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If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

Earlier columns: July 24 / July 17 / July 10 / July 3

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


31 JULI, 2016

From old-fashioned, American courting to Dans Met Me (Dance with Me)

DELFT - There are some expressions that seem to capture a society's attitude, such as the American 'have a nice day'. 'Doe maar gewoon' is Dutch and means 'do but easy', 'take it easy'.

My parents grew up in families that believed strongly in manners, in being polite. And I am my parents true son. When I discovered that I missed being around one former colleague, I set about courting. I did not think about our differences like me being American and her being Dutch. It took all my courage to ask her to join me for a coffee the next time she was in Delft. She agreed and met me with her grim, former brother-in-law and a new baby grandson.


"I talked about her with my buddy who replied in the classic Dutch way, bluntly. He said that she already knew I was a little, often a lot, strange. He added she is fluent in English, even my kind."

If I'd had any worries about meeting Dutch people, they vanished as she and I drifted into being partners. Her siblings were married and had children; she had children who had children. They welcomed me and spoke English. I was exhibit A meaning an American, a Texan, and not working regularly. No one vetoed the deal; thus, we were stamped 'approved'.

My first all-Dutch, one American birthday party was for a long-time friend of hers in Den Haag. I am used to Happy Birthday, but the Dutch version has more gusto. I thought they were singing Langzam te Leven, live slowly and enjoy. My new partner said my version was good too. I love the 3 Hoera's at the end.

I did not drug and drag her from the Beestenmarkt to my lair, nor did I become annoyed by a baby. She agreed to see me again and only brought her son's son. We walked, pushing a baby carriage. I said he would rather look ahead than back at us.

She was not convinced by my point that all the action was in front, not behind. But, we messed with the carriage and turned it round. The baby was young but clearly liked seeing ahead. We started to meet weekly for coffee in Delft.

We already knew much about each other, the way you can know someone from being with them 5 out of 7 days. I knew her character, interests and taste. We took the next step, going to Leiden where I met her eldest sister from Amsterdam.

We toured a museum exhibit on Dorestad which made talking easier. I like dioramas, and there were many to comment on. Her sister and I got along. Only 5 more to go. But by now, she and I were skipping ahead on some things, some steps.

If she and I were autos, she would be automatic and I would be 'four-on-the-floor'. But that is simply a matter of style, the way a person goes about life. She still works a day job; I do not. We like being together, and we like being apart.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved -
In memory of Herb Caen