It’s that time of year when I attend the Cheeses annual Sinterklaas event.
I’ve written about this many times before, and have attended since its inception – about 15 years ago. As I’ve explained before, it basically consists of small gifts and poetry. Plus a good feed and plenty of festive spirit (and wine).
Every year I face having to write a poem about someone, and every year I grumble to myself about it. I’m sort of stuck. I don’t like doing it much, but if I’m going to do it then I want to do it well. And everyone seems to expect that of me.
What complicates matters is that there’s a hard core of us who have been doing it for many years, and I’ve written several poems about each of them. It gets hard coming up with something new. But then it’s hard when you get allocated a newbie to write a poem about – there’s little to work with.
To overcome all of these issues I mix things up. I get sick of the standard poetry format in any case, so I try different things. Last year I wrote a rap song. This year I’m doing limericks. Previously I’ve done haikus. And so on.
The good news this year is that I’ve written my piece, and have even managed to buy the gift. Generally I leave the writing for the last hour.
While I’m writing my piece there’s someone out there writing one about me. I pity that poor person. Given all the trials and tribulations I’ve endured it’s hard for anyone to come up with something light-hearted and whimsical. It’s a tough job.
In recent years the result has been a poem lauding my resilience and strength, whilst expressing hope and wisdom. As I’m required to read the poem directed at me I read with a fixed smile on my face, unwilling to show what I really feel – a mix of embarrassment and reluctance.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered, and appreciate the sentiment, but it’s awkward. It’s a bit of a mood killer unless I come up with a snappy one-liner. And it just seems to draw attention to my plight just at the time when I want to get away from it. Most of all I’m uncomfortable with such heroic prose, for all the reasons I explained before.
You get defined, everyone feels for you and you think, fuck, that’s not me. Get me outta here.
Of course I’m very civilised when it happens. Generally I’ll crack that one-liner, much to everyone’s relief.
I know, I sound churlish. I don’t mean to be. I look forward to this night greatly. I do appreciate the effort and love I get from my friends. They’ve got a tough gig and make the best of it. For me, I just love to let my hair down and have fun, laugh and carry on. It’s one night of the year I wouldn’t miss for the world.