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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Having a Waffle with a Pis

I stood at the intersection of the Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat and the Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat. It was a little messy, whipped cream running down my arm, but I was thoroughly enjoying my waffle. Had I not stopped to get a cone of French fries earlier, I would have likely had a second while admiring Manneken Pis – one of the world’s most curious statues.
I had an evening to kill in Brussels while on my RIAS Berlin Kommission trip. Some of the other group members had gone off to see various sites, but I wanted another look at the little peeing boy. We had walked to it the previous night after a fantastic dinner in the Grand Place area, but it deserved another look.
Besides, I was long overdue in having a waffle during my stay in Belgium and I knew there were a couple of stands by the statue.
My hotel wasn’t anywhere near the Grand Place or Manneken Pis, but it also wasn’t worth a cab ride. I walked along the cobblestone streets, past the Royal Palace, and into the Grand Place. Dusk was settling upon Brussels and the city was coming to life.
I walked through the famous square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, pausing only long enough to admire the view one last time. I had seen it the previous night, but that was after far too many Belgian beers – a terrible weakness of mine. So it seemed only appropriate that I take a longer, more sober look at the place.
It was beautiful and worth far more time than I could offer that evening. I was intent on getting my waffle and taking in the atmosphere around Manneken Pis. I’m sure others would scoff at me for wasting time on the little statue, after all it’s not an inspiring masterpiece, but I have been fascinated by it since a friend gave me a small magnet of the peeing boy years ago as a souvenir from his trip to Belgium.
I crossed the square, cutting down a couple of streets toward Manneken Pis. Chuckling over the previous night’s memory of a guy hopping out of a car to have his own piss in the middle of the street, I rounded the corner and continued past the shops lining the street leading up to the Pis. They would have to wait on my souvenir shopping, though, until I had a chance to grab a waffle.
And then, at the end of the short street, there it was: Manneken Pis.
I laughed over the thought of our group photo the previous night. The rumblings of my stomach grew louder, though, forcing me to listen to their cries. But which waffle shop should I choose?

Two different shops stood on opposite sides of the street from each other. The prices were the same and there seemed to be no difference in the selection of toppings: chocolate, whipped cream, fruit, and so forth. They were virtually the same, so it was more a matter of which color I preferred – blue or red and green.

I stood in the red and green line, which wasn’t really a line at all but instead more of a heard of people pushing to the small window. Glancing over at the blue shop I noticed they had a more orderly queue. So I crossed to there and waited patiently. But the line wasn’t moving. Or if it was, it was going so slowly that I likely wouldn’t have my waffle until breakfast. So I crossed back over to the red and green line.
This went on for at least three or four more hops before I let out a sigh and just resigned myself to standing in one seemingly unmoving line until I could get my waffle. Thankfully it happened – at the blue shop – sooner than breakfast, once a large group of vacationing baby boomers were served and out of the way.
Standing with whipped cream-covered waffle in hand, I admired Manneken Pis and his never-ending leak. I felt sorry for the poor kid, knowing the feeling once I’ve broke the seal after a few beers. This likely wasn’t the problem with the little guy, though, so instead I speculated over his problem and its origin.
No one really seems to know how the two foot-tall Mannekin Pis was born. There are several interesting stories, such as a little boy putting out a fire by peeing on it and thus being forever honored for taking a whiz, but it is an issue that is far from settled. After all, it could be much more dramatic: it is said a little lord safely placed high in a tree by his troops during battle ended up peeing on the other side, who ultimately lost.
Regardless of how it came about, the bronze statue made me laugh. For centuries it has been standing there, in one inception or another and sometimes dressed up in a little costume, making others laugh, too. That is why people continue to crowd around it with a waffle in hand.
The problem is, though, that it does more than make people laugh. After amusing myself at the little bronze boy’s expense for some time, the sudden urge to use the restroom came upon me. And I’m guessing Manneken Pis’ ongoing stream had something to do with it.
So, with my waffle consumed and souvenir shopping successfully completed, I made my way back toward the heart of Brussels, the Grand Place. I had noted there, on my walk to the Pis, that public restrooms were available – or so I thought. Thankfully, as a result of my waffle purchase, I had exact change to get in.

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2 Comments on “Having a Waffle with a Pis”

  1. EJ Juen Jr March 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Hi Jason, that’s a very interesting statue. I got the wrong impression that it was in a church based on the picture which got me confused. This is what I can consider comedy in the middle ages. lol. This is a must see in Brussels.

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