June 15, 2012 by MM
First, I’d like to ease all of y’all’s minds by stating that it’s been weeks since the bedbug scare, and I haven’t been sleep-bitten since.
Now: what’s been going on in The Netherlands? Well, the European Cup football (soccer) matches, for starters. In spite of Holland’s disappointing playing, I’ve found myself getting into the matches and having fun participating in a European cultural phenomenon. Our theatre has been playing all the matches on big screens with table service, so I’ve gotten to go enjoy the games while eating fries and bitterballen, drinking Heinekin, and inevitably, having my arm twisted into doing a Jager shot.
The first thing I had to do to prepare for all this was to buy an orange shirt. Orange is Holland’s soccer color, which I assume is because of the royal family / house of orange. Remember William of Orange from history? He was a Dutch dude from history. So anyway, even though the country’s flag is red, white, and blue, orange is sort of the country color. So I had to get an orange shirt to watch the matches. But not just any orange shirt. I think I went into every tourist store in Amsterdam looking for the perfect orange shirt, one that looked soccery enough but that still flattered my womanly (lack of) curves.
One of my biggest fears in life is to be dressed inappropriately for any occasion. Underdressed, overdressed, or wrongly dressed, it doesn’t matter; I’m mortified. I think this is because, for whatever reason, my parents seemed to always dress me wrong as a child. I can’t count the number of events I attended where I already felt awkward because I barely knew anyone, but added to that was the fact that I was drastically overdressed or underdressed. Usually it was over, because my mom loved to put me in dresses, especially ones that matched my sister’s dresses. In retrospect, I imagine this was even more embarrassing for my sister, being four years older.
Once, my whole family drove from North Carolina to Kansas to attend a reunion of my dad’s army buddies, along with their families. There was some sort of welcome lunch thing, and we all showed up in church clothes. Dad in a suit, mom, my sister and me in floral-printed dresses; and I don’t mean casual sundresses that you could get away with wearing like, “oh, I wear this all the time, it’s my casual wear.” These were clearly church dresses. And nobody; not one other single soul, was dressed up. In fact, I think the dressiest person there was wearing cutoff shorts and a Harley Davidson t-shirt that read on the back, “If you can read this, the bitch fell off.”
OK, I don’t remember the exact outfits, but it was seriously embarrassing.
So for the next event, we said, “Well, we’re not making that mistake again!” and wore shorts and sneakers. And everybody was dressed up. How the HELL did all these people intrinsically know what to wear to which event? There was no paperwork, to my knowledge. No suggested dress codes in the invitation. These people just knew. Because they were born with genes that my family did not possess.
So, knowing now that I do not have those genes, before any event, I grill either the host or anyone I know who is also attending. This is what my side of the conversation sounds like: “What are people wearing to the party? Is it casual? Oh, ok. Wait, do you mean business casual, upscale casual or California casual? Oh, just casual casual? But like still cute casual, right?”
I have to ask, because if I don’t find out ahead of time, I will be the only ASSHOLE wearing cute casual sneakers, when everyone else is wearing upscale casual ones. And for some reason, I’ll also be wearing a church dress.
So, anyway, all this is to say that I took a long time to pick out the perfect orange shirt. I had to find one that I liked, that would also not make me look like a doofus who didn’t know what to wear. For example, my first instinct was to get this cute orange Holland t-shirt with a picture of a windmill. It was so cute! I really liked it. But then I thought, No, this is not about windmills, it’s about soccer. I have to get a sports-specific shirt, or I will look like the complete novice that I am. So, after spending weeks looking for the perfect shirt, I ended up grabbing one at the very last minute, right before the first match, and changed into it in the bathroom when I got to the theatre. It’s orange and fitted and v-neck and has a black lion on the front with a pleasing sticky, rubbery surface that I enjoy. (just the lion is sticky; not the whole shirt.)
At the game, my friend Jim said he almost didn’t wear orange, because he didn’t want to look like an asshole. While he said this, we were looking right at a group of people wearing furry orange wigs and giant plastic googly glasses. Apparently, when watching a Eurocup match, assholery in one’s attire is strongly encouraged.
You’ll be pleased to know I fit right in.