for. Because Carole and Klaus still nourished their Christmas dreams and were fond of carols and St. Claus and Rudolph the red nose reindeer and, broadly speaking, of everything that could prompt one´s  tender smile and one´s bountiful  heart in front of a colourful window display full of confetti and party blowers.  Carole was unquestionably more musical whenever it came to express the fondness she felt  for Christmas but  Klaus,  Klaus philosophical airs and white beard simply melted down in front of such things as  a living crib or the parade of the holy kings or the Glühwein-a bleach- tasting warm wine drunk at german Christmas markets,or, for that matter, the version of “auld lang syne” being sung in chorus after the New Year Eve´s countdown by the passengers and crew of a luxury liner in 1972´s  film “The Poseidon Adventure”  just, by the way, in the very moment a huge wave crushes against the hull of the liner and puts an abrupt end to  toasts ,smiles and  high-and- low-pitched human voices.

“Leisure Reloaded Ltd” offered them all that and set it furthermore in a unique exotic location at very, very fair prices  and, to round everything off, the offer arrived in a time  when against the chilling shadow that death began to cast upon them pinpointing unmercifully the crucial failures of their lives, they couldn´t think of any better safe-haven to flee  to  than the spam box of their steaming laptops blossoming luxuriantly in spring.

Thus in the great reception hall of that mall spawned, as it were,  by all  that  spring feverishly spam of their laptops Klaus and Carol came to meet each other the Christmas of that summer.Their eyes met for the first time as they turned smilingly their heads , sticking out of the holes of a  cardboard cutout photo set with the figures of the holy Joseph and the virgin Mary. It was the first part of the opening ceremony that the marketing people  of “Leisure Reloaded Ltd” had come up with. After  the photo shooting a carol contest was scheduled named after, and here again the marketing team had put the icing on the cake, the Spanish worldwide renowned Christmas carol “Go watch the fish drinking in the river”. Anyone able to contrive a carol that matched , however little,  the creative genius contained in such a chorus would be granted a slot machine with christmas motifs as well as the right to be the first one to strike up “Auld Lang Syne” after the New Year´s Eve countdown. The competition proved to be tough but ultimately  who if not Klaus could have won the carol contest for Carole´s sake? And who if not Carol could have kissed Klaus in that very instant for the first time? And who if not all of that set of catholic affluent people could have smiled at the new borned couple in the exhilarated way they did?

Out of a spam, whose spelling so close a similarity bore to “sperm”, a new love story had come into  the world .Whether it was bound to last  or not, it would depend on the New Year eve´s countdown and the time it took after it for the first cracks to appear in the metallic hull of the ship shaped facilities  that “Leasure Reloaded Ltd” family-friendly hotel chain had, in less time than the clinking of two toasting glasses , erected in the middle of the Nevada desert.

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