M. Vincent van Mechelen


The expats Quentin and Andrea discuss the Dutch website The Amazing Retecool or, as the words and name would be spelled in Dutch, when pronounced by Dutch people: 'Die Ummezing Rietkoel'. These two conversations form part of the document in Deze Taal called "Retekool en luierwerk" (Retecool cabbage and the labor of diapered lazy-bones), about a conflict between MVVM and Retecool. Q is Quentin and A is Andrea*.


Q   "What the heck does rete mean?"
A "Rete? A plexus of blood vessels or nerves."
Q "What's the connection, then, with cool? Did those Retecoolers give themselves Dutch courage by drinking lots of cold beer?"
A "Yes, it's in their blood now ... No, in Dutch 'rayta' 1 , as you're supposed to pronounce it, is anal slang for very or mighty. They think they're as cool as cucumbers by proudly presenting themselves as asinine asses."
Q "You're sure?"
A "Pretty sure. And if it's not that, then the correct description of their site must be The Amazing Rete Cord."
Q "Rete cord?"
A "Yes, a strand of cells that grow from the region of the mesonephros into the developing gonad of the vertebrate embryo".
Q "Crisis, gimme a break. I'll talk to ya later."

1  The Dutch adverbial prefix rete is pronounced approximately as |REI-ta|.



Q   "What does amazing mean?"
A "Amazing? You're kiddin'! I'd say, what amazes people surprises them so much that they find it almost impossible to believe. I, for instance, find it almost impossible to believe that a native speaker like you wouldn't know what amazing means."
Q "Of course, i know, and i find it amazing that Vincent made Retecool lose the Battle in the Chaff-field with twenty-eight hundred soldiers in fourteen hundred vehicles against one soldier on a bike. But why did Retecool start calling itself "amazing" long before that remarkable story?"
A "Well, i fear their English is not perfect. The way those Cucumbers combine cool and rete makes one wonder."
Q "What's so amazing about your English not being perfect when you're Dutch? Even some native speakers don't have no good command of the English language."
A "Quentin, that's not what i mean. Perhaps, they don't realize that there's an important gradual difference between something that amazes you and something that surprises you. When something amazes you, it doesn't just surprise you. It's supposed, then, to cause you to feel great surprise, if not admiration."
Q "Are you sure they merely confuse surprise and amazement? They steal people's photos and sound files in order to 'rape' them. And if they can, they'll not only try to damage or destroy your own reputation but even your late parents' without letting you know who they are -- the cowards! Would you call it "surprising", let alone "amazing", if an anonymous thief stole your car and painted crazy pictures with offensive texts on it?"
A "Yes, i'd find that very amazing."
Q "Why?"
A "Because i haven't got a car."
Q "Andrea, it's only an example. Imagine you return from a coffeeshop and discover that your bike has been stolen. Would you call that theft 'amazing'?"
A "No, on the contrary. In Holland there are many places where you'll find it amazing that your bike has not been stolen when you come back after an hour or so. The locals here have a special word for this stealing and fencing of bicycles. They call it 'recycling'."
Q "Just take another example then. Imagine someone knocked you down in the street for no reason at all. It's referred to as 'senseless violence' in Dutch ..."
A "That wouldn't amaze or surprise anyone anymore -- it has already happened too often."
Q "But suppose that the offender would return to you and make 'imself known, before you or bystanders would've had a chance to call the police. Suppose this person would sincerely apologize for having hurt you and would not only pay you back the damage done but would offer to recompense you in full for the shock and emotional distress you suffered as well. Wouldn't you be surprised then?"
A "I'd be flabbergasted. Such a surprise would really knock me flat."
Q "Is that, perhaps, the way in which Retecool intends to be 'amazing': by showing remorse for some of their actions and by compensating people for what they've done wrong?"
A "Nonsense. It's the last thing i'd expect from a bunch of cyber hooligans like them. I find that absolutely impossible to believe."
Q "Isn't that precisely why it would deserve the epithet of amazing in English?"
A "Er ..."
Q "Wouldn't it be truly amazing?"
A "Yeah, it would -- there ya got me."

 *  Andrea's name is pronounced as |AEN-dree-a|, with stress on the first syllable. The first-person singular pronoun is i, not I, as Quentin and Andrea do not consider themselves Supreme Beings or anything else of that Ilk. The third-person singular pronoun used is 'e, with 'im, objective case, and 'er, possessive pronoun. [Editor, please do not change these pronouns. I will deal personally with any reactionary Retecooler who, in a reedy voice or not, is going to blame you for making a spelling mistake.]


©MVVM, 59-68 ASWW


short stories