Jan…. and the full moon
What a strange combination, I already hear you exclaim in surprise. Jan … and the full moon. What can these two have to do with each other! Yes, that is not that obvious. At first sight the name of the story is a little odd. But still I can you assure you, that the full moon and Jan or Jan and the full moon, whatever you prefer, will encounter each other and without that this story would not have been written.
You must know that Jan Post (called Boy by his friends) was about twelve years old, and because of his pleasant character and honesty all his classmates could get along with him really well. There is only that one small flaw that he had: he loved pranking people. Not bully or harass…. no, that was not for Boy. But now and then pranking his mates was what he like to do. That was ok, because Jan could accept being pranked himself. Unfortunately – and now it comes – unfortunately, he did not restrict these pranks to his own age group but also did it to adults.
For example, he had the habit from time to time, to stick his head through the door of the butcher shop of Mr Rotteveel, and then very nicely ask:”Mister Butcher, do you have pig’s feet, too ?”
Also he sometimes rang at the door of the house of a unmarried spinster on the corner of the Schoolstraat and kindly reminded her that that it was twelve o’clock, and whether she already prepared for coffee. Well yes, let me not be too judgemental about this. Those silly jokes – and yes some were very silly – could still be tolerated.
But more serious was the prank that Jan sometimes played on the hairdresser on the corner of the Limburg Stirumstraat. The man had something special to make his shop a pleasure to watch: in his shop window all kind of bottles and jugs with delicious odours and the most infallible hair growth remedies were displayed. Only – and that was what bothered Jantje most – the shop owner himself had a head as bald as an Alkmaar cheese and so shiny that it seemed that he polished it every morning with beeswax.
If the coiffeur would catch some air at a quiet hour and stood in his long bright white coat at the door of his shop, Boy only observed him from a distance and silently muttered to himself :”Hum, the miracle doctor wants you to buy his hair remedies. Let he first do something about his own bald head.”
For Jan it was clear, that the remedies neatly packaged and displayed in the window, were only quack. And he would not hesitate to let the owner of the shop know his opinion. When Verhagen (that is the name of the man) with his beautiful glasses and his shiny skull stood on the threshold, Jan of course wisely kept his mouth. But woe if there was a customer under the knife and our tormentor had again one of his pranking moods.
Then he went to the door with his hand to the cap and asked so polite and timid, like his mother has sent him for this message:”Sir, can you tell me, when ‘s full moon ? Too bad for the guy being shaved ! Because in no time the barber’s wrong swipe filled his nostrils full of soap or the razor made a wrong move on a half shaved cheek area.”Such a scoundrel”scolded the hairdresser to himself. But externally was there nothing of resentment or anger in him to perceive. He kept his external calm and attended to his costumer again, apologising with a few softly spoken words and pretended that on the door’s threshold no boy existed.
And the boy himself, satisfied about his joke, and not realizing how much he could grieve his fellow man with such a silly prank, soon left with a happy face and an empty stomach to his cup of tea and his six whoppers of sandwiches. On the corner of the Limburg Stirumstraat the stylist was left behind with his mistreated customer and with his
silent, restrained resentment.
Certainly the man was left behind indignant. Was not his bald head his pride and glory ? Gave it not to him one grand appearance and did it not set him apart from all the other ordinary barbers as the only coiffeur”?…. And then there came to him a couple of times in the month, this ugly monkey of a boy with his exasperating politeness calling his gleaming skull a full moon ! He would get him! Beware, if he would get hold of the villain ! It was now already the fourth client, that went home with a scratch. He was fed up with it! And for Jantje there was something bad awaiting! However, our well behaved little guy knew nothing from all those evil plans and so with almost certainty he would run into trouble unknowingly.
On a Wednesday afternoon in the beautiful month of May, the calamity happened.
Outside it was lovely weather and the sun shone so happy, that even old people felt like humming a song. But inside the coiffeur shop on the corner of Limburg Stirumstraat, dark thunderclouds were gathering and threatened to anytime start a thunderstorm in the store.
