Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chop off my right hand

It's a parent's duty explaining your kids the difference between right and wrong. Easy as can be...

Some 10 years ago I took a subscription to the NRC-Handelsblad (a Dutch quality evening paper). It was my daily pleasure routine, after diner, laying on my belly on the couch, newspaper spread on the floor and read it. The Saturday editions were especially something to look forward to. Problem was the delivery; many times I had to call that the paper wasn't delivered. Something extra annoying because this mostly happened to the Saturday editions that I liked so much. I decided to cancel my subscription.

About a year ago I thought to give it another try and called the subscription office where I got a very friendly lady on the phone. When I explained her the problem she offered me a free period and then I simply could keep the subscription if I paid the check she would send me, if not then the subscription would automatically stop. I never received this check so I haven't paid. Strange thing is that the deliveries haven't stopped and now I have a free newspaper every day. That is, depending the delivery guy's mood and I do not want to call, afraid this might stop the free deliveries.

My kids know this situation and one of them confronted me with the lack of integrity I am showing here. I told him that he is right but that this is a different situation because now it is about me. But the thing is that he is right and I still haven't called the office of the paper to tell them about it.

Tell me, should I?

Update Monday, February 25, 2008, 9:30 AM

I just called the NRC-customer’s desk and spoke to a very unfriendly man accusing me of misusing their system. He did not seem to understand that I want to pay for my subscription and he just wanted to stop it. I decided to not leave my name. I will call back this afternoon when his manager is in.

Update Monday, February 25, 2008, 4:30 PM

I spoke with the manager and I'll be paying my subscription again starting the day after tomorrow.

Update Monday, February 25, 2008, 5:00 PM

Just told my son what happened, and that I did it because he was right. He, 13 years old, thanked me for the good example I gave and said that he would never be so stupid to call the newspaper...

Update Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Did not receive my paper today.

Update Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Received paper of today together with yesterday's news.

Update Thursday, February 28, 2008

Did not receive my paper today.

Update Friday, February 29, 2008

Did not receive my paper today.

Update Saturday, March 01, 2008

Received two issues of today's paper.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New York, New York

1981, I was 20, almost done with my study and wanted to do my apprenticeship in New York. I asked the school if they would allow me two weeks off to go to NY, which they refused. So I called myself sick and went.

I stayed in the YMCA-hotel cause that was the cheapest place I could find; not aware of the attraction it has to men with a certain sexual appetite. Every floor of the hotel had its own communal washing place and when I was taking a shower two really very friendly men, also in Adam's costume, started washing my back without asking. To say that I felt uncomfortable would be an understatement. That event, plus the fact that whenever I wanted to use the only bathroom on that floor I saw my neighbor laying naked in his bed with the door and his legs invitingly wide open, made me look out for other options to spend my nights.

My idea was to go to a synagogue to meet people who could help me find a job and if possible where I could stay a few nights. So I first went to Temple Emanuel, that I knew from Bette Middler’s statement: “a lot of kissing and mezuzahs”, where I rang the bell and asked for the rabbi. “The who?” was the reply through the intercom I received. Eventually I found a real synagogue with a real rabbi. It was Pesach and I was invited for both Seder evenings with some very nice Sefardic people. Their sort of food was new to me and the matzos they ate were the driest I ever had. I stayed a few nights with these people and then went back to the YMCA.

Around that time I developed a certain uneasy feeling and even pain in the excretory opening at the end of my alimentary canal (just not to say the word "anus"). This unpleasant sensation in my private parts made me worry that, although nothing indecent had happened to me, I had caught some indefinable disease in the YMCA (Once back home, the school doctor reassured me that it was just hemorrhoids, most probably caused by the very dry matzos I ate.) I had bought new shoes a few days before I went to NY and that might have not been the smartest thing I ever did. When I was walking up and down Manhattan trying to find me a place to work the huge blisters on my feet and the painful itchy hemorrhoids gave me a walk that would not suit ill in Monty Python's sketch of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

One afternoon I saw a group of men standing around a table in the street playing the shell game and because I didn’t have much money left and the game seemed to be really easy I gambled half of my money. Needless to say that I lost. When going back to my hotel room depressed about this, I found that someone had been in my room and stolen my camera.

When I started to look around for a job I began with the big companies, just to find out that nobody was really waiting for me. Finally at the last day I found a place in some obscure shop but received a letter less then a month after I got back home that there wasn’t any place for me there after all. Besides looking for a job, I also had to find a place to live in case I could get a job. The only place I could find was from a man who offered the use of his apartment “in exchange for friendship”, something I didn’t have to think long about after my YMCA experiences.

My relationship with NY has never been restored.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I never inhaled!

