For Will, not quite your b’day yet but four more days and you’ll be… 21!!!


Will is for wisdom, from when you were a little gentleman and an old soul.

I stands for I love you, now and always…

L is more love, and the light and love you’ll share with other people.

L is for Lily, your wonderful and sweet partner: treasure her…

I is for idol— the idol you were to your little sis (she’s going to debunk this with some x-rated comment, so be prepared…)

A is for aspiration and ambition— you have lots of it and we’re sooo glad you do…

M is for mom, holding you 20 or so years ago in this picture… Fuck, how time flies…

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The above is kind of lame, so I’m going to share a passage from my first book (Ontwaken uit de Amerikaanse droom, 2004), which was a parody of Under the Tuscan Sun, and it dealt with our struggle to fix up an old California storybook house (with lots of rats running through it). Will figured in it prominently, and I have many William stories, but this is probably one of my favorites:

To solve the rat problem, we finally found a rat guy who, for a modest amount of money, filled all the holes on the outside of the house, put in traps and collected the mangled corpses.

In fact, Edgar looked like a rat: he had a long pointy nose, slight protruding teeth and black hair which he combed back with lots of gel. Many times I saw bits of spiderwebs in his hair which came of course from the dark and hellish spots he had to crawl into, to set the damn traps. I asked him how he slept at night, for I still had compulsive dreams about rats.

William started seeing the vermin, too. After all the holes had been plugged, the rats were locked inside the house and this meant the suckers started showing up during the day because they were in search of food and water. As opposed to his mother who could not get used to rats or ghosts, William began to accept the presence of the pests as a fact of life.

When I brought him home one day with his affluent little classmate, Eric, I looked into my rearview to see Eric’s expression when he caught sight of our cottage. Eric, whose parents had glamorous careers and a house that could well be used for Architectural Digest (house porn), raised his eyebrows in shock:

“William!” he exclaimed in horror, “How come you live here?”

William shrugged. With the wise-guy confidence of a four-year-old he simply said: “When we hit the jackpot, we’ll buy a real house.”

Over lunch, the two boys started “comparison capitalism,” a nasty habit of entitled kids who start to see everything in life as a competition for material goods.

“We have a hot tub… and a lap pool,” Eric bragged.

William was still busy with his peanut butter sandwich and then said with his mouth still full: “We have two cars.”

“Well, we have THREE,” Eric countered: “A Mercedes, a Jeep Cherokee and an Audi station wagon.”

There was a long, pregnant silence.

William was drinking his milk to win time. Then he wiped his mouth and said,

“Well, you know what?”

“What?!” challenged Eric, thinking he still had the family Picasso and manor in the Scottish Highlands saved up.

“We have rats!” William said as if they were the family jewels.

No pool, no tennis court, no home theater, no bowling alley, and no trips with the Concorde could compete with our rats. Eric shut up and William jumped off his chair: “Let’s play.”



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