Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Cycle Repeats Itself

And now, a slightly comic denouement to the previous post, to serve as a virtual sorbet and make the transition to future silliness more palatable...

Mark is a friend of mine (former boss, actually) who lives in the U.K. and is a tremendous history buff. He sent me an e-mail telling me he enjoyed Opa's story, and added this: More WWII info for Fenya; apparently if German tourists get 'uppity' (a habit they find hard to break) in Holland the Dutch say 'can my grandad have his bicycle back?' as the occupying forces left in such a hurry they stole every mode of transport they could get their hands on!

Needless to say, I found this pretty funny, and told a few people at work, a few of my mates, the wife and so forth. That evening, she was on the phone with my father-in-law to thank him for the tale, and put me on the phone to tell him Mark's anecdote, which I related with glee.

"It's true," he said. "I had a bicycle near the end of the war. It was old, and worn out, and all the leather had come off the seat. Springs were all sticking out of it, so it hurt my bottom to ride it. But near the end of the war, a drunken German soldier came to the farm and just told me, 'Kid, I need that bicycle.' And I said, 'Take it.' And he rode off, and that was that."

Now, I figure a dilapidated bicycle is a small price to pay to hasten the departure of occupation forces, sad as it is to be taking a toy from a 12 year old Dutch boy. But there had to be some measure of satisfaction in knowing that if you wanted to, you could probably track the guy down by his funny walk after he rode it all the way to the border in a semi-anesthetized state, right?

And I am just waiting for the inappropriate moment when my daughter asks some visiting German person, "Can my granddad have his bicycle back? No, seriously..."

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