skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Thursday, 22 May
Things I Have Shouted In Belgium
(But first: I will probably misspell many if not all of these Dutch words because of my serious allergy towards doing any kind of research at all, but please don't interprete that as disrespect towards a very fine language. Rather, you should just consider me bottomlessly lazy. Another thing is, the wife and I are actually good, quiet, polite travelers, so we didn't really shout anything in the streets of Belgium; in fact, we were constantly stunned at how loud the Germans always seemed to be. But we spoke these words to each other sort of sotto voce, but the tone was one of shouting. You know what I mean.)
Basically, this is the word for "danger," and Brugge has many cute warning stickers with little pictogram men falling down stairs, being electrocuted, or failing to obtain efficient service all over the place indicating various dangers. For our purposes, we co-opted it to mean, yes, danger, but also "oh fuck!" and "this is terrible" and also anything else we felt like.
"Are you enjoying your stoemp?" (Stoemp is a regional mashed potato dish that incorporates leeks and caramelized onions into it. It is an uncharacteristically terrible culinary idea for the region.)
"I want to go bra shopping."
Jupiler is a mass-produced Belgian beer that is responsible for roughly 90% of Brugge's cafe awnings. Sadly--and this is a stunningly uncommon thing to say about a Belgian beer--it's swill. It's basically the Budweiser of the place, but when it costs all of around a buck more to upgrade to any of a hundred other vastly superior beers, it's not that oppressive. But I used it as an all-purpose term to simply express glee, I suppose because of its resemblance to the word "jubilee," which I associate with the good sense of the makers of the X-Men films in their decision to marginalize the presence of Jubilee, wisely noticing that she was one of the lamest X-Men ever.
"Look at this. They serve over four hundred kinds of beer here."
"The Justin Timberlake video is over."
This is some weird little museumlet in Brugge that apparently features old tapestries and furniture and crap; we didn't go. When even Rick Steves--a man so perfectly square, he is nearly a Platonic ideal--says something is boring, I take that to heart. But we did take to saying "Gruuthuse!" a lot just for the pure joy of its mouthfeel. We said it any time we saw the place and also any time we didn't see the place: "Gruuthuse!" Lovely. But then I noticed a little bit down the road a little cafe called the "Gruuthuse Hot," and I got really excited. "Gruuthuse Hot!" I would exclaim. Then, for some weird reason, I started developing this persona of some officious college professor, and I would start sternly mock-instructing the wife. "Gruuthuse," I would turn to her and say gravely. I'd raise my finger in the air. "Gruuthuse hot!" Giving the "hot" a clipped, imperative tone. "Go away," she would sometimes reply; yes, we are magical.
I don't believe any examples are required here.
One day the wife just struck out on side roads, looking for stuff we hadn't seen and getting away from the other tourists. We eventually found ourselves wandering in a mostly residential area, which was nice and tranquil. Briefly. For presently we were wandering past a larger building that looked possibly like a school of some sort, and on one wall it had the letters "DE GROEPE." Unfortunately for the wife, I noticed this, and, figuring it's always best not to ignore hints from the World Brain, I took its advice. "Honey?" "Yes?" "It's time for . . . DE GROEPE!" I yelled (quietly), and then remorselessly grab-assed her. "EEEEE!" she shrieked and wriggled away.
This of course became a theme. At any given time, anywhere, for the rest of the stay, the mood could strike me, and I'd start breathing heavily, and I'd put on a sort of weirdo face and start slowly curling and uncurling my hands into claw shapes. The first couple of times, the wife noticed, and would ask "What's wrong?" Rising to the bait. "DE GROEPE!" I'd howl and grope her again. After a couple times of that, I had to stop the maniac routine, because it would tip her off and she'd run away, so I had to content myself with simply shouting at random intervals "DE GROEPE!" and then lashing out at her ass like a viper.
I think the best part about being married might be not having to pretend you're not a half-deranged pervert any more. It's so freeing. And now we have our own kind of language to express it, or at least I do.
Skot: "DE GROEPE!" (Skot gropes his wife.)
Skot: (rejoicing) "Jupiler!"
Wife: (looking kind of hunted these days) "This is going to wear off at some point, right?"
Skot: (stentorially) "Gruuthuse. Gruuthuse hot."
Wife: "Go away."
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That poor woman. "DE GROEPE!" is her "PAI GOW!!"
I cry with laughter. Truly.
I'm happy that skot had a wonderful time in Belgium, and will now only tell us about the bad parts.
Oh yes, Jupiler is horrible, horrible stuff. But, if you drink enough of it in Brugge, thed find yourself near a certain medievel church, you can take advantage of the outdoor pissor and relieve yourself in semi-privacy. JUPILER!
[insert clever comment so I can test something]
We are experiencing technical difficulties, and I have to turn comments off for a while. They'll be back soon, I promise.
[carefully tests comments]
Your Dutch is stunning! Jupiler!
I note you have aslo added a new catch-phrase to yor obbsessive wordying:
have fun with it, don't wear it out!
you can just pretend it sounds like "grope"
Yeah, I wasn't betting any hard cash on my pronunciations, and more or less immediately decided that as long as I was only inflicting the terrible words on the wife (thanks, Mike!), they would sound exactly as I wanted them to sound.
Somehow I feel I'd have found joy in the same words.
When the family and I were in Germany last spring, I asked Katie [whose family we were visiting; she's been there dozens of times] what the "Geoffnet" was, since so many restaurants and shops seemed to be part of it. You'd walk down the street and see "Geoffnet" signs out front of maybe four in ten shops. Is it some sort of "AAA"-like thing? Want quality in dining? Look for the mark of the GeoffNet! Who is Geoff and how did he build his network?
Of course, "geoffnet" means "open".
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