"They're foreigners, with ways different than our own."
- "Rocky Horror Picture Show" via Erin
A few years ago, my pal Unca Don and I decided we needed a vacation. Unfortunately, both of us were crazy busy so we could only do a long-weekend gig. Where to go? We looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Amsterdam!"
See, Don and I have been to Amsterdam a number of times. For one thing, with the direct flight from MSP it's about the quickest place for us Twin Citians to get to in Europe (it's a Northwest hub). For another thing, Unca Don and I are gentlemen of distinction, and Amsterdam has much to offer the gentleman of distinction. Trust me. I want to reel out a couple more stories about UD and I in the Netherlands, but this one has to be first.
So we decided that Amsterdam would once again be graced with our presence. I decided to fly down on Thursday and fly back on Monday. Unca Don figured he would fly down on Friday and back on Tuesday. But we had enough overlappage to do some serious damage to our health and well-being so we were fine with that. Oh, and by the way, my airline ticket cost $99 -- seriously -- and Don's cost $17,388. He wanted to get the frequent flyer miles.
I arrived in Amsterdam proper via the shuttle train and took a taxi driven by a member of the Dutch Nazi Party to the hotel that Don had booked for us. I'll give him this -- Unca Don has a deft and sure touch when it comes to booking hotels. Ours was cheap and well-situated and all the women who worked at the front desk were really tall and had great tits. What more can one ask of a hotel?
I loitered around the hotel de-jet-lagging for a bit then ventured out onto the street. I love walking in Amsterdam: you hear conversations in every conceivable language, the architecture is interesting, the canals are wet, and for some reason every woman in that city is beautiful, even if they're not originally from the Netherlands. So I strolled and sauntered and did other quaint Keillor-like activities until it was time for dinner.
Since I had the evening to myself, I wandered into a Spanish restaurant and ordered a pretty nice dinner with my flawless Spanish pronounciation and impressed myself greatly. As I ate, I watched the rest of the city do Keillor-like activities on the street below me and grazed on the conversations around me, content as all hell and ecstatic to be in Europe. After I had sated myself on good food and good wine and good coffee, I walked back out onto the avenue and began strolling randomly again.
I noticed an Irish pub that looked inviting and stopped in for a pint and a flirt with the Glaswegian cocktail waitress who had an exceptionally cute ass and looked like Shirley Manson for whom I am totally hot. This was at about 9:30 PM.
The next thing I know, it's 4 AM and I'm leaving a different bar entirely with some surly Netherlander who absolutely had to show me something or other in the Red Light District. I think he had a sister who worked there and wanted me to meet her and have a nice glass of milk with her and tell her about American customs and traditions. I might be wrong about this, I'm not sure. At any rate, surly guy and I walked to his moped a couple blocks away and climbed aboard.
At this point you should know that most times I'm a happy drunk. On the evening of which I speak I thought everything was hilarious and was smiling and laughing and in general was pretty damn glad I was in Amsterdam. Plus, I knew it was going to be one of those evenings where the shit is going to go down and you can either jump in with both feet or you can run and hide. I'm a jumper-inner, as you might suspect.
So surly guy (the Anti-Hulles) and I were speeding down the street, both of us hammered and me laughing hysterically. Suddenly there were blue lights flashing behind us and I heard the European siren thing that you hear all the time in the Anne Frank movie when the Nazis are gathering up the neighbors. "Cool!" I thought. Surly guy wasn't so sure about how cool it was apparently because he started swearing a blue streak in Dutch. The coppers pulled us over in their copper car that looked like a Mini-Cooper and they got out. The officers were both hefty women and I became pretty interested in how they managed to fit into that tiny copper car. The police immediately separated surly guy and I and one of the cops took me about twenty feet down the street and said "(Gibberish)!" I just looked at her winsomely with a huge smile, batted my eyes, and said "Sorry, I'm just a drunken American tourist!" and showed her my passport. She started smiling in spite of herself and just said "Okay, you can go."
Surly Dutch guy was not quite so fortunate. They stuck him and his moped into the Mini-Cooper-like cop car and sped off. I was astounded that everything and everyone fit back into the car, it was reminiscent of the clown cars in the circus ("Cool!"), but it did and they did. "Hunh," I said. "That was interesting." Then I looked around and realized that I had absolutely no idea where I was and it was 4:30 AM and I was on foot. So of course I started laughing all over again and took off walking in some arbitrary direction. I probably walked for 45 minutes or so before I got to a street large enough to have some traffic and, lucky me, a taxi. I hailed the taxi, handed him a matchbook from my hotel because I couldn't pronounce the name of it ("Dyjkker And Theiss" or something like that) and sat back smugly and enjoyed the ride. I got out, went to my room in the hotel, and passed out.
Unca Don arrived around 10:30 AM or so that morning and checked into our hotel. After unpacking, he walked down the hall and knocked on the door of my room. No answer. "Hmmm," says UD to himself, "That's curious." He then went down to the hotel dining room and saw me sitting all alone in the back of the room with a huge cup of coffee and a hangover the size of Rhode Island. He just started laughing.
"Gawd, you look like you were beaten with ox tails with the oxen still attached," said Don. "I can't believe it. The whole flight over I was pretty concerned about you being alone in Amsterdam. I was worried that you wouldn't go out last night and would just stay in the hotel and not have any fun until I got here. What was I thinking?"
"Mmmph," I replied. Eventually I could talk enough to explain the events of the previous night in words of one syllable; by the end of my story we were both laughing hysterically. "Cool! Let's go do the same thing tonight!" So a few hours later Unca Don and I were sitting in the very same Irish pub (sans Glaswegian, unfortunately) hoisting pints of swill and swapping lies.
As the afternoon became evening we sought out one of the coffee shops that abound in Amsterdam and did what any gentleman of distinction does in a coffee shop. We drank coffee. And if you believe that.... I ended up talking to a beautiful Spanish woman and Don ended up talking to a neurotic male British insurance agent. All was as it should be. I always get the beautiful Spanish women and Don always gets the neurotic male Brits. It's in the natural order of things and there's no explaining it, it just is.
Later we went to several other bars and held court and were swell fuckers who everybody liked. One guy, a local, even asked if he could hang out with us. No shit. I was talking to him, trying to make him understand that Unca Don and I were trained professionals and he shouldn't try this at home, when I happened to notice that the Donster was nowhere to be seen. "See ya!" I yelled over my shoulder as I sped out the door. See, my avuncular pal Don was pretty well schockered by this point and there are canals out there.
"I'm coming, Unca D!" I yelled at Don as I spotted him veering around aimlessly. "Stop there! See that thing that looks like a canal? Well, it is a canal and it's full of cold water and if you fall in I'll be damned if I fish you out. I'll sell tickets instead."
"Hyurng!" he said. "Hulles, where are we? Where's our hotel? I don't know where we are!"
"Don, we're on holiday, we don't have to know where we are. This is Amsterdam! They have taxis all over the place and I have a matchbook with the hotel name on it and we have Dutch Bucks! We're Americans, goddamn it, and nobody is going to stop us making asses of ourselves if I have anything to say about it, so come on!"
Neither he nor I could talk the next morning. But we didn't need to -- we could laugh just fine. Some day I'll tell you about the next night.