Brian & Ann's European Experience

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Tom's Tourney 2005 - Part 1

I should be studying for my MBA class. Or sleeping. Or learning a new song on the guitar. Or sleeping. But in an attempt to make myself fall asleep at the keys, I will instead tell you the story of my tournament this weekend in Brugge, Belgium.

So I’m on this Frisbee team, UFO 2 (as I’ve said before). But, and this may come as a surprise to you, the Netherlands is not a big country. Therefore the ultimate culture is pretty incestuous. The best team in the Netherlands is a fairly new creation called Icy Dykes. The team is comprised of top level talent from mainly the Amsterdam and Utrecht areas, and a few ringers. In last year’s outdoor season the Amsterdam team (Red Lights) finished first, followed closely by UFO 1, the A team from Utrecht.

Well, for some scheduling reason, Icy Dykes had two bids to a tournament last weekend in Brugge, Belgium. See, this is why I love ultimate in Europe. All these teams get together in these exotic places like Copenhagen, Brugge, Paganello (Italy). It’s so awesome when you play another team and while marking you (Ultimate term: look it up) they count in French, or German, or Spanish.

So, for a month now I’ve known about this tournament. Of course, I didn’t tell Ann until like a week ago, just to maximize her poutiness (I’m gifted that way), and just to make it worse, I was away for the entire week in Heidelberg for work.

But anyway, Friday night rolls around, and I still haven’t connected with anyone from the team to get a ride to Brugge, which is about two hours away by car. I’m starting to get a little worried. I sent numerous emails to the email list with increasing levels of pleading (“Um, PLEASE can someone pick me up in Dordrecht…?”). No response.

I call all the numbers I can find on the website, searching for someone who will have an empty space in their car. Well, to make a long story short, no one has space.

Fine. I’ll take the train.

Only there’s one little problem: Koninginnensdag. Queen’s Day.

This weekend happens to be the 25th jubileum for the reign of Queen Beatrix over the kingdom of the Netherlands. I know, I’m thinking the same thing, big whoopee. Well, apparently it IS big whoopee. The entire fucking country is going nuts with orange.

Someone has to explain this to me one day, the flag of the Netherlands is three red, white, and blue stripes horizontally layered. Take the French flag, turn it ninety degrees, and that’s the Dutch flag. There isn’t any orange anywhere on it. But that’s the color they wear when they want to be all patriotic. I think a long time ago the king was called the prince of Orange, which is stupid as all get out because if there’s one fruit that you could NOT grow in this country it’s oranges.

But anyway, the point is, everyone in the entire country went out Friday night and partied until their heads exploded.

And then they all decided to take the train home. All still drunk.

I get to the train station at 7am on Saturday and I’m greeted by two Dutch guys who look like they are eighteen years old, have been up all night, and are still drunk. In fact, that’s exactly what they were.

These two idiots are yelling unintelligibly at everything they see, which apparently is really amusing to them. Then they get the bright idea of taking all the Metros (the free newspaper that’s distributed on the public transportation) out of the box they are laying in and start giving them out to everyone in sight. Unfortunately, besides me and the chick behind the glass window who is opening up the croissant shop, there aren’t many customers.

There’s a tall skinny one and a shorter one. The smaller, thicker one come up shoving a paper at me and saying something in some language, maybe Dutch, I can’t really tell. This is where I go into my “stupid American” act (which is a stretch) and say things like, “oh, I’m sorry, I don’t speak Dutch. Thanks anyway. Really, you’re too kind.”

But in the Netherlands, everyone speaks English anyway. So he just switches into his best drunken English and says, “Oh, you don’t speak Dutch? Well that’s no problem, here, I read the news to you.”


The guy wraps his arm around me while his partner bangs on the glass door of the croissant trying to get the attention of the girl fiddling with the croissant-making apparatus, who is trying very hard to ignore the idiot pounding on the glass and making lewd gestures.

“Uh…. lemme see… okay, this guy, he did something bad….” the short guy says to me. “And this weekend is Koninginnensdag, you know Koninginnensdag?”

No. Never heard of it. Stop touching me.

“Yeah, the party for the queen right—“

At this point the guy banging on the window has worked through the likely scenarios and decided the woman behind the glass is not going to engage in sexual acts with him at that time, so he gives the window a final bang and then let’s out a long, loud, “Pussyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”

It was actually quite funny. It wasn’t a mean or angry shout, just enthusiastic, the kind you would shout after a huddle in a football game.

I’m trying to understand the motivation behind that (Accusation? Statement? Request?) when his partner realizes he’s (barely) reading the headlines to some foreign guy when he should be off doing more important things. He takes him arm off me and then says, “I love fucking bitches man.”

Not knowing how to respond (“Me too”? “Nah, I prefer ho’s”?), I just smile and nod and say, “Well good luck with that.”

Then I’m on the platform waiting for my train. The train before my train comes in. And doesn’t open its doors. It just sits there, with the door closed. And occupying the track that my train is supposed to come in on. It’s surreal. I can see the passengers on the inside of the train, all standing there, all acting like they want to get off the train, but nothing’s happening. I begin to think that it could all just be a very elaborate joke, but that would be stupid. Or would it...?

Fifteen minutes go by. The status marker on my train switches to “15 minutes delay”. Then two cops finally walk up to the platform and the doors open. They pull out this Morrocan or Turkish looking gentleman and start talking to him. He can’t make up his mind between being really snide and condescending (you can do that to the cops in Yurup and not get the shit beat out of you, it’s weird), or being nice and cooperative, while the other passengers disembark around them throwing nasty looks.

Apparently, the guy wouldn’t pay his train ticket. In the Netherlands, if you’re on the train and you don’t have any money you have to show your ID, and then they write down your address and send you a bill in the mail. And if you don’t pay it within a few weeks they start adding fines. I know, I’ve gotten them. But I digress.

This guy apparently didn’t want to pay and didn’t want to give any address. I guess he simply didn’t recognize the authority of the Netherlands Train Service to collect revenues from his person in general. Well, that fucker fucked up the entire train service headed south from Dordrecht. The cops finally had enough of his lip and cuffed him and escorted him off to experience the legendary horrors of the Dutch prison system.

I hope they give him the chair and fry his ass. But they don’t have the death penalty here. Big softies. He’ll probably be sipping tea with Milosevic in the Hague in a day.

My train does finally come, twenty minutes late, but I guess the Lord heard the generous praise I gave to all the chanting that was done when that dude Joey Ratz (aka the new Pope) was inaugurated, because somehow I make my connection in Antwerp and get to Brugge only 15 minutes later than expected.

My next test is finding my way to the fields.

But I will leave that, and the story of the actual tournament, for Part II as I am now concentrating on hitting the right keys and keeping my eyes open.

To be continued.