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Nostalgia (10-04-24)

I say it often, I think a lot about the past. Maybe too much. Especially when I was a teenager. My dream was to become a famous footballer, but unfortunately: There was only one who thought him suitable for that: Who? A S.


My mother wasn't a football fan'. "You'll never be able to get a pretty girl. Pretty girls don't want a football player."

She thought it was good to become ‘a pigeon racer’, but the best fancier in the village, Cross-eyed Kees, didn't think that was such a good idea. 'Beautiful girls don't want pigeon fanciers', he used to say.
And they completely confused me. Pretty girls didn't like pigeon fanciers or footballers?  

Hmm. Hard to choose. My parents raced pigeons. All my uncles and... Because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I tried to roll as far away from the tree as possible and I became a football player. At least, that's where it started.

What I appreciated so much in cross-eyed Kees was that he always came to watch me play. When I looked at him, he kept shaking his head. Because of my lousy playing, I thought, but later found out he suffered from Parkinson.

Only then, after many years, did I see him again. At my only surviving aunt in the church village of Ulicoten. He didn't have pigeons for a long time.
'He still is a fancier', my aunt said. She pointed at me and handed him a regional newspaper with the weekly pigeon results.
Cross-eyed Kees shook his head. But it was not that bad, was it? In fact it was a real good result. Then I realized it wasn't meant as a disapproval.


Stan, his youngest son, always wore very short shorts that sometimes showed off his white underpants. Underpants were white and heavy at the time.

For example, there was that little incident with his mother. Stan had to go to the doctor to blow on his hand, so he wanted a clean pair of underpants, but Mum thought otherwise: 'None of it. You had a clean pair of underpants two weeks ago, thus I'll keep washing them.' "But it looks all yellow from the front," Stan whined. Mother: 'Then you turn it around.'


Kees and his family were strictly religious. When he discovered that our group of friends was watching topless ladies in 'a man’s paper', we had a problem. We had been betrayed, that was clear. No one could have seen that. After all, we read 'the man’s paper' hidden in an opened daily. But playing together was finished from them on. The changing rooms at the lake where we often swam was also a source of annoyance for cross eyed Kees. 
Under the door you could see the pants on the heels of girls. It couldn't be. That would be burning in hell, Kees thought.

Soon we read on the dressing room: 'Beware of Limbo dancers'. (Limbo dancing: Leaning back while dancing, making yourself as low as possible).
That was from Kees, who also hated a dancing in my home town, Baarle.

To be fair, it didn't have a good reputation. In the Sunday sermon, our parents were warned about "bad girls." They had to keep their sons out of there. They couldn't have made a better advertisement.

A hero when I was in my teens.

Later, I got interested in pigeons. Like my parents. But too bad: After a bad flight, my father couldn't be enjoyed, I just had to bring the clock to the clubhouse. 
That bulky wooden thing was heavy and barely bearable, but I was so proud.
As the only young man in that café among all those grown-ups.

I was able to play billiards with James (that's what we called him) because he looked so much like James Dean. James was no ordinary person. An avid billiard player as a womanizer, whatever that meant for a young man like me.
It was rumored that all the young girls in the street who were still virgins could run faster than James.
I can still see his funeral in front of me. How many pigeon fanciers nodded meaningfully to each other at the sight of so much sadness in so many crying women.


By the way, women? The only female you ever saw in the clubhouse was Annie. She was my age, bloodcurdlingly beautiful and a fellow sufferer.
She, too, had to bring in the clock if her dad had performed badly. Only she did it reluctantly. She was not only of a scorching beauty but also always wore an ultra short skirt with a cleavage that made us dizzy. No one could take their eyes off it.

When once the chalk had fallen off the billiard table, she was so sweet to pick it up and bent over so deeply that you could hear some fanciers gasping for breath. Since then, the chalk kept falling off the billiards table when Annie was present.
One thing no one knew, by the way, was how stupid she was.

They could not exist any dumber than that, but I took it. A person can't have it all.
Did she fall for me? It seemed so, because on one of those days when her father had once again played badly, she whispered: 'Will you come over on Saturday? No one is home around 3 o'clock."

After 6 sleepless nights, the time had come. I stood in front of her house, rang the bell. Once again. Once again. And once again. And indeed. ‘No one at home.’ So she wasn't that stupid after all.


My first love, by the way, was Corrie. I once sat with her on a bench behind a bunch of bushes. Her sweater barely reached her belly button. She saw me looking and left it that way. That was promising. Especially when she said 'don't you want to see where I had surgery?'
Who wouldn't want that, so I nodded eagerly. She took my hand, pulled aside a branch of the bush and whispered, "There, in that hospital."


For me, going on holiday meant spending the night with my grandparents. Pretty cool, but on the cod liver oil that was popular at the time ('Before going to bed, always a spoonful of cod liver oil) I keep bad memories.

If that cod liver oil was a disaster, that spoon was even worse. In the evening we (there were always 5 or 6 cousins) had to stand in line to get such a spoon shoved down our throats. I was the oldest, so last in line.
I'll never forget that rancid taste of rotten fish. Neither did the repulsive smell of a spoon licked by at least five men. 
And even less that café. With Annie and her decollete.


When I was young.