Tuesday, November 19, 2019


During the night I woke up remembering a girl from Valkenswaard. She had been sweet on me when I was fifteen and she was twelve, but I had been too dense to actually pay attention. A very nice girl. She'd still be three years younger. And six inches shorter. She was quite cute.
If I had stayed, instead of coming back to the States .....

I do rather wonder to which school she would have gone. Her older sister was in my class in both grammar school and the first years of high school, and what I remember most about that person was that she had an extremely effective and vicious kick. My shins bore witness.

For new arrivals and outsiders, towns in North Brabant at the juvenile level can be quite cold. Both girls and their horrid little brother were originally from somewhere else. The long slog out of being "strange" is paved with scholastic merit; we were lucky that team sports and cheerleading never were a thing there, and as far as I know still haven't made an impact.

At some levels, small Netherlandish towns are like living among Hobbits. Unpleasant cold hobbits. Pieter Bruegel's peasants as a stubborn know-it-all snooty bunch, with personal habits directly out of Lord of the Rings, the bad side. Superficial, distrustful, and rather ignorant. And always right.

People half-way between Gandalf and unwashed louts.

At another level, there are chess clubs at academic schools, with regional championships, and smoking tolerated as a means of waging psychological warfare against the other side. The camaraderie of political clubs advocating burning this entire rotten social construct down. Bright snarky teenagers talking philosophy, the likelihood that Brederode and Vondel had venereal disease (dreadfully common in the sixteenth century), and the latest Monty Python episode. Plus the discovery of French, German, and English.
Because foreign language learning opened up windows.
Like Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury.
As well as several snooty Englishmen.

High school memories are more rose coloured than grammar school. In all honesty, that's because of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and books. The four substances in which we all indulged, that suffused our progress and our entire life-support system.
I have no clue what the students at the bricklayers and housewifery high schools experienced; they've all grown up to be marginally alcoholic lower middle class voters for the Christian Democrats and the PvdA.
They probably have good secure lives.
Un-exciting. Comfortable.


The girl I remembered probably went to the Atheneum or Gymnasium after grammar school. Exposure to Latin and Greek, and eventually escaping the damned hobbits. Four to eight years of college, followed by metropolitan modern life in A'dam or Utrecht, or perhaps a university town.

I don't know.

But she's still considerably shorter than me, and three years younger.
Cute and intelligent then. Undoubtedly still that way.
Become the mother of elves.

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