I once knew a Dutch kid named Marco. I did not like him.
A combination of my senior year with Marco and several layovers in the Amsterdam airport led me to conclude several years ago that I did not like the Netherlands, nor its tall, skinny, jerky, smoking people.
An unfair judgment, I know. I knew it then, too. But until I met a Dutch person I liked, I was determined to look upon Hollanders with disdain.
And then this July I attended a conference in Prague. 80+ students from over 30 nations around the world gathered for a week of leadership activities, and one night of culture-sharing. The first act of the night was a tall, skinny, non-blonde named Yori, who explained a bit about the bizarreness Dutch National Anthem, and tore off his shirt while singing it. I can’t remember why he did, but I distinctly remember agreeing with him that, yes, that is not all that’s strange about the Dutch.
The next day, I got to talking to him in one of the activities . I didn’t mention my prejudice against his people, but I did bring up the Amsterdam airport, and–more importantly–that Holland is home to the best peanut butter in the world.
Ah, Calvé Pindakaas!
What? Yes! You know it! They used to sell it in Dubai, but now I can’t find it anywhere and I loooove it.
Well, I can send you some!
I got a very nice email a few weeks later apologizing for the delay, but his parents had eaten the pindakaas [peanut butter] intended for me (see? it really is the best!) and of course that delayed the sending somewhat. But no matter. It’s in the mail and should arrive in 8-10 days.
Sweet! I thought. And then I left for Europe and forgot all about it.
It came!! All 2 jars and 20 (!) Euros of it.
I still think lowly of Marco and the Amsterdam airport in all its toxic secondhand haze, but overall, I’m feeling very kindly toward the Dutch.
Very kind indeed.
My only problem is: What to send back?