No wonder: that morning our incensed barber and coiffeur had found a printed card in his mailbox, which indicated that Van Haasteren, his most dangerous rival, had significantly reduced the prices. And not without reason Verhagen feared that not even his horn spectacles and his portly bare dome would be sufficient to win from that vicious little barber. Was it not very annoying ? Shave for one dime at a time ? How angry and wicked the world was ! It ran to the end, you know. Every day could you expect Angel’s trumpets to announce the Last Judgment!
The cat, which was in the middle of the floor lying in the warm sun, was the first to pay and unintentionally played the role of lightning deflector.”Gone, cat! Come on, I tell you! To the rear ! No animals in my shop !”Roared the boss. And no two seconds later he composed himself again and with one made-up smile welcomed a new customer to his shop and it sounded blandly:”Good morning, Mr. Jansen. Nice weather we have, eh, Mr. Jansen. Haircut, Mr Jansen?”
But further”Mr. Jansen”, against all coiffeur’s habits, did not hear any word.
The hairdressing cape was knotted around his neck as if he had to be strangled. And the scissors, that slid through his thick hair, it seemed that these scissors were aiming for the edges of his ears.
Fortunately, the artfull barbering was finally over. And while Verhagen brushed up his client ‘s coat collar, it sounded with a heavy sigh :
“Forty cents, Mr. Jansen.
Thank you well, Mr. Jansen.”
Oh, oh, what ‘s life so hard and cruel ! Especially for the real coiffeur, who is not inclined to dishonour himself with a dimes rate….
Then – in the midst of that melancholy meditation – Jan Post ‘s smiling face appeared in the frame of the doorway and his clear boy’s voice sang :
“Mr. barber, compliments of my older brother, and can you tell me how late the full moon ….”
But here the boy was suddenly silenced. As Verhagen had pushed his client roughly to the side and jumped towards his tormentor to chase him. He would get him this time, even when had he would have to follow him for ten kilometres.
Good heavens, how shocked Jan was by that unexpected action ! He started to run, with his heels almost slapping against his pants. And he felt, as it were, the avenger of all righteousness right behind him.
Faster, faster! He spurred himself to run. And he ran, ran, for his dear life. Of course he had to win. What could you otherwise expect from a boy who nearly half the day chased after his football? And the distance that separated Jan from the”full moon” became larger and larger. First ten meters, then twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred !…. Quickly he took a corner into another street, and immediately another corner too, eight houses further and Jantje hung all breathless at the door ringing the bell to be ushered in, he rang with all might as if he wanted to bring the whole neighbourhood into confusion and agitation.
If they only now would open it, before the white coat came around the corner!
Tingeling ! Tingeling ! Tingeling !!….
Bump! He tumbled into the house against his mother which looked surprised at her boy. But Boy was very upset and stammered out :
“Door close !…. a man …. wants…. will…. me…. punish me”
That was exactly not the message to reassure his mother again. Quickly the door was closed. And mother just wanted to ask her son about what was happening, when suddenly short but powerful the bell rang again.
“Don’t open it,” shouted Jan, who had jumped up wildly ”That guy, that guy from just now”
But mother, who was already beginning to smell that there was something wrong, and she wanted to know about it and disappeared into the hall.
Would that really be him ? ! Would he still have seen him entering the house ? ! Jan was listening with his ear to a crack left by the living room door. And moments later heard he to his dismay one trembling voice faltering and saying :
“Mrs…. excuse me for disturbing you, but…. but…”I am …. a little out my breath, as you can see.”
No, mother could hardly take offense on that. But when the barber would catch his breath again and would make his complaint, thought Jan there would be trouble. Thanks for that honour. He should then be somewhere else. And without time loose our hero fled for the second time. Now through the garden door and a narrow alley into a safe street.
Yes, he would himself be disciplined by that angry beard-scraper, that was what he was grumbling to himself. Imagine that: that guy could cut his neck in anger ! Won’t do, though. Jantje was missing, and he would not return before the pursuer had left the building.
With a sad face remained Boy, who very well understood, that there was to be trouble for him soon, outside on the streets. But finally, at a quarter to one, because of his rumbling stomach he started to move sighing and nervously coughing in the direction of home.
