So I was away for a while. Things happened. Don’t worry, I’m not getting into horror movie mode. I started my Master’s program just a while back and I had so many papers to write (not that many, they just demanded loads of attention) that I couldn’t get blogging in anywhere. Then, just when things were cooling down, miss Missouri came to town and we had an official pre-wedding celebration party. Because it’s really hard to get my whole family to come to the States in August, we decided to throw a Dutch party as well. Because I feel a need to include my loyal readership in the festivities as well, here’s a picture of miss Missouri and yours truly, taking the most out of the beautiful sunset that was taking place at the beach. Take it as an apology for not even texting you guys where I was.
As you may have seen last Friday, I threw a bit of a blog party, calling out three fellow bloggers to join in my happiness. In fact, even those people I didn’t call out were appreciated a lot more than any other day. Some days go by where I really couldn’t care less about my readers. It’s at those days that I refuse to write. Wait, that’s not true. I value the readership on this blog every single day. So why throw a reader appreciation day?
Because it’s American, that’s why. The picture above shows a small town in Illinois that my train went through. It announces an upcoming customer appreciation day. I don’t know what they actually did on that day. Probably not aligning cars and trucks, because that’s more of a daily routine job. It’s one of those things that does make you wonder why there’s a special day for that. Like Mother’s Day, it seems just to serve a commercial want. Even worse, somewhere in the back of your head you suddenly feel okay ignoring your mother for the rest of the year. You did bring her breakfast in bed, after all. So, you won’t see me on customer appreciation day. I want to feel special every day.
What do you appreciate?
Once in a while, miss Missouri and I like to shake up things. I’m not a crazy movie freak, but together we watch way more than we do apart. I guess it makes for excellent quality time, new inside jokes and at least something to talk about over dinner the coming week. Our shaking up last January took place in a new theatre that had opened near her place. It was a new concept (to us, at least), where you wouldn’t just watch a movie, but undergo a whole new experience.
First of all, you have to be 21 or over to enter. It’s not that anything really funky is going on, but it eliminates high school sweethearts looking for a very gross place to make out in the corner, little kids that get bored or young parents that bring their little ones to a movie so inappropriate, your replacing shame prohibits you from enjoying the movie, condemning it in the young-born soul’s place instead. This creates a unique atmosphere. Behind the desk, you feel elected into a club that actually keeps people outside. It must be what it feels like going into an airport lounge, but I wouldn’t know, because every time I try, I get shooed away.
Only 29 people fit in the theatre. Big lounge chairs make you feel like a little kid (unless you’re the guy next to us, who actually needed that seat). The full hour of commercials flies by, because you’re overwhelmed with the exclusive atmosphere, the private waiter that comes by and playing with the buttons that make your chair even more laid-back. Unlike everyone else in the theatre, we actually ate a meal before going in, but our beers and brownie (even though the combination sounds absolutely terrible) were surprisingly good. We saw Django Unchained and I even provided a mini review as a bonus. After the movie, we had quite something to talk about. The whole concept gives a feeling of a night out, as if you’re going to the theatre again. If I’m really honest, our seats, service and experience were far better than our one time visit at the opera.
What’s your favorite night out?
*Bonus: mini review for Django Unchained.
I give it *** (that’s three stars, not a covered-up dirty word) out of five. Not that I disliked the movie, it was just too much Quentin Tarantino. One of the reasons I am not suited to actually review movies is that I have never watched one of his movies (fully). I’ve heard rumours about his style, they were all true and had someone else directed the movie, it would have been much better.
Watching a lot of television makes you less capable in a lot of things among a wide spectrum of intelligence. Even worse, I can’t talk to people when there’s a television in the background. Combine that with the intake of alcohol and you may have found out why going to an American bar is mentally challenging for me. It’s pretty easy to measure, too. My mental capacities are strongly related with my accent. By the time I start talking Dutch, it’s time to go home.
Sometimes, television fills the gap between two activities. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a doctor’s appointment or running on a treadmill without a television. Before you know it, your mind wonders off and you’re thinking for no reason. We wouldn’t want that. That’s why it’s a good thing we now have television even in the smallest gaps of life.
