Until all of you step up and make me a bestselling author, I will still have to go to my dayjob, which is graphics operator (nay, operatör) for Dutch television. It’s a good job that suits my circadian rhythm very well, but every once in a while I find myself getting out of bed at five in the morning to drive an hour and a half (that’s basically cross country for us, American friends) for something called Bloemencorso. Google Translate suggests the English phrase for this is ‘flower parade’. Just in case this translation doesn’t cut it, I shall describe it.
A Bloemencorso is, to the uninitiated viewer, basically a Mardi Gras parade for old ladies. In a pre-COVID situation, this would involve about twenty elaborate floats made out of flowers. But if you think this is just a bunch of flatbed trucks with flower pots on, you are sorely mistaken.
Aside from the absolutely shit call time and the broadcast van bench that wreaks complete havoc on my back, this is actually a pretty fun job. 2021 was my first time there—obviously 2020 wasn’t exactly a great year for events—and it was like stepping into an alien world.
Flower Parading is some serious shit, people.
And don’t think I’m being my usual hyperbolic self. These people are building their floats from the day after the parade right up to the next parade. Every township, or maybe it’s a district, has their own float and they take a pride in it that’s only rivaled by that one time I made a pretty girl laugh.
I have to say that this year the emotions were a little higher, since they had to cancel the event the year before, causing many a preparation to go down the drain. Flowers only look fresh for so long.
Still, there was some amazing shit going on.
I can honestly say that I will never forget Lonneke. I don’t even remember what her float was about (edit: turns out, I do), but it racked up sixth place, and when she was asked to say how she felt, she displayed a kind of joy I know I will never experience in my life. I was in a broadcast truck at least 100 meters away and the radiation of her joy left a goddamn tan on my face.
Sixth place! How many sixth place winners do you remember? Relatives and friends don’t count. I am sure that when I’m on my deathbed, I will wipe a single tear from my girlfriend’s cheek with a weak hand, and my final breath will be a whisper.
“It’s okay. Remember Lonneke. She won sixth.”
And I’ll leave this earth with a Cool Hand Luke-smile on my lips, and everything will be alright.
Less so for the guy who’s name I didn’t catch because I don’t think he mentioned it. He might not have mentioned it because his float about a locomotive (which was also a great pun in Dutch) landed in 19th place. Out of 20. A spot which in my humble opinion was completely fucking wrong. Visually, the thing was dynamic, the wheels moved and everything. It looked like it moved while standing still. And it was a visual representation of a pun on a larger than life scale. That’s pretty impressive, if you ask me. The whole thing also had sound effects, and everybody knows how cool those old steam locomotives sound. It was the first float we saw, at nine-ish in the morning. Trust me, you’ve gotta put some real effort in to send an oh-cool-shiver down my spine at nine in the bloody morning.
And that ends up at 19th place. What the fuck, judges? Did the guy pee in your mailbox? Did he run over your dog? Why the hell are you punishing him for your negligence, hm? Everybody knows to keep their dogs on a leash near roads. You have no one to blame but yourself, but instead you take it out on this poor blue-shirted guy.
And he tried, when he was interviewed. He tried so very hard to remain polite, because Mascha is a nice lady, and nobody wants to be seen crying on semi-national TV. But we were in HD and color, so in his eyes I could see a torrent of devastation that could go one of two ways:
1. When nobody’s looking, he’ll crawl into the float and cry until he can produce no more tears in this lifetime.
2. He’ll crawl into the float and emerge with a fire axe, a flurry of flowers fluttering around him, exacting bloody vengeance on anyone unlucky enough to stand around admiring the awesome float.
Since I heard no screams, and our camera people are very good, so I would have seen something, I must consider a third option.
He never made it home. In a few days time they’ll find him in a ditch, where he curled up and shuffled off this mortal coil.
Please, Blue-shirt Guy, if you read this: Don’t shuffle. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but take it from me—a man probably twice your age and completely unfamiliar with the life that is flower parading—your float did not deserve 19th place and I am sad right there with you.
In spirit. I’m actually at home now, an hour and a half drive away, but I’m still sad.
Remember Lonneke, Blue-shirt Guy. She placed sixth.