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It’s Carnival, Cheers!

by Rick van der Made in Columns & Opinions , 26 februari 2019

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 4 minutes


Since last month, I live in Hooge Zwaluwe in the Dutch province of Brabant again. It is February, and almost time for the traditional carnival. The last time I celebrated it was four year ago with my friend Wouter. He left Amsterdam in his rabbit suit and me in my sailor outfit, going to Breda with public transport. We were very popular. I told him about the old days, about how I used to celebrate carnival in my home town Breda, the city where I now live close by again.

Carnival in Breda meant that on Friday night you wore your best party dress and went to the Venise bar with your friends to drink lots of beers and participate in the Miss Venise contest. Doing playback, a dance or just eating a bar of chocolate on stage... it was all possible. You could win nice prizes, but that was not what it was all about.

Once I was there with my brother-in-law and two friends. We play-backed “Blue Canary” by Dinah Shore. Our immense wigs had bird cages with fake birds in it. We won a price, but I can’t remember what that was.

At the carnival, you lose everything that is not stuck to your body. It is one of those things. After our performance, the bird cages were crushed into puddles within five minutes. I had lost a piece of my dress as well as my wig by then.

With quite some drinks between us, we decided to go to another bar. The four of us were on the streets doing the conga, when a police car stopped in front of us. The police man behind the window of the car turned the window down. We saw two police officers, and both were wearing a red nose.

“If there is no emergency, could you get us to Café Amphora,” my brother-in-law asked the officers. “Get in,” the officer said. My brother-in-law and friends sat down in the back seat, but I just couldn’t fit in the car any more.

“I’ll be on the bonnet,” I said, and actually did so. With lights flashing, we slowly drove towards Amphora.

When we arrived there, the officer hit the brake a bit too hard. I rolled off the bonnet and lost one of my high heels. “I did scratch the bonnet of the car with my heel,” I said. The officer shrugged his shoulders. We said goodbye to the police officers. “Bye and ‘alaaf.’” I was looking for my shoe, but I couldn’t find it.

Hardly five minutes later in the bar, where I was sitting on a stool with just one shoe,a group of “Kielegatters” came in. One of them was wearing my wig. “Hey, there’s my wig!,” I thought, and continued to drink beer.

Sometime later, I saw my lost shoe fly through the air. “Hey, there goes my shoe!,” I thought, and continued to drink beer. In ordinary life it is about making choices and setting priorities. With carnival, however, you only have one choice and one priority: drinking beer.

The DJ announced that a red ladies shoe size 43 was found. I walked over to the DJ, who handed me my shoe. The heel was still attached to the shoe, but with only a single thread. “Hey,” said the DJ, “You are a Blue Canary. I loved that act. Wait, I’ll get you a beer.”

My brother-in-law sat down next to me. He wasn’t wearing any shoes and had lost his wig as well. He was walking around in his tights. “Lost your shoes?,” I asked.
“Yes,” my brother-in-law said.
“He’s a Blue Canary too. Can he have a beer as well?,” I asked the DJ.
“Of course!”
We drank our beers, and saw another wig and some high heels fly through the air. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, laughed and took another sip of beer.

I don’t know yet as to whether I will be celebrating carnival this year, now that I am back in Brabant. The temptation is there of course, but the new house needs some renovations, and I’m not sure I can still handle all that beer.


But even when I stay at home, and I do not drink at home and have no more wigs and dresses in my closets, I will make an exception on Tuesday evening - the evening before Ash Wednesday - and bring a toast to the health of Prince Carnival.

Because with carnival you only have one priority.

“Alaaf!”



 





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