Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Love-Locked


By Mark W. Danielson

I love Germany. The people are great, and they have wonderful traditions. I recently discovered a new one that expresses couples' devotion in an unusual way. While love has traditionally been expressed in paintings, poetry, songs, theater, books, cards, gifts, and even tattoos, I had never realized that padlocks could also be a symbol of endearment to this most powerful and important emotion. Then again, it makes sense, for we often refer to our lovers as holding the key to our hearts.

The Cologne railroad/pedestrian bridge is the first place I’ve seen such a padlock display, and it brings smiles to all who pass by. Here, love-locks span the entire Rhine River. Each lock is inscribed with the names of lovers whose devotion is boundless. Some locks are carefully etched, others written in pen, all are equally special. But the chained metal grinder that’s hanging mid-span suggests at least one person found a way to separate his or her bond. Not surprisingly, this rusting grinder brought more smiles.

Whoever came up with this padlock idea was a genius for it has transformed this bridge into a living work of art. With the magnificent cathedral behind it, there is no better setting. The only problem is it won’t be long before the bridge has reached its padlock capacity because hanging them has become so popular.

To capitalize off this romantic idea, a few people were attempting to hand red roses to damsels as they crossed the bridge. I never saw any money exchanged, and plenty of skeptical women refused their rose, but the gesture was still a nice touch. Who knows whether Cologne’s railroad bridge will become a renowned symbol of love like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But whether it does or doesn't, it certainly has the same spirit.

Some may ask whether I contributed a lock to this bridge. The answer, of course, is yes. How could I refuse such a wonderful opportunity? It's placed mid-span where our love is bridged equally from either direction. Yes, I'm a hopeless romantic. I just happen to write about murder.

11 comments:

Ben Small said...

Padlocks? I learn something new every day. I've found Germans very difficult in business negotiations. Had a Lufthansa exec once tell me, "I'm right; you're wrong. Don't bother me with the facts." When I reminded him of the contract, he told me he didn't care about any contract.

Then I had a German V.P. of Airbus essentially say the same thing another time on another contract.

My wife, a former exec contract lawyer for a large tech firm, has had similar experiences. When we get together with our former colleagues, the topic of negotiations with Germans often comes up.

Once had a merger where I had to deal with numerous European required approvals. Had a problem because the Swedish lawyer wouldn't talk to any German lawyer, so I had to constantly be the go-between. Finally, getting tired of going back and forth for info the two could easily have shared, I asked the Swede about it. He told me that in Sweden, by law, a person is free to camp on any private grounds by the sea, as long as they are not visible from the main house and as long as they're not German. I got a kick out of that one.

KK Brees said...

Of course, romance and murder are natural bedfellows. The lock thing, though, could lead one off into the murky realms of bondage...another plot possibility.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Ben, while it's true the Germans have gotten a bit ethnocentric a couple of times (in a big way), they're a fun group of people with festivals for everything. I haven't had the pleasure of doing business with them like you, but the French seem to hold a grudge, too.

KK, no doubt, many a plot could thicken by adding a padlock:)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Ben, while it's true the Germans have gotten a bit ethnocentric a couple of times (in a big way), they're a fun group of people with festivals for everything. I haven't had the pleasure of doing business with them like you, but the French seem to hold a grudge, too.

KK, no doubt, many a plot could thicken by adding a padlock:)

Jean Henry Mead said...

What a lovely tradition, Mark. I would have been disappointed if you hadn't left your own lock for you and Lyne. The photos are great, too.

My own experience with German businessmen happened when a German PBS crew came to Wyoming to photograph buffalo. I took them out to a bison ranch where they wanted me to chase the entire herd of hundreds over the sagebrush-covered terrain in my new Bronco. I refused but they were able to persuade the ranch manager's son to do the deed in his old pickup with flapping bed rails. Quite a sight to behold through the resultant cloud of dust. (And I did wind up on German PBS TV when I was dumb enough to stand near a huge wallowing buffalo.)

Ben Small said...

Mark, I've enjoyed the Germans I've met -- other than my son's former girlfriend -- in non-business situations, and of course, I admire their efficiency. We get a kick out of the Lufthansa Flight Attendants. They do their routine with almost perfect timing -- like dancers in sync.

Ben Small said...

Jean,

You're wacky. Do you know how many people are killed by buffalo every year in Yellowstone? I don't either but I read the number somewhere recently and was amazed at what people do around buffalo.

Funny story: Once I was at an animal park on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, and a buffalo stuck his massive head in my driver's side window. My wife and I were afraid he'd rip the side of the car off, so I was pushing against that head, trying to twist it and get it out -- my wife screaming all the while -- the buffalo was licking my face with his rough, long tongue. It was funny afterward, but I will never, ever open my window again when a buffalo is near.

Guess we're both a bit wacky... :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Okay, I think you're both a little wacky:) So, remind me how we got from my love-locked message to buffalo kisses?

Jean Henry Mead said...

lol, Ben. Aren't they sweet animals?

I know I'm wacky but I watched the buffalo taking turns wallowing in a mud hole next to my Bronco, with their feet stuck in the air, for over an hour before I ventured out. And they watched me. They seemed to be showing off for my benefit. I left my door open so that I could leap back inside if they showed any hostility about having their pictures taken. I think the herd was used to humans on the ranch, not like those in the wild at Yellowstone.

Ben Small said...

Uh... thread drift? :)

Ben Small said...

Well... on another level, it is another unusual form of affection.