Mills and I went to an engagement party last night. This is not going to be yet another rant on matrimonials. Even if this couple are openly getting married for the tax and... um, visa... benefits - they seem genuinely fond of each other and I know of other people who got married just so that they could have guilt-free sex. Whatever. Congratulations.
Anyway. This party was different because the bride-to-be comes complete with an 8 year old little person. And the 8-year-old has friends. Seventeen of them were there last night. Holy steaming poo on a stick.
If we're going to a function like that, Mills and I need to be mentally prepared beforehand. We were not. You think 'engagement party', you think champagne and awkward mingling. You don't think champagne, awkward mingling AND highly-strung preteens thundering after each other and pouncing on any piece of furniture not securely fastened to the ceiling.
You didn't need a degree in psychology to spot the parents (bride's guests) and the non-parents (groom's guests). The bride-to-be's guests were happily ignoring the children standing on toes, tugging clothes and pleading adults to feed them booze. The groom-to-be's guests were watching aghast as children selected decorative pebbles to drop from the second storey window into the street below (those were only the non-parents who didn't have their eyes tightly screwed shut in an attempt to block out the ear-piercing screams). A friend asked Mills and I if we could leave yet. Mills pointed out that we had only been there for 40 minutes, so probably not.
Children aside, I got introduced to another South African couple. I politely asked them where they were from. Pretoria. And how long have they been here? Just over a year.
She then proceeded to explain to me just how much she hates being in the Netherlands.
"There's nothing to do here," she moaned. I think you're wrong. Sports, parks, theatre, museums, travelling, dance classes, art classes, language classes. The Netherlands is hardly backwater.
"They hate foreigners here." No, they don't. Forty percent of the The Hague's population consists of international expats, who are welcomed. Besides, have you been to France or Spain?
"They don't speak English." I'm not sure what part of The Hague she lives in, but most people speak better English than in England (which is not hard). Still, another ignorant statement. Besides which... she's native Afrikaans. It's not like learning Chinese. And again... have you been to Italy, or Russia? THEY don't speak English.
"They are terrible drivers here." You come from Gauteng. The home of idiot taxi drivers. Here, they actually stop at red robots and pedestrian crossings. Again, I don't believe you.
So, I asked while trying not to grind my teeth, are you thinking about going back to SA then? Nope - she hated it there too.
Doing my best to keep conversation flowing, I asked her where she wanted to go... "oh I don't know. Anywhere but here," was the word-for-word answer.
I know... hate is strong word, but people like this - I hate. I want to spit venom when I get stuck in a conversation with them, their negativity oozing from every breath. 'Anywhere but here' mentality. Deciding not to point out that she would probably never be happy, I sidled away from that conversation before my head exploded from bottled up confrontational tension.
Back into the writhing pit of kids. Another friend of ours was standing rigid next to his 6-month-pregnant wife. His wife was smiling warmly at the throng of two-legged piranhas. His grin was fixed to his face and his eyes were glazed. Mills quietly requested confirmation of my pill prescription.
All 17 (hundred) kids were still going strong when we left. It seemed like a lifetime, but we weren't even there for three hours. Mills and I were still in a state of shock when we got home.