The Mannekin Pis

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You may know him as the "Pee-pee Boy". We know him as the Mannekin Pis. Records indicate the original Mannekin Pis was created in 1388. It was destroyed many centuries later. By popular demand, the City of Brussels commissioned Jerome Duquesnoy to build another in 1619. This statue is alive and well today, situated in the labyrinth of little shops that surround The Grand Place in Brussels, Begium.

The Doc and I saw the little guy "in person" during our recent trip to Belgium and, I must say, we expected a bit more than the 24" high statue we saw. Nevertheless, the people of Brussels adore this little guy and he has become quite a famous fellow. On special occasions the city dresses him in one of over 600 costumes. As a bonus he "pees" beer on the days that his costume is changed. Most the time, however, he is as nature intended him to be. He has been dressed as Elvis, a samurai warrior, in full hockey gear, as Mozart and as a Shriner — to name a few. Many of his costumes were donated by government officials and such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor. His first costume was donated by King Louis XV of France in 1747.

Legend surrounds the Mannekin Pis. Nobody knows why he was created but there are many stories. We are free to pick the one we like the best.

One such story (with many variations) places our "Wee Boy" as the savior of the city, drowning out the flames of a deadly fire with his wee-wee. Another variation is that he, with precise aim, extinguished the fuse that would have caused a devastating explosion.

Another story has our fellow as a street urchin who was unwise enough to relieve himself on the doorway of an evil sorcerer who then condemned him to that position and to pee for eternity.

The story I choose to believe is that the boy was the son of a wealthy aristocrat who was missing and feared kidnapped. The father, so relieved to find the boy unharmed, had the statue commissioned in honor of the way he was found — peeing against a tree.

The Mannekin Pis has been stolen seven times during his long life on display and recovered each time. One man, Antoine Lucas, was sentenced to 20 years in prison when, in 1817, he ripped the statue from its base and fled with it.

On Father’s Day we had our version of the Mannekin Pis on display (actually, he was peeing into a wooden barrel pond full of ice-cold beer) and sold every Mannekin Pis we had in stock at the time. Never fear, however, we have brought him back by popular demand.

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