17 March 2010


(Liking McSweeneys New Food, I bravely submitted my own story. To no avail, it got rejected, but I'm happy to nevertheless present it to you here on my very own blog! It even has a picture, which McSweeneys wouldn't have added anyway, count your blessings! Please skip the part in Dutch for the story.)

Op een dag liep ik http://www.mcsweeneys.net/ tegen het lijf, de webpresentatie van de gelijknamige uitgever (die klaarblijkelijk niet zo malen om hun virtuele voorkomen, getuige bijvoorbeeld de lijst van toekomstige boeken).
Veel leesvoer op die site. Ik werd voornamelijk gegrepen door hun lo-fi site en het feit dat er zoveel op staat. Het onderdeel New Food kreeg als eerste mijn aandacht en ik besteedde een avond aan het lezen van die vermakelijke verhaaltjes over eten en de soms hilarische beschrijvingen en leuke wendingen. En toen, toen besloot ik ook een gooi te doen. Ik had ook een verhaal, en het was mijns inziens niet geheel mislukt dat in mooie zinnen - in het Engels - te gieten. Vol bravoure stuurde ik het geheel op, en kreeg vandaag het nogal ambivalent interpreteerbare antwoord: " Thanks for your submission. We are going to pass on this for now, but please keep us in mind for the future." Ik leid er maar uit af dat het "mislukt, probeer het nog eens" betekent. Toch ben ik in mijn sas met mijn verhaaltje en het feit dat je op een blog lekker puh toch wel alles kunt publiceren, dus mag u allemaal het hier lezen. En aan het einde volgt zelfs een plaatje! Dát flikt McSweeneys mooi niet!

Imagine the dark November days. Rain frequently pours down from the sky and the wet cold gets into your bones. Making a fire and clinging to the belief that yes, the sun will show its warm face one day again are the things getting you through the days. The house is left only when truly needed. Shivering a bit already? Well, it was in such days that the car decided to take a holiday break in the garage. To extend its stay, it came up with an unknown ailment which needed different expert approaches and parts from far away. We were left with less money and more public transportation (of which there is not that much to start with anyway, here in Central Italy). The rain did not stop and the trips to the garage ever more unpleasant. Chilly, big dirty handed men dominated place smelling of oil and stale sweat of suffering cars, I don't like you.

A month later, the car is done, joy! We, all too excited, take it for a trip to the big and eternal city. A mere 5 minutes on the highway: the car's nervous system shuts down. Now, it's not only rain pouring and darkness dooming, but we're also stuck on the highway. Phone calls are made. A coincidence, say the car people, nothing to do with the month in the garage, could've happened any time.
Blue light spreads over the wet windows. The cops do not leave their car. They open their window just enough to be able tell us we shouldn't be there. Ah, thanks, yes we did have other plans. In an act of utter bravery (or despair?) my boyfriend asks for a cigarette. It fits through the window and off are the blue lights.
Darkness. Darkness. Orange light stops close to us and the man who does leave his vehicle is called Denni (pronounced Danny). Car on truck and off we go. Denni seems concerned about two wet strangers in his car so he puts the heating really high. Hot tears are blown over my face. He tells us many things that we don't want to know. Where to eat the best meat in the region; because he's outside for his job all the time, he knows every place, he states. As Denni is the one ruling this cabin, we, vegetarians, politely nodd interest. I also nodd because Denni is, to me, incomprehensible: he has a strong dialect and the hot air is blowing loudly. Good that he has great non-verbal communication skills, leaning over the steering wheel but looking sideways, down to where my breasts are. That his eyes are not on the road is our greater concern.
The car is once again parked at the garage. Denni offers to bring us home, but since he's officially off work now he's doing us a favor from now on, which means he's taking it easy. Do we want to roll a joint for him? No, Denni, we would like to go home.

Denni is hungry. Let's eat pizza. No, Denni, we can eat at home. No, we eat pizza. The pizza place is brightly lit and gives Denni the opportunity to look into my eyes and tell my boyfriend -doesn't that girl have the bluest eyes-, with a wink of one of his own.
Dennis words then get smothered in pizza. And after weeks of garage, rain, missing connections, various Dennies in the male and cold and expensive world of the garage, there it is, my solace. I ordered pizza with potatoes, normally a common topping of thin slices with rosemary. How could I have been prepared for what came? Pizza with fries. Dough, tomato, cheese, fried potato sticks, just out of the oven. A Dutch woman goes to Italy and finds the best of both worlds in the unlikeliest of circumstances. The heartbreaking question - ketchup, mayonaise on top? Both, please. The dough freshly baked and not too thick, the fries hot and crispy, the sauces the soothing salves that covered even Dennys frequent burps on the way home.

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