Monday, October 5, 2009

Blog #3 My new Mantra.......I LOVE Holland (Especially Trixie!)

I love Holland.... I have nice things to say about Holland...... Holland is good. 

This is my new mantra. At least it has been for the last few days and will be for today. Several Dutch people close to me in Holland (Hi Jur and Frits) have read my "Dutch Diary" and they said:

"You should say something nice about Holland." 

I said I would. 

And then they said "like what?" 

Nothing seemed to come trippingly of the tongue. There had to be something. Think Ken! Holland... what have I done in Holland? What have I liked in Holland? Then I shot out some answers which basically sounded like one of the 1000's of postcards I have seen.  "The tulips are pretty, I get excited when I see windmills, there are french fries everywhere” (although the Dutch use WAY too much mayonnaise and they pour it all over the fries which ruins it for me.) 

WAIT! See? I need to stop that. I seem to have trouble saying only nice things about Holland! 

So today I am only going to say only nice positive interesting things about Holland. 

To start I would also like to rephrase what I just said about the french fries. Instead I will say the Dutch love french fries and they love mayonnaise. It is very unique for me to eat french fries with so much mayonnaise. There is no shortage of mayonnaise in Holland. I find it amazing that the Dutch eat so much mayonnaise and very few seem to be overweight. The Dutch must have very healthy metabolisms. (Oh, did you know that the Dutch are on average the tallest people in the world? Isn't that interesting?) Anyway back in the States I used to feel guilty about ordering mayonnaise because I was always told it was not good for you but now I have had so much mayonnaise that I do not think I will ever need to special order a side of mayonnaise again. That is great! 

The Dutch REALLY do like Herring. Really! Just plain and simple whole Herrings, with scales and all, and some chopped onion on top. It is everywhere. Really everywhere! People all over Holland swallow Herring like Pelicans you would see on a Pier. Although I do not eat herring (or fish,  I do not particularly like the taste or smell of fish NOT just Dutch fish so this is NOT a criticism of the Dutch) I have learned to enjoy waiting for my friends at the herring stand and watching them swallow their fish.  It is also special to stand there and witness a tourist come and try a herring for the first time. Often I take pictures for people and tell them where to run if they get sick. The whole experience is unique and such a Dutch Treat! Also since the VERY fragrant Herring can be smelled blocks away from a Herring stand and the stands are everywhere, I have learned to kick my dislike to the smell of fish, although I am still very well  aware of it.  My sensitivity and awareness of Herring has led me become known as a keen Herring Stand Hunter! Just ask me and I can sniff you in the right direction! That is great! 

Oh here is a good one! The Dutch government offices are amazing. I have had to do lots of paperwork to obtain my visa to be here. I was dreading going to all these offices during this process. I think years of visits to the DMV, Social Security office, Court Houses (don't ask) and various other government offices in the States have left me with a bad taste. Well when I got to my first Dutch government office it was like Disneyland. It was so clean and colorful. I have always been greeted by a receptionist at every office I have been to. There always seem to be fresh flowers. I was allowed to have food and water in every office. They even had cappuccino machines. Cappuccino machines! I love it. One even had cookies. They ALL have some sort of mints or candy! All of this is truly great. I now love going to government offices! Every time I leave a government office I have accomplished what I needed, quickly, and I leave wired on good coffee with a pocket full of candy! I love it! (Jur says they probably process me faster than most because they don't want me to drink all their coffee or eat all their food.  Whatever.) 

Here is another wonderful thing about the Dutch. People dress very colorfully in Holland. In fact the national color is orange. Interestingly, when I arrived here I did not own one piece of orange clothing and now, because of wonderful Holland, I have orange house slippers and a checkered shirt that has orange in it! This is big for me considering I generally only like to where black or navy blue (it is slimming)! Anyway, colorful dressing in Holland is great! Soon I may even be wearing pink, neon and floral prints like all the guys do here! Baby steps. 

What else?  Of course there are the canals. Which are everywhere and beautiful. I love walking along them looking in the water. I am determined to see fish and yet I have never seen one. Not one. Not even a minnow! I know they must be there cause I see people fishing. Although I think fish can smell the herring stands and they know something is up! Anyway looking in the water has allowed me to learn several things! Never park a Smart Car (those new two sitter little econo cars) along a canal. Apparently some people (probably Belgians) discovered it was easy to push them and started tipping Smart Cars into the canals BUT the Dutch government acted swiftly, warned Smart Car owners to not park along canals and cracked down on the Smart Car tippers so this trend has ended. BRAVO to the fast acting government! Also I have learned to always securely lock and protect your bicycle. Apparently, for whatever reason, bicycles often end up in the canals. But this is not a BAD thing!  I have seen so many happy Dutch ducks and swans that have converted them in to bike bird nest! It is lovely. 

The final thing I will talk about is one of my favorites. Trixie! Bea! Queen Bee! I am living in a country with a Queen and a Royal family. She lives about five miles from me. She is so close! Generally I do not express my excitement about this too much to those near me because they seem to think my excitement is weird or worrisome. I am not sure which.  I can't help it, I WANT TO MEET HER! I have visions of Queen Bee and me hanging out and me being one of her confidants. I would be perfect for that. So I first mapped out where her office was and walked a few miles to get there (I was too scared to ride my bike) (I'm still practicing, more on that another day). Anyway she wasn't there.  Her guard told me I would know she was there if the Royal flag was flying. I then went home and mapped out where her palace was.  Her Palace is not too far from mine (I mean apartment). The Palace is in the Hague Royal Forrest. I then spent the next few days trekking through the Royal Forrest Park trying to find her Palace. When I finally found it, damn, she wasn't there.  I asked the guards where she was and when she will be home but they wouldn't answer me. They also made me feel kind of awkward. These were innocent questions. It is not like I asked them if she was mad at me. Or had I offended her? Why was she avoiding me?  Would they please give her my letter and tell her it is from Ken the American?  I just wanted a chance to see her. I have never been so close to Royalty it just excites me. Gees. I left a bit embarrassed and worried that they might have taken photos of me and created a file.  

