Mexican dream


‘Only a Kahlua can save me’, my wife said as she stepped into our appartment with the groceries. That remark did not surprise me at all, because I’ve been hearing it at least once a day since that fateful evening, about thirty years ago, when she ran out of Tía Maria. The emergency liquor man was out of TM that night so he recommended Kahlua to her as a substitute. Since then, she has never had anything else but Kahlua so she turned me into an addict as well.

What has occupied my mind ever since is ‘how can we turn that magnificent slogan into gold? Why keep it all to ourselves?’ I have no connections in the advertising aka communications world. But think of all the business opportunities lost by the distiller unaware of my wife’s brilliant invention! It is crystal clear to me that the use of this slogan will result in flocks of women getting hooked on this wonderful elixir. Anyone who likes coffee liqueur and reacts favourably to rum, coffee and extract of cactuses, will fall for this stuff and be stuck with it for the rest of his or her life. This is precisely what the English call an ‘acquired taste.’

Strangely, I am now reminded suddenly of our late solicitor. We were sitting in front of his desk, a few days before our marriage,  as he read out aloud the full text of our prenuptial agreement, complete with lists of all possessions on either side. He read these out in full, at the special request of my wife. Every plate and doorknob and florin. Frankly, I saw no use for all this. Being a romantic, I thought that marriage was forever and  I believed in our everlasting undivided interest in all. But my wife had insisted.

As the man read on and on, he saw a certain look on my face, so he briefly interrupted his litany and said to me re-assuringly, in a voice full of empathy, with a twinkle in his eyes: “Maak je geen zorgen Jan, simpel gezegd betekenen deze huwelijkse voorwaarden: ‘wat je hebt daar zit je mee”. So: “Don’t worry Jan, this agreement simply means that from now on you’re stuck with what you’ve got.” That shook me up. Startled, I glanced at my wife out of the corner of the only eye I have available for such observation. She was unconcerned, the enumeration of all her possessions made her radiate.

My belief that cactus juice is a determining ingredient in Kahlua is based on a dream. At dusk, I was riding a horse in a Mexican desert. Cactuses and Joshua trees all around. Men on horseback, colossal hats. Mariachi music. The sound of a singer, sobbingly chanting his dramatic love story, interrupted by engaged shouts of his audience, such as ‘carajo, me moja el niño’. I had had quite a number of Kahluas the night before. As I woke up I thought: ‘carajo, se me olvidó que les olvidé’ (I forgot that I forgot) as the dream evaporated and I continued in French to my Dutch wife (not the bed roll, I hasten to add with reference to Somerset Maugham). Mind you, it is very difficult to keep five languages in one single head. Since that dream, the connection between Kahlua and cactus is for me an established fact.

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