Very little about Belgium makes sense. Most of the time this defiance of logic is aggravating.
However, sometimes the things in Belgium that do not make sense are so ridiculous that they transcend any approximation of sense-making and become an unintentionally sublime situationist spectacle.
I’m referring, of course, to Belgian Weightlifting.
On 17 May 2009 Belgium held its National Bodybuilding Finals in Vlissingen, Netherlands (to avoid the buzzkill that is ‘steroid testing’, natch).
Try and imagine, if you will, twenty outrageously muscled bodybuilders in their tiny speedos, standing in front of the mirror and applying muscle cream, bronzer, and hair gel.
In the audience the judges and spectators are swapping notes, and buying XXXL souvenir t-shirts, eagerly anticipating the parade of oily, freakishly built manbeasts. Def Leppard Hysteria is playing quietly in the background.
Suddenly – despite the organizers’ having moved the event across the Dutch border to avoid just such an occurence – three Belgian doping officials show up and introduce themselves to the field of competitors.
Cue a mass stampede for the exit, as every single participant runs out of the event, into the streets. Every. Single. One. This sudden lack of entrants naturally forced the cancellation of the event.
According to the ESPN website, doping official Hans Cooman had this to say, “I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see anything like it again.” Well, alright, Hans, I guess not. But I sure would!
Of course this travesty is a blight on the world of weightlifting and bodybuilding, and even sports in general. But more importantly, it is also hilarious.
So thank you Belgium, for again refusing to be bound by what may be considered good sense – for defying the rules en masse, and unintentionally creating a spectacle that I imagine was as enjoyable on the day as it was to read about afterwards.
Thank you particularly to every member of that Belgian weightlifter stampede. Thank you for enhancing your physical attributes to such an extent that, while it may have prevented you from competing for the title of Bodybuilding Champ, it did enable you to escape from three paper-pushing bureaucrats, and run free in the wilds of Holland.