It was time to go to Amsterdam again. I hadn’t been back since before Buenos Aires. I missed the junkies, the tourists and the trip-me cobbles. And – truth be told – I missed Brendan a whole lot too.
First I went to see Julien near Westerpark. I smelled weed and heard Jacques Brel. First thing he did when I arrived was hand me one of his freshly printed business cards: Juste Julien – legal counsel with a French touche (typo or style?). I was curious what “French touch” meant in legal terms. He has a law degree – I think – but the only law Julien has ever known was being busted at the Belgian border with a pound of weed . With confidence he pronounced: I weel bee lawyur for expat wis mush monay. He seemed determined so we left it at that. Then we moved to the balcony with some Pastise to discuss his latest attempts to exercise his French touche on the opposite sex. In the background, Jacques Brel thundered Je t’aime, oui, je t’aaaaime. The sun shined down upon us. It was a fine day.
After that it was off to Brendan's. He came back from the gym when I arrived. In the kitchen he beat an eggy protein drink with a fork and downed it, keeping me laser-locked in the corner of his eye. Clearly, he had something in mind.
Lui, you look pale. You need to get laid.
This worried me.
You need action, Lui. Pronto!
Bren, you have egg on your lip.
It worried me because this guy doesn’t understand strategy. Bren knows only trial and error. He's the Thomas Edison of womanizers – he'll try every damn bulb filament known to man, every trick in the book, and one will light up. He’s about statistics, not stealth. Needless to say, I knew ahead of time that in my case the accent would be overwhelmingly on error.
Give me your hand, he said.
Wha - ?
Give me your hand! I handed it to him and he grabed it like a doorknob.
You and me, right here, we make a pact, a fucking covenant, yeah. You don’t leave ‘til we get you some action. We shake on it.
Bren, that’s bad idea. That’s a baaaaa – ouw, OOOOUW!.. ok ok ok!
It’s a deal then.
The American touch. A little coercion never hurt anyone.
An hour later I was at the Waldorf café with a drink in my injured hand. The humiliation began. Six drunk Brits from Sheffield shuffled in (every alloy known to man), enough fat on them for six more. A hen night. All morals left at the chicken coop.
Ladies, ladies, introductions, introductions. Meet my friend Lui. A lightweight, yes, but quality equipment. A Bang & Olufsen for your Samsungs ladies, he said pointing to the guys, right and left. With Bang he winked and nudged. I cringed.
Then two polish girls,
Polish!? that’s a amazing, what a coincidence, my friend here is also Balkan
Lui, speak Balkan, go on. Speak it.
And so on and so forth…
Finally, near closing time, Sofia von Spitzenwald showed up with her Brazilian friend. Remember them from the Switcheroo. Bren suddenly simmered down. Turns out he and Sofia “know” each other; “benchpressed” her many a time, but still this Autro-Hungarian blue-blood has a hold on him it seems.
Sofia, good to see you, ravishing. What brings you here? Have a seat. And your friend too. Drink?
Brazil sat next to me. Chats went smooth: You’re pretty tall, aren’t you? I opened. This is relative, she said, you are a small man. And so on, but good. Smart cookie, Brazil. I bought her a drink for free and we drank from our respective altitudes knowing there was no danger here; we would never “know” each other.
In the morning I snuck out like a thief, in contravention of the pact, the fucking covenant. Still pale and unlaid, but sated nevertheless. Amsterdam had delivered! My headache and gut testified. It was all good, the trialing – even the erroring – so good that on the train back a haiku emerged unannounced:
Canal ladies in tights
Street-vomit on cobbles
Drunk dog barking at dawn
I was inspired.