The other day I was lying in bed and I heard helicopters everywhere, which I had never heard before in Holland (I felt like I was back in LA) so I said to Jur (my VERY Dutch partner) "something bad most have happened? (again helicopters in LA= Murder or police chase or fire)” and he said, with very little enthusiasm "Oh it's just the Queen addressing the nation. Her Coach must be passing by us." 

"WHAT? WHAAAAAATTTTT? Why didn't you tell MEEEEE? You KNEW about this?   MY GOD!" I jumped out of bed and became hysterical. I started running around the house trying to change out of my pajamas and looking for my orange checkered shirt. One has to be dressed in orange to meet the Queen for the first time! I remember screaming a bunch of things like “Jur, JUR! Give me your orange clothes! ANYTHING! How close is she? I need my Dutch flag! Jur turn on the TV and find out how close she is? WHERE is she? Jur! GET UP OFF THE COUCH AND FIND OUT WHERE THE QUEEN IS! MapQuest her carriage! Can we do that? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME! You know I love Beatrix! DAMN! HELP ME FIND MY OTHER ORANGE HOUSE SLIPPER!

And then....  the sound of the helicopters disappeared. I missed her. It is just as well. I looked all disheveled and would have preferred to have showered for my first visit with the Queen.  

I could tell by Jur's face as he looked at me standing half naked in the hallway with a pile of orange things all around me holding my tiny plastic royal Dutch flag that I won at a carnival, that I had lost control and perhaps was a "bit" too excited about the Queen. I wanted to explain to him how I have always felt that I was in some way meant to be Royal. How I relate to them, feel connected to them, like I belong with them. How I could handle all the pressure and appearances, and duties and palaces but..... Again looking at Jur's face (and now writing this) I think it is perhaps best to keep this lifelong personal "belief" to myself. Long story short Holland has a lovely Queen. Her name is Queen Beatrix.  I think the Dutch Royals are very interesting and wonderful.  Apparently more than most of the Dutch do.  My next goal is try and have Trixie (which is what those of us close to her call her) over for tea. I'll keep you posted!

See, there are so many things I like (even love) about Holland! Hell, I didn't even get to the cheese!


  1. Bravo Ken. I'm happy you're looking on the bright side of things. lol

    I was just IM'ing with an Argentine friend of mine who is living in Dublin right now for work and he had come back from a weekend in Amsterdam visiting our friend who is also VERY Dutch (you know... nice mixed in with a bit of egotistical prick?). We were talking about how neither one of us could bare to live there.

    My heart truly does go out to you as my stomach turns with the memories of mayo and herring. I use to like both before I visited Holland for the first time.

    Good cheese though...

  2. Well done! Your keen eye for the GOOD things (an aunt used to tell us, "Think about the GOOD things" when we were in the midst of an all out brawl) seems to come natural to you. LOVED the blog, herrings, Trixie and all. Imagined myself standing right next to a smelly herring stand with a packet of mayonnaise. Hmmmm...I've got to go wash the dogs.

  3. Ken, I, like you, would love to meet the Dutch royals. They are really an attractive family, and your good erstwhile friend Trixie seems imminently approachable. I'm sure she'd love to share some herrings and mayo with you! You are coming right along with your Dutch enthusiasm. Are you living in the Hague? Be sure and let us know about the cheeses of Holland. . .yum! When we lived in Germany, all the diary products in the commissary were from holland, and they were wonderful (and inexpensive).

    I'm going to dinner tonight with Paul and Natalie Hutzler (my niece) and her new boyfriend. I'll fill them in on your latest.

  4. Hi Ken!
    A suggestion: why don't you have your orange Trixie outfit ready at all times so that the next time you hear the Queen's helicopter's flying overhead, you'll be ready!

    Thanks for the laughs! It took me a while to read through this as I was laughing so hard imagining you in some orange checkered shirt! Oh dear! Looking forward to your next adventure!

    BTW...why don't you just become a dog walker for a job? You can communicate with the animals, right? ...and they don't eat mayo! Or do they there?


  5. "I have always felt that I was in some way meant to be Royal"...OMG...Lloyd did this to you with those damn salons didn't he?? DIDN'T HE??

    You don't mention Haagel Slaag in your list of faves. How can THAT not make it on the plus side?

    You make me laugh!

  6. Great post kid! I'm sure by now the secret service are on to you and if you ever run into Trixie you should walk slowly toward her with your arms held high justin case.
    I thought you were kidding that day in the old palace, quote "Ahhhh! I feel at home here, this is where I should live, I wonder what the rent is"?

    Keep em' coming and I'll see you next month.

  7. Hm. Dog Walker. Manny. Does Trixie need either for the royal staff? Or, you can try the Conan O'Brien approach, if you can manage to make yourself look like the queen. He turned a (very) passing resemblance to the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, into an official state visit. And, of course, there's always the head-on approach. "Hi, I'm an American blogger writing about Dutch culture, and I would love more information about the royal family, and perhaps a chance to meet some of the Queen's staff..." (Flatter and gawk once you get to meeting A, meeting B might just happen. European Royals from small countries just love to entertain Americans.)

    Good luck, and keep the funny coming.