Student - November 14, 2013


The story so far: Nothing seems to be going Willem-Jan’s way lately. His studies are in the doldrums, his parents are threatening to cut the purse strings and his love life is a bumpy road.

‘Oh come on! You can’t cancel now,’ said Bianca crossly down the phone. ‘It starts in half an hour.’ In the lounge, her housemates looked up, curious. ‘Thanks a lot then.’ Bianca hung up, annoyed.
‘What’s the matter?’ asked Willem-Jan from the sofa. ‘One of your girlfriends got her period?’ Bianca looked at him with irritation.
‘Anne has to study and has pulled out of the pub quiz. So now we don’t have a full team.’
‘Crap,’ said Willem-Jan. ‘Did I ever happen to mention that I’m a quiz king? For a couple of beers I’d be happy to come along. Show you how it’s done.’ Everyone in the lounge rolled their eyes. Bianca was doubtful. She really didn’t fancy spending a whole evening stuck with this pain in the neck, but undeniably it would help her out of a fix.
‘Well, okay then,’ she finally conceded. Willem-Jan grinned. A little while later, they set off for the pub by bike.
During the quiz, it turned out that for once in his life Willem-Jan had not been exaggerating. Philip II, the capital of Namibia, the number of residents in Wageningen. He knew it all and Bianca had never seen him so fired up. She stared at him, half in admiration, half in disbelief. Willem-Jan caught her eye and gave her a big wink.
‘How do you know all this stuff?’
‘Well, used to watch a lot of Discovery,’ he said. ‘By the way, what about my next beer?’ Shaking her head, Bianca got another round. Two hours later they were comfortably in the lead together with another team. The last few questions, whose answers were now being checked, would decide it.
‘Blimey WJ, now we’ve come this far, I want us to win,’ said Bianca, while she clinked glasses with Willem-Jan. The pub was now packed and hot, abuzz with voices. A young man climbed up on a bar stool, microphone in hand, to announce the results.
When their name was called out as the winning team, Bianca and her team members jumped up enthusiastically. ‘Yes!’ she cried. To Willem-Jan’s surprise, she embraced him. It felt good and he held on to her tightly. At once, he felt her stiffen in his arms. She pushed him away roughly. ‘Let go of me, man.’ He staggered backwards. In a split second, he was sober again. He couldn’t get out of there fast enough, squeezing his way through the crowd. Outside, his fingers shaking, he lit a cigarette. A little later, Bianca came outside.
‘Sorry, that sounded a lot harsher than I intended,’ she said. She looked at him searchingly. ‘But did you really think...?’ Willem-Jan fell silent and avoided her gaze.
‘I don’t know. Maybe I just needed a hug.’