The other day, while driving around the city with a rental agent, I heard "typical Dutch" for the first time, and started to wonder again: Why so typical? Do I ever describe, or hear other Americans describing, something-or-other as "typical American?" "Typical Washington?" "Typical Chicago?"
So far, in Amsterdam, I've heard "typical Dutch" used to describe a duckling-like strand of business employees filing across a street, identical white lunch sacks in hand, to a sunny park at 12:02 pm. The Dutch rental agent with me laughed and said, "This is typical Dutch. They'll all be back at their desks at exactly 12:30." He then told me about a Dutch CEO who'd started tapping his wristwatch at exactly 5:45 pm during an international conference call slated to end at 6:00 pm. At 5:50, the tapping tempo increased, and at 5:55, he began gathering his things. At 6:00, he was out the door... the conference call still in progress. After relating this second-hand story about a minute-hand, he laughed, calling the behavior "a bit ridiculous," but again,"typical Dutch." He then described himself as "not-so-typical Dutch," and mused that his Montessori primary school upbringing may have been the root cause of his atypical Dutch-ness.
So, is "typical" Dutch something that the Dutch want to bury? Is it something they want to tout? What's the deal with "typical," anyway?
On an unrelated topic, our street had a festival last weekend. Many shops and restaurants featured special late-night hours and free samples, and we watched a Bruce Springsteen cover artist from our front window.
Typical or not typical? You be the judge.