That’s right. If you were ever afraid how to bridge the time gap that you use to fill up your tank, don’t despair. NFL highlights, a short weather overview and news flashes are at your service. Now you’ll never have to be bored the whole forty to sixty seconds you stand outside your car. And even better yet, if you never watch a game outside a bar or airport (like yours truly), you can still participate in coffee conversations about the three most spectacular catches, runs and touchdowns that were evidently made last weekend.
What’s your favorite magazine/tv channel/phone app for the doctor’s waiting room?
Sometimes, Saint Louis seems like a small world. Maybe it’s the perspective of crossing an ocean for hours to get there (boring flight I tell you), but it appears as if I travel more than some Missourians I come across. Take my ID, for example. I enter the country using my passport. No problem. The thing about a passport though, is that it’s pretty expensive, important and a full-time job to replace. This means you don’t carry it around all day. In fact, when we were in Turkey, miss Missouri would hide our passports under the matrass (also because the only hotel with a safe had locked the safe without instructions or keys). Future burglars: we don’t do that anymore. Go check shoes on the beach for watches. Anyway, whenever I travel Missouri, I use my Dutch ID card.
For some, this poses a problem. Even though I radiate an age-deceiving wisdom that you’d rarely come across, I still have to show ID whenever I want to drink an alcoholic beverage. All the times I do, this sparks conversation. First of all, you’re not allowed to smile in European pictures. This means that every official picture looks like a mug shot. Secondly, my hairdo in the picture is high school emo and as I have a haircut every time I get to see miss Missouri, I look slightly different. After seeing those obvious pitfalls that apparently stand in the way of just handing me a beer, the person holding my card has to search for my date of birth. In the picture above, you can check how long you need for that (for your convenience, I have even erased my SSN and Document no. They cannot be mistaken for a date of birth). Note that I’m 6′ tall, so 2008 isn’t a likely year of birth. Lastly, they have to check for it to be genuine.
Sometimes, to do this, the waitress will just walk away and take it somewhere. I feel that’s overreacting really. Don’t take this the wrong way, but however someone would fake an ID card, this would not be it. On the back of the card, my photo is shown as a watermark if you hold the card against the light. Numerous reflections and seals are shown when you move the card back and forth in any light and I’m pretty sure if you rub your finger nails on the right spot in a 30 degree angle, it will play the Dutch national anthem for you. It may be exotic, but it’s clearly an ID card that looks nowhere near an easy-to-fake library card. Yet still, if you want to enter Electric Cowboy, they won’t trust you. No line dancing for me.
Whenever you drive from Saint Louis from Kansas, you start to feel wanted. You get invited for all kinds of things. People want you to come. Come to Jesus, come to Mizzou, come to the Amish, come to adult bookstores… Apparently, Missouri adults read a lot. No children’s books for sale, but lots of philosophy books, popular psychology books and policital books, evidently. I wouldn’t know, because even though miss Missouri knows my love for book stores, I am always denied a little side trip.
Don’t worry, I know what adult book stores really are. I’m not that naive. I just wonder how it applies to other adult areas. In a quiet corner on the beach, I have seen an ad for adult fitness, taking place around 4pm. Now what is adult fitness? Can I safely take my kids to the lake around 4pm or will I be known as the worst parent ever? Is there a bunch of naked old people jumping up and down once a week? Do they read afterwards?
Sometimes, signs can be amazing, if you read what they’re really saying. Short one, because I can: this sign indicates that burglars are prohibited in the neighborhood.
What’s your favorite ambiguous sign?
When travelling the ‘Show Me State’ (which in my head always sounds as if the National Association for Flashers resides in Missouri), I can’t help but notice some things are not done when walking around in public places. First of all, there’s the infamous ‘no shoes, no shirt no service’ slogan, which evidently does not apply for those walking around at Walmart dressed in wife-beaters and flipflops. Second, there’s this sign:
A few things come to my Dutch, weapon-free mind when I see this. Does this mean I can come in with a bazooka on my shoulder for everyone to see? How do they check for concealed firearms if they’re concealed? I may have the most innocent face in all the Midwest, but I’m pretty sure whoever is laying down this law wants to check people now and then. I’ll pass for that job, because if there’s anyone I don’t want to pet down it’s the guy who chose to ignore said sign. If you come from a country where guns are limited to governmental forces, licensed hunters and very few shady people (I see only the first category), having a gun in your direct proximity is more than a little weird. This sign didn’t help the weirdness.
