Sunday, May 14, 2006

Do They Call You Burger for Short?*

Back in December of last year, I met my neighbor, Dominick, at a neighborhood action committee meeting. At the time, and unbeknownst to Dominick, I was told by some of the attendees that Dominick was the "mayor" of our ville. It wasn't until several weeks later, when I was introducing Dan to Dominick, that I learned that Dominick was not, in fact, the town mayor. In the words of Dominick, "it was a ha-ha. A joke." Oh, I get it.

At the Zinneke parade this past weekend (more on that later), I ran into Dominick and two other gentlemen, one of whom I was told was another neighbor of mine, and the other was the Mayor of Brussels. Well, there was no way I was going to fall for that one again! You know, fool me once.

As I was breaking it to the group that their little joke was not going to work this time because I know a "ha-ha" when I see one (Yeah right, he's the Mayor, so I guess that makes me the former First Lady of the US. Ha-Ha.), I couldn't help but notice how quiet they had become. Some might even say, uncomfortably quiet. But, at least it wasn't an awkward quiet. I know this for certain, because that came about 15 seconds later, when the "Mayor" handed me his business card. Now, that was an awkward moment.

Take it from me. There are times -- oh let's say, like after you insult a local dignitary of a country in which you are merely a guest -- when saying, "I'm sorry," seems soooo very inadequate. Some things are better learned than lived, and issuing a diplomatic apology falls firmly into the latter!

Fortunately for me, Burgomeister Thielemans was very understanding and quick to forgive. I had the pleasure of sitting next to him for most of the parade (hate the game, not the players) and I have to say, what impressed me most about him, other than his willingness to overlook my diplomatic faux pas, was how down-to-earth he was. He wasn't the cheesy politician, shaking hands and kissing babies. If it wasn't for all the people stopping to talk to him (and there were loads of them!), or asking to take a picture with him, you could easily mistake him for a regular guy simply watching a parade on a beautiful day in his hometown.

Throughout the day, I watched him enjoy not only the parade, but watching people enjoy the parade. His sincerity appeared genuine, whether he was putting up with stupid questions from an American (that would be me), acknowledging police officers that stopped to salute him, laughing with the various artists and performers, or blowing bubbles with a little boy wearing a clown nose. From where I was sitting, it was clear that he was very proud of his City, and not in the "I hold a public office" sort of pride, but more in the "This is where I come from" sort of pride.

* The answer to this question is a big fat no. Apparently, the correct way to address the Mayor is "sir" or "Burgomeister."

© 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.


Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

E and I once skipped out on a military dinner where the state governor was the guest of honor and speaker. Later that evening, we're at Braum's getting ice cream and E sees a friend of his, all dressed up, obviously having come straight from the dinner. The friend is with the Governor, who I recognize immediately but E does not.

The friend greets E and says, "We missed you at the dinner" to which E replies, "Oh God, those dinners are so long and boring. I just couldn't stand to attend another one." As soon as he finishes blabbing that nice sentence, he recognizes the Governor. To further cement his reputation as a social retard, he says, "Are you who I think you are?"

I wanted to die on the spot.

The governor, ever gracious, introduces himself.

3:39 PM  

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