reading time 4 minutes
© cc photo: Sandra Seitamaa
“Are there any men with balls here?” Rose shouted through the matter. “Then I’ll hang them right up on the tree.”
“I have no balls,” Ton called back from his stool at the bar. ‘Otherwise I would be in Ukraine.’
“That’s where I just sent mine,” Harko called after him next to him. “Throw them at a Russian missile base. Flat out.”
At the back of the cafe, near the door to the toilets, Roos was decorating a Christmas tree. An idea from Emile, the owner of the café. By creating a warm Christmas atmosphere, customers may not notice that the heating had been turned down due to the increased heating costs. And because Emile was too tight to hire more staff, it was up to Roos to create that Christmas atmosphere in addition to his work behind the bar.
“Well, what do you think?” she asked next to the Christmas tree in which the baubles sparkled.
“Very atmospheric,” Harko said, flicking a wooden toothpick up and down the corner of his mouth. “And get back behind the bar.”
“That’s no longer allowed these days, is it,” said Ton. “Just like Zwarte Piet.”
‘What is no longer allowed?’ asked Harry.
‘What?’ Harko looked back at the capricious Nordmann. ‘Is a Christmas tree also racist?’
‘Not racist, but bad for the environment.’
“Jesus, we’re getting it again!” Harko had bitten off his toothpick. He spat the remains into his hand, looked around briefly, then let them fall to the floor.
Roos returned behind the bar with a tray full of empty glasses and immediately began rinsing them. Every move she made in the cafe was marked by work. She poured the bottoms into the drain funnel, dipped the glasses two at a time into the sink, swirled them back and forth on the brushes two or three times with short flicks of the wrist, pressed the cross of the syringe to give them a final rinse, and she stacked clean glasses on the drain pipe of the towers.
“You’re busy,” Ton said.
“I…” Ton had almost said that he could keep her warm for a while, but kept his mouth shut in time.
“He just said a Christmas tree is not allowed anymore,” Harko said.
“ISLAND?” Roos opened his eyes questioningly like blue flowers that Ton wanted to pollinate. ‘Why not?’
“Bad for the environment,” Ton said.
‘Hi?’ Rose pinched her face in incomprehension, forming a halo of wrinkles next to her eyes. ‘Isn’t it pure nature!’
‘No, monoculture. Full of agricultural poison.’
“Yes, of course you shouldn’t eat them.”
“How did you get that wisdom?” asked Harry.
“Was on TV,” Ton said. “Don’t be surprised if they ban it again.”
“They’re taking everything from us,” Harko said, shaking his head and taking his glass of beer from the bar. “We are left with nothing.”
“First Zwarte Piet and now the Christmas tree,” said Ton. ‘Soon they will ban the Easter Bunny. For animal cruelty.’
“But you know what you never hear about?” Harko said. “About hajj.”
‘What kind of one?’ Rose asked.
‘The Pilgrimage to Mecca,’ Ton demonstrated his development, which could not only be broadly described in a physical sense. “What’s up with that?”
“Well, what do you think it does to the environment?” Harko said. ‘All those planes with Muslims, it’s good for the climate!’
“Yes, that’s right,” said Ton. “You never hear about that.”
‘And then all the Islamic feasts of sacrifice. Those Muslims can slaughter freely and we will soon have to eat worms.’
‘Damn!’ Rose twisted her face into a disgusted grimace, suddenly making her look much older. “Well, I won’t!”
“It’s a double standard,” Harko said. We have to give up everything and they can keep everything. It seems as if our culture is worth less than theirs.’
“I’m not going to eat worms,” said Rose, holding one glass after another under the running beer pump to a large party that had come in to watch Morocco-France. “Then I’d rather eat Christmas tree.”
“There’s kind of a get away with us mentality in this country,” Ton said. “Where did that come from?”
“Hobby for the leftist elite,” Harko said. “Politically Correct Scoring.”
‘Yes, and we can pay for it. It’s crazy that a small group of pushers decides what happens in this country. And everyone just groans along, afraid of being cancelled. The whole construction comes to a standstill because of that commotion. And in the meantime, they are taking in more and more refugees who need a home.’
‘Yeah, and you know what also pisses me off? To these apologies for slavery’s past. Why should we apologize and not the African countries? Didn’t they sell those slaves to us? Slavery is made into a black and white thing, but it wasn’t. There were also white slaves. All had slaves. It doesn’t make up for what we’ve done, don’t get me wrong, but why do we have to pay for everything?’
‘Because there is something to be gained from us.’
‘Exactly! We should stand up for ourselves a little more, be a little more proud of our own culture.’
“Do you want another drink?” Rose asked.
“Make a Duvel,” said Ton.
“Yeah, me too,” Harko said.
‘Look, I’m not religious myself, but I think the Christmas tree is just part of our Christian culture. And Zwarte Piet too.’
“That’s right, dammit!”
Kick-off was on the big TV screen that Emile had hung in the store for the World Cup.
“Oh, it’s started,” Ton said, turning to the screen.
“Well,” said Harko, “I hope we kick those French out.”