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There’s a reason Homer Simpson’s annoying neighbor is named Flanders.
It’s the knockout round at the World Cup, and standing in America’s way is Belgium. The lowest of the Low Countries.
We know it seems like just yesterday you were Googling reasons to hate Germany, but today it’s win or go home. So it’s time to channel your anger ever so slightly west, to the land of waffles and — well, the land of waffles.
You might think Belgium isn’t known for much else, but you’re in luck. We’ve done the hating in advance.
They foisted Jean-Claude van Damme on the world.
So you have a soft spot in your heart for "Hard Target"? Fine. But no one can defend the Muscles from Brussels' off-screen lines. Like this one: "Air is beautiful, yet you cannot see it. It's soft, yet you cannot touch it. Air is a little like my brain." (Disclaimer: That's from Wikipedia. We couldn't verify he said it. But it sure sounds like something he would say.)
They put mayonnaise on fries.
Do we really need to explain this?
They don't know how to throw a revolution.
When Belgium failed to put together a new government for months on end in 2010 and 2011, a fed-up populace displayed their dismay with a series of protests dubbed (and we're not making this up) the Fries Revolution. Now, it's true the American Revolution started with a Tea Party, but there wasn't a musket in sight in Brussels. Instead, students stripped in the streets, men grew facial hair, and lawmakers went without sex. None of it worked: Belgium shattered the world record for time without a government previously held by ... Iraq.
They are evil.
Well, Dr. Evil was half-Belgian. “The details of my life are quite inconsequential," the Austin Powers villain once said. "Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery.”
This is their idea of a monument.
New York has the Statue of Liberty, Rome has the Colosseum, Paris has the Eiffel Tower and Brussels has a statue of a little boy taking a whizz. It's considered such a national treasure that a city employee dresses the tinkling tyke in a new costume every few days. Despite its importance, the Belgians have been unable to keep it safe: the statue has been stolen at least a half dozen times since the 17th century.
They stole Budweiser.
In 2008, the Belgian beer conglomerate InBev bought Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion, which would work out to more than 1.5 trillion Belgian francs if Belgium even had its own currency anymore. And so the proud Clydesdales joined a heritage that includes Leffe, Safir, Belle-Vue and several other brews you’ve never heard of, much less drunk. So much for the king of beers.
They still have a monarchy.
Headed at the moment by His Majesty King Philippe, who is a civilian helicopter pilot and, when he isn’t devoting time to his hobby of reading, “is keen to maintain a healthy physical specimen.” Perks of the job — besides all the waffles you can eat — include wearing a sash that even Barney the Dinosaur would say is loud.
Fair enough: Done right, roasted with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, they’re delightful. More often, they are steamed, boiled or cooked in some other way that produces an odor strong enough to make you long for cauliflower. Brussels sprouts are considered by some to be the national vegetable of Britain, which says everything. And Belgium can’t even claim to be the biggest producer of the unloved veggie. It’s believed to be the Netherlands. But there’s time to hate them later, in the semifinals.