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Day out of Days


Bucharest, December 19, 2001

Kicked off. Drove down to studiolot. Although they worked two hours late I see happy faces.

Christmasraffle today. As the wardrobe department puts in the last thread I'm getting some old eyebrows. Fitting beard etc. I gather the hundred or so and give away the prizes. Take pics.They love it. I thank the crew for being so great. For all the things they did because it's their job and for all the other things they did.

Then off to the one and only big mall for 40+ tangerines for the kids in the hospital. And a videoplayer which will go to one of the orphanages tomorrow. No creditcards accepted. Not enough money. Next stop at the airport. Just to make sure I can get out of here on Friday.

Santa Claus's belt and bag on the conveyer-belt. It's all good and funny. Kids fainting. And underneath all the plastic hair I'm having fun and GOD do I have to pee. Hold it. Ticketcounter.There's noone. Wait for the thing to open in ten minutes, having coffee through a straw. I'm laughing my ass off. Ticketcounter again. Security again. There is a line and it's not moving. "I need to get to the damn North Pole fast and I've got very busy day". Yeah. Humor. Forget it. I decide to move on.

Next stop the hotel. Change some money and pick up a house made out of cookies. And geez. Take off beard etc. Take a deserved leak. Munch a faster than hell sandwich. And I'm on my way to the kids as I send this....

***

My most helpful driver, Oresti, has gotten all we need. The thirty or so tangerines are mixed with oranges. The handsel and greatle kind of farmhouse cookiecake has been wrapped and barely fits in the car.

As we drive through the gate we put it on the car's roof. I reorganize the hair and outfit. The windows of the hospital are filled with children waving. There is a cameracrew from the news. Great. I hope the story makes it. The two (quairs) choirs are present and waiting, about seventy strong.Their puppettheatre is set up. I give 'em my idea of a plan.

Short and sweet please. Puppeteer. Sing. They do as Santa sneaks his way through the hospital. Quite a few parents. Thirty children get an orange or tangerine and listen and watch the puppets.

Santa shakes hands and some of the kids just melt in his arms.

 

One of them checks out the whole outfit and sez he likes the way I smell. Another just hides behind the white beardie curtain of hair which seems to have a life of its own.

Their tiny hands squeeze his gloved white hand sooo tight. Like only a child can.

Santa tells them he came all the way from America and the raindeer have trouble with snowy roadconditions so he's taking the route over the cities roofs. It's better. HAPPY CHRISTMAS and m a y b e u n t i l next year. Maybe I'll come to your home then. Yeah. You know.

As Santa then passes through some of the rooms and has little chats with the children who couldn't come upstairs, he also hugs the mothers some. Who quietly weep.

Yes. Santa knows. He knows, really. And slowly moves on. O boy. The one kid, who holds on to him, has been in hospital for ten years. He's fourteen now. I know he would like to travel and come along. He's brave and sez he wants to open the door of the car. He does. Santa bows to him. "Boys don't kiss," said earlier so Santa grabs him and gives him a big one anyway. He bites his lip. Santa waves. The windowcurtains move.

They drive off. Santa waves his arm until no-one can see him anymore. I'm sweating like a pig in all the plastic. Take off the plastic snow and breathe.

We drive to the school of the big choir. I meet the dean who happens to be a very nice and warm lady, who looks very much like "Olive" from Popeye.

It's their last day, she tells me, that's why they've asked me for a possible word now. The gymnasium is set up for the occasion. The teachers are in a meeting struggling with decisions which kids will have to do this year again.

Once they have been gathered, they are all standing there. Me in the middle. They 25ft away.I feel like a zooanimal. I ask them if they can all come twenty feet closer the moment I sit down and sit down. They jump close with a howl. It turns out to be an extremely strict school. Superreligious. No coffee before or after marriage ever. No sex before, just after. That sort of thing.

I tell I've heard there is one program on tv about Aids that's supposed to be good. Have they seen it. No. Maybe even tv is either forbidden or just not available on the campus highschool. I tell them I understand they think they won't have sex before but that it won't hurt. Their eyes grow bigger. Some very revealing smiles here and there. And I say, a good program, I mean. I didn't mean sex.

I tell them I am not religious nor belong to any party. I tell them doubt is just as important as knowing. We have a discussion about differences. They can take it. They laugh.

I like them. Quick. We talk about all kind of stuff. Then they ask me if I want another song. I say,how about blues. They go noho. How about rock and roll.Nohohooo. Kidding around. I say do you have a prayersong. They do and sing. It is a love song. For JC. Pure. Simple. Just voices. Beautiful.

I say let's do autographs. We do. Another plays pianoconcerto no 1 together with a violinist.

We have a very good time.It was a good day. A great day,indeed.

Rutger

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