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Icarus Rickarus

by Rick van der Made in Columns & Opinions , 14 oktober 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 5 minutes


Summer has now slipped into autumn, and the cultural season has begun. Each year, the “Uitmarkt” in Amsterdam is an extremely busy event I usually attend. This year, I went with my sister.


As my sister is a lesbian and in Amsterdam infrequently, I had consulted the website of the Uitmarkt and typed in “gay” in the search bar. I was instantly redirected to the “Iamsterdam” website, in which just about everything to do with gay life is listed: from gay highlights such as the house of Gerard Reve and Bet van Beeren’s Café ’t Mandje to temporary exhibitions and parties. However, there was not a single gay cultural event at the “Uitmarkt” to be found, for instance on the Homomonument. “The ‘Uitmarkt’ perhaps didn’t come out of the closet yet?” my ever-pugnacious sister asked. I looked at her, shrugged my shoulders and remembered the very first time we had visited Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum as children.

We lived in Breda and I was twelve years old. My sister was ten. My parents took us to Amsterdam for a day, travelling by train. Travelling with my mother meant a lot of messing about and a slightly panicky feeling. She took far too much stuff with her, not needing ninety percent of it. In the train compartment, that smelled of cigar smoke, my father picked up his book and began to read. My sister could draw well, picking up her drawing pad and crayons. I was fond of knitting scarves, so I grabbed my knitting.

During the first hour of the journey, my mother was mainly concerned with stowing away our bags, looking for the things she did not bring. We left her to muddle on. From time to time she asked some rhetorical question, such as: “Did I leave the hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator?”

The worst thing you could do was to answer her questions. This resulted in her lashing out at you. Arriving at Amsterdam Central Station, my father was sick of the bags and rented a deposit box. Relieved and set loose, we took the tram to the Rijksmuseum.
 
My sister and I were utterly bored and secretly chuckled at the Civil Guard portraits that were on display there. All these strict faces neatly in a row; faces with curly moustaches and beards we only knew from the drawings in the books with fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. Our father accompanied us and at times told us something about the paintings.

I suddenly halted in front of a small print. I was fascinated by what I saw. A handsome, scantily clad young man with athletic legs falling out of the sky. “Icarus,” my mother said, walking along. I stayed as long as I could before my sister grabbed my arm and pulled me along.


After some more pulling our parents’ arms and after what seemed like an eternity for my sister and I, we had finally arrived. There it was - “The Night Watch.” My parents stayed in front of the painting what felt like an eternity, discussing every detail. They just stood there talking, while my sister and I were bored out of our minds. We were not just in any museum, we were in the National Museum, so playing tag was out of the question. Even pulling our mother’s arm did not help. To find my way back to Icarus all by myself would be impossible. It was a waiting game that went on and on and on and on.
 
“Well, what do you think?” my mother suddenly asked.
My sister and I looked at each other. What I thought? It was just a painting. Large and gloomy. To be perfectly honest with you: compared to Icarus and the many other “prim and proper” paintings in the museum's collection, I found the “Night Watch” disorderly.
“It is a bit of a mess,” I said.
“They are all over the place,” my sister said.
“Isn’t that great?” my mother said with a delighted look on her face while studying the canvas. My sister and I shrugged our shoulders. We wanted to go outside. If I couldn’t go back to Icarus, I wanted to go for a round trip of the canals. I really didn’t care for that messy “Night Watch.”

At the end of the afternoon we went back to Breda. We were in a compartment that did not have that cigar smell as much. My mother was busy harassing other passengers while arranging the bags. “Sorry. Pardon me. Oops. Ever so sorry.”
 
“Dear God,” my mother suddenly said. “I left a bag at the Rijksmuseum.”
“Which one?” my father asked.
“The bag with the postcard of ‘The Night Watch’ and the hard-boiled eggs.”
“Hard-boiled eggs? I thought you forgot to bring that bag?”
“No, I did find it in the end.”
“Well,” my sister whispered to me, “they really are a good match, mum and ‘The Night Watch.’”

She picked up her drawing pad and crayons.
“What are you going to draw?,” I asked.
“A painting,” said my sister. “I’ll call it: ‘The Night Watch Gang and Four hard-boiled Eggs.’”
I picked up a sheet and a crayon as well. My sister asked me what I was going to draw. “Icarus,” I said.
“Icarus Rickarus,” she said.
 
“Let’s go,” my sister said. "Let’s have a look at the ‘Uitmarkt.’ I’ll come back next year for the Out-of-the-closet Uitmarkt, dear Icarus Rickarus.”

I wish you all a great (and GLBT+ friendly) cultural season.



 




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