The Y-files [GL]
Brussels is often named BXL in names of expositions, fairs etc. The x in it is because Brussels in French is Bruxelles. On a similar note Antwerp is often referred to as A'pen (Antwerpen in Dutch) and Amsterdam (Holland, not Belgium) is A'dam.
In the following chapter I will mention a Dutch accent. I mean the dialect people that come from the Netherlands speak. The accent has some famous quirks, they are known to make s sounds into sj, they turn a V into an F, a Z into an S and are unable to pronounce the voiced G so they make it a non-voiced CH. They basically don't do voiced consonants. They even do it when they speak other English. My point being, it is easy to spot them from afar.
Even though in Flanders people speak Dutch, there is a huge difference in dialect between Flanders (Northern part of Belgium) and the Netherlands.
There is even a big difference in dialect between the provinces in Belgium. People from West-Flanders (Bruges, the Belgian coast) are particularly known to speak a very difficult to understand dialect. Even if you know Dutch, depending on the region you visit, you might not be able to understand the residents.
This is why people say Dutch is a very hard language to learn even though the grammar is relatively simple.
The Dutch-speaking populace of Belgium will often say they speak Flemish and not Dutch. Even though we use the same dictionaries and grammar.
Nobody speaks the official standard Dutch at home.
Marc Uyterhoeven is a Flemish TV-show maker and presentor known mostly for his more comedic approach to talk shows and made some of the (arguably) best Flemish shows ever made like “Alles kan beter” (Everything can be done better). He used to have some kind of weekly blog ridiculing some events of the last week in his show “Morgen Maandag” (Tomorrow Monday) back in ‘93 where he acted like a kid that did not really understood what it was all about but still had an opinion on everything and he made a sport of talking as fast as possible without taking breaks.
If you want you can check it out in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI9-N9mT_YE starting at 45:11 . But it is in Dutch without subs...
Belgium vs Holland
There is some historical bad blood between Belgium and the Netherlands. Some say this comes from the time of the Belgian revolution (1830-1832) where the Belgian people liberated themselves of the Dutch yoke. Belgium had been a part of the Netherlands led by Willem Van Oranje and had been bled dry by high taxes.
Now that I think of it, nowadays we pay much more taxes than we ever did back then...
Others claim the grudge is much older dating from the time where the Netherlands separated themselves from the Catholic church and waged war against the Spanish Catholics to which Belgium belonged in those days. A lot of those battles were in our regions and that led to many atrocities.
Nowadays this only plays out in heated rivalry when there is a soccer competition between the two countries. In a world cup soccer you might see some of the Dutch support the Belgian team after the Dutch have been kicked out of the tournament. It will be rare to see the opposite.
But overall, except for some jokes and rivalry in sports we are very friendly toward one another these days.
The Dutch consider the Belgians dumb and make jokes about it.
The Belgians consider the Dutch stingy and make jokes about it.
Q: How do the police break up a demonstration in Holland?
A: They start doing rounds with a collection box.
Dutch people are considered really direct and often a bit verbally aggressive in Belgium.Chapter 13 Fien Anciers
My heart was still beating quite fast because of what just happened between me and Ms Lyst.
The image of Ms Lyst's face close to mine, me embracing her, it all replayed on repeat through my mind and I felt the heat spreading again through my entire body. I wondered how those red lips would feel.
I was sure this must be the aftereffect of the aphrodisiac éclair that I ate. I would never be interested in stuff like that. I only care about cooking! I only care about cooking! I ONLY CARE ABOUT COOKING! I repeated to myself.
With all that, my extra time from coming in early this morning had passed quite fast so I knew the bell was about to ring. Time to make my way to the assembly point.
Just as I arrived there, the bell rang. Gazette walked up to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“Good morning Claire!”
“Hey Eline, ready for this afternoon?” I did my best to sound casual but I remembered the video the second I saw her face. I felt the warmth spread over my face again and had trouble looking her in the eye.
“You okay?” she asked.
“Oh no, I was wondering if you guys had fun yesterday after I left?” Now it was her turn to become embarrassed and turn crimson.
“I'll tell you all about it later.” she said a bit shy, then she added while giving me a wink “You deserve to know.”
She was gonna tell me herself. It seemed that she considered me a close friend now. I always avoided having close friends but within 3 days this FBY business had blown up the walls of the path between friends and close friends that I so carefully threaded.
Well it was through my own actions that it happened and I was reaping some benefits from what happened in the communications room yesterday, so I would have to take responsibility for it and if I was honest to myself, the feeling of having closer friends was not that bad as I had always imagined either. But that would not mean that I would allow it to cut into my time for cooking! That I could never allow!
It seemed like our teacher for the first hour was late because we were the only class remaining on the courtyard and a little while later Ms Lourdes came to tell us that our regular teacher was absent and that we would have free study time under her supervision.
“We could have slept an hour longer.” I overheard Eve say to Therese. “I doubt teachers get detention if they are late 3 times.” Those two were as close as ever but I noticed Elsa wasn't taking part in their group this morning. Normally she would be at the center of it. Was Elsa just nervous for this afternoon or did something happen between those three?
In my eyes it was not a bad thing that we had an hour of free study. I had been putting all my time into the FBY and cooking lately so it helped to catch up a little with my school work.
