He is Wearing a Tie

Freezing, I repeated myself: "I'm telling you, I did see the bunkers with Cormac."

Nazy and the children, trudging through the sand, didn’t care about bunkers. They didn’t care about the historical significance of our new home. They were cold.

I still had memories of my first view of the bunkers. Cormac, Maggie, and I had been walking down the beach on a typical Dutch autumn day—gray, bleak, dreary, foggy, and chilly. As I looked along the sea, I could see the bunkers emerging out the fog. It was a scene straight from
The Longest Day. I wanted to share it with the children and Nazy, but none of them had seen the movie. They hadn’t been excited by the news that recent storms in the North Sea had deposited World War II mines on the beach. They were cold and wanted to go home.

In fact, I was cold, too. It was time to call off the expedition.

“All right, guys,” I said, sounding reluctant, “if
you want to just give up with victory in sight, then we can head home now.”

“What d’ya mean, ‘victory in sight,’ Dad? We can’t see anything.”

“Darius, when Daddy says ‘victory in sight,’ he’s using an idiom,” Nazy said. “That’s an expression like, uh, the early worm catches the egg. Right, Dan?”

“Yeah, right, dear. Besides, Darius, you’re supposed to see the bunkers through the fog. It’s impressive that way.”

“Okay, if it’s so impressive, we’ll continue on.” Nazy was calling my bluff.

“That’s all right, dear, I can accept the fact that you guys just don’t have the interest, stamina, or enthusiasm necessary for us to complete our journey.”

Spying my short-sleeved T-shirt, Nazy wasn’t about to let me off easily.

“I’m interested. But aren’t you cold?”

“Me? Cold? I revel in frigid conditions. I laugh at the wind. I just think that if the children aren’t having fun, then…uh… Well, we should call it a day.”

“Only if you insist, dear.”

I pointedly nudged Mitra. She obliged by insisting that she and her siblings were ready to go home.

We executed a sharp, one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn and headed back toward the pier—and McDonald’s.

This, like our other bunker pilgrimages on the
Noordzee, ended in failure. We huddled together in the warmth of McDonald’s, each in our own private world. I was annoyed that this particular McDonald’s didn’t offer Quarter Pounders. Everyone else was too wrapped up in their own thoughts. A dog grabbed Darius’s hamburger.

Displaying energy unseen since his ancestor (“The Great”) had conquered the known world, Darius jumped five feet in the air. When he landed, Melika’s fries and Mitra’s McNuggets were in my lap.

Nazy was able to negotiate replacement foodstuffs. She also asked the manager why he let dogs in the restaurant.

“Dogs are Dutch.”

“Dutch? That was a
German shepherd.”

“I mean everybody has a dog in Holland.”

“We don’t have a dog in Holland.”

“Dutch people like dogs. They take them everywhere. If I prevent dogs from coming into the restaurant, I won’t have any business. Besides, dogs are small compared to the problems we have in the summer.”

“Oh, yeah?” I interjected, “What d’ya have in summer? Elephants? Or is it just the smaller pachyderms?”

“No, sir, in the summer we have people without clothes.”

“Without clothes?”

“That’s right. Especially the Germans.”

“Hey, Dad, ask him if they bring their shepherds,” Darius said.

Spring materialized in The Hague the following weekend. The Martin Family returned to the
zee, determined to forge our way to the bunkers. It was an appropriate weekend. Scheveningen looked as if it was under invasion. There were so many people we couldn’t even see the sand.

We did, however, see a few German tourist families marching—in straight lines—to the beach. I even overheard the parental admonishment, “Ve are on ze holiday and you
vill haf a goot time!”

Shoving our way to the waterline, we noticed that topless attire was not an exception. We also noticed that not everyone was pinup material. Darius subtly pointed out an especially bad example of the human condition.


“Darius! Keep your voice down,” I admonished. But I had to admit, “She does look a bit like a relief map of Europe, doesn’t she?”

“Hey! You’re right! I can see Mount Blanc and Mount…”

Maybe Darius and I were looking at different examples.

Nazy had also been quick to observe the nonstandard attire. Everything from Sunday suits to holy—er, holey—underwear. People were walking the beach in six-inch-high heels, wet suits, suede skirts, silk blouses, no blouses. It was certainly different.

“This really blows my head, Dan. Look at what these people are wearing.”

“What he’s looking at is what they’re
not wearing,” Darius said.

Gazing to the north (just past the young couple feverishly intertwined on the sand), Nazy saw the bunkers.

“Look at that, kids. I can’t see how we missed them last time. Let’s walk up there and get a better look.”

Interestingly, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for the journey. The bunkers looked as if they were far off in the distance. They also looked—in a word—boring. Nevertheless, we worked northward.

Unbeknownst to us, the bunkers are the backdrop for the nude beach. As we got closer and our view of the bunkers cleared, so did our view of the natives.

Nazy went bonkers (in front of the bunkers) as a gentleman wearing only a hat, shirt, and tie walked toward us.

“Hey, Dad, look at that,” said Melika. “It’s bouncing up and down!”

“Melika!” I yelled, none too subtle myself. “It’s not polite to yell. Besides, it’s not like he’s naked. He
is wearing a tie.”

“He may not be naked, Dad,
but look at her!”

“Darius! Melika shouldn’t yell and you shouldn’t point.”

“Yeah, okay. It’s just that Mount Blanc and…”


But Darius couldn’t be interrupted. He had spotted another anomaly. “Melika, look at what that guy’s doing over there,” he cried.

“I see that. It reminds of the old idiom ‘look before you leak,’” I quipped .

Mitra, our budding teenager, was quietly taking notes. “I thought the idiom was ‘a bird in the hand is…’”

“That’s enough, Mitra!”

The trip was, shall we say, revealing.

We passed the bunkers and started up the stairs for the walk home. Nobody had been impressed by the bunkers and everybody thought I had known about the beach.

We ran into Cormac and Maggie at the top of the stairs walking their dog, Paddy. Nazy told Cormac about the state of affairs on the dunes below.

“Yes, I know. It’s frightfully embarrassing for me. You see, Paddy has a rear-end fetish. He runs up to people and sticks his cold, wet nose up their…”