I have turned into a Dutch tourist


I am on vacation with Boyfriend in het buitenland. We speak English together at home, because I am lazy and because I am much more charming in English, but Boyfriend’s Dutch is fluent and mine is competent. I hadn’t really anticipated what a perk it would be to share a common language which, outside the Netherlands, Belgium and South Africa, is essentially our own personal secret lexicon. Want to point out a really ugly tattoo? Make fun of all the hipsters wearing Toronto Blue Jays hats? Argue about something? Decide what to do to avoid the drunk lady on the bus? Dan praten we Nederlands!

Dutch people on vacation abroad are known chiefly for driving their camping trailer to France/Spain/Germany/Belgium/Luxembourg/Italy and bringing their own cheese and little breads with them (the cuisines of France/Spain/Germany/Belgium/Luxembourg/Italy being of an inferior nature, of course). But Boyfriend pointed out to me that Dutch people on vacation also love to carry on stealth conversations about their surroundings and the other tourists or locals in the vicinity. Gah! I have turned into a Dutch tourist!

Of course, this can backfire sometimes, especially in Canada, which is full of ethnic and linguistic chameleons: while queuing to buy coffees at the mega-mall we overheard a woman arguing with her teenage daughter in Dutch. “Jullie zijn Nederlanders!” I said, surprised. Cover blown, the poor lady blushed. So watch out, Dutch people! I’m eavesdropping!


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