Sunday, 12 August 2001
A pair of trousers is missing from the clothesline. How weird, as I did hang two pairs of business trousers out to dry. Yet, now there is only one.

So, where is the other one? Stolen? No, highly illogical. I wear a rather irregular size. These trousers suit just a "small" audience. What idiot steals one pair of trousers when there are two identical pairs to take? He who likes one will take the other one as well.

The riddle is solved quickly. It is the wind who has taken the trousers. They are in the neighbours’ garden, getting dirty in the rain.

So, what to do? The evening is almost over. It’s too late to knock on their door. Well, it is not an urgent problem. At the moment I work in SUMit HQ, where the dresscode is very informal. And should I need a pair of business trousers urgently, there are several sets hanging in the cupboard. I wish this one a good night, in the cool outdoors.

The next morning the neighbours are not home. Now what? Just boldly invade the garden to snatch my property? It feels like theft, one way or another, even if it involves my own trousers.

The godmother of the street, ‘Toos’, hoes the city owned beds. She knows everybody and everything there is to know in this neighbourhood. O, but these folks are not at home, as their bikes are not in front of the door. I’ll give them a call later. Fine with me. The trousers are not an urgent problem and have a low priority. I hurry towards keyboard and monitor.

Not much later neighbour Toos calls. She has got the trousers. And of course the whole neighbourhood was involved in this incident.

  • The neighbours’ neighbours wonder why I did not come and fetch my trousers myself.
  • Sigh. The village mentality of this small city presses down on me.
  • Don’t these folks have anything better to do than watch one another all day?
  • Will these Dutch ever get tired of their own whinging?
Anyway, meanwhile the pair of trousers are in the cupboard, washed and pressed, far out of reach of the wind. And that is where they will stay for quite some time.

In a week I’ll board the plane, far away from clothesline and village mindset. Against the jet stream I’ll head westwards, towards sun, love and space. My backpack will contain just a few shirts, some shorts, the laptop and a large dose of freedom. Liberated, for the moment, from the Dutch drivelry.

Till next week, from the other side of the ocean,

Married 17 August 2001: Simone Ploeg and Mark van Dijk. Congratulations.