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Reijer's World: A Very Intimate Moment

by Reijer Breed in Columns & Opinions , 15 mei 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

For a while, Peter Kogge was my friend. We sat next to each other in a class of the Albert Schweitzer School. The school still needed building when we had to go to primary school. Pending the completion of our new school, we were taught in an emergency school, two classrooms near the little river the Gouw in Zaandam. Finally our new school was ready, and the school was officially opened.

We walked through the neighbourhood in small groups, looking for golden objects. “Look,” a girl in our group called out. She pointed upward. On the third floor in an flat we saw our golden piece of wood. We retrieved it and took it to school. The pieces of wood formed a large key when placed together. With that key, the school was officially opened.

The school doors opened, and we looked for a spot in the main hall. Speeches were made, and they explained who Albert Schweitzer was. A photo was unveiled by an official of the Municipality Zaandam. We saw a man with a large moustache. Mr. Schweitzer was a doctor who had founded a hospital in Lambarene in Africa.

“Mr. Schweitzer and his staff are doing great things for the blacks living there,’” the man said. “Because, as you all know, there are ‘whites’ like there are here, and ‘black.’” “And ‘yellow!,’” Peter suddenly yelled out loud. “My father works at Verkade in custard.” Everybody had to laugh.

Weeks later, the moment had finally arrived. One of the annual highlights in Zaandam, the fair, was about to begin. Peter and I were walking to the fair on the Gedempte Gracht. The music was getting louder and louder. It was a Wednesday afternoon with no school. “How much money did you bring?,” Peter asked. “Three guilders,” I said. “Me too,” he said. On the fairground we walked around first to see what was in store. Each attraction featured its own music.

Excited we watched the roller coaster, the haunted house, the carousel and the bumper cars. We stopped at the caterpillar. Greasers helped their girls with petticoats into the carts. The caterpillar started moving, picking up speed. After a whistle a hood covered the seats, and it really started to look like a moving caterpillar.

It was an exciting idea. What was happening in the caterpillar? Looking naughty, the boys and girls exited the caterpillar. “Let’s go,” Peter said. “We’re going for a ride as well.” He bought tickets and we got onto the caterpillar. It began to move, going faster and faster. After the whistle, the hood was jerkily covering us. We were spinning round and round in the dark.

Then, something happened I have remembered so often. Peter huddled up to me and grabbed my hand. Hand in hand we were in the caterpillar. My heart was pounding in my throat and I enjoyed this intimate experience. The hood went back up, and we let each other go. It was the end of the ride. Shall we do it again? I quickly bought more tickets. In the dark we were holding hands again.

The music of the caterpillar was coming through the noise of the carts. Ria Valk was singing: “I want a cowboy as husband.” In those days there were talent shows everywhere in the Netherlands. In a Dutch Elvis Presley election, Ria was the runner up. And booed by the audience. What was a girl doing in an Elvis competition?

Ria ValkMama zei: m’n lieve meid
Kom zoek een man
Het wordt heus tijd
Neem toch Jan van hier benee
Want die is bij de PTT
Toen riep ik: No, no, no, no, no
Geef jij die Jan een ander maar cadeau

(Maar waarom toch niet mijn kind
Dan is je kostje gekocht
Denk maar aan het mooie pensioen
bij de PTT
Wat wil je eigenlijk?)

Ik wil een cowboy als man
Ik wil een cowboy als man
Het komt bij mij heus niet alleen op schieten an
Want ik weet dat iedere cowboy kussen kan

Dear Peter Kogge,

I want to thank you for your friendship in those uncertain years. I was always so proud walking next to you. When I visited you on the P.J. Troelstralaan your mother was always so sweet to us. They are great memories. But then my family moved to Wormerveer. I was eleven years old. I never saw you again. And I cannot find you on Facebook. Peter, I hope you are fine.

All the best,
Reijer Breed.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 331, maart 2019

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