“Tingeling !”Sounded very modestly a moment later the bell.
Then – as soon as he was let in – the deep voice of father, who demanded an account of all his actions.
And Jan confessed everything guiltily: from his dislike for quack practices, from that laughable shiny barber’s dome, from his silly, innocent intended jokes.
“Hum! I Know it too well from you!”was he at last that he was told.”You think that you can do all this without showing respect for older people. Such pranks you restrict to your own mates, you understand!. And what the barber concerns : you drove that guy with your repeated teasing to despair…. And therefore you have to go to apologize to him tomorrow.”
“Make…. my excuse ?“,Startled Jan, that was something so terrible that he had not expected it:”But then he beats me half dead. He is not mister nice-guy.”
“That will not happen”said father indifferently.”If you show your polite behaviour, is going to be fine. It’s your duty to do this !…. You know what to do, huh ?”
With hanging head Boy went into the living room. But at the table his sandwiches tasted not so good anymore and the whole beautiful, sunny Wednesday afternoon was spoiled for him.
Oo, he got himself in one ugly jam ! Had he only left this nasty barber in peace. Well, he had to humiliate himself in front of him in the most gruesome way tomorrow. And who knows that he will not be leaving the shop with glowing cheeks and one painful pants. You should think it would be you in this trouble !
Not mention and think about it anymore, decided Jan finally. Perhaps – when father calmed down and there was another day over – he will forget his threat.
And sure enough, that seemed the way to proceed. Nobody mentioned what had happened anymore. Nice ! Jan was completely relieved. And at the evening felt he himself even again so fresh, which he still went out for fifteen minutes with one pair of neighbourhood boys went to play buck-buck.
Everything thing might still best be in order….
But the next morning – when he woke up he could not help but think about the offended barber – he was again very unhappy. And so was the fear in him, that on the way to school for some special reason one street was avoided and that he always looked around anxiously whether no menacing bald head showed somewhere near.
Excuse making. Start your excuse making, haunted it in his head, you will be rid of all the trouble. But in spite of the effort, to convince himself to do this, he could not possibly muster up the courage to do it. And like a desperate drowning man he hung on the small possibility that his father would forget.
But, oh, oh, how much he is mistaken! Because when that night, after one day full of anxious tension, we want to go to bed, sounded it to him while he was saying goodnight:”And, Jan, you have been seeing Mr. Verhagen ?’ It seemed as if the blood suddenly ran from Boy’s face. And with tears in the eyes he answered, sobbing:”I…. I…. dare not, father. Really, I do not dare. But I honestly promise, that I never will pull pranks on adults again …
“Yes, that is not the discussion !”,his father stopped him,”But it’s enough. That excuse can now be omitted, ‘You will pay dearly for this, man. That you can count on. and now out of my eyes ! to bed !”
Deeply impressed Jan on his stocking feet, quickly left to his safe little bedroom. Fie, so angry he had never seen his father ! It was the feeling like there just now something very precious was broken and the pieces could not be glued together with any possibility. Thus small causes can yet often have large effects !….
All day long, the next days, Boy was worrying about it a lot. So much even, that his most loyal friends more than once poked his side poked and remarked:
“Hey, you dead siskin. Can you not make any jokes anymore ?”Really, what the bother the boy the last days was a riddle.
So the days passed. Long, gloomy days, which were only slowly stringing together to weeks.
Until suddenly the retaliation came and Jan – unaware of the things which literally hung over his head- went to get his punishment in a happy state of mind.
It was again on one Wednesday afternoon (for free afternoons play in a boys life forever a prominent role ) the mother apparently quite innocently remarked: ”Say, Jan, your hair begins to be a little bit long. Would you not go and get it cut ?”
Well, the boy had no objection against that. He liked a tidy head and not that his hair was hanging over his forehead.,, ‘That is ok, mother, ”sounded” it happily.
Jan pulled his cap over his ears and went with whistle of a merry tune on his way. What did he have fear? His hairdresser was the famed rival Verhagen and thus threatened him from that side does not any danger.
