FINALLY. Summer has arrived in Belgium and you can really tell that it’s been too long since we last saw a ray of (sun)light.
First of all it’s only in Belgium, Antwerp that you will see people fight for a table on the terrace in the sun. “Ehm excuse me, but that was my table” ‘Nu-uh now it’s mine, and we ain’t moving!!”. I deleted the B word. If people could reserve their table by wrapping a towel around it like they do on holidays with the sofa beds, they would.
It’s only in countries where sunshine is as rare as seeing a flying pig that people will stay and sit on the terrace until the sun is already long gone. They will eventually start to shiver, but will stay put stubbornly, because they are afraid that if they move they will jinx the good weather for the coming days. Blankets are handed out as a sign of support to their protest.
Smokers become all of the sudden social human beings again. They now all jump for joy. The days are over when they had to stand outside and smoke by their own (if they were lucky they found a companion or two to tag along), while being pressured to rush back inside because they were missing out on all the fun, gossip and goory details. No, now they can just chill, relax and light up their cancer in the presence of their loved ones without missing out on anything.
BBQ also becomes the only dish on the menu and thé reason to invite friends again. You can no longer look beyond the pictures on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and other media. It’s like we re-invented water, so amazed are we by grilled meat and a salad bar. Butchers are having a field day. Stress will fall upon you if you haven’t organized a BBQ yourself or at least have been invited to join one.
Next to the non-stop BBQ pictures, you will also be bashed with weather updates every two seconds. No need to check the news for the weather forecast, you can just check your Facebook for live updates and 14 days forecasts. You will exactly know in which town a cloud has just moved in front of the sun (where people start to scream dramatically: “CLOUD BE GONE”. You may even see them do a sunshine dance in order to spook the cloud away…), or where a swift wind came as a blessing.
Of course there is no official summer kick-off without the millions of selfies that are invading the social media. Pics from toes, legs, arms and all kinds of other body parts that haven’t seen natural light in months suddenly start popping on your screen. Orange tans make their way for brown ones.
The thing with Belgians during those first days of summer is that we are so unaccustomed to sunshine, that we don’t know what to wear and therefore walk around looking like a trashy tourist. Luckily this normally doesn’t last (too) long. Online shopping gets a peek, the in-store summer collection starts to sell and the pages of Vogue and other fashion lookbooks are fanatically being flipped through. Everyone is looking for that perfect summer look (you will know they’ve found it, once they post a full body selfie)
A last sign of the start of the Belgian summer is when people who decided to buy a convertible or place a swimming pool in a moment of insanity are no longer being looked at with pitiful eyes and hear the words “Poor buggar, what were you thinking…”. No, they can finally have their moment of glory again, drive around with pride and be the one everyone wants to be friends with. The car can be pulled out from the dust, whereas the pool can be drained and cleaned for at least one week of pure fun. “I know someone who has a pool!”, will become the anthem of summer that will make it all worth it.
Loners no longer have an excuse to stay on their couch. They are being dragged to all sorts of festivals, parties and outdoor occasions where beer and cocktails flow like there is no tomorrow.
So if you happen to pass by our little country of Fries, Mussels, Beer and Chocolate, don’t raise your eyebrows if we are arguing about a table, or walking around in the worst possible outfit… It’s just been too long since we’ve had a true summer’s day.
But mark my words we Belgians like to nag, so it won’t take long until it’s too hot.