What’s the best place to conceal a handgun?
One of the places that pleasantly surprised me last August was a jazzy bar next to a comedy club. That describtion makes much more sense than you’d think, don’t worry. Miss Missouri and I went to a comedy club twice and the second time we decided to have a warming up in the bar next door. Most of the crowd was like us, waiting for the show to start, but what a shame that was. Five hipsters were playing very fine music, so soothing that the guitar player seemed hardly awake. One man was entertaining three girls by dancing their socks off, and boy did he dance.
It was nothing spectacular, but this guy made the place what it was supposed to be. A grey old couple had the front row seats just for themselves and nodded their heads with the rocking back and forth of the dancing couple. He lead the three girls one by one, but sometimes it was as if he lead the bass line and everybody’s bopping heads. The music couldn’t have been perfect, he might not be the best dancer alive and I might have been more than just a little bit jealous, but that man made my night. I’ve got a wedding coming up; I should really learn how to dance like that. Boogie down.
What’s your favorite dance move?
As some of you may know, August marks a lot of special moments. One of them is the yearly meteor shower. If you’ve never seen one, don’t expect too much of it. The word shower is mostly an exaggeration, but you’ll see more shooting stars than any other times in the year. Also, if you weren’t disappointed by the number of shooting stars, the next day will bring new chances for disappointment as none of your wishes has come true by then. This year, I was invited to watch the meteor shower at a farm, about an hour away from Saint Louis.
There was more to the farm than dark skies and almost no shooting stars. Miss Missouri and I were kindly treated to a demonstration of herding cattle with dogs, all ingredients for s’mores, hot dogs, a bonfire and good company. One of the things that distinguishes me from the average Missouri visitor, is how I get to places you normally wouldn’t think of. There is something about the countryside (it was, to me) of Missouri that is a unique experience and cannot be found in any of the cities I visited. I also encountered my first Missouri wildlife. Coming from a country where snakes are very rare, the thought of Missourian serpents creeps me out. They are everywhere. Miss Missouri once asked me if I’d be afraid of garden snakes. When I realized she wasn’t talking about garden hoses, I wondered what the difference between garden and non-garden snakes is…
Nevertheless, while making a bonfire I was bitten by a bug. It hurt quite badly and I could see the bite mark weeks later still. I was relieved it wasn’t a snake that had gotten me, but in the days after the bite everyone was asking me if I was sure I wasn’t bitten by a spider. I have never in my life been afraid of spiders, but it turns out I should add it to my repertoire now. Good thing I’m a city
Dear Americans, specifically not excluding my beloved fiancée,
I like beds. As far as furniture goes, I think a kitchen table and a bed constitute the most important aspects of a home. Whereas the kitchen table is the center of everyday life and meeting as a family, the bed is the center of private life and rest. As I value rest, a good bed can be very important.
Now, if we consider what makes a good bed, a few characteristics come to mind. First of all, the size and softness of the bed are important. Secondly, its decoration and neatness can bring a small joy to start every day with. Thirdly, and this is where Americans baffle me, bed-related accessories can be brought onto the bed to further improve the resting experience. I like a pillow to lay my head to rest and a set of sheets to cover me and wrap myself in. American beds, however, do not come with one pillow and a set of sheets to wrap oneself in. They come with a pile of pillows and a cover that is tucked in the mattresses, so one feels mummified all night long. Before you go to bed, you remove all pillows besides the one (mind you, just one) you actually use, leaving a mess of at least six pillows on the ground. The next morning you put all those ground pillows back into place in the exact same order, for the sole purpose that you can remove them all later that night. Sure, it looks amazing, but I have yet to encounter someone who walks up to his bedroom just to check the cute pillows.
I know an overload of pillows is as American as apple pie (I mean baseball, for probably even Zimbabwe has its own apple pie), but I’d like to argue a case for a more pragmatic approach. Pick a pillow you like and stick with it. Free the covers from their suppression of the deep tuck and wrap yourself in them to conquer the cold winter nights. Not having to put all the pillows back into place might just save you another five minutes of sleep, every day. That’s thirty five minutes a week. Just saying. That’s a nap. Weekly.