In my college-time, one night mid-summer, it was warm as can be and we decided we just had to go for a swim. That the local swimming pool was closed at night we didn’t consider to be much of a problem. With a mixed group of some 20 people we climbed over the fence and went skinny-dipping.

One of the guys had some self-grown mind-expanding herbs with him and there, in the watchtower, I enjoyed my first encounter with the prime of Dutch export products. I can’t say that it did me much but when I went back swimming again I took a deep dive and was amazed by the graceful beauty under water that I never noticed before. When I came above the surface from my many diving sessions I noticed that I was alone in the pool. I wondered where everybody went and saw a naked girl running who yelled at me: “police!”

I got out of the water in what I consider to be a personal record and went looking for my clothes but couldn’t find them. So I hid myself in a little corner at the back of the changing cubicles where I met a Turkish friend. He was also naked and he told me that he hadn’t found his clothes either. By the moves of the flashlights we saw the police coming into our direction so we decided to climb back over the barb wired fence. My friend was a little guy who couldn’t pronounce the “i” as in the word “hit” and when he hit the barbwire with his precious he yelled “sheet”.

We walked back home naked through the city and found out that one of the guys had taken all the clothes with him “to help us”.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


1978, I was 18, just got my drivers license and my parents bought me a Volkswagen Beetle for 700 Dutch Guilders (about €300). It was a white one and the first thing I did was painting its wings black. I also wrote the name “SJEINTJE” (from the Yiddish "sheinele" meaning "cutie") on the back. My grandmother had knitted a big multicolor snake filled with old hoses to put on the back seat.

About two weeks after I got my car I already wrecked it while playing with the snake instead of watching the road. I found myself another VW bug wrack for 70 guilders and reconstructed a new one out of the two I had. Since I had a spare steering wheel, I placed it as a dummy in front of the co-drivers seat. (It was our fun to look at their astonished faces when people looked inside the car while we were driving and when I turned the car left but when the front-passenger ostentatiously steered to the right.) I wasn’t able to fix the screen washer so I placed a manual spray can. The windscreen wipers I had to move by hand, pulling a cord that I had attached to them. (Not the best solution because one day in the pouring rain when driving the highway I lost both of them.) Another thing that I couldn’t make working were the indicators. To solve that I simply put my hand out of the window in the direction I wanted to drive. The exhaust valve was all rusted and that I fixed with empty bean cans from which I took both lids and attached it with metal strand. The front case cover was also attached with a string after it had spontaneously opened blinding my sight while driving the highway.

I car-pooled with other students, to save money we would split the costs. So one day, I had my car full with four other students and two guitars, I was driving back to the city I studied. Notwithstanding all the ingenuity I showed combining the two cars, I must have done something wrong because when it became dark and I turned on my lights the engine turned off. We drove the last 40-km over a dike in darkness and whenever we saw a car approaching we lighted our cigarette lighters. It was by far the spookiest trip I ever made.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Story of my life

February 1982, I was 21 and had already started a little business of my own. My parents were just gone for a 3-week holiday when I fell in love. Too bad my princess to be had already decided to go to Israel for a year and her departure was scheduled within a week.

I brought her to the airport and every day we wrote love letters to each other. Then, while my parents were still on holiday, she wrote me a letter that she missed me so much and asked me if I wanted to join her. Within two days I gave up my business and booked a flight to Israel. When I picked up my parents at the airport from their holiday, I told them I would leave for at least a year. About a week after I received the "please join me" letter I was on my way to the love of my life.

She picked me up from the airport and told me that although she found it hard to say, she had fallen in love with another boy and that now she just wanted to stay good friends with me. Before we would go to her kibbutz we had to stay overnight in a hotel and there we made love. This helped me softening the pain a bit, not the sex but the idea that she wasn’t really the one for me, already cheating on her latest boyfriend. I can’t say I had a nice first week. To be close to her I stayed in a kibbutz near hers in the north and there it took me a week to decide that I might as well make the best out of it. One reason I didn’t turn back home immediately was that among my friends there were bets how soon I would be back and I didn’t want to loose my face (at least not immediately).

In my kibbutz I met two girls and a boy who were planning to go to Eilat (in the south) and try to find a job there. I joined them and we went hitchhiking. My companions had backpacks while I just had a broken suitcase without handle and held together by a belt (after all, the initial plan was to stay for one year at one place). Our first stop was Tel Aviv. It hadn’t rain for years in March but when we arrived it was pouring. So we slept on our bags in the shower cabins at the beach where in the morning the cleaning squad use big water hoses through the opening under the doors to clean the cabins without looking if there is someone in.

