I hadn’t heard of Remembrance Day before I came to Canada. That confused people: “Didn’t we liberate you guys?” Well, yes, on May 5th, 1945, don’t you remember? Holland celebrates that abundantly every year on that date, and remembers fallen soldiers and civilians on the evening of May 4th. November 11 means absolutely nothing in Holland (unless you’re in one of the provinces that celebrate St Maarten that night, which is the door-to-door begging for candy of Halloween combined with singing and lanterns but without costumes).
Poppies don’t mean anything either, because both the poppies and November 11 have to do with the First World War, and we kind of ignored that one. It’s in the history books, but I think we spent one day on the First World War in school, and the remaining 12 years discussing the Second, with trips to the Anne Frank House and interviews with people’s grandparents and other interactivity.
In my second or third year in Canada, when I found out why people wore poppies the first two weeks of November, and where they came from, and where the donations went, and that Remembrance Day was also the remembrance for the war that I was more familiar with, I got one too.
It lasted about two days, then it had suddenly disappeared from my coat and I had to get another one. That one lasted three days and I gave up. The next year I found one on the street, and thought “That’s useful, a spare poppy!” only to realize that the one I had been wearing was gone too. Last year I had a pretty good year, where I lasted two weeks on only two poppies, and I still had one left after Remembrance Day. This year I bought my poppy (pictured above) in Ottawa, where it promptly fell off three times before the day was over. I noticed it either falling or lying on the floor every time, so I still have it, though. Last week I was at the lab, with my coat hanging over the back of my chair, when someone said “Your poppy is on the floor!”. Of course it was on the floor. Where else would it be? My lapel? I put it back on, tried to tape the end of the pin down with some lab tape that was on my desk, and continued to work on my legacy list of antibodies for the lab.
About thirty minutes later, I noticed in a most unpleasant way that my poppy had fallen from my coat onto the seat of my chair. Fed up, I stood up, pulled the poppy from the back of my pants, and tried one last time to put it back where it belonged. The piece of lab tape was still there, of course, because lab tape is more reliable than poppies and does not unexpectedly attack one’s behind. I threaded the poppy pin through the tape on the lapel, so you wouldn’t see the red lab tape anymore under the red poppy:
This was several days ago, and the poppy is still firmly stuck.
Lab tape. What can’t it do?