Youp van ‘t Hek: Shut up, Karin

Youp van ‘t Hek had a thing with Karin but says she doesn’t understand him.


I have a new car. It’s got all the extra’s. The only thing I can’t do in it is take a shower. The GPS with voice recognition is something else.


You pronounce the name of a country, a town and a street and a charming woman named Karin tells you how to get there. Karin and I still have to get used to each other. She doesn’t always hear what I’m saying. I have to repeat myself quite a lot. I said Hasselt in a low voice and when she said she didn’t understand I said it again, only louder. After the third time I enunciated Hasselt almost spastically and after the seventh time I screeched like an escaped lunatic.  HASSELT!!!! I heard myself scream desperately after the twelfth attempt. I now know you can type in the name and that when you get to HAS Karin already knows where you want to go. I’m afraid I won’t be having conversations with her any more.


Of course my talking car crept into my dreams at night. Karin wanted a word with me after the show. I told her I wanted to go to Utrecht because that’s where I’m performing next week. But Karin flatly refused and said I should head for home. I hadn’t been there for two weeks, she said, and my wife only saw me on television. I told Karin to mind her own business, that I have been a theatre nomad for almost forty years and that the home front was used to it. Karin said it was time things changed.




Utrecht! I yelled but Karin said: home. I had to buy firewood, put the CDs in alphabetical order and spend time with my wife, she said. When I told her to stop telling me what to do, she said I always told people what to do, in the theatre and in my features so why not take a dose of my own medicine.


I turned up the radio to hear about broke Cyprus and Veendam, broken Syria and its jihad fighters, lot number 7, a pair of leather thongs, from the house of broke Henkie Krol, Yunus and his stepmothers, the cuddling pope, the suicide of the French kisser. But Karin turned it off and said there were more important things. I said we’re going to Utrecht and that’s that.




We’re going home, Karin said. At that moment I woke up in a sweat. The television was still on. A happy television producer was saying his springboard show was an international hit. In Korea, China and Mexico, audiences are cheering as the stomachs of Z-list celebrities hit the water. If that doesn’t herald World war III I don’t know what does, I thought disconsolately.


I looked out of the window. There was my new car. My brand new car that I had to buy after my old one gave up the ghost, with 376,000 kilometres on the clock. If only it could have talked. It might have begged me for euthanasia. Its warning lights had to do it for it and they did. All of them at once. The dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. And then: nothing.


367,000 kilometres in a car. How many hours is that? How many days? I don’t want to know. I’m afraid I will sink into a depression. All that time in my car that didn’t talk. We just sat in silence, like an old married couple.


There was my new car, my home for the next 300,000 kilometres, gleaming in the starlit Belgian night. It was baptised on its first night. A Belgian tramp was pissing on it as I was coming out of the theatre. He was taking his time pissing on an expensive car. It made me laugh. Why? Because I agreed with him. And I preferred him to that crazy bloke from Emmen.


Youp van ‘t Hek is one of the Netherlands’ best loved comedians and writers









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