Hans Brinker is the most famous Dutchman ever. He is regarded as the national hero of the Netherlands, by far surpassing the fame of other heroes like Peer Gynt, Jan Peter Balkenende, and the kid on cans of "Dutch Boy" paint.
Brinker's greatest heroic deed was when he stuck his finger in the dyke near Maastricht, thus preventing seawater from flooding the entire country and saving millions of Dutchmen from death by drowning. During this heroic feat, he had to resist angry American tourists who interpreted the act as a mere obscene gesture directed at them.
Brinker subsequently attempted more heroism on the political scene, using the pseudonym Elco Brinkman. Already a national hero, it was easy to get ministerial positions in Dutch cabinets. In his role as Brinkman, he was well-known for his hypnotic stare, which is a signature trait of Dutch heroes.
In April 1997, Brinker was elected Pensions Minister of Bhutan, in a surprising write-in ballot on an unannounced election day while most Bhutanese were visiting their mothers. This made him only the third Dutchman to serve in the Bhutanese cabinet. As a result of this oversight, he retained his position for an entire month before the next ritual cabinet reshuffle.
Brinker tried to repeat his finger-in-the-dyke deed in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, during Hurricane Katrina. Sadly, this crisis proved to be beyond the ken of both Messrs. Brinker and Bush. The former drowned, and the latter's political career started to suffer its notorious damage when he remarked that, "I'm behind Brinker, one hundred percent."
Death, as Buddy Holly once said, was a good career move for Brinker, as the city of Spaarndam erected a statue commemorating Brinker's important role in Dutch history. Every Dutch citizen visits this statue at least once a year — a tradition they call the hajj — bringing flowers and a bottle of water. The flowers and water are piled up near the statue. The water symbolizes the threat of national flooding that Brinker prevented.
Many tourists include in their trip a visit to Brinker's birthplace. However, this is one of the best-kept secrets of Dutch society. When a tourist asks for the place of birth of the national hero, the Dutch simply laugh in his face. Some Dutch may even claim that Brinker belongs to the realm of fiction. Such denial is a proven tactic in the War on Tourism. It arouses the tourist's curiosity, more tourists start looking for the secret place, and the Dutch get more chances to laugh.
Brinker's life was immortalized by the American author Mary Mapes Dodge, who never visited the Netherlands but did have a map of it on her wall, in her panoramic novel A Story of Life in Holland. Unfortunately, the novel gave short shrift to both Brinker's Bhutanese civil service and his pathbreaking work in flood control. Instead, it implausibly cast Brinker as an ice-skater. To this day, Brinker is known as the "Cy Young of Dutch speed-skating" by all who are ignorant of both baseball and speed-skating.
As the Dutch people are nothing if not Dutch, there have been continual attempts to profiteer off Brinker's heroism. Probably the most notorious is the Hans Brinker Budget Hostel in Amsterdam, whose owners have also commandeered Brinker's own dot-com address. Management flogs squalid conditions and lack of hot water into a marketing niche, proving that any bug can be re-cast as a feature despite the hackneyed truism that "the customer is always right." It was during a stay there — to be specific, during a moment drying off after a cold shower using the draperies — that the founders of UnNews resolved to accelerate their roll-out of the award-winning news service without waiting for veracity to arrive.
|Pensions Minister of Bhutan