During the study hour Ms Lourdes passed my desk and saw my open satchel. “I'm borrowing one of these from you during this class. I need to catch up on what lives inside young girls' heads these days.” and she took one of the yuri manga. “Ugh, aunt Bernie, why?” I thought. My face colored red for the umpteenth time that morning. What was this today? The ‘let's embarrass Claire marathon’?
Chloe and Julie clearly recognized the kind of manga Ms Lourdes took from my satchel and whispered something to each other and then started giggling while they watched Ms Lourdes devour the manga with big eyes.
When class was over Ms Lourdes returned the manga to me. “Cough cough, That was rather interesting. I might pass by the FBY office to borrow some more from time to time. After all I need to keep up-to-date with what lives among students.” she said with a little blush on her face. Really? Now Ms Lourdes is reading and clearly enjoying yuri?
Well, who am I to refuse the headmistress? “Okay, pass by whenever you like,” I said with an accommodating smile. Ms Lourdes looked really content with my answer.
While we were waiting for the next teacher to arrive, Chloe and Julie came to me clearly with the intention to gossip. “Did you see her eyes when she was reading that manga? '' Chloe said. “She totally started blushing while reading.” Julie answered. “We always kinda knew about you, but to think Ms Lourdes is into girls.” I didn't bother anymore trying to straighten things out and say I was not interested in that stuff. That gossip had gone way too far to try to reverse it. Then out of nowhere the gossip sponge, Gazette, popped up and said “Well seen her circumstances, was it not expected? I bet she has some high school or college crush she never got over.”
“My mom and her are childhood friends, maybe I could ask my mom” I said.
“Or maybe it is your mom!” Chloe shouted, everyone around my desk started laughing. But for some reason I couldn't. I felt a bit nervous about what was just said.
But then not leaving my mind to think about what was just said. Ms Debusier arrived in class. “Silence ladies, everyone go to your own seat and take a piece of paper. We are having an unannounced test.”
I was lucky that I revised my math during the study hour because otherwise I would have been in serious trouble now. What was it with math teachers and unannounced tests? Talking about threading the needle's eye...
After the test, math class passed and was as boring as ever. I mean what was the chance that I would ever need to calculate a discriminant in my kitchen?
Then we had to go to the courtyard for recess. We had to drag our satchels with us because the next class was physics. Physics was taught in a special classroom.
During our 15 minute break a first grader approached me.
She was a small blonde girl with pigtails and bright blue eyes. At the age of 12, she was at the start of the developing stage. Although she was young and small she had a demeanor like she owned the place. The way she approached an older student was without doubt proof of her unmatched self-confidence.
“I am Fien Anciers from 1L, could I talk to you?”
She was Dutch. That explained a lot about her directness.
She had a strong Dutch accent and pronounced Anciers like you would read it in Dutch and not in French like most people would. So she pronounced both ie's like the ee in need. Well, nobody is perfect.
“Nice to meet you Fien, I'm Claire Brossé. Sure thing, what is this about”
“Well I saw you on the stage a few days ago, and ever since that moment I have been thinking about you.”
What was this? A confession? In the middle of the courtyard? This could not be happening. Do these young girls have no sense of shame? I kept silent, preparing words to reject her as kindly as possible.
“I thought you were so cool, I'm a super big yuri fan too. I even went to the BXL manga expo last year to sell a fanart doujinshi of Fireworks Warning, her favorite yuri novel. I made a special edition focusing entirely on Chiya. I could never get enough of her while I was reading. I mean,being so tall and shy at the same time. How cute is that? I made it all by myself. Here is a copy.” She pushed the book into my hands, the way she looked at me with those puppy eyes, it was clear that there was no way I could refuse it, but she was right about liking that story. It was a yuri staple after all. After I accepted she quickly continued. “The way you guys try to bring 2D to 3D is just marvelous!” Her eyes lit up and she got super excited. The speed at which the words came out of her mouth would even put Marc Uyterhoeven to shame. Fien reminded me of a cute little chihuahua that was over excited because you held her favorite toy. “Please oh pretty please let me join the FBY?” she ended her excited waterfall of words.
Luckily it was a different kind of confession than I feared. Well she didn't lack enthusiasm that's for sure.
“Well today is gonna be difficult because we got an operation planned, how about you pass by the FBY office tomorrow after school? Then we can decide at that moment if it is something for you.” But directly after the words that we had something planned left my mouth I saw her eyes go into ‘shoujo girl seeing stars’- mode. I could swear her pupils changed into hearts there for a second.
“Please let me come today? I promise I won't be in the way!” I knew I was gonna regret this but who could resist those eyes? So I got suckered into it and told her to meet up at the FBY office during lunch break.
After that she kept following me like a puppy talking nonstop about her other favorite yuri novel Sleeping Princess. Her enthusiasm put a smile on my face. Fien was clearly the kind of girl that called everything she got really excited about her favorite. She was explaining to me why obviously everyone should be on the Yuko x Sophia ship and that the author would suffer an insurmountable pile of flamed fan letters if she would not oblige. The author had released an image of the ship together herself and Fien showed me she used it as the background on her phone. The two girls looked cute together, I had to agree with Fien on that part.
I had only read the first volume of that one. Only reading yuri for a couple of days, I was lucky it was such a mainstream must read yuri staple or I would probably have never heard of it. I made note to read the rest soon otherwise Fien would just spoil it all for me.
The bell rang, she stepped up and gave me a kiss on the cheek and we went our separate ways.
I felt like I had just been hit by a hurricane.