Just smile and sing, Kowalski, just smile and sing!

Suspicion and raised thick dark eyebrows. Supermarkets, bike and walking paths, small alleys, clothing stores – someone was either muttering a song, singing it out loud, smiling when passing by, greeting with a hello.

For months my face was frozen. Do I know you, you cheeky little stranger?! They’re all mad here, said the Cheshire Cat. Madness must be the explanation. Whenever you cannot explain something to others or to yourself, just zero it out. Just give it a hard kick in the b*lls.

Forward it fast, here I am singing out loud if the tune is good, whistling parts of songs, smiling, saying hello whenever a human or a labradoodle pass me by. Well, me around dogs is a different story. Do you know those people that pull out all sorts of high-pitched noises and stupid faces when they see a baby that’s not theirs? By the way, they’re annoying. Well, this is me with dogs. No dog responded in any way to my mumbo-jumbo act so far. Work in progress.

What if this is not madness after all but just a state of being? What does it take for one to deconstruct in order to reconstruct? One song at a time.

Adding some fun to it: the music these people listen to here is basically the music that we listened to 30 years ago. Yes, they’re way behind. However, they crowd the stadiums to any wanna-be or well-known artist alike. They’re into sounds. So no matter the era (by the way, Taylor Swift, f*ck off with your huge prices for getting to see you live!), if there’s a sound taking shape, there will be singing and dancing. And if this is not therapy, I am not sure what is.

It’s an unwritten rule when it comes to hello’s. Small alleys, deep into the forest, neighbourhood areas – it is a must. Come to the city center and it will stop immediately. The intimacy leads to greetings and smiles. The city noise tears everything apart.

I entered at the optician today and I first thought I stumbled into an Irish pub where everybody is mid-day drunk already, talking aloud and spilling beer on each other. Sweet baby Jesus, there was such a swarming and laughter and craze! That’s the vibe, you silly Dutchies! Sixty plus act like they have no care, like they’ve seen it all and there’s no element of surprise anymore. Have I met you before? No. But this doesn’t stop you from starting off a conversation where you can tell me about your opinion on ice hockey, give me your input on the weather (yes, they also complain, a lot, on this topic!), or that you like my blouse. Well, thank you, nice way to hit it off. Come by for a coffee tomorrow morning. I’ll show you my baby pictures so we can continue the bonding.

Does anyone worry? They must, just look at the last eight months of endless autumn, now that’s a reason to constantly b*tch about and worry and just erase that smile from your face. However, they still sing.

There’s a line in Bridge of Spies where Hanks asks Rylance: Do you never worry?, and the latter replies with that soft recognisable voice: Would it help? It got stuck with me. I am pretty sure they worry but what does this have to do with a song or a smile spread around?

And let’s not assume that these people here are the friendliest, ‘cos they’re probably not. So what makes them smile and cheer and sing, then? Nope, it is not the rays of sun. Nope, it is not the cuisine (what cuisine?!). Nope, it is not the blue waters and the mountain tops. Nope, it is not the wine (wine bottles with screw caps, the shame!). Is it the acknowledgment of another, the politeness, the directness, the I see you? I did not yet find out but I like it so far.

Short paragraph for the grinches: yes, I got scolded on the street for stopping by the sidewalk while on my bike, yes, I still got scolded and told to go home from where I came from. Yes, I responded with a f*ck you too but with an accent. Yes, I’ll always be an intruder and they’ll tell me to learn their language, ja, graag, and like their cheeses, which I already do, and know their ways, which I am constantly learning about. However, they will always sing and smile. And I’ll always be grateful.

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