Thursday, August 31, 2006
In a daring and breathtaking bit of sociological participatory research, I discovered that eating a plain sandwich in public is not done in Belgium these days.
I went out to buy a bunch of presents during my lunch break. She-who-teases-me-with-my-old-age is celebrating her 28th birthday tomorrow, getting another step closer to the big three-O. Meanwhile, a friend of mine has reproduced by means of his wife, but more on that tomorrow. So since I had to run errands and have lunch in the same short span of time, I walked merrily towards the subway station while simultaneously munching my sandwiches.
It was then that I noticed people were staring at me. Not just one or two of them but almost everybody I crossed. There was nothing extraordinary about my lunch: three sandwiches made from two slices of whole-wheat bread, one with spiced ham, one with chicken-curry and one with veal-in-mustard-sauce. Granted, they were big slices of bread, but not that big either. Yet people eyed me with suspicion and disbelief.
I met three youngsters chewing overstuffed pitas in the subway, but they didn’t get any looks. I saw someone hurling through the street in an attempt to catch the bus while eating a slice of pizza and no-one seemed to care. Dozens of people were milling down the omnipresent baguette or waffles or fruit or fries, but all that is perfectly fine.
But the humble sandwich, the working class’ lunch-item number one is socially repressed here. I think it’s outrageous that people here are condemned to a lower status because of their choice of lunch! It’s only a matter of time before we’re treated as second class citizens. We’ll have to sit in separate lunchrooms or be restricted to the back of the bus while we’re eating. It’s discrimination, that’s what it is. Forget about all that bickering between Flemish and Walloons, or the discrimination of people from Northern Africa. This is far more serious because nobody dares to bring it out in the open. Until now that is! Remember, you read it first on Bartlog.
And before someone asks, I did eat with my mouth closed.