Dutch Boy in Belgium: Dutch Cousins

I have always considered myself Dutch. We lived for many years, however, in Belgium and as a result I dressed much more like a Belgian than a Dutch boy. I noticed this particularly when I visited my Dutch cousins. These factors may explain that I wore shorts in Antwerp at an age when my Rotterdam cousins had for years been wearing longs. That sneakers were banned for daily wear, wereas they were already quite common in Holland. That I still had a school uniform, if only for ceremonies and functions.

I think I had started wearing long trousers occasionally even before age 16 when staying with my aunt and uncle in Rotterdam. In Holland almost all boys wore long trousers by that time, and my cousins there did comment on my short pants. Belgium was much more conservative on such matters. I'm not sure just why, but the linguistic patterns which cut across national borders did impact fashions and clothing. There is one comment I remember vividly while staying with my cousins. One of them called my Lederhosen "een moffenbroek" which you might translate with "jerry pants". My dictionary says that "mof" is equivalent to "jerry", "hun" or "kraut". Just pick the most offensive term.

[HBC was curious about the Dutch attitudes toward the Germans and how it was reflected in attitudes toward German-styled clothes and ask our Dutch reader about it.] My relatives also remember this incident. My uncle is reported to have said about my father, "I know he is half Austrian but I wish he wouldn’t show it by having his boy wear lederhosen". My aunt must have said: "Remember, the’ve spent the war abroad, they probably do not fully realize what we’ve been through. And anyway, you can’t blame it on the boy. I think you should have a word with the boys." Which my uncle did. One of my cousins recently reminded me of soimething that I had completely forgotten. The day after the incident I borrowed a pair of one of my cousin's old knickers to ride my uncle’s horse. As there were no riding boots that fitted me, I wore ankle boots that didn’t retain the blousing hem of the knickers. It got caught under the tack of the horse that one of my cousins was riding. I was dragged off mine. I got off with a strained neck. One of my girl cousins who reminded me of this said that she didn't see me in long trousers for the rest of that holiday.

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Created: May 7, 2001
Last updated: January 20, 2002