Next stop was Jerusalem, where we tried to make some money by singing on the street but there weren’t any culture lovers among the passers-by. We stayed there for a week with the father of one of my companions who was a professor of something and then we hitchhiked to the south. It was evening when we got lucky finding a truck where we could sit in the open back on our journey through the desert. In the middle of the desert the truck stopped and the driver told us that we had to get off because he would go in another direction from there. So there we were in the middle of the night in the middle of the desert. We gathered some burnable stuff and made a little bonfire. It didn't last long enough till we got ourselves another lift to the south.

One of the girls had said that she knew a guy with a boat in Eilat and that we could stay on it. We found the boat but not the owner and we slept there for a few nights. Then the police came and told us that the owner didn’t know about us and that if we wouldn’t leave the boat immediately they would take our luggage and blow it up; not a real difficult choice. In the mean time I only had some $5 left in my pocket as I hadn’t bring any money with me (after all, the initial plan was to stay for one year and to live of love). To celebrate my last money I took one of the girls with me to a bar where I bought us two cups of coffee. I came into a chat with the owner of the bar and he asked me if I ever had worked in a bar before. With a poker face I lied to him that such was just the thing I use to do when I was a student. So he hired me and I worked there for a month. Eating we would do in the bar and sleeping on the beach. After that month I had saved a little money and felt that I should stay in a kibbutz for a few months and then making a trip through Europe.

I stayed for several months in a kibbutz and enjoyed all the things good parents warn you for. Then with a new companion, an English guy, I took the boat to Athens, third class, sleeping on the deck. We stayed some time in Athens, Greece sleeping in the bushes under the Acropolis and made a little money washing dishes in restaurants and then we took the boat to Crete. On Crete, in Chania, I shared a cave with two Danish girls I had met there on the beach while my companion was with a friend of his he knew from before. The sunrises were beautiful, shining a golden light into the cave. We stayed there for a couple of weeks and then the four of us went to the little city Paleachora at the other side of the island where we made little tents on the beach of washed up bamboo and plastics. The farmers there allowed us to pick cucumbers and tomatoes for as much as we wanted to eat. The nights there where beautiful, looking at the many fallen stars that we could see.

We went back to Athens and there we took the Magic Bus to Venice, Italy. When we arrived, it was a Sunday evening in August, there was a huge firework going on. That night we slept at a dry San Marco place. We stayed for some time in Venice and from there we hitchhiked to La Manga in the south of Spain. The parents of my companion had a house there but since they weren’t there yet and because he didn’t have the keys we slept at the place of a girl we met there. She was a Spanish beauty with long auburn hair and big brown eyes and I vividly remember the night when she took me to a shabby local disco bar somewhere in the middle of nowhere filled with long-haired hippy-style locals playing air-guitar to Jimi Hendrix’ music. This disco was close to the beach and after some dancing she asked me for a walk under the moon over the beach. When we were walking the beach it was loaded with couples making out stimulating my visions of the nice time we were going to have. We sat down and I tried to cuddle a bit when she reached for her wallet for what I thought would be a condom but it was a picture instead. She started talking about the guy on the picture, some Guru Maharaja and what a beautiful person that was and that she really thought that I should learn more about him. Although it was not really the fulfillment of the visions I had some moments before, I did see the humor of it as a story to be told later.

Anyway... the parents of my companion arrived and we stayed another couple of weeks. From there we hitchhiked to Frankfurt, Germany where I knew a girl that I had met in the kibbutz. The first night in Frankfurt, it was freezing cold, we slept outside a stadium. We stayed in Frankfurt a few days and then we moved on to Holland to pick up my car that I had stalled with a friend of mine. We stayed with my parents for about a week and then drove with my car to England to visit some more friends we had met during our trip. Then from England I drove home alone and before I started to pick up my business again, I drove back to Frankfurt to visit the same girl. The first night we went to a drive-in movie. We sat really comfortable and I had my usual hormones driven visions again. Then she looked me deep in the eyes, told me that what she felt for me was really special and that I was as the brother to her she never had...

I have worked ever since.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Warm feelings

My parents had a good marriage. My father the kind soul chairman with inflexible principles and my mom the somewhat naughty businesswoman with slightly flexible morals. There is hardly ever a day going by that I don’t think about them. Good people they were.

I think that in the hereafter my father is enjoying himself as main chairman of the board of chairmans and my mother is having a heck of a time selling at the market.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oubollig rijmpje

Alleen dan kan liefde tronen
Radieus en oh zo zoet
Als men vrij en ongedwongen
Simpel alles voor elkander doet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


my lust for you
it just went
it's not what I wanted
it's not what you wanted
you just didn’t care
why to blame
must you
lust me


my future with you
it just went
it’s not what I wanted
it’s not what you wanted
but now you do care
why to blame
just you
lost me

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I am so anti pasta!

Just the thought of spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna and/or other slithery slimy snotty gooey dough stuff makes me shiver.