Culture Shock This was when, at the ripe age of 13, I left my native Curaçao island when my father got pensioned and retired to his native country, the Netherlands. Things being what they were at the time, I just had to go along. I'd been there twice already and hated the place. Nomen est omen - the pits - the bottom of the barrel. It was not so much the cold, at that time it was absolutely retarded and poor. Also plain filthy. But even so, I didn't quite know how bad it was going to be... How could I?
In the first place, I was just getting my teeth into puberty and it was a mystery to me how to approach those Dutch chicks (and even turned down many perfectly good offers in my perverse innocence). Also, for four months I wasn't allowed to go to movies that I had seen already, as the censorship age limit was 14 vs. 12 years. American movies only reached Holland then long after they had been shown in Curaçao. This sort of experience tends to turn you into an anarchist.
Then, in Curaçao we had the Fraters van Tilburg and Dominican priests. Now these have a bad name; no doubt Torquemada had something to do with that. But they, in comparison a free-wheeling easy-going lot, couldn't hold a candle to the Jesuits. Do I have to tell you more than that difficult boys from Curaçao were sent by their parents to the very same school I arrived at, Canisius College of Nijmegen? I don't know why, really. They were supposed to get a very good education there, and they did: One of the inmates told me that they collectively used to jerk off over De Volkskrant, a catholic newspaper (it carried the Tom Poes strip) to see who spouted farthest. One of the very few good things, I feel, Adolf Hitler did was to close down an Austrian Jesuit school.
What I am thankful for is that I was not a total inmate; I was free to spend my time off at my parents' place. Well, free may not be entirely le mot juste.
My brother José had one year to go to finish high school when he arrived there. He needed just one glance around to think, I'm gonna have to get out of this place - more than this one year I couldn't possibly stand. He proceeded to work his ass off and made it. Puir Me had to stay on for three (count 'em: 1-2-3) years.
It was Hell on Earth. I'm not complaining so much about my fellow members of the chain gang; they probably thought me as weird as I thought them. But the teachers! As these Curaçao kids were sent over to their school to get a good education, you can't really blame them for thinking their school just had to be much better than the one I came from. What I do blame them for, and rightly so I still feel, is not to face up to the evidence presented.
Het Hok the generally accepted Afrikaans word for 'school'
The one thing that helped me through was that I happen to be pretty good at languages, and those teachers were behind me all the way. But I had to get extra, private, lessons, in math mainly. I have long since jumped to the conclusion that this is just a plot among teachers to help each other to an extra income - probably tax free in the game. The thing here that strikes you is that I got these lessons from the same guy who the year before figured I needed them. They didn't help one bit.
They were plain bad teachers. Only too much later I realized — not that it would have helped me much when at that * (snappy, ain't it?) school, to the contrary, I dare say — that in my work I work more with math, especially logarithms (photography and sound recording are just replete with them), than almost anybody I know. It just comes natural to me. They never noticed.
One of these actually had the temerity to tell me that I would never understand the first thing about 3D geometry. Not when he explained this, to be sure... but now I am so heavily into that stuff, he wouldn't even understand what I'm talking about. I do hope he's daid, so I won't have to take ReWenge! It gets tiresome after a while. (By the way, another one of those geniuses who gave me extra lessons the following year.) It's only long after I uploaded this page that I realized that one of my most popular other efforts is Compass Construction for Dummies, which attracts a lot of visitors who seem to have teachers of the same caliber I had.
Just like my drawing teachers just thought I was a crummy draughtsman. This was so bad, it never occurred to me to go to an academy, which would have been by far the best thing for me to do as a young man setting out to Conquer the World. But what did I know then? I just had a god-awful time. Every holiday I had to spend on what they'd call tasks and re-exams, involving more private lessons and ruining my vacations.
It was much worse for yet another brother; there were six, all in all. After having wasted some of his years away, no doubt pestering him all the while, they declared he was not smart enough to finish that school and had better look for something else. This guy should not be smart enough? What a shame! Such chutzpah! Is this a way to build confidence in a young man setting out? I yam dee-gustid.
Resentful Yeah, sure I am. After all those years, too. I don't want to deny it, just read on for the climax, the dénouement. After three years of this misery, I passed the final exams as one of the best of that year in that school. And it was a pretty large one, too. In those math-like subjects, I was so good that I didn't even have to take an oral examination. My lowest mark on the list (ranging from 1 to 10) was one 6 - for physical education.
Amazing how these things come popping back up: I was never able to pull myself up by my hands, no doubt resulting in bad marks.
Then, in the army, a sergeant stood there looking at me when I had to go through the same trick, and just said Hey bud, you have to turn your hand around the other way. It worked. None of those ass-hole teachers had ever noticed. One of them moonlighted as examinator for drivers' licenses, in Holland a very bureaucratically sadistic procedure.
Well, now, do you think one of those cunts, those pricks, those ass holes of teachers came over to me to offer his apologies, or even cordial congratulations? They probably still think it was a weird freak that I made it at all. If they have not died under the most horrible circumstances, as I devoutly hope. Pray to Chodt... Cover 'em with vitriol. Stamp on their balls. Choke 'em until their eyes pop out of their ugly skulls. Actually, I hope they're not dead and get to read this. Fat chance, right. The good news is, Canisius is not a Jesuit school any more.
I was really shocked when I passed by that same ***, ******, **** and *** school a couple of years later and boys and girls poured out. Girls Were Sin in my great times there. So there is Justice? Don't count on it. They had a marvelous chapel... oh my god, there we go again.
You had a choice at this school (for a change). You came at 8:00 for the Holy Mass, partaking of the Holy Wafer and having breakfast thereafter, in the course of which we copied each other's homework. One of our entertainments was to pour out pots of tea, liberally spiced with saccharine, over the steam radiators. Resulted in a cloud of smoke and a stench you wouldn't believe. Didn't stop us from scribbling away. The second mass (attending one mass was obligatory) was at 8:30. Both masses, for the externs, were held in a really beautiful chapel. There's another church, very obviously by the same architect (Alexander Kropholler) in den Haag on the Wassenaarseweg. So what did they do?
They tore that chapel down, in 1986, just before its 50th anniversary when it might have become a monument. This left only an older and awfully kitschy chapel, that, with the rest of the building, had been designed by Nicolaas Molenaar, a pupil of neo-gothic architect Cuyper. As usual for the bad things in life, Cuyper was very successful. He also designed the Amsterdam Central Station and the Rijksmuseum. God, they're ugly... salmon-colored glazed-brick horrors. Molenaar learned his lessons well. Canisius College even has fences on its very roof ridges, in our opinion to prevent the interns from climbing out and escape. Naturally, this building has been declared a Monument.
Reunions, yet! And now they keep pestering me with invitations to reunions. Hey, you guys, get this straight once and for all:
I have nothing against you, understand? Just don't remind me of that horror; that rotten hateful school you affectionately call het Hok [the cage], where we drank heksenpis [witch piss] lemonade on special days.
Leave me alone, do you hear me? F
or cryin' out loud, Take a Hint: Please do not send me any more invitations to your blasted reunions. Pretty please, erase me from your data bases. Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! [Dying Duck sound effect]
You don't like this raving and ranting? Suits me fine. Send me an and see what it gets you: A reply, yet!
The Bottom Line After all that trouble, I'd lost my precious diploma in less than three months. Didn't matter, as nobody ever has asked me to see it.
The school for dogs, is what it means in Latin.
-- Torquemada was the head of the Inquisition, you nitwit. He was a Dominican. -- Words fail me.