Bon Vivant


I’ve always been a tad jealous of those Burgundian lifestyle types. The kinds of people who have extravagant lunches, who always know what to say even if they don’t know anything about the subject and never forget good stories; who know the right people. I’m not like those types at all. I’m famous for my overly detailed answers, I often skip lunch entirely and smalltalk is something I just don’t do. No, I’m a worker, focused on content, the results.

I’ve accompanied my boss on international business trips twice now. His reasons for making these trips were skewed in favour of pleasure, rather than business. Not for me. While we were in Paris predominantly to have a great lunch (in the brasserie where Sartre and De Beauvoir used to take theirs), I just had to visit every Parisian phone shop. I did the same in Prague. While my boss was spending time in the casinos, I was readying myself for the next day. No, other countries are wasted on me. In the plane I keep hearing children’s voices and whenever they’d say “mama”, I’d get homesick.

In my time off, however, an entirely different side of me comes to light. I may start exhibiting some Burgundian traits. I highly enjoy cycling, but what comes after (sitting down at a cafe, having some cool white wine and some crisps, or sipping coffee with a dash of cointreau on a beach terrace) is equally as important. And what would playing tennis be without spring rolls and white wine? Or hiking, without the rewarding taste of a fresh salad? In short, I stay active without losing sight of the finer things in life.

Now that I’m sick, both sides of my psyche come in handy. My brown-jacket mentality keeps me off the street. It means that I always have a plan. Creating a website, becoming editor of a bulletin for the LeShan Foundation, making newspapers for the kids, making scrapbooks, writing shopping lists, et cetera… The other side of me, my blue-jacket mentality takes care of the things I enjoy; going on holidays, organising leisure days and, of course, visiting lots of cafes.

Maybe I’m a brown jacket with blue lining.

September 1999
Jeanet van der Vlist