With a sense of being ”customer” Jan entered moments later the simple shop and asked business-like:
“Sir, do you want to cut my hair ? You know it : short, with in front a parting”.
Van Haasteren, who like a joke as it seemed, gave him jokingly a wink and said, laughing :”Ha-ha, I understand, sir,a parting in the front, it would be quite strange when the parting would be at the rear, don’t you think ? But,”,was he suddenly mysteriously though,”I know all of it. Your father has explained me yesterday already exactly what to do.”
No, but now you should have seen that face of Jan !
“Hey, what do you say ?”,he exclaimed, puzzled: ”Has my father….”
But this seemed to a slip of the tongue of Van Haasteren and he tried to hide his mistake by saying.”Yes, yes,”,stammering in his speech,”Your father was here yesterday as usual to have his shave. And then…. in short, I will do it right, though. Just sit down, sir. Look I have here a chair ready.”
Boy began more and more to wonder. How strange, that he was moved to a corner of the shop, from where he cannot follow the barbering in the large wall mirror.
Mechanically Jan obeyed. And immediately after he took his seat or the cape was already tied around his neck and the first dark blond tresses were already silently dropping on wooden floor. In big hauls the scissors cut in long, thoughtful strokes. But then came the clippers and with short, angry sounds it slipped in and cut through his hair back and forth over his head over the uneven stubble.
Until then, Jan, who seemed deeply absorbed in thought, had kept quiet. But now he suddenly became anxious and in tears he cried out :”Sir, you are not cutting it all off, do you ? !”As much as possible, Sir,” ,was the barber’s mysterious reply, ”Just like your father has requested.”
And again the busy little machine moved just past his ears and his forehead and Jan, who immediately got a suspicion what was coming, and decided to keep a straight face and undergo his fate…
No parting in his hair anymore, he thought, while he heaved a sigh, which seemed to come from the soles of his shoes.
But then happened something that really brought him to despair.
The clippers had subsided, Van Haasteren rumbled at the shaving table. Certainly to fetch the cologne, thought Boy. But there he felt suddenly how big gobs of lather where put on his crew cut dome and were slammed down and rubbed in and the terror of that made him almost speechless. ”What…. what do you do now?”,he said stammering out, while he tried to jump from the chair. But the barber pushed him down forcefully and seriously said to him: ”Watch out, sir. Keep very still. Otherwise I could hurt you with the razor.” “Yes but what…. what will you now do to me ?”, said Boy in tears. ”You do not want to….”“Scalp you, you mean, definitely not!”Laughed his polite tormentor. ”Nothing of it, you know. So, now just stay very quiet. Head slightly backwards, a bit more to the left. Right, well understood. “That is it !”
And with all the attention and care, as if his product would be send for a barber exhibition, he proceeded to shave Jan’s head bare as a coot.
“Is it knife okay, sir ?”, inquired he, still in force of habit.
But Boy was crazy angry and snapped angrily back :
“No! it does feel if you are skinning me”.
Five minutes later the “customer”, looked with a face as a bulldog, in the mirror and was so shocked by the bald dome that looked back from the mirror, that he did three steps backwards. “So that will be a relieve,” ,said Van Haasteren, who is smiling and gloating.
Boy said no more word, grabbed his cap, threw the money on the marble shaving table and slipped as a thief out of the door.
But how angry he was and how unhappy he felt ! His cap was so wide that he had to hold on to it. Otherwise it dropped over his head on the tip of his nose.
“a Nice joke !”. That was the only thing that he said at home. And he went directly to his bed room, where he stayed voluntarily for the rest of that afternoon….
But then at school the next morning! Because there began the humiliation of course for real. Jan had it seen coming and that was why he entered the class just right on the last nick of time. But nevertheless still too early to not be noticed. ”Ha-ha!” ,Frans van Galen, who drew all attention to him as he was closest to the door. ”Watch this Boy now! What a cheese head !”. And the boys’ choir already agreed from all sides :”Ha-ha! Jan fell down the stairs ! Oops, and he came out very ugly ! Ha-ha, what a cheese ball !
