Thursday, April 5

Shaken, Not Stirred

The Dutch way to greet a friend is a three kiss ritual. Elsewhere on the continent it is a two kiss greeting. The same goes for the UK; a single visit to each cheek as you greet one another is the standard. And the American way? A great big welcoming hug is the tradition.

So, just what is the protocol when an AMERICAN greets a BRIT and a SPANIARD in her DUTCH house?

A kissing hugging frenzy for everyone. Kiss-kiss-kiss-HUG-kiss-kiss. Or something like that.

We hosted some friends here for dinner a couple of weeks ago; friends we have known virtually since our arrival in the Netherlands. She comes originally from Spain and he from England. They are terrific company and we have enjoyed many celebrations and conversations with them during our time here in Holland. Last summer as we moved from Leiden to The Hague, our friend moved from Leiden back to England, so it has been several months since the kids have seen or talked with him. Speaking with him is always a treat, especially if like me you are partial to that exquisite London accent. To converse with him is to feel that you are in the most refined of company. The inflection in his voice infuses you with desire to sit up tall and straight in your chair and will your IQ to ratchet upward a few points. Perhaps simply by association with such charm and etiquette your own grace and poise will be affected for the better. Lest you get the wrong impression of his character I must also say that he is a warm and caring person and can carry his end of a conversation, whether it be about classic literature or best toppings for pizza, with equal brilliance and wit.

So the seven of us sat around our dining room table swapping stories and telling tales; caught together in a lovely web of conversation, commiseration and dissertation. As the chatter turned ever more to adult subjects and interests Andrew quietly began to name the people at the table.

"There's Momma, there's Emma, that's Ian.... and that is JAMES BOND"

My head snapped to the side as my ears tuned in to what he had said.

"What was that baby?" I asked him

"That's JAMES BOND" he said looking straight across the table at our gentleman friend.

At this point in our small aside the big kids tuned in .

"Did he just say what I think he said?" Ian queried.

"Say that again buddy?" Emma added.

"He thinks that we have James Bond here tonight" I whispered.

Actually I more sort of spluttered that last as I could hardly contain the laugh welling up inside me. And I was attempting to be so refined with our evening company; but there I was snorting behind my open hand as I tried to explain to my three year old that it wasn't really James Bond in our dining room that evening, but just our good friend.

To which Andrew replied with volume and vigor:

"Uh-yeah-NO. That is not JAMES BOND. Nope. Not JAMES BOND! That's funny!"

He punctuated his comment with a gusty "HA! HA! HA!"

And if you think that a moment like that isn't enough to halt any deep adult discussion replete with political overtones and cause an entire table full of folks to erupt into deep-gut-laughter then you just haven't spent enough time around a preschooler lately.

I highly recommend it.

If only for sheer entertainment at dinner parties.


  1. That sure beats my then 3-year old bursting into the Weather Girls in front of our Dutch friends!

    Preschoolers are always the life of the party.

    (And I've got a think for that British accent - why do you think I watch Robin Hood?).

  2. Though that is sweet to say I myself am still giggling over this post of yours!
    I am a sucker for an accent. The computer repair that I use is owned and run by a Scotsman, and believe me I am always looking for questions I can call and ask him just to hear that BROGUE! um-mmm!

  3. LOL Oh that's hilarious! The best belly laughsusually come from the funny things my kids say. :)

  4. Oh, an Andrew story! This is hilarious -- thanks!