Mesa Musings: The Dutch did much

July 13, 2010|Jim Carnett

"If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much."

OK, I'm not Dutch. But I've seen the aforementioned slogan on bumper stickers for years, most particularly on cars parked in a lot next to a Dutch market in Bellflower. My wife, Hedy, and I occasionally shop there for sweets and Indonesian spices.

If you've never sampled Dutch almond butter cake, you haven't lived!

Frankly, the rather smug sounding "phrase is nothing more than an all-too-convenient rhyme. Take it from me: The Dutch aren't smug. They are generous to a fault, and our G.I.s who liberated their country during World War II felt that they were the most gracious people in Europe.


I may not be Dutch, but neither am I dumb. I married Dutch.

Hedy is Dutch-Indonesian. Born on the Indonesian isle of Java, she moved to Holland as a youngster and spent her formative years on a patch of polder 30 feet below the surface of the North Sea. She was kept from treading water by five gazillion windmills.

The Dutch, as you may have heard, won six of seven matches in the recent FIFA World Cup soccer championships and finished runners-up to the Spanish. Their style of play, referred to as the "Dutch Touch" (another too-convenient rhyming scheme), propelled them into Sunday's title match.

Sadly, that's where they fell.

Hedy's family is soccer-crazed. Her father was a semi-pro player in Indonesia, and most of her uncles, cousins and kinfolk have played the sport. Many relatives in Holland Facebooked her during Sunday's finale.

Early in our marriage we'd often visit her parents' home in Costa Mesa. Her dad could usually be found in the den watching soccer on a Spanish-language TV channel (the American media didn't broadcast much soccer in those days). He couldn't speak Spanish, so he'd call Hedy into the room for a little translation.

I knew nothing about the sport, but I'd sit with him and watch the game, and he'd explain its intricacies. The announcer would describe the action in Spanish; my father-in-law would speak to Hedy in Dutch in order to extract a translation; and my father-in-law would enlighten me in English.

By the way, he developed a love of American football and baseball, and I was privileged to return the favor and tutor him. We attended Dodger and Angel games together, and even a USC-Notre Dame football clash.

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