Jantje is bothered by the heat wave ! The full moon ! Ha-ha, the full moon !
It was a lot of laughter and booing going on. Yes, even Mr. Hendriks lost his dignity at that unexpected spectacle and sat on his lectern, grinning of the fun.
And Boy laughed sourly, trying to put up a brave face, as he was pushed from left to right, spun around and final ended in his seat. And then it calmed down with morning prayer and after that with math which caused distraction. But in the pause he received again in hushed tones some lovely names. And one unknown hand threw a note on his table, in huge letters there was written: ”When freezing continues this afternoon the glassy ice rink of Jan Post is open for public.”. “Hum, the kids have to have fun !”smirked Jan, not in the mood for jokes today. And he was already afraid when he thought of ”this afternoon” when ”the public” would be released on his ice rink!
There was last resort: his long legs. And as soon as it was twelve hours and the school did finish, Boy – chased by nearly half the class – and ran at least fifteen kilometres.
Hey -ha-ha-ha! Hey -ha-ha-ha! sounded ‘t behind him. But at last there were only less and less of the a small club of ”friends” left. And at the end there were so few, that our hero could take it on with the meagre troop and his mad race stopped.
Poor slaphead, how soon would he repent it ! Some four boys, that still followed him, hung around near him from a distance. But defiantly they started to blister behind his back:
“Under the cap of Jantje
Shines the full moon.
And if you do not want to believe it
Then you have to knock his cap off !”
“Yes, that is what you think !”bawled Boy between his teeth. And in his wrath about this unheard of idea, he forgot to avoid passing by the shop of Verhagen, his declared enemy. At last moment he noticed it. But then he thought I do not care and he stepped so resolutely past the dangerous man’s shop, like that for him no danger existed. ”If he dares to do me something,” ,he roared in his own, ”then…
But he did not do have to do that. Instead one of the rascals had sneaked silently behind him and zip ! his cap flew through the air in a wide arc. ”Ha-ha! The full moon ! The full moon !” Cheered the quartet, which from a safe distance performed some kind of Indians Dance.
But then to Jan’s boundless astonishment someone joined in with the boys: namely Verhagen, who hits his thighs from fun and laughed: ”Ha-ha! That is good ! No, that is huge ! You’re smooth on top, Jantje ! Ha-ha-ha!”
Whatever Jan had expected when passing the shop certainly not this. He had not even thought of the possibility, that the grumpy barber could make fun! One moment there glistened something in Boy’s eyes and whether he wanted to or not…. around his mouth creased an almost imperceptibly smile.
“Come on, boys,”,trying to be nice,”All is well, but now it has been enough for today!”
And of course, as he did that, his schoolmates wanted to listen to it. They even helped him pick up his cap and pushed it so tightly over his shiny globe, that only the tip of his nose was sticking out….
Boy reached after everything he had endure his home in a mood, that could have been worse. The generous smile of his former arch enemy had him really done well. Really, this hairdresser fellow was not a bad guy after all!
When Jan, in the afternoon passed the shop again, he took – alone to let his full moon to be admired – with much panache and station for Verhagen his cap off. And he understood the joke and spoke to him jokingly: ”it suits you well ! You could pass for my eldest son !”
”I Study for coiffeur” Boy spoke weighty and he walked past with an air if he had all the wisdom of the whole world ….
….From that day off Verhagen and Boy did become the best buddies. And the good relationship has continued…. even after Jan’s full moon, which during the first week still had to endure a lot, was again modestly hiding behind a closed curtain of hair growth…..
Whether Boy has learned not to pull pranks anymore because of that hard lesson ?
No I cannot say that with certainty. But I do know, that Rotteveel, and the lady on the corner of Schoolstraat, and even a whole lot of other people now have a lot calmer life.
And also…. that Boy – proud and in spite of the keen competition of all ordinary ”barbers”– has his parting attended to by the only one ”coiffeur” from around the neighbourhood, the formerly so misjudged, but now highly rated….”Full Moon”!